Catering Services in the House of Commons

Written evidence submitted by Dr Thérèse Coffey MP

A. The changes to the Members’ Dining Room offering was not well advertised and even now, it is not clear to members about prices for lunch or dinner, dining as members or with guests.

The one price of £15 "all or as little as you can eat" is poor. It has different perceptions and consequences –

i. The new price is "magically" the same as the IPSA limit so taking the maximum from the taxpayer (where the Member reclaims for food);

ii. Members may be inclined to order more food than may really be required; this has led to slow service on the busy Monday and Tuesday nights;

iii. Rarely would Members spend £15 on food and so either spent less or were able to buy a soft drink and still come under the £15 limit;

iv. Encouraging Members to eat onsite should be good for recouping the cost of catering; this move may encourage Members to eat offsite, even though recompense of that is currently deemed a taxable benefit.

B. Entertaining friends, constituents and similar appears to have doubled in price. I suggest this may actually trigger a decline in the use of the Dining Rooms at lunchtime. I hope the Catering Committee will review.

C. I support the move to "pub prices".

October 2010