MSPs allowed to use electronic tablet devices during parliamentary business and press can tweet from gallery
Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick has today confirmed that she is content for MSPs to use electronic tablet devices, such as iPads, in the Chamber during parliamentary business.
It had been announced in an email, following a discussion between Marwick and MSP Richard Simpson on the matter.
The tablets are to be used as an alternative to paper notes for speaking in the Chamber, and Marwick has said that she does not consider visiting social networking sites something that the MSPs should be doing while taking care of parliamentary business.
The Presiding Officer has also agreed the SPJA’s proposed rules of conduct for political correspondents in the media gallery, with a minor change, which can therefore begin with immediate effect and will be trialled until the end of June.
Four rules of conduct put forward for the media were: any tweeting or messaging must be done discreetly and in complete silence; nothing should be done which causes a distraction or disrupts Parliamentary business; the dignity of parliamentary proceedings must in no way be compromised; and nothing should be done which distracts other media members from listening to debates.
Below is a full copy of the letter from the Presiding Officer to Simpson:
Use of electronic tablet devices in the Chamber
Thank you for our meeting of 23 February at which we discussed the use of electronic tablet devices in the Chamber. Our conversation related to the specific issue of allowing Members to use such devices as an alternative to paper notes for speaking in the Chamber.
As you know I have been considering this issue and I was very grateful to you putting forward your views, as a keen supporter of such a measure. I promised to write following our meeting. I am happy to confirm that Members should be allowed to use electronic tablet devices, as an alternative to paper notes for speaking in the Chamber.
As we discussed, any Members now choosing to do so should continue to conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner. I do not consider that using electronic devices for other purposes during parliamentary proceedings, particularly the use of social networking sites, is compatible with that requirement of conduct. I do not wish to find ourselves in the position of having to police the use of tablet devices. Instead, I expect Members to respect my views above, on what I consider to be acceptable usage.
I am copying this letter to all Members of the Scottish Parliament, both for information and as a guide to acceptable behaviour if they choose to use this option in the future.