Catering Services in the House of Commons

Written evidence submitted by Tom Jones, Members’ staff

As requested on the Parliamentary Intranet, I would like to offer some views and suggestions for consideration by the inquiry of the House of Commons Administration Committee into catering services.

· I feel with the closure of Bellamy’s there is an argument for opening up access to one of the other bars in the House of Commons on peak nights (particularly Thursdays) to prevent overcrowding in the Sports and Social. As Parliament is rarely sitting late into the evening on Thursdays, I would suggest easing access restrictions in the Strangers Bar on Thursday nights may be worth considering.

· I think there is also an argument for allowing visitors into the Debate Cafeteria when Parliament is in recess/ not sitting. I understand the restrictions are in place to stop visitors from 12 until 2 and this is sensible when a range of other outlets are open. However, I think when Parliament is not sitting and the range is severely reduced that it would be helpful to allow those without a House of Commons Pass (who are often volunteers or interns) into the Debate Cafeteria.

· We also had one experience trying to get an ale from the Constituency stocked in House of Commons Bars and had difficulty because it was only available in bottles, and not from the central supplier used for procurement. Perhaps there is an argument for stocking an independently-sourced bottled ale on rotation in some of the bars to allow the drinks selection to be better able to reflect the diversity of drinks produced in the country as a whole. I feel that this would improve catering and retail services without requiring the expenditure of additional resources, as many breweries would be delighted to have their beers stocked here.

I hope my comments will be considered as part of the inquiry.

October 2010