Tea and biscuits are regularly offered to non-Parliamentary visitors attending government events, but Mr Pickles said that “on pain of death” Ministers do not consume any of the snacks as part of efforts to reduce the cost of government hospitality.
The issue was raised during a series of Twitter questions to Mr Pickles. One tweeter asked, “For the record, how much did your Government spend on biscuits in the last financial year?”
Mr Pickles replied, “The sum related to the amount of hospitality we offer… is 17% of the sum the last Labour government spent on hospitality.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to offer people a warm beverage or something to eat if they’ve travelled – or if the thing’s going to last – more than four hours. But with regard to whether or not any minister has consumed any of this, I can tell you on pain of death none of them have. We don’t do that kind of thing.”
Twitter users had sent in question for Mr Pickles under the #AskPickles hashtag, a selection of which were put to the Minister by members of the Communities and Local Government committee. Committee Chairman Clive Betts MP said there had been more than 1,600 tweets but “one or two of them were not fit for our session this afternoon”.
Mr Pickles told the committee “there were some questions I actually blushed with.” At least one tweet had referred to an intimate part of the minister’s anatomy.