First binmen, now MPs: iPads could be rolled out across Parliament

May 03, 2012 6:47 PM

Many would consider an iPad a luxury, non-essential item but this week it was revealed that all 650 MPs could soon be getting one, paid for by taxpayers. This was the recommendation of the Commons Administration Committee chaired by John Bercow, the Commons Speaker who called for the “rapid roll-out of suitable mobile tablet hardware”.

MPs sitting on Commons Select Committees (around 350 MPs) will be offered one straightaway, as long as they agree to receive and read documents electronically instead of paper. All other MPs will be able to trade in another piece of IT equipment for an iPad. Of course it is essential that Parliament moves with the times and loses many of its antiquated methods. But handing out an iPad to every MP does not send out the right message nor is it the most sensible option available. Many MPs will already have smart phones enabling them to check emails on the go and the addition of a flashy iPad will be of little additional benefit. Believe it or not, 70 MPs have already claimed for iPads on their expenses so when fellow MPs are given the option of trading an existing laptop in or claiming for one on expenses (IPSA have now set a precedent, by allowing them to in the first place) what will they do?

There have also been suggestions that iPads could be rolled out to all members of the House of Lords, if it is proven that they save paper. Of course the use of iPads has the potential to save paper, but so too would a more common sense approach. Handing out devices to all MPs could cost anywhere between £250,000 and £400,000 depending on the model, but this does not include any costs for internet access on the go, a bill which will inevitably be passed back to taxpayers too. With flashy devices like iPads replacement and repair costs are inevitably higher – it is only a matter of time before we hear the first stories of iPads being left on trains.

It’s important not to forget that MPs receive a perfectly reasonable salaries, more than 3 times the national average and allowances on top of this. To additionally bill taxpayers for an iPad is insulting, however maybe not surprising considering some of the even more bizarre items the expenses scandal uncovered.

Yes, Parliament should allowed to modernise, but handing out the flashiest tablet device is a gross over-exaggeration to a small problem. If MPs really need a new gizmo from which they can read documents, then there are far cheaper options on the market. If MPs must have an iPad then they could always pay for it themselves.Many would consider an iPad a luxury, non-essential item but this week it was revealed that all 650 MPs could soon be getting one, paid for by taxpayers. This was the recommendation of the Commons Administration Committee chaired by John Bercow, the Commons Speaker who called for the “rapid roll-out of suitable mobile tablet hardware”.

MPs sitting on Commons Select Committees (around 350 MPs) will be offered one straightaway, as long as they agree to receive and read documents electronically instead of paper. All other MPs will be able to trade in another piece of IT equipment for an iPad. Of course it is essential that Parliament moves with the times and loses many of its antiquated methods. But handing out an iPad to every MP does not send out the right message nor is it the most sensible option available. Many MPs will already have smart phones enabling them to check emails on the go and the addition of a flashy iPad will be of little additional benefit. Believe it or not, 70 MPs have already claimed for iPads on their expenses so when fellow MPs are given the option of trading an existing laptop in or claiming for one on expenses (IPSA have now set a precedent, by allowing them to in the first place) what will they do?

There have also been suggestions that iPads could be rolled out to all members of the House of Lords, if it is proven that they save paper. Of course the use of iPads has the potential to save paper, but so too would a more common sense approach. Handing out devices to all MPs could cost anywhere between £250,000 and £400,000 depending on the model, but this does not include any costs for internet access on the go, a bill which will inevitably be passed back to taxpayers too. With flashy devices like iPads replacement and repair costs are inevitably higher – it is only a matter of time before we hear the first stories of iPads being left on trains.

It’s important not to forget that MPs receive a perfectly reasonable salaries, more than 3 times the national average and allowances on top of this. To additionally bill taxpayers for an iPad is insulting, however maybe not surprising considering some of the even more bizarre items the expenses scandal uncovered.

Yes, Parliament should allowed to modernise, but handing out the flashiest tablet device is a gross over-exaggeration to a small problem. If MPs really need a new gizmo from which they can read documents, then there are far cheaper options on the market. If MPs must have an iPad then they could always pay for it themselves.

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