Row as Scottish Parliament snubs local suppliers for English tea

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes tea and coffee for staff and service users during a visit to St Joseph's Services in Rosewell, Scotland, which provides support to adults with learning disabilities.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes tea and coffee for staff and service users during a visit to St Joseph's Services in Rosewell, Scotland, which provides support to adults with learning disabilities.
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George Orwell called it one of the mainstays of civilisation and millions swear by it as a comfort in times of stress.

But “a nice cup of tea” is stirring up a storm at Holyrood amid accusations the Scottish Parliament is ignoring its own policy of using locally-sourced products.

All tea served in the parliament is currently supplied by London-based Jacksons of Piccadilly.

But Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said there were plenty Scottish tea firms who could meet Holyrood’s tea needs.

He said: “Constituents who have visited Holyrood have expressed surprise that a local tea supplier, such as the renowned Brodies which is based in Musselburgh, does not have its products used or for sale within the parliament.

Mr Briggs has now written to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, which is in charge of Holyrood’s housekeeping, calling for catering contractors Sodexo to meet Brodies and other potential Scottish suppliers.

He said: “The corporate body catering standards policy indicates it wants to help to promote Scottish produce whilst reducing Holyrood’s carbon footprint but this doesn’t appear to be the case at present in terms of the tea supplied here. Given we have some world class producers locally, it seems to me that the parliament’s caterers should be looking to use a local supplier.

“This would be both a real boost to both the company involved and a positive move in terms of reducing the parliament’s food miles.

“I hope the corporate body will agree to look into this matter and help support a local or Scottish tea manufacturer supply our parliament.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said Sodexo had previously approached Scottish tea suppliers, including Brodies. “Unfortunately, the tea suppliers were not able to guarantee that the tea they supply is Fairly Traded. As we specify the use of Fairly Traded tea within our contract terms and our catering standards policy, they were not, therefore, able to qualify as a tea supplier for us.”