Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 15:47 UK
Catering - Refreshment Department

Within the Houses of Parliament there are 19 restaurants and cafeterias, nine bars and one coffee bar which must cater for the hundreds of MPs and peers and all the permanent staff, security, other pass-holders and guests.

Catering facilities for parliamentarians first began in 1773 when John Bellamy, the deputy Housekeeper, was asked to provide an alternative to the many public houses in the area.

Before then, members found refreshment in the many taverns, coffee houses and eateries in Westminster.

One of the Parliamentary refreshment areas retains the name Bellamy's.

The Commons Refreshment Department was created in 1980, since when it has established lucrative sidelines in souvenir sales and catering for private functions in the Palace of Westminster.

This income helps to keep the cost of eating in the parliamentary cafeterias relatively modest.

A Commons Select Committee (the Catering Committee) oversees the work of the Department.

Some of the restaurants and cafeterias, like the Members' Dining Room, are restricted to MPs only.

The bars in the Houses of Parliament do not need licences and do not keep licensing hours.

The Lords operate a separate and parallel Refreshment Department which manages four of the eateries and two of the bars.

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