HC Deb 24 October 1994 vol 248 c626
32. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee what financial contribution is expected in the current and next financial year from the use of banqueting rooms by outside organisations; what account is taken of this income in the overall financial planning of expenditure on the House; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Channon

In 1993-94, banqueting contributed a net profit of some £200,000 to the Refreshment Department trading fund. In that year, £190,000 was transferred from the fund to the House of Commons administration vote and a further £530,000 was contributed from the fund's accumulated surplus to the works vote. It is too soon to forecast those sums that are to be similarly transferred in the current and coming financial years to offset part of the cost of the Refreshment Department's agreed programme of modernisation.

Mr. Banks

Perhaps we should charge somewhat more for the use of those facilities. Are not some 80 per cent. of all the bookings of private banqueting rooms made by Conservative Members, often on behalf of outside companies? There are examples of Conservative Members using those facilities to raise money for the Conservative party. Why are we no longer allowed to ask the party affiliation of those who book rooms, and why are we not told which organisations benefit? Is that not a further example of sleaze and the fact that the Tory party does not want to give us that information because it will embarrass it?

Mr. Channon

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the hon. Gentleman's allegations and assertions, I am glad to tell him that that matter is the responsibility not of the Finance and Services Committee but of the Catering Committee. I hope that he will address his remarks to the Chairman of the Catering Committee and his colleagues so that they may consider them.