10 days ago on 30th November the theme of Scotch Eggs first arose from George Eustice who stated in an interview on LBC that they “would count as a substantial meal if there were table service” So the challenge for many of us is the source of a Scotch egg. As David Laing who is the co-owner of North Yorkshire-based specialists The Clucking Pig explained at the time “A lot of them are very quick, very commercial, cheap stuff. But the likes of ours are a proper meal. You get a large free-range egg, 90g of rare breed Berkshire pork, fresh breadcrumbs, it’s probably a three-and-a-half inch circumference. The royal family have had ours – they’re very filling. A lot of people have to halve them.” However the following day there was an initial response from Michael Gove in an interview that “A scotch egg is definitely a substantial meal” but less than an hour later at another interview he stated that “As far as I’m concerned it’s probably a starter … My own preference when it comes to a substantial meal might be more than just a scotch egg but that’s because I’m a hearty trencherman. The government is relying on people’s common sense.” He also explained in one of the interviews at that time that the concept of the substantial meal had existed in law for many years, allowing families to buy 16-year-olds an alcoholic drink with food, but he could not say what it constituted when asked although he claims “They [pubs] already do know what the rules are and they have for years now”
According to the They Work For You data there have been a total of 8 references to Scotch Eggs since the 1st June 1960 when it was introduced by Tony Benn, with another in 1979, followed by 1988 and finally (before COVID) in 2011. So these four references have now been matched by four more since 30th November. The first was from Jon Ashworth during the debate on the acceptance of the three tier arrangements that took place on 1st December at lunchtime. He stated as part of his comment “There have been issues in the detail of the instrument that have caused problems. We have had the ministerial muddle of the last 24 hours around scotch eggs.” but nothing more was said during that debate. However six hours later the House of Lords debated the same subject and Viscount Ridley stated “There are lots of places in the world that are controlling this virus with moderate, pragmatic and flexible initiatives that focus on what matters and do not try to define scotch eggs.” Then two days later on the third of December Jacob Rees-Mogg finished a statement he was making on Business of the House with this subject
Finally—Scotch eggs. We had better finish on Scotch eggs, because I know this is a matter of great interest. I refer to the elephant bird. Do you know, Mr Speaker, that the egg of the elephant bird, which is now extinct, could weigh up to 22 pounds? That is quite a big egg. If you turned that into a Scotch egg, it would unquestionably be a substantial meal. If, on the other hand, you were to take a quail’s egg and make that into a Scotch egg, it would be a mere snack. In between, the great British people will make their mind up, along with publicans up and down the country, as to whether it is a snack or a substantial meal.
So finally a formal written question was asked by Caroline Lucas and on Monday in the House of Commons the answer was made by Nadine Dorries which appears to be yet an other U turn compared to the final response from Gove and the only comment from Rees-Mogg:
CL: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued on how many scotch eggs constitute a substantial meal under proposed Tier 2 covid-19 restrictions.
ND: The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.
So we can now wait with baited breath to find out what the answer will be!