HC Deb 31 March 1952 vol 498 cc1179-81
58. Mrs. Eirene White

asked the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, what consultations were held with the staff before the recent changes in catering arrangements in the House of Commons were introduced.

Mr. Steward

None, Sir.

Mrs. White

Can the hon. Gentleman explain to the House why it was that the Staff Sub-Committee of the Kitchen Committee held no consultations with the representatives of the staff in view of the fairly extensive changes which were being made in their conditions of work?

Mr. Steward

The Kitchen Committee alone are responsible to the House for decisions as to policy, which is quite different from conditions of service, upon which consultations always take place.

Mr. Gibson

Is it not completely contrary to all industrial practice in this country that this kind of thing should happen without consultation with the representatives of the staff? Should that not have occurred

Mr. Steward

The changes in catering arrangements were very carefully considered by the Kitchen Committee as a matter of policy and in the interests of economy. The staff were informed of the Committee's decision.

Mrs. White

Will the hon. Gentleman in future take into account the speeches which are made by hon. Members on both sides of the House concerning the desirability of joint consultation in industry, and as the staff in the Palace of Westminster are not organised on a trade union basis, as I believe they are in Buckingham Palace, will he agree that he has a responsibility to see that the best practices of industrial consultation are carried out here?

Mr. Steward

I will draw the attention of my Committee to the observations of hon. Members, and take the Committee's instructions.

Dr. Summerskill

As good catering depends to a large extent upon good service, can the hon. Gentleman say how he can divorce policy from the conditions of service?

Captain Charles Waterhouse

Is it not a fact that the Refreshment Department is losing a great deal of money, which has to be borne or refunded by the taxpayers, and is it not incumbent on the Kitchen Committee and this House to do everything they can to reduce that loss?

59. Sir Albert Braithwaite

asked the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, what losses were made in the Members' dining room, in the Public rooms, and in the Press Rooms, respectively, in 1951; how much was paid to the staff during the Recess in 1951; and how far there were any takings in the periods of Parliamentary Recess in 1951.

Mr. Steward

These figures are approximate. For the Members' rooms the loss was £8,400, for the staff canteen £1,900, for the public rooms, £7,500, for the Press rooms £3,700, a total of £21,500. The actual figure was £21,488.

During the Recess period, 1951, the figure for staff wages and meals was £18,252, and the gross takings were £3,901.

Mr. Beswick

Can the hon. Gentleman give the figures for comparative losses as between the Press rooms and the Members' rooms, for example, on a per capita basis?

Mr. Steward

That would be very difficult without notice.

Dr. Horace King

Will the hon. Gentleman give the corresponding figure for the Members' Tea Room?

Mr. Steward

The total amount for the Members' rooms is £8,400 and, speaking from memory, £1,700 of that represents the Members' Tea Room.