Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
WEDNESDAY 8 MAY 2002
80. On staffing and modernisation, obviously
the Board of Management are going to have to give consideration
to all of these matters more seriously thanor at least
as seriously asthe Catering Committee, because there are
serious staffing implications on the modernisation agenda. I have
already made this clear to the Leader of the House and I am hoping
that we shall be able to have some discussion with him at some
point in order to point out to him some of the implications that
we can see now arising. Of course, the Board of Management, considering,
as you do, all of the departments, will obviously be taking that
into account, I have no doubt. Can I thank you very much indeed
for coming this morning. If there were two major aspects of our
work in taking the evidence and bringing forward proposals, what
would they be, Mr Cummins? What would you advise of your Catering
Committee? As you know, we recognise the role that we play in
relationship to the Board of Management and the Commission. Is
there any advice you would give us?
(Mr Cummins) If I can just mention one, that is that
I do not wish to presume to know anything about the recommendations
of the Modernisation Committee, but from my examination of the
use of accommodation facilities overall, Chairman, with regard
to the possible recommendations of the Modernisation Committee
with regard to sitting times and sitting hours, I think we may
be in for a period of great peaks and troughs during the sitting
week. I cannot help feeling, for example, on the use of Committee
rooms, that there is going to be a great temptation for Members
to wish to use Committee rooms, maybe, on two primary days of
the week and, really, use more than we have got, quite honestly.
We are looking at this very carefully. I feel the same pressure
may well apply to Refreshment Department facilities, for example,
whereas at other times of the week there may be a fallow period
whereby, from the point of view of staff, they are not in use
and there is no level of custom to justify that level of staffing.
(Mr Walker) Could I just echo that and say that I
think, therefore, flexibility is going to be the key to everything
and that I think the main thing that the Board would like to see
is and we have said this in our submissionone, an assessment
of the level of demand so that we are going on facts more than,
as it were, opinions, and, secondly, that we use that to do what
we can to modernise the current arrangements which are, to some
extent, confusing to all. We very much welcome, therefore, and
suggest that the Committee should come up with what it can to
make the arrangements a little bit less confusing.
81. We certainly enjoin with you in those objectives.
Let us hope the outcome of our deliberations will achieve those
objectives. Thank you very much. We are very grateful to you for
(Mr Cummins) Thank you, Chairman.
(Mr Walker) Thank you.