Access for other House staff
57. It was put to us, in evidence from certain
House staff and in the submission from the Commons Library branch
of the Prospect Union, that the privileges accorded to Officers
of the House were divisive and should be abolished.
We were told that such distinctions were hard to accept for long-serving
staff at lower grades.
These points were often made in conjunction with a request for
improved access rights to some of the more formal dining facilities,
particularly when these appeared to be under-used.
58. There are occasions when senior House staff need
to entertain on the House's behalf consultants, advisers to select
committees, or foreign dignitaries, in a more exclusive setting.
A certain level of access therefore needs to be safeguarded for
Officers. Other House staff and Members' staff already have access
to the Churchill Room and to the Adjournment restaurant on Thursday
evenings and to the Strangers' Dining Room, the Churchill Room
and the Adjournment on Fridays. We propose that access rights
for House staff and Members' staff should be extended to allow
access to the Strangers' Dining Room on Thursday evenings.
At other, busier times of the week, there may simply not be spare
capacity in these outlets, particularly if the House's sitting
patterns change. We recommend that the Director of Catering
Services should monitor the spare capacity of table service restaurants
in the House, with a view to improving access for all House staff
and Members' staff where capacity allows.
59. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association also
asked for access to be granted to the Adjournment Restaurant for
occasions when guests needed to be entertained "more modestly
than in the Churchill Room, but still nicely".
Both the CPA and the IPU play an important role in projecting
the image of the Westminster Parliament abroad, and we are sympathetic
to the request. We intend to consult further on this issue.