Select Committee on Catering Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Parliamentary Press Gallery

  We have been asked as the two members of the Press Gallery Catering Sub-committee to let you have our views of the Press Gallery catering facilities.

  Nothing is perfect but we think the food and arrangements in the Dining Room are of a high standard and good value is provided. The bar is popular and well used, with probably the only complaint being the lack of real ale.

  Difficulties arise in the canteen where the main problem is in the quality of the hot meals which in the view of many of our members is so low that they prefer to eat elsewhere. Many go to the Adjournment canteen in Portcullis House, others to the Terrace canteen or to the House of Lords staff canteen where the hot meals are invariably tastier, crisper and usually of greater variety.

  It may be that the kitchen facilities in the Press Gallery are not as good as in the other places mentioned. It may be for another reason but the Press Gallery food is often boring, bland or only warm when it should be hot. There seems to be a considerable problem about maintaining freshness. After about 1.15 pm the dishes on offer, particularly the vegetables, start to seem stale.

  The pasta meals are normally stodgy and the fish unappetising. When shepherd's pie and steak and kidney or mushroom pie are served, however, they are usually good. The salads, lamentable until about a month ago, are considered to have improved greatly.

  The dessert courses are normally of about the same variety and quality as those served in the other canteens.

  We would like to stress that we have no complaints whatsoever about any of the serving staff who are the people we see. All are courteous, good-humoured and efficient.

  Many of our members would also like to see the Press Gallery canteen in particular kept open during Parliamentary recesses.

Nigel Morris, Mike Steele

19 March 2002

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