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Hand-held Devices

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 28 April 2011

6. What representations he has received on the use of hand-held devices during proceedings of the House and its Committees. (52656)

I am very conscious of the fact that anything I say on this subject may be tweeted and used in evidence against me. The Leader of the House has received no representation on this matter, which is ultimately a matter for the House. The Procedure Committee has produced a sensible proposal in its report. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House wrote to the Chair of the Committee saying that we would both support a motion in the terms proposed by the Committee to be debated in Back-Bench time.

I commend the report of the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr Knight) and his Committee on this matter. Would it, however, be technically possible to install a screen in the Chamber so MPs could follow a live Twitter feed during the course of our debates and therefore be able to see what people are saying about us, including our own colleagues?

It is an intriguing thought, but I suspect there are enough distractions in the Chamber already.

While I broadly support the use of electronic devices for urgent messages and the like, I divided the Procedure Committee on the matter and voted against the report, simply because I took the view that if we were all to be sitting here tweeting, checking our e-mails and reading newspapers on screens, we would not be paying proper attention to the debates we were sent here to engage in. I therefore ask the Deputy Leader of the House whether he is ready to respond to the Committee’s report, and let me add that I hope his response will be more considered than the report’s conclusions.

I do think this is a House matter, and a matter for you, Mr Speaker—and you have given an indication of your own thoughts on it. I understand that the Chair of the Committee has asked the Backbench Business Committee for time to discuss the report, and I think it is appropriate that the House has a debate on the issue, takes on board the contrary views on either side of the argument, and then comes to a decision.