According to a recent report by The Telegraph, several members of parliament have been found using electronic tablets in the chamber sessions for their amusement instead of lawmaking. Several French MPs were caught using their iPads and other mobile devices to play online poker and shopping online during a recent meeting.
The Assembly’s press balcony was able to take several photos of supposed ministers of parliament who were using their tablets in this manner. Some were found to be playing online poker while others were found shopping for clothing and wine. Some members were even reading adult style cartoons. A few members have even been caught taking photos during a debate which is banned.
Daniele Hoffmann, the Socialist MP for Paris, stated that it was not uncommon for her to read the papers on her tablet. Hoffman stated: “It’s very practical. We’re totally up to date and will soon receive amendments directly online, which will be progress.”
Claude Bartolone is the Assembly’s new Socialist speaker and Bartolone seems to be tolerating the distractions. There is a scrambling device in place to keep members from using their devices but Bartolone does not use this device. the device was installed by Jean-Louis Debré, who is now the president of the constitutional council of France. Debré spoke with the Daily Telegraph on the subject and was quoted as saying:
“One doesn’t elect representatives of the people for them to turn up and play cards. In that case, I’d frankly rather they didn’t show up at all. It’s execrable for democracy. When debating a bill, an MP must be alone with his conscience and his ideas.” Debré stated that he was “all for mobiles and computers anywhere else in parliament” and dismissed any claims that it would be unfeasible to scramble only the debating chamber. “If we can put a man on the moon, we have the expertise to do this. In Britain, parliament last year resolved that hand held devices may be used in the Chamber, provided that they are silent, and used in a way that does not impair decorum.” he said.
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