Written evidence submitted by Unite (T&G)
Parliamentary Staff Branch |
The Unite Parliamentary Staff Branch is a trade union
representing over 400 members of MP's staff from all political
parties, based in both Westminster and constituency offices.
We have consulted our members and would like to bring
the following issues regarding catering services in the House
of Commons to the attention of the Administration Committee:
1. Annie's Bar
(a) The decision to place the House of Commons
crèche on the site of the former Bellamy's Bar means that
one of the amenities available to staff has been removed.
(b) One of the most under-used resources on the
Parliamentary Estate is Annie's Bar, which has been shut for many
years and therefore does not provide any revenue for the Estate.
This is a fully-fitted bar on prime real estate and it does not
make sense to keep this amenity closed.
(c) There is a clear market for another bar -
following the closure of Bellamy's Bar, the Sports and Social
Bar is often filled to capacity. With bar prices on the Estate
now increased in line with the high street, it is likely that
this could be a profitable venture.
(d) Therefore we recommend the Administration
Committee look into bringing Annie's Bar back into use for MPs'
staff, MPs and guests.
(e) The bar could either be leased to the current
managers of the Sports and Social or it could be operated as a
2. Loyalty Scheme
(a) The catering price increases have hit the
staff of MPs' particularly hard. Most of our members are on modest
salaries - the average salary is around £20,000. This is
far below the market-rate for the jobs that we do. Many staff
have also had their salaries reduced because of the cut to MPs'
staffing budgets by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
(b) In the past, these lower-salaries were often
off-set by cheaper food prices on the Estate. However, following
the catering price increases, one of the few remaining perks for
staff has been removed. This affects not only the staff of MPs,
but also cleaners and other comparatively low-paid staff on the
(c) Many of our members have told us that they
are now purchasing their lunch off the Estate, at the nearby Tesco
and other retail outlets. Indeed, some items of food and drink
are now cheaper if bought off the Estate. For example, a bottle
of Coke in the Debate costs £1.50 compared to £1.04
at the nearby Tesco. Over time, this will lead to a decline in
the revenue collected on the Estate.
(d) Therefore, we recommend the Administration
Committee look into adopting a 'loyalty card' scheme for staff
who work in Parliament. By offering modest discounts, staff will
be encouraged to continue to purchase food on the Estate and this
will halt any decline in revenue.
3. Publicising greater access for MPs' staff
(a) On certain days, MPs' staff are able to access
some services that are usually reserved for Members. For example,
MPs' staff may book tables in the Adjournment Restaurant on Thursday
(b) However many of our members are unaware of
these arrangements. We believe it would be in the Estate's interest
to more widely publicise opportunities like these, where staff
can have greater access to catering services on the Estate.
4. Terrace access arrangements
(a) Some of our members have expressed concern
that the access arrangements on the Terrace are being applied
inconsistently when staff try to take interns who are non pass-holders
onto the Terrace.
(b) MPs' staff are grateful for the opportunity
to access the Terrace for lunch on Fridays and during Recess periods.
However, on some days staff with interns who are still waiting
for their pass will be allowed access, and on other days they
(c) This is unfortunate because it means that
many staff are unsure of their rights and it denies interns one
of the benefits of working in Parliament.
(d) Therefore, we would like House authorities
to consider giving access rights to staff interning for Members.