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House of Commons Dining Rooms

Volume 556: debated on Thursday 17 January 2013

3. What use the Commission is making of price mechanisms to ensure maximum utilisation of House of Commons dining rooms on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. (137524)

The recently endorsed Catering Services business improvement plan proposes the return of a variable tariff structure in the Members Dining Room. The Administration Committee will be consulted on the details shortly. This is in response to feedback from Members who had stopped using that service following the introduction of a fixed tariff. Catering Services has a three-month rolling marketing plan that highlights offers and promotions in all the catering outlets to generate more business. This plan will include the Dining Room.

I thank my hon. Friend for that response. Last week, I dined on all three nights in the Dining Room and almost nobody else was present, but the service was fantastic because there were three servants for each person sitting down. [Hon. Members: “Servants?”] Exactly. Does my hon. Friend think that one way of engaging Members who do not use the Dining Room would be to offer them much cheaper rates when there is an opportunity for them to come along?

There is clearly a balance to be struck between attracting people in at the right price and prices being so low that they do not recover the appropriate cost. The House authorities strive to strike that balance appropriately. Work is being undertaken, particularly by the Administration Committee, but the key, driving factor is that the footfall in the Palace is dropping because of the change in hours, and I do not think any of us can do a great deal about that.