Why are we buying iPads for MPs now?
Apparently one MP a week is buying an iPad and sending the bill to the taxpayer.
Vital tools?Figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for June and July reveal that eight of the gadgets were bought and claimed for - which is roughly one a week. Conservative MP Bob Blackman even claimed £627 for one for his secretary. This came after a ruling where MPs were given permission to use them in the chamber.
Ipsa says it's all above board, and that these are essential tools for the job, so it's perfectly fair to claim iPads for parliamentary work.
ToysHowever, this is working on the basis that these MPs really need an iPad, and that's up for debate. Who actually needs one? A large chunk of the UK population would like one. They are cool, and lightweight, they are fashionable and fun - who wouldn't want one?
However, unless they are desperately trying to justify the purchase to their other half, noone would claim they actually need one. If you have a computer then you have all the hardware you need. If you want to work on the go then you can claim for a laptop. But find me the MPs who don't have access to a laptop already.
And of those people who hanker after an iPad, you have to ask whether it's really for work. The vast majority are used for surfing the web and playing games - two of the things it was specifically designed for. It's not intended for producing documents or for working on projects. It's not a work tool, it's a toy. If the MPs suddenly started putting claims in for XBoxes and DSs would we still allow them as vital work tools or would we tell them to go and take a running jump?
This smacks of fashionable posturing and greedy grasping at its worst.
But am I missing the point? Are MPs actually doing vital work on their iPads that they couldn't do in any other way. Have they in fact worked out a way to offer better value for money to taxpayers by using the gadgets? Let me know in the comments.