The Administration and Works Committee has issued a report recommending changes in the rules as to what electronic devices can be used by members in the chamber, in committee and in other parts of the House. It is designed to ensure the rules keep abreast of the rapid changes in technology. There is a recognition that peers variously use blackberries and other devices in the chamber. The committee is keen to align the rules not only with what is desirable but also with what is achievable.
Peers may now use hand-held devices in the chamber, for example to refer to notes for speaking (in place of paper), but also for matters not related to the subject of debate. Though standard laptops may not be brought in to the chamber, it appears that iPads are permissible. It is a good job we don’t have members liable to fall to the temptation of that shown recently by a member of the Italian Parliament. Quite by accident, apparently, he found a page relating to female escorts. At least in the Lords, we are all seriously minded parliamentarians.
The only time I have used an electronic device in the chamber has been when I forgot to switch off my mobile and it bleeped with a text message saying ‘vote imminent’ just as the member who had moved the amendment was saying ‘I do not intend to press the amendment to a vote’.