Catering Services in the House of Commons

Written evidence submitted by Margot James MP

If I am not too late I thought I would send you a few views, I must say that I have yet to avail myself of the various retail facilities and gym and so forth that exist so my feedback is confined to the catering services. Generally I find the catering to be of a high standard and the service is excellent.

My main complaint is the new system of payment in the members dining room. I rarely have time for more than one course but I used to enjoy going in there at around 9pm on a Monday or Tuesday night and have a main course and a glass of wine or two. I find it very annoying that I have to pay a flat rate of £15.00 for this now as I rarely bill that amount with my choices. As I don’t claim food as an expense I find this increased cost to be quite a deterrent and I now use the tea rooms more often instead of the members dining room.

My second suggestion is to widen the choice of wines available by the glass in Strangers Dining room (I am not sure whether this is the same list as in Members). Chardonnay is a very popular varietal and the only one available is a Chablis – which is a very specific flinty style of Chardonnay – and frankly at that price level really quite acidic! It would be nice to have another Chardonnay choice from a warmer climate capable of providing a slightly fuller bodied more rounded style of wine.

Finally it would be wonderful if staff could clear the tables on the terrace during the Summer months. I realise that the cost of having staff our there regularly might be prohibitive in the current climate, but if it could be resourced I do think this would improve the ambience out there no end. I really was quite shocked at the state of it when I first went out there last Summer, it really does resemble a not particularly well cared for station cafe – the Members fault no doubt!

I would like to take this opportunity to say how wonderfully friendly, polite and helpful at all times the catering and serving staff are. And I would like to pay special compliments to the truly excellent men in the Pugin Room.

November 2010