IT HAS quenched the thirsts of MPs for years but now Hampshire mineral water could be banned from the corridors of power amid fears it is not eco-friendly.

Hildon mineral water, based near Romsey, has been supplying the Houses of Parliament for five years but a review into whether it should be replaced with more environmentally friendly tap water could spell the end of the lucrative contract.

The Commons facilities department is due to report back after Easter on the provision of bottled water at committee meetings, following claims by Environment Minister Phil Woolas that drinking bottled water bordered on being "morally unacceptable"

because it used 300 times more energy than drinking tap water.

This comes after it was revealed that Hildon, based some 77 miles from London, had clocked up more than 70,000 miles delivering its water to Westminster over the past five years.

Now Romsey MP Sandra Gidley, within whose constituency the bottling plant at Broughton is based, has waded into the debate vowing to fight any knee jerk reaction.

Responding to concerns that the water posed a "major environmental issue" Mrs Gidley said: "I would hope that instead of some stringent adherence to the latest political correctness we are presented with a choice in future."

The Liberal Democrat MP told the Daily Echo afterwards: "It's not sensible to rush into this. I want to protect Hampshire water as much as I can and I will be cautioning against knee-jerk reaction for wholesale change. People should have a choice and I'm not happy with the idea of banning it completely."

Mrs Gidley said boycotting bottled water was "one of those cosmetic things people do to make people think they are doing their bit".

But she added: "They are not looking at the bigger picture. For heaven's sake, there are more important things to worry about than bottled water."

Mrs Gidley said there were security reasons for MPs to have bottled water.

She said: "If you have jugs of open tap water anything could be put into it."

A spokesman for Hildon, which employs about 70 people, said: "Our London deliveries are made by emissionfree vans, so not only are we closer than other sources, but we have greener deliveries than most suppliers in the capital."