Catering Services in the House of Commons

Further written evidence submitted by Lorely Burt MP

Liberal democrats are a small parliamentary group and we like to sit together. However if you choose anything but the buffet, or if you want to order a drink, the arrival and departure of colleagues seems to faze the staff and we have to wait inordinate lengths of time. No self-respecting restaurant could offer the service they do and expect to retain customers. I feel angry about this because I see this opportunity to get together as very important.

Different fashions in food have seen us served with a smear of mashed potato to represent the carbohydrate part of the meal plus other decorations which are supposed to represent the vegetables. This is not what a hungry MP needs for their dinner.

Then there is the change in the pricing system. I learn from colleagues that one can now purchase one course for £10, but second and third courses (either or both) add a further £5 to the cost. I cannot imagine where the logic of this comes from. I have never seen a commercial organisation trying to sell such a strange offer.

The Pugin Room has great and courteous service. However this little haven has now become a rare treat because of the hike in prices. One colleague said they had been charges £17 for 2 Chablis! That, with respect, is taking the Mickey!

Catering in other parts of the estate is good. For staff the biggest issue is that everything other than The Debate is closed during recess. Choice and quality is good and prices have not risen as much as they have feared.

I hope this helps.

November 2010