HL Deb 17 December 1997 vol 584 cc627-9
The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I beg to move that the third report from the Select Committee on House of Lords Offices be agreed to.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this Motion, I draw attention to paragraph 3 of the report: the use of House of Lords' crested stationery. Noble Lords are entitled to use this stationery free of charge. However, as it comes at not inconsiderable cost to your Lordships' House, and so to the taxpayer, guidelines were drawn up in 1993 to encourage Peers to use stationery sparingly. Those are set out in paragraph 3. Recently, the amount of this stationery supplied to Peers has been increasing at a notable rate, and the practice of using crested paper and envelopes for rough notes and speeches has become widespread. So I urge Members to bear in mind the expense of providing this paper and encourage noble Lords to restrict their use of it to the more formal purposes mentioned.

Moved, That the third report from the Select Committee be agreed to (HL Paper 49).—(The Chairman of Committees.)

Following is the report referred to:

1. Sub-Committee membership

Lord Burnham was appointed to the Refreshment Sub-Committee in the place of Lord Chesham.

2. Seating in the Chamber

The Committee agreed, for a trial period, that the Hansard reporters should be moved to the Peers' Married Daughters' Box to allow extra space to be created for disabled Peers. This arrangement will be reviewed before the 1998 summer recess.

3. Use of Stationery

The Committee draws the attention of the House to the following guidelines for the use of House of Lords' stationery which were agreed in 1993:

The Committee also reminds Lords that red crested House of Lords' stationery should be used only for correspondence and not for speeches or rough notes, for which a range of other paper of lesser quality is available.

4. Palace of Westminster fire compartmentation

The Committee approved as part of the fire compartmentation programme a proposal to install near the top of the Peers' Staircase a door similar to those at the beginning of the West Front corridor and next to the Clerk of the Parliaments' Office.

5. Mail Service

The Committee agreed that from 1st January all unstamped mail left with the Attendants for posting, other than to destinations within the Parliamentary Estate or served by the Interdepartmental Despatch Service (IDS), should not he franked. In cases where the sender can be identified the letter will be returned to them; if the sender cannot be identified the letter will be placed in an open box in a prominent position in the Attendants' Mail Room in the Peers' Lobby.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, perhaps I may use this occasion to ask the Chairman of Committees whether something could be done to improve the quality of the gum on the envelopes.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, I thank the Chairman of Committees for introducing the report. With reference to paragraph 2, I think we all accept that it will be a useful experiment to relocate the Hansard reporters to the Peers' Married Daughters' Box. That will provide extra accommodation for wheelchairs, which we all agree is very important. Can the Chairman of Committees advise us where the Peers' married daughters will be seated should they wish to attend and listen to your Lordships' debates?

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, is the Chairman of Committees aware that unmarked paper is no longer available? Many people would look for it and use it if it were there.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, perhaps I may first try to deal with the question of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, about gum on envelopes. Not for the first time for someone appearing at the Dispatch Box, the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, asks a very sticky question.

Noble Lords


The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, the advantage of it is that the noble Lord proposes to use envelopes not for notes, but in the way in which they should be used. On that point I commend him most warmly. I do not know what can be done about it, but I shall certainly look into it and see whether I can seal the matter on his behalf. I have noticed that elsewhere some envelopes have a very pleasant taste. The noble Lord might feel that that is an aspect which could be beneficially looked into as well.

The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, asked about the temporary relocation of the Hansard reporters in the Peers' Married Daughters' Box. I stress that this is for an experimental period only in the first place, subject to review later on in the Session. While the Hansard reporters are occupying that place, Peers' married daughters will be accommodated in the area below Bar which is occupied by Peeresses or the spouses of noble Lords. Should there be any occasion when that area was completely full, then they would be located upstairs. But there is no doubt at all that a place will be found for any who require it.

As regards the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Gisborough, I am told that rough paper is available. There is lined and unlined paper available and also continuation sheets. Although it is of the same quality as the crested paper, it is considerably less expensive than the printed paper. I can see the noble Lord shaking his head. He has much more doubt about the availability than I am given to understand exists. I shall certainly look into the matter and if there is a need to take action, I shall see that it is taken urgently.

On Question, Motion agreed to.