British parliament could become wedding venue

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The buildings housing the British parliament could host wedding receptions and open their restaurants to the public under plans unveiled on Tuesday to cut the annual catering bill.

A cross-party committee of lawmakers even suggested that the historic Westminster Hall, where king Charles I was tried and Winston Churchill was laid in state, could be hired out for private functions at £25,000 (28,400 euros, $41,000).

The dining terrace alongside the River Thames may also be opened to the public.

The catering operation at the Palace of Westminster -- as the complex of buildings is officially known -- makes an annual loss of £5.7 million.

The proposals are aimed at cutting the costs by half.

The lawmakers said the catering operation's losses were growing because of lawmakers' changing habits.

Healthier lifestyles and stricter working practices have reduced the number of formal lunches and left parliament's four main dining rooms under-occupied.

The House of Lords, the upper house of parliament, and Queen Elizabeth II would have approve any proposals to open up the facilities to the public.

© 2011 AFP

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