Commons and Lords should buy catering together

14 October 2011

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14 October 2011 | Adam Leach

A single purchasing function should be established to buy catering supplies for the House of Commons and the House of Lords, according to a report.

The Houseof Commons Commission, responsible for services in the Commons, has adopted a proposal to increase the amount of joint purchasing between the two houses. It said it also wants to explore with its counterpart in the Lords the creation of a single body to handle all catering purchasing activity.

The House of Commons, which currently purchases more than 4,500 food, beverage and souvenir products from around 160 suppliers, already engages in joint buying with the Lords for ingredients such as potatoes and carrots, but the Commission believes this can be increased.

In a report published by the House of Commons Administration Committee in May, the catering and retail services department in the Commons proposed it could save £116,000 a year by engaging in more joint purchasing with the upper house. The Committee recommended that this be pursued, but added: “We would go one step further, however, and argue that the greatest efficiencies and economies of scale would be achieved by negotiating a suitable merger of the two services.”

The proposal was previously put forward in 2007 but it failed to gain traction. And the Committee said it predicted similar obstacles this time around. “We accept that our colleagues in the Lords may fear an effective takeover by its larger partner,” the report said.

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