HC Deb 18 April 1994 vol 241 cc634-5
31. Mr. Flynn

To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, what new proposals he has for additional funding to change the use of rooms used for hospitality in the Palace of Westminster.

Mr. A.J. Beith (on behalf of the House of Commons Commission)

The Commission has received no proposals for additional funding for this purpose. I understand that the Catering Committee has no plans to reallocate the private dining rooms operated by the Refreshment Department.

Mr. Flynn

Would not it be beneficial for funds if the mean and spiteful proposal to ban journalists from the Terrace were replaced by a proposal to double the price of alcoholic beverages? The money received could be used both to benefit the health of Members and journalists and to improve the wages paid to our staff. It could also be used to answer a letter that I sent to the Catering Committee on 13 October asking for improvements in our facilities, not for those who spend every day here, but for the groups of pensioners and children from our constituencies who come here once in a lifetime—so that we can offer them the simple hospitality of a cup of tea.

Mr. Beith

The hon. Gentleman has embraced a wide range of subjects in his supplementary question. The Catering Committee has made proposals to provide facilities in the visitors centre which could take over the cafeteria off Westminster Hall, but those proposals depend on alternative facilities being provided to replace the lunch and other catering arrangements provided there now.

Staff wages in the House compare favourably with those in the private sector.