HL Deb 06 April 1989 vol 505 cc1189-90

Lord Aldington asked the Leader of the House:

Whether he will review the arrangements for the dispatch of the Minutes of Proceedings and the Official Report to Lords who live outside London.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, the present arrangements are that noble Lords outside London receive Minutes and Hansard by first class post so that, for example, Monday's Hansard should arrive on Wednesday morning.

I am aware that my noble friend's papers have been arriving late at his home in Kent. It is clearly desirable and indeed necessary that all your Lordships receive parliamentary papers promptly. The proper body to look into this on behalf of the House is the Administration Sub-Committee of the Offices Committee. I shall certainly ask the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees to raise the matter with the Administration Sub-Committee if that is what my noble friend would like.

Lord Aldington

My Lords, may I thank my noble friend for his Answer? So far as I am allowed to do so, I say yes to the question which he has put to me. May I ask him whether he realises that I should not have put this Question down had I not become completely exasperated over the delays during the past 18 months? They have become worse and not better, despite the sympathetic treatment from the Clerk of Printed Papers, who could not have interested himself more, sympathetic noises from the Printed Paper Office and sympathetic noises from the area delivery manager of the Post Office in my district. After all that, matters became worse so I have had to appeal to my noble friend.

Lord Belstead

My Lords, I should like to recognise that my noble friend has taken all reasonable steps to try to resolve this matter informally before bringing it before the House. Indeed, if I may say so, he has shown the patience of Job. I wish to thank him for that. I should also like to thank my noble friend for recognising that both the Clerk of Printed Papers, and indeed the Post Office itself, particularly in his area, have been trying to get to the root of the problem.

My noble friend, with characteristic modesty, asked his Question in a general way about the House. I replied by saying that I should be ready to draw the matter to the attention of the Chairman of Committees, who is also Chairman of the Administration Sub-Committee. My noble friend has said yes to that. So it only remains to me to add one other point. The Post Office has now accepted the need for an absolutely thorough check of every stage of the delivery of his papers in order to identify the reason for the failures. That will be carried out over the next month and the result will be reported back to the House authorities. Of course I shall be in touch with my noble friend.

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