Wales politics

Ditch assembly chamber computer screens, says Labour AM

Senedd chamber
Image caption In Tuesday's First Minister's Questions, 10 out of 12 Labour AMs appear to be seen staring at screens

Computers should be removed from the Senedd chamber, an ex-Welsh minister has said.

Labour AM Alun Davies said too often the impression given was that more politicians were communicating on their computers than debating.

The Blaenau Gwent AM said he wanted "access to a portable, electronic means of communication" instead.

Presiding Officer Elin Jones said she did not think most AMs wanted to remove the IT equipment.

Unlike the Scottish Parliament, assembly members have computers on their desks in their chamber.

Wi-Fi is also available there, which AMs can use for personal devices.

Image copyright Labour
Image caption Alun Davies: "It's time now that we review the structure of this chamber"

But Mr Davies told AMs that since the Senedd building was opened in 2006 "we have seen enormous strides forward in terms of use of technology and our means of keeping in touch with our offices and working productively whilst we're taking part in debates".

"I think, all too often, people watching us taking part in debates in this place will see a member speaking, as I am now, and a sea of heads looking downwards at their screens," he said.

"It's time now that we review the structure of this chamber and ensure that we get rid of our computer screens and spend more time debating with each other and less time on our screens," Mr Davies added.

However, Plaid Cymru's Bethan Sayed responded on Twitter: "Some of us are communicating with the real world when we are in there. I don't want them ripped out."

Presiding Officer Elin Jones replied: "The last time we asked assembly members for their views on whether the IT equipment that was available to them in this chamber was the right way to carry on for the future was in 2016.

"Members were certainly at that point keen to continue with the use of the IT equipment installed here.

"Members don't have to use what's in front of them and as any member is standing on his or her feet it may be useful to remind other members that they are in shot, in television shot, at that time".

Ms Jones said it was "probably not a good look for a party leader" to have members of their party "behind them not paying any attention at all to what the party leader is saying".

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