Mail continues to be delivered to the Palace of Westminster. As one MP once said to me, ‘MPs may take holidays, but letter writers don’t’. MPs elected on 6 May will arrive in Westminster to find a large volume of mail waiting for them. For new MPs, it is sometimes something of a culture shock.
Increasingly, letter writers are discovering the House of Lords. Although we do not have constituents, we get letters from people regarding legislation and particular issues that concern them. Many are serious and often very helpful. However, like MPs, we do sometimes get mail that is best characterised as strange. Some is of an extreme religious nature, often without a return address. I once had a letter along the lines of ‘I am the voice of God on earth and so is my daughter. By the way, I’m having problems with the local council…’. Some letters initially seem to be making a rational point but then, as the letter progresses, you start to realise there is a problem. There is, though, a giveaway before you have even started to read the letter. If it begins by listing everyone it is sent to, and the list includes the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Lord Chief Justice, all members of the Cabinet etc., then you usually have some idea of what is coming. I have just had one where the circulation list is even more extensive.
The problem is knowing what to do with such letters. It may seem impolite not to reply, but the danger in replying is that it will encourage them to keep sending more. Finding time to reply to other correspondence is a problem, given our limited resources, and there is an opportunity cost if one replies to all such letters.