§ Mr. Colin Shepherd
The Catering Committee has now concluded its review of private dining facilities. In its deliberations, the Committee endorsed several general principles on the proper use of these facilities, and agreed that a reasonable degree of transparency would be appropriate in releasing statistics on bookings in response to parliamentary questions, based on those provided by the then Leader of the House on 10 November 1989.
The Committee also considered whether Members hosting a function should indicate whether they had a relevant registered interest, and agreed to a new procedure which is set out in the resolution passed on 25 January 1995, which records the Committee's conclusions and is, for the benefit of the House, set out in full:
Resolved, That the Committee, having considered the principle and operation of private dining facilities in the House, do conclude that:
- (a) it is appropriate for the House to have private dining rooms; it is acceptable for these facilities to be used for party political functions or for "lobbying purposes"; and because of security and other implications, no alternative use of the rooms is considered appropriate.
- (b) it is unacceptable for the private dining rooms to be used for any purpose involving direct commercial gain, or as an inducement to recruit new members of outside organisations or non-Parliamentary associations.
- (c) the special status of the following Parliamentary organisations be recognised by permitting them to book the private dining rooms in their own names:
- (i) Select Committees of the House and the British-Irish Parliamentary Body;
- (ii) The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the British-American Parliamentary Group, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, the North Atlantic Assembly and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly;
- (iii) The Industry and Parliament Trust;
- (iv) registered All-Party and Parliamentary Groups; and
- (v) established Dining Clubs.
- (d) in the interests of clarifying the stance of a Member hosting a function in a private dining room, he or she should indicate a relevant registered interest by answering the following questions, to be added to the booking form:
- (i) "Do you have a registered interest relating to your sponsorship of this function? Yes/No".
- (ii) "Are you making this booking on behalf of another Member? Yes/No."
- (iii) "If Yes, does this other Member have a registered interest relating to the sponsorship of this function? Yes/No";
- and that, in addition, invitations should be annotated appropriately "Relevant registered interest declared"".
The Committee also agreed that the resolution should take effect from the return of the House after the Easter adjournment, and that in response to future parliamentary questions requesting statistics of the booking of private 672W dining rooms, I should answer giving figures on the basis of the statistics compiled from the date of implementation of this resolution.
Finally, I wish to advise the hon. Member that the Committee's full formal "Minutes of Proceedings" are today available from the Vote Office or through HMSO.