To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, if there are any proposals to pay Christmas bonuses to Palace staff
No, Sir. However, as the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) pointed out, for many years hon. Members have made donations to a Christmas appeal for the staff of the Refreshment Department made by the Chairman of the Catering Sub-Committee
Given how mean hon. Members are with regard to gratuities and tipping [Interruption.]—I tip all the time—it is no wonder that the staff are having such great difficulties in making ends meet from the money that they receive. Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the enormous pressure that there will be on the Refreshment Department at Christmas time, in particular when Conservative Members will be buying large quantities of goods from the souvenir shop and buying dinners for their constituency association members, in a vain attempt to prevent their deselection in view of the fact that they backed the wrong side? In view of that enormous pressure, would not a large bonus be appropriate this year?
Hon. Members in all parties are regular and extensive users of the facilities of the House, including those for the purchase of various items. I hope that the Tea Rooms are doing exceptionally good business while so much canvassing is in progress during the Conservative leadership election. However, it is not by way of extra subscriptions or appeals that the Commission seeks to ensure that its staff are properly paid; it is adhering to widely accepted pay rates.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, while Conservative Members might be spending large sums of money on gifts in the shop, a large number of Labour Members will be spending their money in the bars? I hope that they will spend a large amount on buying drinks for the bar staff.