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dispatch box definition


This page has two definitions of dispatch box in English. Dispatch box is a noun. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .



A dispatch box (sense 1) formerly used by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Tellers in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom announcing the results of a parliamentary vote on 19 October 2019 which led to the Government having to request the European Union for a delay to Brexit until 31 January 2020. The Government and Opposition dispatch boxes (sense 2; one with papers on it) can be seen on the table of the House.

From dispatch (important official message sent by a diplomat, government official, military officer, etc.) +‎ box. Sense 2 (“box placed on a table in a legislative debating chamber and used as a lectern”) is from the fact that in the Parliament of the United Kingdom dispatch boxes used by ministers and other Members of Parliament to carry important documents (sense 1) were formerly used as lecterns; these have generally been replaced by cases, usually made of wood, specifically made to be used as lecterns.



dispatch box (plural dispatch boxes)

  1. A box or case with a lock that is used for carrying dispatches (important official messages) and other documents.
    Synonym: dispatch case
    • 2011 March 1, “FOI [Freedom of Information] Release: Red Boxes”, in Government of the United Kingdom[1], archived from the original on 8 February 2022:
      Ministers are permitted to use ordinary lockable briefcases to transport information which has been classified 'Confidential' or below. For information with a higher security level (such as 'Secret') they are required to use dispatch boxes, which offer a higher level of security, and which are usually red. However a travel version of the despatch box is also available in black, which offers the same level of security as a red despatch box, but is designed to be less conspicuous. In practice Ministers use despatch boxes for transporting the majority of their documents due to the greater level of security they offer.
    • 2014, Will Summerhouse, “The Dispatch Box”, in Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer (The Amazing Adventures of Orion Poe; book 1), Seattle, Wash.: Shake-A-Leg Press, →ISBN:
      Confound it, man! You're being a bloody fool. Drop that pistol and come out with my dispatch box. I'll see that you get a fair trial.
    • 2014 December 17, “Winston Churchill’s dispatch box sells at auction for £158,500”, in Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian[2], London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0261-3077, OCLC 229952407, archived from the original on 1 February 2022:
      Winston Churchill's old dispatch box has been sold for £158,500 – over 25 times more than it was expected to fetch. The red leather box was used by Churchill in his time as secretary of state for the colonies, a position he held from February 1921 until October 1922.
  2. (Commonwealth of Nations, politics) A box that is placed on a table in a legislative debating chamber and used as a lectern for addressing the legislature.
    • 1984, Jeffrey Archer, chapter 29, in First Among Equals, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, part 6 (Party Leaders: 1988–1990), page 369:
      It was about the only attempt at humour Raymond had made at the dispatch box that year, which may have been the reason so few members laughed.
    • 2008 August 31, Melissa Kite, “Dispatch Box vandal caught in the act and culprit is Prime Minister Gordon Brown”, in The Daily Telegraph[3], London: Telegraph Media Group, ISSN 0307-1235, OCLC 635239717, archived from the original on 31 August 2008:
      Officials are used to finding graffiti on the priceless fixtures and fittings in the House of Commons chamber. Teams of French polishers regularly repair damage caused by tourists. But during a recent examination they noticed that the beautifully-carved government Dispatch Box was covered in strange black pen marks. At the next Prime Ministers Questions they stood watch, and caught the culprit in the act. As Gordon Brown gesticulated wildly with his black marker pen, stabbing at the papers in front of him and missing to hit the wood beneath, the awful truth was clear. The PM was the vandal. [] The boxes were a gift from New Zealand after the rebuilding of the House of Commons following the Second World War. The are modelled on the dispatch boxes in the Australian parliament and are made from a strong, teak-like wood from the rare Puriri tree and were thought to be almost indestructible.
    • 2018 October 28, “The Observer view on the budget and the decade of austerity”, in The Observer[4], London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0029-7712, OCLC 757609252, archived from the original on 26 January 2021:
      There is a familiar pattern that has come to define Theresa May's premiership. Encouraging rhetoric gets periodically wheeled out: the pledges to ease the burden on the "just about managing"; the promises to fight the "burning injustices" of social inequality. But then a few weeks later, the chancellor gets up at the dispatch box to deliver a budget or an autumn statement and it's as if those words had never been uttered.
    • 2020 October 19, Daniel Boffey; Lisa O’Carroll, “UK refuses to restart Brexit talks despite EU accepting its demands”, in Katharine Viner, editor, The Guardian[5], London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0261-3077, OCLC 229952407, archived from the original on 30 March 2022:
      Downing Street has refused to restart Brexit deal negotiations despite Michael Gove performing a U-turn at the dispatch box in which he praised a "constructive move" by the EU minutes after declaring the talks "effectively ended".

Usage notes

Sense 2 (“box placed on a table in a legislative debating chamber and used as a lectern”) is often used in the phrase “at the dispatch box”, which means “when addressing the legislature”.

Alternative forms


See also

Further reading