Catering Services in the House of Commons

Written evidence submitted by Jim Sheridan MP

Could I begin by congratulating Sir Alan on his appointment as Chair of the Administration committee, I am confident his knowledge, experience and track record on representing the concerns of members will prove to be a valuable asset to the committee. I am sure I speak for many elected colleagues when I say that the facilities for members, staff and their families have gradually been eroded since becoming a

member in 2001. My views do not in any way reflect the collective punishment currently being implemented by IPSA and being dealt with separately by another body.

The price increases on the parliamentary estate due to be implemented in September are being done so as I see it without any consultation with members and will impact significantly on their staff. My understanding is that this is based on high street prices who pay taxes which are not applicable to Westminster, so where will this additional revenue go?

Annie's bar was closed for reasons that it was not making a profit, and it was convenient to provide for additional accommodation for house authorities staff, perhaps if it was marketed properly there could have been a different outcome.

Bellamys bar was also closed, again without any consultation to provide a creche facility for members and staff. Whilst the principle was admirable the question remains why does it have to be at a cost to members facilities.

If these measures are designed to save taxpayers money, could I suggest you look at the senior management structures and salaries. From my perspective there are many suits wandering the catering corridors without any purpose in life.

Finally as predicted those who used these facilities are now corralled into strangers bar which is now in my view seriously overcrowded and will be a major health and safety issue in the Autumn/Winter months. Also the staff who work in there do a magnificent job under extremely challenging job including having to explain why they have run out of beer as happened recently Unlike milk beer does not turn sour so it begs the question why did this happen. Despite asking the question of management why this happened I still to date await a reply

Apologies for the negativity but I do hope that when future decisions are being made affecting members facilities all options are explored prior to implementation Equally so it would be nice to see the decision makers actually using the facilities that they believe suitable for the rest of us.

If possible could you please circulate this amongst other members of the committee.

July 2010