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MPs cleared to use iPads in Commons - as long as it's not bigger than their face

Jenny Williams

MPs are to be allowed to use tablet computers such as iPads in the House of Commons - as long as the device is no bigger than their face.

The House of Commons Procedure Committee has published a report, titled Use of hand-held electronic devices in the Chamber and committees, recommending that MPs are able to use tablet devices, such as Apple's iPad, "for any purpose" when not speaking, provided they are "silent and used in a way that does not impair decorum".

The report said: "A good rule of thumb would be a device no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper in width and length, which did not obscure the member's face when in use."

The Committee recommends that the House of Commons changes the old rules put in place in 2007.

"We therefore conclude that members should be allowed to use electronic handheld devices for any purpose when in the Chamber whilst not speaking, and that the current ban on the use of handheld electronic devices as an aide memoire, whilst speaking in a debate, should be ended," said the report.

The use of Twitter in the House of Commons was also approved despite tweeting from inside the chamber being considered "a more sensitive matter".

The report says it is impossible to police Twitter messages, so MPs must use "their good sense and behave with courtesy".

Sixteen MPs trialled iPads in the House of Commons in January 2011.


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