Why are we paying £1m for MPs to have an iPad?

Committee claims that the iPads will save money. Can this be true?

New iPad launch event - Germany

Taxpayers will fork out £1 million so that all 650 MPs can have their own iPad. The iPad Air 2s are worth £499 each, which seems like a shocking expense, but the House of Commons Commission is claiming that the move is a sensible and frugal one.

According to the Daily Mail, this argument is based on the fact that it agreed back in 2013 that straight after the 2015 election, all MPs would be offered their own tablet and laptop - which the committee has deemed essential equipment for MPs to complete their work.

Why Apple?

When identifying the most appropriate tablets to use, according to The Telegraph, the Commission highlighted that the Commons has been using iPads since a pilot scheme in 2012, and there are already 209 of them in use, so they are integrated into the infrastructure.

This means that they couldn't buy a cheaper android tablet for each MP, because there would be integration, training, and support issues - which would end up costing more money than would be saved by getting the cheaper tablets.

It highlighted that by using the tablets instead of printing everything out, the House of Commons was already saving £3 million a year, so rather than being a waste of money, the tablets were saving it. As a result it will opt for the iPad Air 2, which will cost £200,000 a year for the next five years.

Why a tablet at all?

The argument that the technology is saving money is based on a comparison with printing out hard copies, but there will be those who argue that reading online publications is perfectly possible on a laptop, so the argument is flawed. The £3 million saving would be made just by publishing the documents online, and letting MPs use their existing laptops to read them.

There are also those who highlight that giving MPs iPads will come with additional risks - including the risk of distraction. Long committee meetings are not always known for being gripping, so having a tablet handy is not a great way to ensure MPs keep their mind on the job - especially when Candy Crush can prove so tempting.

And perhaps it's not just games we have to worry about. In Italy, a few years back, there was a minor scandal when an MP was caught looking at pictures of escort girls on his iPad during a vote in parliament. He explained that the picture had just popped up while he was checking his emails, and he couldn't resist looking at the 'lovely' girls. He kept his cabinet post.

But what do you think? is this money being spent wisely? Let us know in the comments.

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