Select Committee on Catering Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80 - 81)




  80. On staffing and modernisation, obviously the Board of Management are going to have to give consideration to all of these matters more seriously than—or at least as seriously as—the Catering Committee, because there are serious staffing implications on the modernisation agenda. I have already made this clear to the Leader of the House and I am hoping that we shall be able to have some discussion with him at some point in order to point out to him some of the implications that we can see now arising. Of course, the Board of Management, considering, as you do, all of the departments, will obviously be taking that into account, I have no doubt. Can I thank you very much indeed for coming this morning. If there were two major aspects of our work in taking the evidence and bringing forward proposals, what would they be, Mr Cummins? What would you advise of your Catering Committee? As you know, we recognise the role that we play in relationship to the Board of Management and the Commission. Is there any advice you would give us?
  (Mr Cummins) If I can just mention one, that is that I do not wish to presume to know anything about the recommendations of the Modernisation Committee, but from my examination of the use of accommodation facilities overall, Chairman, with regard to the possible recommendations of the Modernisation Committee with regard to sitting times and sitting hours, I think we may be in for a period of great peaks and troughs during the sitting week. I cannot help feeling, for example, on the use of Committee rooms, that there is going to be a great temptation for Members to wish to use Committee rooms, maybe, on two primary days of the week and, really, use more than we have got, quite honestly. We are looking at this very carefully. I feel the same pressure may well apply to Refreshment Department facilities, for example, whereas at other times of the week there may be a fallow period whereby, from the point of view of staff, they are not in use and there is no level of custom to justify that level of staffing.
  (Mr Walker) Could I just echo that and say that I think, therefore, flexibility is going to be the key to everything and that I think the main thing that the Board would like to see is and we have said this in our submission—one, an assessment of the level of demand so that we are going on facts more than, as it were, opinions, and, secondly, that we use that to do what we can to modernise the current arrangements which are, to some extent, confusing to all. We very much welcome, therefore, and suggest that the Committee should come up with what it can to make the arrangements a little bit less confusing.

  81. We certainly enjoin with you in those objectives. Let us hope the outcome of our deliberations will achieve those objectives. Thank you very much. We are very grateful to you for coming.
  (Mr Cummins) Thank you, Chairman.
  (Mr Walker) Thank you.

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