Holyrood coffee talk hijacks food-for-homeless discussion

Parliamentary coffee has come up for discussion. File picture: Lisa Ferguson

Parliamentary coffee has come up for discussion. File picture: Lisa Ferguson

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IT may not be the most urgent of political matters – but nevertheless parliamentary coffee took a roasting by MSPs displeased with their brews.

Ministers took a break from serious discussions such as Europe, council tax reforms, and looming elections – to debate the quality of cuppas served free at committee meetings.

It all started with a question on whether leftover food from receptions at Holyrood could be used to feed the homeless rather than being sent for compost.

But once catering was on the table, Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon began the five-minute discussion on the quality of political coffee, which brewed nicely on a Thursday afternoon.

“Many of us would like to increase the amount of food for disposal – and I refer to the coffee in committee rooms,” she announced.

“On behalf of colleagues across the parliament from all parties, can I ask that the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body ensure that MSPs get a decent cup of coffee in committee next session?”

Linda Fabiani, replying for the cross-party SPCB, said: “I guess it’s all a matter of taste. I quite like the coffee we get in committee. I think we’re very lucky getting coffee in committees. It’s hard times now, it’s in austerity.”

She said she had received complaints before and recalled that parliament staff had organised coffee tastings for MSPs to try to find what they thought was the best coffee.

“I don’t know what else we can do for Mrs Scanlon. I would suggest the fact that often the coffee urns are empty would suggest that most people are quite happy with the coffee.”

Ms Fabiani added: “You can get some very good coffee bags. Maybe we can supply some hot water.”

Then SNP backbencher Mike McKenzie added real perk to the debate. “I share Mary Scanlon’s concerns,” he told the chamber.

He said sometimes when he had been at committee meetings early in the day the coffee had tasted better.

“I would suggest that part of the problem will be that at times coffee is left standing in these vacuum flasks for quite a long time and that impinges on the quality of its flavour.”

Ms Fabiani made a final plea: “Could I suggest people get a bit healthier and drink more water?”

Scottish Parliament members are served complimentary coffee, cakes and fruit during committees.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com