25 February 2010 (Press Release)
John Mann MP succeeds in Commons Kosher Food Campaign
After a long-fought campaign to address inconsistencies and bias in the way in which Kosher Food is organised through the House of Commons, John Mann MP, Chair of the All-Party Group Against Antisemitism has forced a change.
The All-Party Group and other organisations had registered a number of complaints over a period of many years about the high price of organising kosher events in the House of Commons.
The problem was a double-charge for organisers of kosher events. The House of Commons has a preferred kosher catering provider (Hermolis) whose contract is reviewed for competitiveness. However, where the Commons cannot provide food or the food is considered to be too expensive, organisers have the option to bring in their own kosher meals but face a corkage charge of £10 per head.
Traditionally, kosher meals would not count towards the minimum number of orders required to avoid a room charge, thus organisers were forced to pay for food, a corkage fee and the subsequent a room charge if they fell below minimum order numbers of non-kosher food.
Under the new rules, which come into effect immediately, a corkage fee will still apply but organisers will be able to use their allocation of kosher catered guests as part of the minimum numbers. Therefore should the minimum numbers be 100 and there are 20 koshers meals ordered at £10.00, one will only need to comply with 80 minimum numbers. No profit is made by the House of Commons from Kosher catering despite the high cost per meal. Halal food and other special dietary requirements are more easily catered for through the House of Commons existing providers.
This action was recommended by the House of Commons Administration Committee which is chaired by Frank Doran MP. The matter was passed to the committee by Speaker John Bercow MP to whom John Mann MP and Danny Stone, Director of the All-Party Group had made representations.
John Mann MP said: “I am delighted that charitable money will no longer be shelled out needlessly on room hire charges. This was a long-overdue move in the right direction.”
Danny Stone, Director of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism said: “It is right that kosher provision should be affordable. It is only right that the Houses of Commons give equal, not special, treatment to organisers of kosher events.