Electronic Lords versus Clockwork Lords

Lord Soley

 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

3 comments for “Electronic Lords versus Clockwork Lords

  1. Carl.H
    11/03/2011 at 9:52 am

    I’m afraid I’m with Lord Cormack on this, electronic devices will cause distraction. Whilst you are googling information you are completely missing what is being said and I find this impertinent and ignorant.

  2. Dave H
    14/03/2011 at 8:50 am

    Just be careful if you use Wikipedia, although it could be quite entertaining. More than one journalist has been caught out by fake information planted there, especially when it comes to musical obituaries.

    I can see a use for electronic devices for outbound communication – being able to have a Twitter feed where the next person to speak was put up would mean that those of us outside would be able to tune in for specific speeches if we had limited time. However, this would be more a management function by a clerk, unless a particular peer had a fanbase and wanted to keep them informed. I do follow some MPs on Twitter and they’ve made helpful comments by that means during debates.

    I do take Carl’s point about it being a distraction – while it is nice to have accurate information, we don’t want the debate to consist of trading search engine URLs.

  3. Carl.H
    14/03/2011 at 2:16 pm

    I think it’s also jumping the gun a little. Lets learn to walk first !

    The language and disciplines of the House are all very well but by golly they take up an absurd amount of time and I do believe put speakers on edge. Recently I’ve seen some very able people who appear frightened to death of getting an honourable mixed with a noble, God forbid !

    Lord Norton is quite well versed with speaking, normally he prepares a lifetime in advance but poor old Lord Soley at times looks like he’s been thrown to the lions. The same can be said for the last time I saw Baroness Murphy speak and by gum she normally cares not a jot whom she upsets.

    No Sir, the most modern of technology won’t do without first addressing the cumbersome, archaic sentimental claptrap. Politeness doesn’t have to include all this regality that dear old Mandy thrives on. Trying to remember who is what must be most offputtting.

    And what of “Order, Order, Order” from the ranks, Mastermind simply wouldn’t have it nor University Challenge….”This side, this side” Oh shut up Your Royal Bigness, Master of the Earth, Moon, Stars, Sun and muppets, his High Yachtsness of Moolah bakander and Lordsmith of DRM Mentalson.

    Actually wouldn’t it be good all those Lords googling, think of the very informative sites I can build….and they must be true they’re on the internet.

    Just one minute I’ll give way to my Noble fiend, once I’ve…I said once I’ve finished this very important piece of imformation..Just a moment…please?

    Right I’ve finished now..Your go.

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