MP wants Branston in the House

Saturday, 13 May, 2006

AS British as bowler hats and warm beer, HP Brown Sauce has been the condiment of choice in the birthplace of democracy for a century.

But the brown sauce - emblazoned with an image of the Houses of Parliament, from which it takes its name - has seen its British credentials take a blow after bosses at Heinz announced production could move to Holland.

Now, an MP is now calling for a Suffolk-made sauce to take its place on Parliamentary dining tables.

David Ruffley, Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, is pushing the case for Branston brown sauce, which is produced in Bury.

He said: 'I am urging the Administration Committee to remove HP Sauce from the Parliamentary Estate and replace it with British produced Branston Brown Sauce.

'Branston, which is exported to 70 countries, is made in Bury by Premier Foods and deserves the support of the Palace of Westminster.

'Branston would also consider ensuring that the Houses of Parliament image is continued on bottles of Branston brown sauce.

'If Heinz want to go abroad to make HP, that's up to them. But they should lose the right to supply the House of Commons which should replace them with excellent British Branston brown sauce, produced in Bury.'

Sue Knight, of Branston, said: 'We would be delighted to supply the House with a proper British brown sauce on demand. We know how close British-produced Branston is to the hearts of the nation.

'If HP is asked to remove the Houses of Parliament from its label, we would certainly be willing to consider having this proud symbol of democracy on our brown sauce bottle.'

Nigel Dickie, spokesman for HP's parent company Heinz, defended the proposal to move production to Holland, which he said would continue to be made to the same standards.

He said: 'This is a rather desperate attempt to gain some publicity for Branston brown sauce which has failed to make an impression on brown sauce lovers in this country.

'Perhaps now Mr Ruffley will insisting all stamps are printed in this country or all the Houses of Parliament souvenirs are made in the UK?'

The announcement that Heinz wants to close the HP plant in Birmingham and move production to Holland has prompted an Early Day Motion (EDM) amendment from Mr Ruffley.

An EDM is a motion put down by Members of Parliament calling for a debate on a particular subject.

In practice, there is rarely time to debate EDMs nowadays and their true modern-day purpose is to enable MPs to draw attention to an issue and to canvass support for their views by inviting other Members to add their signatures in support of the motion.

HP sauce has been made in Birmingham for 103 years and the move will result in the loss of 125 jobs.