COMMONS

Allow hand-held electronic devices in the Chamber, says Procedure Committee

24 March 2011

MPs should be allowed to use handheld electronic devices, such as iPads and smartphones, in the Chamber of the House of Commons provided that they do so with decorum and regard for others, say the Procedure Committee in a report published today. 

The committee recommends that the House of Commons agree to the following new resolution:

That hand-held electronic devices (not laptops) may be used in the Chamber, provided that they are silent, and used in a way that does not impair decorum; that Members making speeches in the Chamber or in committee may refer to electronic devices in place of paper speaking notes; and that electronic devices, including laptops, may be used silently in committee meetings, including select committees.

The committee recognises that there is a wide range of opinions on this and proposes a review of the new arrangements after a year.

Committee Chair, Greg Knight, said:

"The rules adopted in 2007 which allow MPs merely to keep up to date with emails whilst in the Chamber have been overtaken by developments in technology. New devices are much smaller and more discreet than in the past. The committee is persuaded that a Member should be allowed to use a device for any purpose for which paper communications are currently allowed.

We also recognise that that it is impractical to police activity on an electronic device and trust to the good sense of MPs to act in accordance with the central principle that devices must be used with discretion and with due regard to decorum.  We know that we can count on the Chair to intervene if there is a serious breach of this rule."

The committee will now seek an opportunity to put the report to the House for its agreement.

Further Information

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