To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, what is (a) the average wage per hour of those working in the House of Commons Refreshment Department, (b) the average percentage of hours worked that is paid for at other than ordinary rates and (c) the average number of hours worked; and if he will make a statement.
The average hourly wage of full-time industrial staff in the Refreshment Department is £4·67. The hourly rates from which that figure derives range from £7·32 to £4·18; it also compares with average hourly rates in the catering trade of £3·65 for men and £3·14 for women.
It has not been possible to provide meaningful information on the other parts of my hon. Friend's question. The Commission is not satisfied with the form in which financial administration is currently available to the management and following the Ibbs report it will be one of the principal duties of the new director of finance and administration to review financial and management information systems.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his factual answer. Many of the people who work in the House live in my constituency and, as their representative, I must tell my hon. Friend that one of their great concerns is that their wages are not sufficient to enable them to stay here. The level of staff retention in the service Departments of the House is lower than it might be. Can we please consider the matter, as we want to hold on to good staff, whom the House values and would like to continue to employ?
The Commission is constrained by the statutory duty to keep pay rates in line with those of the civil service. However, it seeks to retain staff and there are some remarkably loyal and long-serving staff in the Departments of the House. The Commission will do its best to ensure that they have a satisfactory career.