HC Deb 12 April 1965 vol 710 cc150-1W
Sir D. Kaberry

asked the Postmaster-General how many staff and other canteens are established and run in his Department's offices in London; what is the lowest price charged for a midday meal; what is the average price charged; whether those prices represent the economic cost of purchases, preparation, service and rentals; how much profit is made or how much loss sustained in a year; and how a loss is dealt with in the annual accounts or estimates of his Department.

Mr. Benn

There are approximately 330 clubs, all of which are operated by a management committee of users. Prices are fixed by the committees, items being normally priced separately. No information is held on individual price charges, but it is possible that the lowest price for which a two-course meal is available might be of the order of 2s. and an average price of 3s. This, of course, depends on this dishes selected.

The prices are designed to cover cost of food, cost of labour and certain minor overheads. There is no payment for rent, rates, fixed equipment, light, heat and fuel; these are borne by the Post Office. Cleaning is provided by the Department as a part of office cleaning or an equivalent cash subsidy given in lieu. There is a small labour cash subsidy not exceeding £70 per annum allowed for refreshment clubs employing less than 12 catering staff. Trading is operated on a no profit basis. Audited accounts have to be submitted annually to the appropriate Regional or Headquarters Finance Officer. If a refreshment club committee through unforeseen circumstances incurs a loss, the Treasury Catering Adviser is asked to investigate and give advice designed to ensure that measures are taken to stabilise the trading.