EXCL Parliament spends thousands of pounds printing documents thrown away after one day

Posted On: 
17th April 2019

Parliamentary bosses spend eye-watering sums every year printing thousands of documents that get thrown away at the end of the day and are available online, PoliticsHome can reveal.

A Commons order paper from 2013
PA Images

The House of Commons spent more than £40,000 of taxpayer cash producing parliamentary timetables alone last year, but more than 10,000 were binned by the offices that produce them.

Environmental campaigners attacked the "waste of materials, energy and cash" but Parliament said business papers were "essential in enabling the House of Commons to function".

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Overall, more than £300,000 was spent printing timetables - known as order papers - bills, committee reports and other documents for MPs in the last financial year.

More than £34,000 was spent printing bills and more than £40,000 printing committee reports.

All the figures are likely to be much higher, as only the first three-quarters of the financial year were released to PoliticsHome under Freedom of Information rules.

In the previous financial year, the Commons spent £380,000 printing documents and binned 9,200 order papers.

Some of the order papers may have been taken by MPs and staff then returned for disposal, but the majority will be surplus documents that were never used.

The figures do not include order papers that were thrown away elsewhere, for example in private offices or in other bins around the estate.

In the 2016/17 financial year, the Lords printing offices spent £185,000 producing documents and binned 4,161 order papers and 2,768 copies of bills.

In 2017/18, the Lords spent £170,000 on printing, including £30,000 on committee reports. The House did not provide printing costs for other documents or disposal figures for that year.

Order papers, bills and committee reports are available online and are updated regularly.

Meanwhile, the Commons and Lords sent almost 25,000 kg of paper for recycling in 2018, while another 75,000 kg of confidential waste - which is mainly more paper - was destroyed.


Friends of the Earth campaigner Emma Priestland told PoliticsHome: “Printing documents and other paper products that are chucked out without being read is a waste of materials, energy and cash.

“If we want to defend our planet we need to end our throwaway culture – and Parliament should be setting an example.”

A spokesperson for the House of Commons told PoliticsHome: “Providing business papers relating to the proceedings of the House is essential in enabling the House of Commons to function.

“We work to keep levels of waste at a minimum and produce electronic versions of all papers.

“Paper disposed of on the Parliamentary Estate is recycled, and the numbers quoted include paper which has been disposed of after use as well as excess copies.”