Select Committee on Catering Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Public and Commercial Services Union

  Response from PCS members:

  Since staff are no longer able to eat in Westminster Hall cafeteria the overcrowding, particularly at lunchtimes, is more apparent than previously.


  The Club Room of Bellamy's is open to staff only on a Monday and Friday and to Officers of the House only, on the other days. This is very under-used. If open to all members of staff on all days, this would help the overcrowding problem and add to Bellamy's monetary takings. Many of those who hold officer status in the Library either eat in the House of Lords restaurant in the Palace or do not take a lunch break; this all contributes to under-usage of House of Commons outlets.


  The Adjournment appears to be under-used; perhaps this could be looked into particularly as during the lunch hour the Debate becomes very busy [as indeed do the other restaurants on the Westminster estate]. I believe if a Member of Parliament has booked a table in the Debate, but does not take up the booking at the specified time, the table is then held for two hours; if the Member does not appear during that time the result is the table perhaps not being used and loss of revenue to the caterers. Sometimes it is exceedingly overcrowded in the Debate and the Adjournment is relatively empty. Could consideration be given to opening the Adjournment at certain times to all members of staff?


    —  If the wooden divider between the staff and members' section was moved more into the Members' section this would open up much needed space for staff. The Members have plenty of places to eat and the Members' end is rarely full.

    —  Remove the divider altogether and make it staff only. As stated Members have plenty of places to eat and can lunch at anytime. Many members of staff are restricted to 12.00-2.00 so can not decide to return later especially if they provide a front-line service.

    —  Since the demise of Westminster Hall cafeteria, there is a shortage of capacity at peak lunch times in all cafeterias, so it is perhaps understandable that the staff in the Terrace Cafeteria are rather officious in checking credentials to darken their serveries between 12 and 2. I think it is unsatisfactory, though, that there is no facility available in the Palace for temporary staff to have lunch at all. The Library frequently have temporary staff based in the Palace and some can end up having temporary status for fairly long periods.

    —  During recesses it can take up to 20-30 minutes to get served in the Terrace Cafeteria particularly between 09.30-10.30 am due to the fact that the contractors use this facility and do not seem to stagger their meal times. When you only get 20 minutes or so for a coffee break it proves to be almost impossible.

  Have statistics ever been taken of usage of individual restaurants? This might be an idea to prove the point made by PCS members of under-usage.

  Basically if points above were attended to:

    —  overcrowding would be lessened;

    —  revenue to Refreshment Department would increase;

    —  queuing for length of time would be diminished;

    —  lesser number of people dashing to "Boots" for ready-made sandwiches.

25 February 2002

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