§ 28. Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the hon. Member for Berwick upon Tweed, as representing the House of 16 Commons Commission, what provisions are made for the welfare of staff in the Refreshment Department during the summer months.
§ Mr. Beith
In order to alleviate the worst effects on staff of the hot and humid weather experienced during the summer months considerable improvements have been made in recent years to the ventilation and air-flow arrangements in almost all the Refreshment Department's kitchens and public rooms. As a result only one trading point —s Bar—has no form of mechanical ventilation or air conditioning. Further improvements are planned.
§ Mr. Banks
I should have thought that there was sufficient hot air circulating in Annie's Bar, such that any special provision would not be warranted. In view of some of the conversations that emanate from that Bar, would it not be appropriate for the hon. Gentleman to consider closing it?
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this place is one of the smelliest and sweatiest that I have ever worked in, and that it is especially so for the staff? Are not the provisions for staff in this "Upstairs Downstairs" world of the Palace wholly inappropriate? Quite frankly, they should not be tolerated. I ask the hon. Gentleman to make further recommendations to make the working conditions for staff much better.
§ Mr. Beith
There are, indeed, further proposals to improve working conditions for Refreshment Department staff. More that £750,000 was spent on a scheme to improve the ventilation and air conditioning of the main kitchens. Half that sum came from the Refreshment Department's trading surplus, to which Members themselves contributed. Nevertheless, more work is required to improve conditions for our staff. It was, after all, to Politicians and not to people working in kitchens that the advice was given, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".