The continuing decline of parliamentary snail mail

45007As regular readers will know, each year I table a parliamentary question asking how many items of correspondence were received in the Palace of Westminster in the previous year (and, of these, what proportion was received in the House of Lords).  The data demonstrate a clear trend.  People are no longer writing in such numbers as before.  The decline  has been especially notable this past year.  

The figures for 2005 onwards are (with the percentage going to the Lords in parenthesis):

2005  4,733,000 (estimate) (20%)

2006 4,789,935  (no % given for the Lords)

2007  4,199,853 (20%)

2008  4,135,144 (15%)

2009  3,540,080 (25%)

2010  3,082,187 (25%)

2011  2,691,576 (25%)

2012  2,544,019 (25%)

2013  2,490,256 (25%)

2014  2,234,763 (25%)

2015  2,200,504 (25%)

2016  1,652,317 (30%) 

The decline has been consistent over the past decade and now we have a year in which  fewer than two-million items of correspondence were received – almost one-third the number received ten years ago. 

The decline does not translate to a reduced workload for Members.  As I have argued before, the reduction in snail mail has been more than compensated by the rise of e-mail.  Figures are not compiled for e-mail traffic, but e-mails are cheaper and more efficient to send than snail mail.  A number of campaigning organisations encourage people to e-mail.  The change is not only quantitative, but also qualitatively.  People who e-mail are more likely to expect a quick response than someone who posts a letter.  The burden on MPs, or rather MPs’ offices, can be substantial.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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4 Responses to The continuing decline of parliamentary snail mail

  1. What about calculating comments on blogs as part of correspondence?
    That perhaps is part of the total picture.

  2. labeldesalis says:

    And as you can imagine much of the e-mail stuff should be ignored.

  3. tizres says:

    Ditto the print version of Yellow Pages. Has the time come to have another look at how statutory notices should be advertised?

  4. Croft says:

    Suggests ppl who write to the Lords are an older generation as the % of the mail is rising. The trouble with e-mail is the issue of copy and paste – which while it still happens with letters is a smaller %)

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