HC Deb 29 July 1974 vol 878 cc26-7
50. Mr. David Steel

asked the Chairman of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) if he is now able to extend official recognition to the Secretaries' Council.

Mr. Bottomley

There are difficulties over formal recognition at this time, but the Services Committee and the authorities of the House are always ready to consider representations on any matters within their responsibility.

Mr. Steel

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that both the methods of employment and the conditions of work of Members' secretaries throughout the building should be examined by his Committee? Has he received written evidence from the Secretaries' Council? If so, does his Committee intend to follow that up by inviting the council to give oral evidence to the Committee?

Mr. Bottomley

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the secretaries are the responsibility of individual Members. I agree that there is a need to consider the matter, and at some time I hope that it can be done.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Will my right hon. Friend indicate whether not only the Secretaries' Council but other recognised trade union organisations are consulted by the Services Committee? Will he tell the House whether the employees' organisations in the House were consulted before his Committee decided to close the entrance from the Underground station?

Mr. Bottomley

It is necessary to consult everybody who if affected by decisions of the Services Committee. No decision has been taken to close the entrance to the tunnel to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Mikardo

Does my right hon. Friend recall that the answer he gave to the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) is virtually a repetition of the answers that I have been hearing in this House, on and off, for more than 25 years—namely, recognition that there is a problem but that there are difficulties at present? When will the "present time" for this purpose come to an end? Will it take less than another 25 years?

Mr. Bottomley

My hon. Friend will recognise that until the secretaries are able to get into an organisation from which they will speak with one voice the answer will be the same over the next 25 years.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we get better answers from him than from the Government Front Bench? Will he answer Questions more often and his Front Bench less often?

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