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Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons (Refreshment Department)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th October 1945.

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Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton 12:00 am, 19th October 1945

(by Private Notice) asked the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee whether he will give an interim report on the work of the Kitchen Committee.

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

Yes Sir. Since the last Debate in the House the Kitchen Committee has given active consideration to the suggestions put forward by Members of all parties, and at their last meeting the following decisions were made:

  1. 1. Substantial reductions are to be made in the charges for meals in the Members' Dining Room, and for Members only in the Strangers' Dining Room. From Monday next, there will be a "House" lunch and dinner for Members, Officers of the House, and Press at 1s. 6d. lunch, 2s. dinner.
  2. 2. Tipping is to be abolished in all departments under the control of the Kitchen Committee. A notice to this effect is to be circulated to all Members with the week-end Whip.
  3. 3. Consent of Mr. Speaker and Serjeant at Arms to be asked for notices to be posted.
  4. 4. A revised scale of wages, to operate as from Monday next, to be drawn up in consultation with the waiting staff.
  5. 5. Continuity of employment to be guaranteed to regular staff throughout the year.
  6. 6. The assistance of the Treasury to be sought in framing an adequate Pension Scheme.
On behalf of the Kitchen Committee may I express the hope that these proposals will meet with the approval of Members and that Members will cooperate whole-heartedly in carrying out the proposal regarding the abolition of tipping.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

May I ask you, Sir, a question arising out of the satisfactory statement of my hon. Friend? Supposing any hon. Member is found seeking to tip or tipping, is there some procedure by which that hon. Member would be reprimanded?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I should hesitate to act precipitately in the matter myself. I have no doubt that the common sense of Members themselves will render any reprimand unnecessary.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

Has my hon. Friend any indication from the staff about the reception of the proposals? Are they agreeable to the staff?

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

I had the opportunity this morning of addressing a meeting of the waiting staff and of putting the proposals before them and indicating what the Committee had in mind as to the compensation that might be given to them in the arrangement of their wages in order to make up for the loss of tips. As far as I am able to ascertain, they are perfectly satisfied. There may be individual cases which will have to be adjusted. I would add that since this news leaked out in some sections of the Press, the manager of the Refreshment Department has been almost embarrassed by the number of applications that have come by telephone and telegram from waiters in hotels, who now wish to transfer their services to the House.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

Is it anticipated that these changes will be on a self-supporting financial basis, or will they involve some sort of grant from the Treasury?

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

It is very difficult to answer that question. There has been a very considerable increase in the amount of custom that has come to the Refreshment Department since the improvements were effected. This is not the end of the improvements; it is only the end of the beginning. The first proposal which the Kitchen Committee submitted in discussions with the Treasury was that it was unfair to ask the Kitchen Committee or Members of the House to bear the cost of the wages of the staff when the House is not sitting, and that the Treasury should consider taking that financial burden upon them and carrying the wages cost when the House is in vacation. I think that probably the Treasury will be willing; in fact, I am assured by the Treasury that they will have no objection to that position. With the increased revenue coming to the Kitchen Com- mittee, we shall be able to get along as we have done for many years past.

Photo of Sir A.P. Herbert Sir A.P. Herbert , Oxford University

Will the hon. Member express the thanks of the House, not only to Members of the Kitchen Committee for these proposals, but to the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who has been working for some years for these improvements?

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

I must call the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that it is not in accordance with long Parliamentary experience that anyone in any part of the House should, at any time, say a kind word about the Kitchen Committee.