Today several months after the Procedure Committee (which I am a member of) completed its report the House of Commons will debate the Committee’s report and the recommendation that the current rule be relaxed.
The current rule dates back to 25th October 2007 which permits the use of mobile phones and other hand-held devices to keep up to date with emails provided that it causes no disturbance.
Since then technology has developed and there are now tablet computers and smartphones which simply did not exist back in 2007. It is a controversial subject. Personally I believe that we should allow the use of the new tablet computers I think it would be difficult if not impossible to enforce any restriction on what the computers could be used for. The Committee was agreed that the use of laptop computers would continue to be prohibited because of the lack of space in the chamber. As a matter of fact many people already use hand-held tablet computers and smartphones in the Chamber.
I try and spend as much time as I can in the Chamber but as with all Members there are so many demands on our time that it is difficult to spend more than a small proportion of the total time the House sits in the Chamber. My view is that Members may be able to spend more time in the Chamber if greater use of hand-held devices is permitted. One of the questions I am often asked is why are there are so few Members in the Chamber. the Answer is that there are so many demands on MP’s and as yet no one has been able to arrange for any Member to be in be in two places at the same time!
I will report the result of the debate in a later post.