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Laptops

Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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31.

If he will ask the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons to consider the use of laptop computers by hon. Members in the House. [107446]

I hope that the Modernisation Committee will look at the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion as part of its work on how Parliament can be made more accessible and the work of MPs more effective.

I am most grateful to the Minister once again for his very positive response. He will recall that, towards the end of last year, we exchanged correspondence on this subject, and I am anxious now, some four months later, to find out what has happened. He will also be aware that technology has moved on and that some forms of computer, even without keyboards, have already been successfully pioneered to assist in the work of the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I hope that he can assure me that it will not be too long before the Modernisation Committee can consider all those matters further to aid the work of the House.

I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, by contrast with some of his hon. Friends, who have just shouted from a sedentary position the word "shocking", on the leading role that he has taken in his Select Committee in encouraging the use of laptop computers in open session for the first time. We look forward very much to the report of his right hon. Friend the Member for 'Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), the Chairman of that Committee, which I believe we are expecting by Easter and which will deal with how that experiment has gone. I am sure that the Modernisation Committee will take notice of that report.

Given that hon. Members are already positively festooned with electronic devices in this place and that I have seen the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) twitch in the same way as other hon. Members when their pagers go off—

Perhaps it is a natural twitch.

Does it not make sense that in Committee in this day and age, hon. Members should, as in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, have the opportunity to access information through a laptop computer?

It never ceases to amaze me that many hon. Members who purport to have Neanderthal attitudes to modern and electronic devices are the first to resort to them for their political use.