HC Deb 03 December 1951 vol 494 cc2027-8
64. Rev. Llywelyn Williams

asked the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, on whose authority is a table reserved for certain hon. Members in the Members' Dining Room.

65. Mr. John Parker

asked the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, when and by whom permission was given for seats to be reserved in the Members' Dining Room.

Mr. William A. Steward (Chairman of the Kitchen Committee)

By custom and with the sanction of the Kitchen Committee, tables in the Members' Dining Room have always been reserved for certain purposes. There are tables for Members of the Government Front Bench, Members of the Opposition Front Bench, the Liberal Party, and so on. I presume that this Question refers specifically to the small table in the southwest corner in which by custom and with the sanction of the Kitchen Committee the Government Chief Whip has had at least since 1921 a special interest. The holder of this office is, of course, perpetually in the House, has to have meals at uncertain hours, and may wish to take the opportunity for private conversations. However, after the Election in 1945 the then Government Chief Whip did not use this table and the custom lapsed. While the present Government Chief Whip would find it a convenience if the custom could continue, he has made it quite clear to me, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, that he will not entertain the idea if, under present conditions, it causes inconvenience to other hon. Members. He will, therefore, abide by the decision of the Kitchen Committee, which has just been set up and to which this question will be referred.

Rev. LI. Williams

Is the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee aware that one of the most pathetic sights these days in the Palace of Westminster is to see a number of Conservative Members gazing despairingly at that empty table and looking with envy at those fortunate Members who are sitting at tables wolfishly devouring huge chunks of red meat? Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that the reservation of this table is typical of the Conservative outlook and completely at variance with the outlook of the present Opposition.

Mr. Parker

Is there not much to be said for the Chief Whip eating and talking with other people who are not Whips?