HC Deb 22 May 1950 vol 475 cc1647-8
57. Mr. Gammans

asked the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, if he is aware of the growing resentment throughout the country at the increasing deficits in the House of Commons catering, which have to be borne by the taxpayer; and what steps he proposes to take to reduce this charge on the public.

Mr. Coldrick

I am aware of the misunderstanding throughout the country concerning the deficits in the House of Commons catering, and this House will be asked shortly to consider proposals to deal with the problem.

Mr. Gammans

Would the hon. Gentleman say under what principle the Kitchen Committee are trying to run Members' catering? Are they accepting the principle that we ought to pay the full cost of our meals, or are they expecting us to live at the taxpayers' expense? If so, why?

Mr. Coldrick

I have indicated that proposals will be submitted shortly. In anticipation of that, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that if we charged twice as much as we are charging at present for the food supplied to Members it would not cover the deficit. Therefore, the question he raises does not arise.

Captain Waterhouse

Is it not quite wrong that our food should be subsidised by the taxpayer?

Mr. Coldrick

I want to make it perfectly clear that Members are not being subsidised as far as their food is concerned.

Mrs. Mann

Could my hon. Friend say how it is that Members who are never anywhere near the Dining Room, and who eat outside, are still being accused of being subsidised?

Mr. Gammans

If the loss of £20,000, or whatever it is, is not a subsidy, will the hon. Gentleman explain exactly what it is?

Mr. Coldrick

As I say, there will be a discussion on the general proposals, but I would remind hon. Members that the Catering Committee caters not merely for Members of Parliament but for about 1,800 people who have business in the House every day.

Air-Commodore Harvey

In submitting the proposals, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the most unsatisfactory layout in the kitchens and the other rooms concerned, and put forward a plan which will once for all put the kitchen and catering arrangements on a really satisfactory basis?

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is it not true that great good would be done if hon. Members await the report of the Committee, which will be in their hands in a short while, and do not prejudge this issue on an incomplete knowledge of the facts?