On Thursday MPs voted on the issue of using of Twitter in the House of Commons. There were those in the House who believed that the use of mobile technology during debates would distract MPs, making them appear disconnected from proceedings, with Conservative MP Sir Alan Haselhurst arguing that it would lead to a loss of “decorum” in the chamber.
Deputy Lib Dem leader Simon Hughes also told Commons: “It looks pretty bad if people spend their time in a debate looking at papers that aren’t anything to do with it. I think it looks even less connected with the debate if people spend all their time playing around with bits of electronic machinery. If we’re here we should be taking part in the debate … the administration of our lives should happen outside here, not in here.”
However, when the votes were counted, 206 MPs were in favour of the use of electronic devices in the chamber, “provided that they are silent, and used in a way that does not impair decorum”, with only 63 voting for the proposed ban. Conservative MP Claire Perry defended Twitter, saying “Tweeting helps MPs to stay informed, in touch and accountable to their constituents and to ban this would be an inexplicable step back in time.”
MPs will now be able to read their Commons speeches from handheld devices, and when sitting in select committee meetings they should be able to use laptops, although they will not be permitted to use laptops while in the chamber.