HC Deb 15 May 1978 vol 950 cc19-20
19. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is the element of subsidy provided on food served in Civil Service dining rooms and canteens in the various Ministries whose headquarters are in London.

The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Charles R. Morris)

By direct subsidy, just over 2p per day per employee, covering both meals and tea or coffee, based on about 50 per cent. of civil servants having access to staff restaurants. The figure for the London area is just over 2½p.

Mr. Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the loss on the catering of the House of Commons is due to large numbers of people other than Members of Parliament using the refreshment services? Is he also aware that the charges for meals in the dining rooms and canteens in Whitehall are cheaper than in this place?

Mr. Morris

I am not aware that the cost of meals in dining rooms and restaurants in the Civil Service Department or any other Department of State is cheaper than in this place. On the general question of the financial implications of providing meals in staff restaurants, the hon. Gentleman might be interested to know that the Industrial Society surveyed the catering provisions of more than 100 firms in 1976. It reported that about 33 per cent. of the companies recovered only the cost of the food from their staff.

Mr. Buchan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of the best natural food that can be obtained is in Scotland? Will he try to persuade some of the more senior civil servants, who appear to be dragging their feet on dispersal, that by no means the least of the advantages that they would have on expediting the dispersal of civil servants to Glasgow would be to get some good food?

Mr. Morris

In that regard I agree with my hon. Friend. I hope that civil servants generally will have noted his comments.

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