HC Deb 21 March 2000 vol 346 cc855-6
50. Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what has been the cost this Session of staff of the House remaining on duty as a result of sittings after midnight. [114063]

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (on behalf of the House of Commons Commission)

This Session, the total cost of staff remaining on duty for sittings that continued after midnight has been approximately £35,000. Overtime costs for police and security staff, due to sittings after midnight, totalled £64,000.

Fiona Mactaggart

Has the House of Commons Commission made any assessment of the impact of those usually unannounced late-night sittings on the morale of the people who work in this institution? Such sittings make Members of the House do their job less well. I am confident that they make the people who work in the cafes, the Library and so on do their jobs less well. Will he consider their impact on the recruitment and retention of the staff who serve us so well?

Mr. Kirkwood

The House of Commons Commission is always considerate of the needs and demands of staff, especially as regards late-night sittings. However, I assure the hon. Lady that such sittings are well-established parts of contracts of employment. The people who work in the House know exactly the conditions that apply. I assure her that if Members have at heart the long-term interests of the staff who have to work late, they will not vote to sit after 10 pm.

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