New Apple iPads for MPs

Taxpayers' will shortly cough up well over £400,000 for new iPads for MPs. Strictly in the interests of MPs being more productive (plus all that Tweeting).

That £400,000 or so is just the hardware, not the cost of on-going monthly subscriptions, apps and downloads. But Speaker John Bercow claims the move will save money.

Working tool or exec toy?

Already 70 MPs are thought to have snapped up iPads and claimed them on expenses. However official approval for the move has been sanctioned from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the body that rules on allowances (though it originally turned down the request).

So, is the iPad a working Grafter - or toy? "With the public finances in such a mess, the last thing taxpayers want is to fork out for a new toy for MPs," the Taxpayers' Alliance told the Mail.

"It might start with those on select committees but it's bound to be rolled out across the Commons soon. It's a perfectly good intention to want to modernise Parliament, save paper and cut costs, but an iPad is a premium product, which means it comes with a premium price tag."

Not the cheapest option

It's a fair point. Lovely as an iPad is, it's double the price of many Android tablets, which would still do the job perfectly adequately. And have you ever tried to write a lengthy email or report on an iPad? It's not a true replacement for a laptop (though tell us if you disagree).

To sweeten the financial pain, MPs will need to return an existing laptop or computer. But it's unlikely MPs will settle for a plain vanilla Wi-Fi only iPad version.

(And what about a training primer or two in order for MPs to make the most of their glossy new machines?)

So is this move a step forward, recognising that such tools can be productive and useful? Or a complete waste of taxpayer cash. Let us know.

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