MSPs open up restaurant to all parliament pass holders

Takings at Holyrood's once-exclusive MSPs' restaurant and bar have soared since Scottish Parliament bosses decided to throw the doors open to everyone working in the building. Average monthly income from the restaurant increased by two-thirds and bar takings nearly doubled after the ban on non-MSPs booking tables was lifted.

The restaurant lost over £13,500 in the first two months of operation and the annual subsidy was increased from £60,000 to £80,000. Under pressure, the cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body agreed to open the bar to non-MSPs but insisted dining would still be restricted to the politicians and their guests.

In September last year, the restaurant was opened up to all parliament pass-holders and figures obtained by the Evening News under freedom of information legislation show a dramatic improvement since then. Average monthly income from the restaurant rose from £3338 before the ban was lifted to £5595 afterwards - 67 per cent up.

And average bar takings leapt from £1919 a month before September to £3764 a month afterwards - a 96 per cent rise.

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said she had argued for the restaurant and bar to be opened up and suggested screens be used to create a private area for MSPs if necessary. She said: "I forecast that once they dropped the silly elitism, opened the restaurant to everyone and stopped making it an exclusive bolthole for MSPs, it would become a pleasant place where some business was done and much political gossip was exchanged."

Open-door policy at Holyrood restaurant helps takings soar (Evening News, 18 August 2007)