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Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what was the amount of money paid to the management consultants for their study and advice on trying to improve the flow of mail (a) internally and (b) through the Royal Mail to hon. Members. [15075]

The consultancy was let following a competitive tender. The cost is commercially confidential.

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what problems have been identified in the delivery of internal and external mail to, and within, the Palace of Westminster since the recent changes; and if she will make a statement on measures that will be taken to improve the system. [15074]

At its meeting on 4 November the Administration Committee raised with the Serjeant at Arms certain problems with the new postal arrangements that had been brought to its attention by hon. Members. It was agreed that there had been some initial difficulties, but my Committee does support the new initiative, and considers that once the identified problems are remedied a more efficient service should result. It was reported to the Committee that there had been some industrial action by Royal Mail staff in Essex, and this may well have affected deliveries adversely in my hon. Friend's and other hon. Members' constituencies in this region.

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what was the total cost of implementing the recent changes to the internal and external mail systems in the Palace of Westminster. [15076]

The total works and equipment costs to date borne by the House Authorities are £45,096 excluding VAT. Costs borne by Royal Mail are not available.

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what plans the Committee has to seek an assessment of the changes to the mail system made by the Department of the Serjeant at Arms; and if she will make a statement. [15077]

A review of the changes will be carried out once the new system has been successfully settled in, and the result will be reported to the Committee for its consideration.