HC Deb 20 March 1951 vol 485 cc2291-3
41.

asked the Minister of Works how many members of his staff were compelled to work between 2.13 a.m. and 5.41 a.m. on 9th March, 1951, in consequence of the House of Commons being in session during those hours; how long was each of these persons on duty from the commencement of his duties on 8th March, 1951, to the cessation of his duties on 9th March, 1951; and what was the additional cost entailed in this respect and in respect of additional lighting.

Sixteen men were on duty, four for 17½ hours each; nine for 18 hours; one for 21¼ hours and two for 23½ hours. The additional cost was £92, of which £54 was for wages and £38 for lighting. I am looking further into the arrangements for long Sittings.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he will consult with his colleagues who are responsible for other people who are employed in this House at those times when there is an admitted pure waste? Will he tell the House whether he can at some time or other give us a total of the men employed, the amount of money wasted, and how much it has cost both for lighting and for accommodation here in those hours?

If my hon. Friend studies my answer, I think he will be able to make that arithmetical calculation for himself, but perhaps these Sittings will not be so frequent in the future.

Is it not the case that the Government are wasting millions in many other directions, and is it not absurd, therefore, to try to curtail free discussion in this way?

42.

asked the Minister of Works what is the total cost per hour to his Department caused by Sittings of the House after 10.30 p.m.; and if he will specify the items which make up that total cost.

The total hourly cost is £10 before midnight, and £12 10s. after midnight. Of this £4 7s. up to midnight, and £6 15s. 8d. after midnight, is for wages; £4 10s. for electricity; 5s. for gas and, it is estimated, £1 for fuel.

Can the Minister say whether these working hours and other arrangements are fixed by trade union agreement, and if so, to what union does the staff belong?

This is all by arrangement and, as I said on the previous Question, I am looking into the problems connected with the late hours. However, the staff are perfectly happy with the arrangements and there have been no complaints.

No!

But do they belong to a union?

I could not say.

Does the charge of five shillings for gas include the unnecessary gas evaporated by the other side?