HC Deb 09 September 2003 vol 410 c167
34. Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

What plans he has to make further recommendations to the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons on the use of laptop computers in Standing Committees of the House. [12848]

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Phil Woolas)

I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman on his appointment to the Select Committee on Information. He is also a member of the Speaker's advisory panel.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has made no recommendations to the Modernisation Committee on the use of laptop computers in Standing Committees. He is aware that some Members would like their use to be permitted, but the Chairmen's Panel has concerns about the matter.

Mr. Jack

While I thank the Minister for his kind words and his answer, does he not think that it would be timely for the Modernisation Committee to consider the situation now? Use of laptops is permitted in Select Committees, and a recent report has shown their advantages. However, that facility is not afforded to Members undertaking the detailed work of Standing Committees. Does the Minister not think that the time is right to consider that point, perhaps in concert with the Information Committee?

Mr. Woolas

At present, that is a matter for individual Select Committees, although I share the view that there may well be advantages to the use of laptops as new technologies develop. The House may be interested to know that there are proposals for Members to have access to PDAs, which I understand to be personal digital assistants. The mind boggles about what the sketch writers will make of that, but new technology has an element of inevitability about it.