A former Conservative minister is fronting a package in which standard tour tickets for parliament are sold on as “exclusive” for a gigantic markup. Gyles Brandreth, a whip under John Major now known for his broadcasting work, will be paid to entertain guests over lunch before a tour of the Commons and Lords.
And while lunches at the Grovesnor Hotel cost from £20.95 and tour tickets £15, the package is being flogged for an astonishing £225. Billed as “an exclusive guided showround of The Houses of Parliament”, the tour is is run by Hertfordshire-based Prestige Promotions:
“Join us for this most special lunch and late afternoon peep behind the scenes of the corridors of power in Westminster, following a very entertaining lunchtime talk given by former MP and Government Whip Gyles Brandreth”
While tours of the Palace of Westminster are usually free and must be sponsored by an MP or Lord, tickets for those given on Saturdays or when parliament is in recess are available for £15. Prestige Promotions have block-booked those made available officially on Ticketmaster.
Despite Conservative MP Jonathan Sayeed losing the Tory whip over the sale of tours in 2005, the practice of selling passes on is perfectly legal and well known to Commons authorities. Sources have told Scrapbook that recess tour tickets are regularly bought by London hotels and sold on to guests for huge profits.
It’s the Westminster equivalent of a dodgy package holiday.