Lords will use expense-paid iPads to cheat debates

Members of the House of Lords will be given the go-ahead to use their iPads in the chambers. And play Angry Birds.

The news comes as a paper published by the The Lords Administration and Works Committee approves the use of these devices in the chambers.

Alarmingly, they could all be paid for by the tax payer – with a Lords insider telling TechEye that these gadgets can be claimed on expenses.

The devices could also be replacing order papers, to save on the £20 million printing bills, if the House of Commons decides that it is acceptable. Or that’s the line given to justify the expensive toys.

However, the ideas haven’t gone down too well with some. Joan Miller, director  of ICT at the Houses of Parliament, told eWeek: “You won’t believe how much debate there was about whether it would be seemly to be engaged in debate where members can get information from the outside world.

“It might be unfair because they could pose questions that were more clever than the questions they usually ask.”

This was a worry also shared by our insider. “iPads will change the way we all debate and meet, with some sneaky MPs using them to their advantage to find out current and useful information during debates and make themselves look a lot brighter than they are when they are asked questions,” he told TechEye.

He also confirmed that the iPads and similar devices would be fine to expense, telling us: “No doubt having these will also mean they can be put on expenses.”

Under the new rules the devices will only be welcomed in the chambers if they are silent, and laptops have been left out in the cold because it’s not their nature to be quiet.

However, our source points out that just because they are silent, they could still prove to be a distraction to their owners.

“It’s no secret that these devices have games and apps, and like any job debating can sometimes get a little bit tedious. Then there’s the Twitter side of things. I’m not sure about you but I can’t imagine anything worse than a tweet a second,” he added.  

“And if that wasn’t bad enough, there also poses the question of leaked information as well as issues if they are lost.”

Only yesterday the Supreme Court  ruled that tweeting from the courtroom was to be allowed for legal teams and members of the public as long as “this [did] not disrupt the smooth running of the court.”