Matt Hancock says he was in the bar at 9.40pm but left after taking part in a vote

An official inquiry has concluded some MPs did stay up late drinking in the Commons bar past the 10pm curfew – but none of them have been named. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is now under increasing pressure to prove his whereabouts as a source continues to claim he was one of the rule-breakers, the Mail on Sunday reports.

Claims that the politicians stayed in the MP-only ‘Smoking Room’ bar beyond the enforced closure time on Monday, October 5 were investigated by the Commons Administration Committee.

Charles Walker, chairman of the committee, confirmed to the newspaper that some MPs broke the rules. He said: ‘It happened and it should not have happened… it does seem there were drinks being consumed after 10pm on that Monday night in the Smoking Room.’

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Mr Hancock’s spokesman previously said he was in the bar earlier that night and claimed ‘no rules have been broken’. He said Mr Hancock ‘departed the parliamentary estate to go home’ after taking part in a Commons vote at 9.40pm.

But some claim Mr Hancock was back in the bar after the vote and stayed as late as 10.25pm when his own rules state all venues that sell alcohol should be empty of customers by 10pm.

The original source for the story has said: ‘I stand 100 per cent by my story. I know what I saw, and when.’ The MoS say they’ve asked Mr Hancock’s spokesman 30 times to clear up whether he was back in the bar but received no answer.

Earlier that same evening, Mr Hancock was heard making jokes about the saga in which 16,000 covid cases were missed out of the official figures because of an Excel error – something which has not been denied by his spokesman. 

The Members' Smoking Room in the House of Commons in a picture taken from The Palace of Westminster: Houses of Parliament, Sir Robert Cooke (published by Macmillan).
The Smoking Room in the House of Commons

He apparently said: ‘The drinks are on me – but Public Health England are in charge of the payment methodology so I will not be paying anything.’

Alcohol sales have now been banned across the House of Commons by the speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle. 

Before this signs were put up in the Commons bars reinforcing the rule that last orders is at 9.45pm and no drinking should take place after 10pm. 

Outlets are allowed to sell food to those working late, in line with the Government regulations about workplace canteens. 

Mr Walker – who conducted the inquiry – has resisted calls to name the MPs found breaking the rules, saying it would have been ‘invidious’ to ask staff to do so.

However, Sir Alistair Graham – former chairman of the Committee on Standards In Public Life – told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I don’t know that should be so. If they are trying to apply rules in a rigorous way, why shouldn’t they ask the staff which MPs they were serving?’

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Source: Metro