Written evidence submitted by Emma Laity,
Members' staff |
My name is Emma Laity and herewith I submit my written
evidence to the above inquiry.
I write as an individual, based in the Palace of
Westminster, who uses the House catering and retail services several
times a day.
My first point concerns the price of catering services.
In his announcement Speaker Bercow stated:
"To save a further £500,000, catering prices
in the House will be raised. This will bring cafeteria prices
into line with typical workplace venues and bar prices into line
with a competitively-priced high street pub chain."
The way in which prices have increased seems totally
- the fish dish in the Debate in Portcullis House
has only risen 30p from £3.60 to £3.90, while the pasta
dish has gone from £1.25 to £2.95;
- a sandwich, a snack and a drink is now over £5
whereas a similar lunch from the Westminster Tesco costs £2
on their meal deal; and
- a chocolate muffin from the Westminster Café
Nero is £1.50 and £1.45 from the Victoria Street Starbucks
but is £1.65 from the Despatch Box in PCH.
I think it should be made public which "typical
workplace venues" the increases were based on, it currently
looks as though prices were plucked out the air. I strongly feel
that prices should be competitive in order to encourage staff
to continue to purchase food in HouseI know most of my
colleagues are now shopping outside the House at lunch or bringing
in their own food. The House could, for instance, introduce a
sandwich Meal Deal like that of Tesco and Boots.
I also query why prices differ between restaurants.
For instance why soup in the Debate is 85p but £1.10 in the
Lords River Restaurant. Could there not be a consistency between
I strongly feel that staff should have access to
tea and coffee making facilities. I do not know anyone who has
to pay for a cup of tea in their workplace, let alone the 60p
charge we face for the privilege of a tea bag and hot water.
Which brings me on to the discrepancy between the
facilities available in Portcullis House and the Palace. I have
been based in both and find that staff working in offices in the
Palace are sorely without kitchen facilities. Why should someone
based in PCH have access to a fridge, a sink, an urn and a microwave
while staff in the Palace have none of these? Such kitchen facilities
are available in all 'typical workplace venues' and I strongly
think the Palace should accommodate such facilities for staff.
I want to emphasise how fantastic the Despatch Box
is for fresh coffee and am extremely pleased that it's coffee
prices have gone unchanged. At busy periods however the queues
can be 15 minutes longcould this be wait time be reduced
by increasing staff numbers at peak periods?
- Would it be possible to expand catering services
in the Debate to include a fresh salad bar like that of the Lords
River Restaurant or Bellamy's.
- Is there going to be a replacement bar installed
after Bellamy's Bar was closed to make way for a crèche?
I look forward to reading the conclusions the Committee