asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) whether, in view of the fact that on Friday 8 July at 12.15 pm no more than three operators were on the main House of Commons 219–3000 switchboard and no more than three operators were on the 219 4343 inquiry bureau, resulting in a wait for incoming calls from constituents of more than seven minutes, he will take steps to secure an early and substantial improvement in the service;
(2) whether he will make less time-consuming and more efficient the system whereby an hon. Member seeking to telephone the secretary of another hon. Member on an internal line is, when the person concerned is not available, told in a recorded message to dial 4343 and, on dialling this number, is told to dial a further number to reach the secretary's attendant.
On Friday 8 July the staffing of the switchboard and message bureau was reduced by one, because of sickness, which unfortunately coincided with a higher level of traffic than normal. The Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee proposes to review the present answering system, which was introduced in April 1983, at the earliest opportunity.