Dealing with e-mail
37. In addition to their duties in relation
to the business of the House, Members of Parliament are expected
to offer a highly professional service to their constituents;
in turn, Members of Parliament are entitled to expect appropriate
support from the House in handling increased public communications,
whether by e-mail, via websites or as a result of online consultations.
38. As e-mails are transmitted more quickly than
letters, a sender may well assume that less time is required for
a substantive response. Most Members will have experienced the
annoyance of a constituent who has tried to contact them via e-mail
and has not received a satisfactory response. Failure to respond
to the demand within the expected time-frame can harm rather than
enhance a Member's professional reputation.
39. We have in the past been concerned to improve
training facilities for Members and their staff, and one Member
suggested to us during this inquiry that there should be basic
training for Members and their staff on handling e-mails.
We have no doubt that such training would enhance the professionalism
of many Members' offices. The House Administration could, for
instance, usefully draw up guidelines for Members and their staff
(and indeed House staff) on how to meet expectations of quick
response times and on storage of e-mails.