Despatch boxes were originally used by Members of Parliament to carry documents into the Commons Chamber. Two can now be found permanently in the Chamber on the central table and contain religious texts for the day of the Oath. Frontbenchers (ministers and shadow ministers) deliver their addresses from their side's despatch box.
The despatch boxes in use today were gifts from New Zealand and designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to replace the boxes destroyed in the Second World War bombings. Scott was able to base his design on the despatch boxes in the Australian Parliament. The Australian boxes were gifted to Australia by King George V in 1927 and based on A.W.N. Pugin's original despatch boxes for the House of Commons.
The boxes are made from puriri wood which is native to New Zealand. The metalwork above the lock shows an entwined “GE” which stands for King George VI and his Queen, Elizabeth. Cast into the metalwork the words “The Gift of New Zealand” and the Latin words “Domine Dirige nos” meaning “Lord, guide us”. They were made by H.H. Martyn & Co. Ltd., of Cheltenham, England.