Members of Parliament can use smartphones and tablets inside the chamber as long as the devices are set to silent mode and are used with “decorum,” according to the BBC. Several politicians had argued that using smartphones and tablets during debates made those politicians appear to be detached from the discussions. However, those who supported the use of the devices said that they help MPs communicate with the public more easily and allow them to multi-task during debates.
The Commons Procedure Committee recommended that MPs should be allowed to use electronic devices other than laptops in the Parliamentary Chamber, as long as they were in silent mode and were “used in a way that does not impair decorum.” It also suggested that MPs should be allowed to refer to their devices when making speeches, rather than having to rely on paper notes.
A deputy Commons Speaker said in January that MPs were not allowed to use Twitter inside the Chamber, but on Thursday, MPs voted 206 to 63 against a motion that would have formally introduced the ban on Twitter usage.
During a debate on the issue, MP Luciana Berger said that only 2 countries in Europe have placed a ban on their politicans from tweeting during debates and that the U.K. should not become the third. Another MP, Claire Perry, said, “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.”
According to Twitter, over 40 percent of MPs use the social network. Among them are Labour leader Ed Miliband and Minister for International Development Alan Duncan.