Select Committee on Catering Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Lord Colwyn CBE to the Chairman of the Committee

  When we met on 26 February you informed me of the issues of concern to your Committee which you intended to address in your inquiry. You highlighted in particular the pressure on some of your cafeteria facilities at peak times and the possible need to regulate access to spread demand more equally through your various outlets. You invited comments from the Refreshment Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee held a brief discussion about the issues you mentioned at their meeting on 26 February.

The first and overriding point which we would want you to bear in mind is the fact that historically the Lords have always depended on the catering facilities of the Commons since our own are simply inadequate for the numbers of Members and staff we have.

  This is particularly true of your cafeteria facilities; we have two small cafeterias in the Lords, the Lords Canteen which has 40 covers for breakfast, lunch and dinner (to 8.15 pm) and the new Millbank Cafeteria in Millbank House which has a further 36 for breakfast and lunch. By contrast we have over 700 Members and 400 staff of the House, not to mention security staff, Members' staff, civil servants and others. Our impression is that informal eating areas, especially in the Palace, are those which are in most short supply. Continuing access to your facilities is thus of great importance to Members and staff in this House, especially to those who are on duty late in connection with sittings of the House.

  Second, I know your Committee is concerned at the use of your facilities by our Members. As a Sub-Committee, we have no very helpful observations here, other than to report our impression that Members of the Lords do make frequent use of the cafeterias in the Commons, such as the Terrace Cafeteria and Portcullis House; but we also think that there is fairly widespread ignorance amongst Members of the Lords about the facilities available to them in the Commons, and the terms on which they are available. This may be something which your Committee may wish to consider further.

The Lord Colwyn
Chairman, Refreshment Sub-Committee, House of Lords

21 March 2002

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