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House of Commons Commission

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 6 February 2014

The hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, was asked—

Food Waste

8. What assessment he has made of the amount of food waste from catering outlets on the Parliamentary Estate. (902440)

Food waste from prepared dishes in the House of Commons catering outlets, as measured as a percentage against sales, is 3%. This is well below the national average for the catering industry, which is 5%. The Sustainable Restaurant Association has rated the House of Commons as a good-practice organisation in respect of food waste. We take a variety of measures to monitor and reduce the amount of food waste from catering outlets. There are plans to extend composting of food waste, which is already undertaken in the Palace in relation to other outlets.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and for the progress that is being made. Does he agree that, as staff in the catering service see this challenge day in, day out, it would be wise for the Commission to invite them to make their own suggestions on reducing food waste?

It has been my experience that staff suggestions are always worth looking at, but the real challenge is the 21% waste from domestic fridges—that is the real scandal.

That was a splendidly pithy reply, which allows us briefly to get on to the important matter of vermin infestation.

Vermin Infestation

Recent representations have been received from hon. Members about mice in Norman Shaw South. Measures taken include sealing gaps and fitting bristle strips to office doors. Leaflets have been distributed to alert occupants to the measures being taken and provide practical advice to alleviate the problem. I encourage hon. Members to follow that advice, which includes not leaving sandwiches on their desks.

According to recent media reports, mutant super rats are taking over the Commons and it is costing £6,000 per month for vermin control measures on the parliamentary estate. Surely the traditional use of cats would be more effective and cheaper.

My sympathies are entirely with the hon. Lady. I have a perfectly vicious cat in Thurso which is keeping the rodent population down. There are serious problems in relation to people who are allergic to cats and the diseases they carry. After extensive research, it is believed that there is no rat problem inside the House of Commons—at least, not of the four-legged variety.

As I am sure you are aware, Mr Speaker, we have been offered a rescue cat or two from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. I fear I might be allergic to mice and rats—of the two and four-legged variety—so will my hon. Friend consider that very generous offer?