Blackberrys out of order

From the BBC: Alistair Burt, Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, read out the text of a letter he had received on a Blackberry during a debate in the House of Commons on anti-social behaviour.

The Deputy Speaker Sir Michael Lord spotted Mr Burt’s device and asked: “Order. I wasn’t actually watching precisely then – were you actually reading from an electronic device.”
Mr Burt replied: “I am, which I think I’m allowed to do in the chamber.”
But Sir Michael said: “I think that is to be discouraged. I won’t say any more at this point, but I’d like to refer to it. I think that is to be discouraged. You can continue with your speech.”
Mr Burt replied: “Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker. It was a letter to me in a different form.”
But Sir Michael hit back: “Order. The use of an electronic device for reading from during a speech, I think – I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

  • The Raven

    I love the whole ceremony and traditions of *most* aspects of Parliament – but this…well…

    Am I not to understand that even here many councils are allowing members to utilise laptops, instead of myriad papers being brought to meetings? I know myself of at least three…surely there are others?

    Time for catch up, methinks. Personally I never saw the difference between losing a briefcase full of important papers, and losing a laptop…aside from the volume of data. What do you reckon, folks? A new market for the e-reader?

  • Brian Walker

    It takes Parliament a while to catch up.The Blackberry is yet another device the chair has to police to try to win attention for Commons business. MPs have always written letters etc quite openly on the benches. In the 1920s and 30s, PM Baldwin completed a lot of gov business sitting for hours on the treasury bench. Why not quote from a blackberry? The difference between paper and an “electronic device” ( cool phrase,man) is of course the instant two way communication whether in text or speech. This is yet another potent distraction from the debate and can be discourteous I supppose. The little spat is like the angry objections to mobiles in ordinary social situations. But to onlookers, is there really much difference between talking on a mobile and having a live chat in person? Old school attacks on “devices” can be overdone.

  • PMQs wouldn’t be the same if Brown and Cameron merely twittered to one another 🙂