This relates to a wine cellar maintained for government hospitality.
Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham revealed that Government Hospitality, which manages the cellar, had spent £17,698 on new stock since May 6 - bringing the total value to £864,000 - though he insisted the standard practice of buying wines young saved money for the taxpayer.
Well, there's nice eh? It gets better "GH usually buys new stock on two or three occasions each year, as advised by the GH Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine. Does that Advisory Committee count as a Quango then and what will we seen when it comes to a "Bonfire of the Quangos"
I had been in doubt as to the FoI process. Really sensitive questions get lost or the answer is 'too much trouble/cost/political sensitivity' but this all slipped out from Parliamentary questions and FoI. I suppose one cannot begrudge the visitors a drop of red but I wonder why wines such as the likes of Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafite, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Mouton Rothschild figure on the cellar book. Horrids will sell you a bottle, 75cl, of the Rothschild for £1,000 so IronBru it isn't.
My grandmother used to speak of some generous people who would 'give their arse away and sh*t through their ribs' and we seem to have collected a few in the Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine. And how much do they cost us? Attending wine tastings will require that they are chauffeured home. The wine will not look after itself so a cellarman must be employed at a premium above the national wage.
In the scheme of things, this is all small beer (sorry!) but is indicative of the need for root and branch review of just about everything in this sorry country of ours. Osborne's Hordes cannot do everything at once but closing down this cellar would take some junior functionary less than a morning.
Close it, sell off the contents (if the Committee have been doing their work properly those cru will have appreciated in value sitting in the dark) and sub-contract the provision of wine to Berry Bros, Majestic or that spiv in France. It would not save the country but in accord with the Manifesto of the Political Envy party would give many of us a warm feeling. If it keeps even one nurse employed, it is a damn fine thing.
I am off to my wine cooler to prepare a nice Tesco £3.50 white ready for Sunday lunch. Might even spring for a dessert wine to go with the strawberries.