The continuing decline of parliamentary snail mail

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).  I have just received the answer to the one for 2017. The data demonstrate a clear trend.  There has been a notable decline over time, with marked reductions in some years, but with the volume of correspondence in each year being smaller than in the previous year. In 2005, there were over 4.7 million items of correspondence. This past year, it was just over 1.6 million.

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%)

2017  1,633,770 (30%)

The decline in snail mail has been more than compensated for by the increase in e-mail.  Individuals and organisations wanting to contact MPs and peers have recourse to electronic rather than paper communication, replete with attachments. No data are kept on the volume of e-mails flowing into the Palace, so it is not possible definitively to show the increase, but parliamentarians are conscious of the mounting volume of electronic mail that now clogs in-boxes and makes it difficult to discern the important from the not so important, the irrelevant and the bizarre.

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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. Jonathan says:

    A clear trend in overall volumes decreasing, but also in the proportion received by the Lords increasing. That suggests the Lords’ correspondents are more likely to prefer to put pen to paper than those contacting their MP.

    • Croft says:

      Perhaps Jonathan its simply the age of people likely to write to peers

      The HoP must have a mail server, it won’t be very precise (due to public lumped into non public messages but they must have some tracking of e-mail mail volumes.

  2. booteblogs says:

    It is odd that campaign groups have decided to prioritise the power of ‘mass’ emails, i.e. getting hundreds or thousands of constituents to send their MP the same email template. I still think that a well thought out letter written by a constituent is more effective and taken more seriously.

  3. tizres says:

    While not perfect, the trend here is the inverse of postage costs; the volumes since 2010 have declined by 47% while nationally the figure is 28%.

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