British Politicians Just Ought to Tweet

Members of Parliament should be allowed to use microblogging service Twitter during debates in the House of Commons, says a new report.

According to the report from the Commons Procedure Committee, tweeting is "no different in degree from presenters commenting on live broadcasts of proceedings or indeed from tweeting or blogging about proceedings when watched from outside the chamber."

"The use of Twitter by members is very popular and its use in the chamber or Westminster Hall has caused comment from members themselves and from the public," the report says.

"Whilst tweeting from inside the chamber is clearly a more sensitive matter, we consider that it would be inconsistent to ban this one practice whilst advocating the approach based on decorum rather than activity which we advocate in this report."

The report follows a ban on using Twitter during debates by Deputy Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle. However, the House of Commons will now vote on whether to accept the committee's recommendations. The vote is expected to take place in the next two months. If the Commons votes in favor, a one-year trial of the use of Twitter during debates will take place.

British politicians have already experienced the power of social networking in campaigns, and their U.S. counterparts regularly tweet during Congressional sessions.

The British report also gives the use of smartphones and tablet PC in the commons the green light.

"Finally, it has to be acknowledged that electronic devices are ubiquitous now in a way that even four years ago was not the case. Banning them from the chamber might make the House appear out of touch with modern life and would mean that those in the chamber would be the last to know of breaking news widely available on the internet," the report said.

"We therefore conclude that Members should be allowed to use electronic hand-held devices for any purpose when in the chamber whilst not speaking, and that the current ban on the use of hand-held electronic devices as an aide memoire, whilst speaking in a debate, should be ended."

However, a ban on laptops or devices larger than A4 paper has been retained due to lack of space.

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