Twitter has had a difficult relationship with some of our politicians, there have been various scandals caused by unwise twitters and consequently twittering has been banned in many council chambers and has always been unacceptable in Parliament. In fact earlier this year, a deputy Speaker of the Commons told MP’s Twitter was banned in the chamber.
However, MP’s have now backed a motion allowing them to use Twitter during Commons debates (on Thursday, MP’s voted by 206 votes to 63 against an amendment that would have formally imposed that ban). From now on, smart phones and tablet computers will be permitted inside the chamber as long as they are in silent mode and used with “decorum”. Now we all know that acting with ‘decorum’ may be a challenge for some of our MP’s, but I do think this is a positive move in our society.
At a time when the young generally feel no connection to our political process anything that makes it more relevant and accessible to them (and the rest of the public) has to be good.
The Commons Procedure Committee has also recommended that MP’s be allowed to refer to such devices (iPads and similar), instead of paper notes, when making speeches. They went further by saying MP’s should be free to use laptops in committee meetings, including select committees.
In a world which is rapidly becoming ‘mobile’ in the way we can relate to it I think this has to be a move in the right direction – there are only two countries in Europe that have a ban on use of mobiles in their parliaments, we should not add ourselves.
Perhaps this will stop some of the MP’s falling asleep in the Commons as well!