Following the United Kingdom Parliament’s decision to stop the sale of alcohol in the House of Commons during the coronavirus pandemic, Club Soda and a selection of British alcohol-free drinks brands have written to the Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, calling for Parliament to stock more alcohol-free drinks in the Parliamentary estate’s bars.
As the nation faces another lockdown, Parliament has the opportunity to support home-grown alcohol-free drinks producers by ensuring that their products are available to buy across the estate. Our letter has also been signed by Heineken, Sea Arch, Square Root, Lucky Saint, and many other producers.
Given that the Department of Health has also committed to help deliver a significant increase in the availability of alcohol-free products by 2025, it seems only right that Parliament should have more than three adult non-alcoholic options available.
As always, the Club Soda Guide lists more than a thousand low and no alcohol drinks for anyone to explore, whether you are a consumer, venue manager or MP!
Laura Willoughby MBE, Club Soda co-founder said: “Parliament has less choice for those not drinking than most pubs in Britain – it is just a poor show! Now is as good a time as any to address that and highlight the amazing innovation happening within the UK drinks industry which is something we should be very proud of.”
Sarah Yates, Sea Arch co-founder said: “Non-alcoholic drinks give much-needed diversity and inclusivity to our drinking culture. They also encourage us all to make healthy choices at a time when our physical and mental well-being is absolutely paramount”
Rob Fink, founder & CEO of Big Drop Brewing Co, commented: “You don’t need to look far to see that Britain leads the world in producing the best alcohol-free drinks. Parliament and its bars should be a showcase for that so we welcome the chance to be a part of it, whilst helping to keep MPs on their A game.”
Dear Mr Speaker
We are writing in relation to your announcement, on 15 October, that the sale of alcohol would be banned across the Parliamentary Estate. You said:
“As MPs represent different constituencies in different tiers – with the very highest level ordering the closure of pubs – I have decided to stop the sale of alcohol across the House of Commons end of the estate from this Saturday.”
“This means it will not be possible to buy an alcoholic drink from any of our catering outlets for the foreseeable future, whether food is served or not.”
We fully support your reasoning in banning the sale of alcoholic beverages. But we wondered if you’d considered the availability of alcohol-free alternatives?
As well as helping individuals change their drinking habits, Club Soda works closely with drink producers and licensed venues to promote choice in low and no alcohol drinks. With our support, there’s been encouraging growth in the range of alcohol-free drinks available in the UK, with more venues than ever offering high quality alternatives, and ensuring they are inclusive environments for all their customers, especially in these challenging times.
But there’s more to be done. And Parliament could take a lead in demonstrating the value that alcohol-free drinks can add to any licensed venue. So we were saddened to discover that there are only three adult alcohol-free drinks available across Parliament’s catering outlets. We would suggest that the current alcohol ban in Parliament provides an ideal opportunity to stock more alcohol-free drinks within the estate’s bars and restaurants.
We know there’s a thirst to support this growing sector. Last year, we hosted an event in Parliament with the APPG for Beer to celebrate the breadth of low and no alcohol beers being produced across the UK. The UK is seen as the leading global market for alcohol-free drinks, with many innovative producers based here, and the sector was recently boosted by the inclusion of alcohol-free drinks in the “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme.
We feel sure that MPs would want to demonstrate their commitment to supporting the Department of Health’s initiative to “work with industry to deliver a significant increase in the availability of alcohol-free and low alcohol products by 2025.” And we know that many would also want the opportunity to spotlight local producers from their constituencies.
As the UK’s mindful drinking movement, Club Soda represents over 50 low and no alcohol drink brands, as well as tens of thousands of consumers who are changing their drinking habits. If you need recommendations about the best alcohol-free drinks, we feel sure that any of the drinks company signatories of this letter would make a fantastic addition to the Parliamentary Estate.
Laura Willoughby MBE
Sarah Yates and Geoff Yates – Co-Founders, Sea Arch
Rob Fink – Founder and CEO, Big Drop
Angela Appleton – Senior Brand Manager, Heineken
Robyn Simms – Co-Founder, Square Root
David Begg – Founder, REAL Kombucha
Emma Heal – Managing Director, Lucky Saint
Johnny Johnson – Founder, UNLTD
Anja Madhvani – Brand Ambassador, Cloudwater Soda
Avnish Babla – Founder, Savyll Beverage Company
Charlie Winkworth-Smith – Founder, Saicho Drinks
Leon Mejiers – Co-Founder, Fluere Drinks
Paul Mathew – Founder, Everleaf
Damien Egan – Founder, The Mixology Collection
Craig Hutchison and Maria Sehlstrom – Co-Founders, CEDER’s Alt-Gin and Celtic Soul
Zoltan Szucs-Farkas and Simon Rucker-Joint – Joint CEO, Nine Elms
Fern McCoy – Founder, Mockingbird Spirit
Richard Clark – Founder and Managing Director, Drynks Unlimited
Mike Robinson, Mo Robinson, Steve Frehley and Louise Palmer – Founders, Jeffrey’s
Sonja Mitchell – Founder, Jump Ship Brewing
Claire Oxley – Founder, Allotment Drinks
+ many individual Club Soda members