Hansard provides a remarkable service to MPs. It is the reporting, printing
and publication organisation which ensures that the official report of the Commons business until 10pm
is available next morning. In addition to reporting the main business of the Commons, Hansard
also publishes the proceedings of the standing committees.
The task of reporting Commons daily business is carried out from the front row of the Press Gallery,
directly above the Speaker's chair. One reporter is responsible for covering business at any one
time, and a replacement reporter usually sits alongside, ready to take over without any break.
A typical rota consists of fourteen reporters taking five-and ten-minute turns, which are then dictated
to high-speed typists.
Messengers come to the House of Commons every half an hour during the day to collect the typescripts.
The day's proceedings, up to between 10 and 11pm are printed that night, leaving the presses at around
5 to 6am. This ensures that MPs can read Hansard in the morning before the day's Commons business
begins at 2.30pm.
By the way, for the public an annual subscription to Hansard is more than £600.