§ 31. Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, if he has any plans for profit sharing amongst the staff in the Refreshment Department.
§ Mr. Beith
The House of Commons Commission has a statutory obligation, as I have reminded the House, to keep the pay and conditions of its staff in line with those of the civil service; and I understand that their current conditions make no provision for profit sharing. Given that much of the staff costs and administrative overheads of the Refreshment Department is met from the House of Commons administration vote, it is debatable whether the trading fund's accumulated surplus can be counted as a profit. The long-term financial future of the Refreshment Department is under active consideration by the Commission.
§ Mr. Banks
Then why cannot we change the conditions? Everyone in this House knows how hard the staff in the kiosk work, particularly over the Christmas period. One sees Members going away with wheelbarrows full of sticky comestibles to bribe their constituents, their friends and the Conservative party. Is it not about time that we started treating our staff decently and that we stopped taking advantage of them?
§ Mr. Beith
I agree that the staff in the kiosk worked very hard over the Christmas period. The Commission is constrained by a statutory duty to keep pay broadly in line with civil service conditions, but I shall ensure that the hon. Member's suggestion is again looked at to see whether in any way it can be pursued.