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Overseas Buyers Club (Catering)

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1949

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asked the President of the Board of Trade to what firm he gave the contract for catering at the Overseas Buyers Club, Earls Court; whether a list of proposed prices was submitted to him in advance; and what are the charges for a cup of tea, a cup of coffee and a sandwich.

The catering arrangements for the Earls Court buildings, including the Overseas Buyers Club, are carried out by the owners, Earls Court Limited, as part of the tenancy agreement and no separate contract is placed by the Board of Trade. The proposed tariff for the club was discussed with the caterers before the opening of the Fair. The charge for a cup of tea is 4d. and for a cup of coffee 5d.; the price of a sandwich varies from 1s. upwards. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the complete tariff of charges.

Will the hon. Gentleman check up on the amounts he has given, because my information—from a reliable source—is that the charge for a cup of coffee was one shilling and for a cup of tea, eightpence? Is he aware that these high charges are likely to create a very unfavourable impression on those who attended and undo a great deal of the advantage provided by the exhibition?

I will have a look at the disparity in the charges mentioned, but that is the information given me. The Board of Trade have to accept the arrangement with the Earls Court association. It is private enterprise which is carrying out the work, not the Government.

Is my hon. Friend aware that during the war the Minister of Food laid down that the minimum number of cups of tea to be obtained from one pound of tea was 250 and that generally 250 to 300 cups of tea are obtained? Will he make a calculation at fourpence a cup to see how much they are drawing in from one pound of tea and he will find that there is more profit in tea than in whisky, or in any other beverage?