HC Deb 30 November 1944 vol 406 cc186-7

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to control the arrangements for the Kitchen and Refreshment Rooms in the department of the Serjeant at Arms attending this House."—[Major Sir James Edmondson.]

5.58 p.m.

Mr. Driberg (Maldon)

Before the House agrees to the appointment of this Committee, I would like to raise one point briefly which I think would be in Order. It might happen—I do not think there is any particular secret about this—that some time within the near future, at any rate within the next year, this Committee might be called upon to appoint a new catering manager, to supervise the Refreshment Department of this House. If that were to happen, I want to suggest that the Committee should make only an interim appointment, pending the fuller demobilisation of the Forces. I want to suggest that, not only because it seems to some extent a matter of fairness to those now serving in the Forces who might be well equipped to fill this quite responsible post, but also in the interest of securing the most efficient man for the job. I am sure that there must be many thousands of people now serving in the Forces who could perhaps fill that job very efficiently, but who would not be considered if a permanent appointment were to be made in the near future.

Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)

I do not know what the procedure is, but I would like to oppose the appointment of this Committee before the House has had an opportunity of discussing the facilities and the services provided by the Committee. I think I am not alone in suggesting to-day that this Committee be not appointed.

6 p.m.

Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

I want to support that point of view. I know very well that people work under very great disabilities in war-time, but I do not see any reason at all why the House of Commons should submit itself to the pro- longed masochism of the Kitchen Committee. I am going to oppose the re-appointment of the Committee on the grounds of general incompetence. We have raised this matter on several occasions and we have had no satisfaction. Now it is well known that these Committees are usually appointed by consultation through the usual channels, and over many years these quite worthy Members of the House of Commons, distinguished only by an absence of gastronomic imagination, have been in charge, and we have borne it. I do not see why we should continue to bear it any longer. The meals are bad, expensive, and dull. You can go into any British Restaurant in this country and get better food more cheaply than you can get in the House of Commons, and I see no reason at all why we should bear this any longer. Therefore, before we agree to the reappointment of the Kitchen Committee, I think the House of Commons ought to be given an opportunity of discussing the matter.

It being Six o'Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.