CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

BUSINESS QUESTION – COMMONS CLEANERS – 21 July 2005

[Tony Lloyd: My right hon. Friend [Leader of the House, Geoff Hoon] will have noted the mocking laughter from Opposition Members when my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (David Winnick) raised the question of the House of Commons cleaners – [Interruption]. They are laughing again. However, there is considerable support among Labour Members for a proper, fair and just settlement for the cleaners. What is intolerable is that there is a differential between the conditions for permanently employed House staff and those for contract cleaners. There is no logic in that, and it is outrageous that a person can work here for nine years and yet at no point be offered any pension entitlement. That is what has happened to one of the cleaners I spoke to yesterday, and it is not acceptable in modern Britain.

Mr Hoon: As I understand it, staff directly employed by the House work in a different capacity and do rather different jobs. Leaving that aside, however, I made it clear in my earlier answer that it is important for the employer and the relevant trade union to negotiate and reach a proper settlement. I certainly encourage them to do so.]

Dr Julian Lewis: I want to make it clear that no Conservative Member was mocking the very worthy cause of the contract cleaners. However, we were somewhat amused by the mock-heroic efforts of the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) to join the picket lines, in a throw-back to the 1970s.