HC Deb 04 June 1924 vol 174 cc1252-3

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether his attention has been called to the fact that at one of the restaurants at the British Empire Exhibition run by Messrs. Lyons and Company, in the exercise of their monopoly, the prices are as follows; tea, 7s. 6d.; dinner, 25s., cocktail, 2s. 6d.; and if he will take immediate steps to have these prices reduced to a level which will not bring disrepute to the Exhibition in the eyes of the visitors, who include many thousands from the Colonies?


I am informed by the British Empire Exhibition authorities that the particular restaurant to which the hon. and learned Member no doubt refers was provided by Messrs. Lyons with the approval of the board of management, who felt that there was scope for an establishment which would be comparable with the best class of restaurant in the West End of London. I understand that the charges in question include facilities for dancing. As over 50 other restaurants have been provided, at which the charges are designed to meet the requirements of all sections of the public, I do not consider it necessary to make any representations to the British Empire Exhibition authorities on the subject.


Is the hon. Member aware that the catering arrangements are quite inadequate for dealing with the 150,000 people who were there last Saturday?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. NALL

In view of the fact that a very large number of people will be going to the Exhibition next week, and that to-day, when the attendance is below normal, people were waiting in a queue at 12.30 at one restaurant, and at 12.50 they were waiting in a queue at another restaurant, and the other restaurants were all full; and in view of the fact that it is impossible with the present accommodation to deal with all the visitors, will the hon. Member see that steps are taken to improve matters?


I think my hon. Friend has a written question down on the Paper on this particular matter, and he might await the answer, in which I inform him that additional cafes are likely to be provided.


Is there any power in the management of the Exhibition to control the prices charged in the restaurants?


I am not aware of it.


This point arises on the next question.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what control the management of the British Empire Exhibition are able to exercise over the catering arrangements in the hands of Messrs. Lyons; whether, he will consider the propriety of having, a representative of the Exhibition management in each restaurant to receive the complaints of visitors, and a policeman at the door of each to control the unseemly quarrels which now take place; and can he state what, if any, proportion of the waiters are British born, and how many possess a fair working knowledge of the English language?


With regard to the first part of the question, I beg to refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply which I gave him on the 26th May. With regard to the second part, I have asked the British Empire Exhibition authorities to investigate the matter which he has been good enough to bring to my notice, and to take such action as may be possible or within their competence to remove any cause for complaint. I have no information regarding the third part of the question, but I understand that the foreign waiters employed by the caterers are part of their regular staff.