MSPs are to be allowed to use electronic devices in Holyrood’s debating chamber with immediate effect, says new Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP.
In one of his first actions since taking office, the Presiding Officer has instructed that the chamber’s wifi system be switched on while Parliament is sitting.
The change will open the way for Members to work digitally in the chamber, to access information online during debates, and even engage in social media discussions on parliamentary issues.
Mr Macintosh said his ruling should be interpreted liberally and that he would not be prescriptive in telling parliamentary colleagues how to exercise their new online freedom, as long as Members continue to conduct themselves with courtesy and respect.
Full text of the Presiding Officer’s statement in Parliament today:
“Before we move to the first item of business, I would like to take this opportunity to inform Members that I have decided to change the guidance on conduct in the Chamber to allow Members to make greater use of electronic devices.
With that in mind, I have arranged for Wi-Fi to be enabled in the Chamber for Members’ use for parliamentary purposes.
My decision is in line with the Parliament’s commitment to invest in online access to allow Members to work digitally. It is part of my ambition to promote a modern, accessible Parliament. The decision is effective as of now.
If Members wish to use devices in the chamber for social media purposes in a parliamentary context, I also have no difficulty with that, but I would emphasise the need for courtesy and respect for other Members and to the parliamentary business at hand.
I will write to you all this week to give further guidance on the implications of this change.
In the meantime, I would remind Members that they should, at all times, maintain courtesy and respect for each other and should not behave in a way which interferes with the proper conduct of business in the Chamber.”
Under Standing Orders, conduct in the chamber is a matter for the Presiding Officer.
Up until now, MSPs could use electronic devices but only in ‘airplane mode’ effectively and for the purpose of delivering a pre-prepared speech.
Mr Macintosh has instructed parliamentary officials to update the current guidance for MSPs in the Code of Conduct to reflect his new ruling. The current guidance can be found here: