As if they needed any more excuses not to listen to debates and engage fully with the issues, MP's have now voted themselves the right to take blackberries into the Commons chamber, so that they can sit emailing and net surfing during debates which they're only attending to make a prepared speech that might just make it into the lcoal paper and impress consituents. Harreit Harman, Leader of the Commons, justified the move saying that it enabled MP's to 'multi-task', not that I'm sure she could multi-task her way out of a wet paper bag, but there we go.
Tony Wright, the current Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, once described the attitude of MP's in committee as an absolute disgrace, given their propensity to write Christmas cards and otherwise distract themsevles during lengthy scrutinies of legislation. That was back when he was a new MP, and perhaps a little shocked at the low standards of MP's work ethics. Maybe now he is more innured to the culture of the commons, but I would be fascinated to hear his reaction to the blackberry move. Sky News's Jon Craig has written up his views on the Boulton blog, commenting
"Since many MPs sit in committees reading and answering their correspondence and paying no attention whatsoever to the debate they are supposed to be participating in, I don't think using a Blackberry in the chamber will do much damage to the democratic process."
It is little wonder that the House of Commons has been receding in national importance if the MP's themselves are so cavalier about its uses.