Sunday, 20 March 2011

Are we on our way to a virtual House of Lords?

Clive Soley ("Electronic Lords versus Clockwork Lords") surely has the most rational response to their Lordships' decision to allow non-mechanical hand-held electronic devices in: "I would argue that it is perfectly acceptable to use any electronic device as long as it does not cause unnecessary disturbance to others. For example, I would not take my lap top in as it is fairly large and given the crowded nature of the Chamber it would be anti-social. I would also not use a hand held device if sitting next to someone who was speaking as it could distract them. Common sense courtesy should be the guiding principle and would work in almost all circumstances."

People of my generation will remember the Brabazon committee. It is good to see that the current Lord Brabazon, chairman of committees, is as enthused by state-of-the-art developments as his forebear. As quoted by, he brushed off the suggestion that the devices would lead to a decline in parliamentary etiquette: "My noble friends Lord Higgins and Lord Cormack worried that people working away on their handheld devices would be a distraction and that it would not look good on television. At least it would prove that those noble Lords were awake and not asleep," he said.

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