Commons authorities decision on iPads for MPs delayed

image captionCommons rules were changed last year to allow the use of tablet computers in the chamber

The decision by Commons authorities on whether all MPs should be issued with iPads or other tablet computers has been delayed.

The Commons Administration Committee has recommended a rollout of the devices which it said would ultimately save the taxpayer money.

Currently, every MP is provided with three desktop computers and two laptops for office use.

But the committee said tablets could save paper and make MPs more efficient.

The House of Commons Commission was due to consider the committee's recommendation in a meeting on Monday evening.

But a spokesman for the commission said the meeting began late and members ran out of time before discussing the iPad issue.

It is now set to be discussed at the group's next meeting on 30 April.

'Cut costs'

According to the Daily Mail,a total of 70 MPs have so far bought Apple iPads on expenses.

The newest model costs about £400 so the total for providing one to all 650 MPs could run to £260,000, plus subscription costs for data - likely to be about £15 per month per device.

In February, the administration committee recommended a "rapid rollout of suitable mobile tablet hardware" following a trial involving 16 of its members.

It said a tablet should be given in addition to the five computers MPs are already entitled to, and while it noted that "other devices were in the market... the iPad was ahead of the field with regard to functionality".

Reporting back on the trial, committee member Joan Miller said the discounts provided by Apple for bulk-buying were likely to be "very limited", but suggested that the recent launch of the iPad3 could bring the cost of the previous version down to £250.

Announcing its recommendation, Sir Alan Haselhurst, chairman of the committee, said the trial had cut MPs' costs by "several thousand pounds" as they could circulate information electronically rather than in hard copy.

"There is a pretty sure case to say that the supply of these will lead to an overall saving for the public purse," he said.

"It seems that this is the future, for the convenience in terms of dealing with all the work MPs have to do, but also because it assists in what is a determined policy of the house - reducing the use of paper."

But campaign group the Taxpayers' Alliance said that "with the public finances in such a mess, the last thing taxpayers want is to fork out for a new toy for every MP".

"Many members don't want one or need an iPad, or simply prefer paper," spokeswoman Emma Boon said.

Commons authorities changed the rules last year to allow MPs to use iPads and Blackberry's in the Commons chamber.

Deputy Leader of the Commons David Heath is thought to have become the first minister to use an iPad at the dispatch box in October.

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