House of Commons (Harcourt Room)

Oral Answers to Questions — Shipping – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th December 1952.

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Photo of Sir John Crowder Sir John Crowder , Finchley 12:00 am, 15th December 1952

asked the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, if, in view of the present congestion in the Strangers' Dining Room, he will consider using the Harcourt Room after the Recess for luncheons and dinners for visitors as in previous Parliaments.

Photo of Sir William Steward Sir William Steward , Woolwich West

The Kitchen Committee is giving most careful consideration to this matter. It is hoped to reach a decision early in the New Year.

Photo of Sir John Crowder Sir John Crowder , Finchley

Is my hon. Friend aware that the present tables in the Dining Room are very overcrowded? As many visitors are expected in Coronation year, exceeding the number this year, would he do what he can to persuade his Committee to restore the Harcourt Room to the purpose for which it was built and for which hitherto it has always been used?

Photo of Sir William Steward Sir William Steward , Woolwich West

The need for additional guest room accommodation for lunch and dinner on certain occasions is appreciated, but during most of the week the facilities now provided appear to cope adequately with the demand. I will, however, draw the attention of the Committee to the remarks of my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

Was this arrangement not announced in the House as being in accordance with the expressed purpose of the Committee to try to make a profit out of catering? Could the convenience of Members be re-instated in its proper position of priority?

Photo of Sir William Steward Sir William Steward , Woolwich West

The Committee, at their last meeting, considered the pros and cons of this matter but could not reach a decision. It will be placed on the agenda of the next meeting when I feel that a decision will be made.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Is my hon. Friend aware that there would be more people coming to the House for dinner if they knew for certain that they would get a table? Do the Committee estimate that a greater revenue would accrue to the Committee if the Harcourt Room were used as at present or if it were used as a dining room?

Photo of Mr George Sylvester Mr George Sylvester , Pontefract

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a fortnight ago, when I had my wife and another lady to lunch, within half an hour of lunching we were asked to vacate our table because the head waiter claimed that scores of people were waiting for the table, and that that was in the middle of the week?

Photo of Sir William Steward Sir William Steward , Woolwich West

It is appreciated that on some occasions more room is needed, but, generally speaking, there is adequate accommodation.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the experience of most of us who have been many years in the House hon. Members are more inconvenienced now than ever they have been?

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that hon. Members are being greatly inconvenienced by the constantly increasing prices and the constantly decreasing portions?