Saturday, 13 November 2010

Chow down folks while you still can

STORMONT has a real problem. There are no Chinese restaurants, chip shops or decent pizza parlours on the premises. For MLAs this makes ordering in some chow when you’re peckish.

This means that reluctantly MLAs must take their weary and care-worn bodies along to the restaurant, where well-cooked, well-prepared meals can be obtained at very reasonable prices: very reasonable subsidised prices.

Who pays this subsidy that enables MLAs, their guests and random visitors to eat cheap food? Well that would be us.

Taxpayers. Stormont is run with money that we cough up.

All of which means that one would have thought that a proposal to end the £500k subsidy would have received a ringing endorsement. But, then again it was Peter Robinson who proposed it.

Even though he claimed he was not speaking as First Minister, it is hardly the case that the other parties would just nod their heads and say yes.

Instead there was a pointless debate in the Assembly chamber and even more pointless debates on the air. The BBC even, helpfully, published what grub MLAs and other Assembly workers could order and how much it costs.

We must confess that, as well as whetting the taste buds, the large soup of the day (96p) the lasagne, garlic bread and spinach (£2.50) and mint chocolate cheesecake (90p) sounds rather tasty in price for a three course meal.

We, however, having salivated over the offerings and prices, have come up with a solution.

First ordinary workers (not party officers or MLAs) should still receive subsidised meals; after all they have to put up with the MLAs. Those subsidised meals will not be subsidised by taxpayers. They should instead be subsidised by MLAs. A ‘Lunch Club Savings Account’ should be created, which each of the 108 MLAs shall contribute a tenner per week (ministers and committee chairs should pay an even fifty per week). This will help keep costs down for porters, ushers, cleaners, security and administrative staff.

Having coughed that up, MLAs will be entitled to eat in the canteen, but pay full price for each meal. If they feel that they cannot then they can bring in a packed lunch.

Unfortunately many appear not to know how to butter bread, place a tasty morsel of meat in between a couple of rounds and put in a lunchbox along with a scrummy snack and something fizzy to wash it all down with.

That would seem a little too much like hard work for our pampered, cosseted and election feverish political representatives.

But at least it would appear that they have something useful in their brief cases.

While we’re at it perhaps MLAs should also pay car parking fees rather than enjoy the perk of a free space; and each and every MLA should be fined when they propose a meaningless and pointless debate in the chamber.

Hey, join in – together we can penalise the MLAs, and come together to solve all the economic woes of our ‘wee country’.