A lively and entertaining mini debate took place today on the Administration and Works Committee Report dealing with the use of electronic devices in the House. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldselect/ldaccwks/92/9202.htm We have agreed to allow limited use in the Chamber of certain hand held electronic devices but we are not to be allowed to use a search engine to dig up information for use in the debate. I share some of my colleague’s doubts about the wisdom trying to restrict usage – never mind the rather difficult problem of how you would enforce it! The Report was adopted for a one year trial. My own view is that we will have to return to this and go much further.
I would argue that it is perfectly acceptable to use any electronic device as long as it does not cause unnecessary disturbance to others. For example, I would not take my lap top in as it is fairly large and given the crowded nature of the Chamber it would be anti-social. I would also not use a hand held device if sitting next to someone who was speaking as it could distract them. Common sense courtesy should be the guiding principle and would work in almost all circumstances.
Meanwhile you must read Lord Cormack’s speech- he represents the clockwork tendency but he is always worth listening to! The following quote indicates his dissent: “I must confess that I do not Google, Twitter, tweet or blog, nor do I have any particular desire to do any of those things, but it seems to me that to have handheld devices in the Chamber is not conducive to good debate and intelligent participation in it.” And Lord Harris of Haringey did gave an apologetic confession: “I apologise for what I am about to say. On one occasion during Oral Questions, in order to clarify whether I was correct in the point that I wished to make, I did a quick Google search.”
Confessions and predictions – they are all here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/110310-0001.htm#11031058000359