By Steve McCaskill
All 650 MPs elected in this year’s general election will be eligible to receive an iPad Air 2 as part of a House of Commons hardware refresh.
Mobile devices have been allowed in the House of Commons since 2011 and MPs have been offered iPads since 2012 in a bid to make parliamentary duties easier by reducing the amount of paperwork, which should also save money.
Currently, 209 MPs have taken advantage of the offer and according to the Daily Express, the estimated cost of providing the tablets and SIM cards to all MPs would be £200,000 a year.
Liberal Democrat MP John Thurso told the newspaper that £3m have so far been saved since the rollout and that the device offered the security and applications necessary and was integrated with the Common’s business processes and infrastructure.
However, Shadow Cabinet Minister Chi Onwurah has criticized the use of taxpayers’ money for the devices, arguing it locks MPs into the Apple ecosystem and sends the wrong message as many of her constituents cannot afford an iPad.
“As we saw with Nigel Mills and Candy Crush, MPs will be using the games, and the iTunes and other features on the iPad,” she told the Express. “Locking some of the most powerful people in the country into a platform that most of my constituents can’t afford seems like a mistake.
“And that’s without mentioning the tax avoidance issue. I’m pushing for a device independent digital platform for Parliament.”
Thurso responded by stating that more money would need to be spent to move away from Apple and that it would have to develop new training programs for MPs.
Prime Minister David Cameron has long been a fan of the iPad and in December 2011 received a personalized iPad app to help him govern the country.
The customized iPad app, developed by Cabinet Office, allows the Prime Minister to remain abreast of government business, by acting as a government dashboard, providing the Prime Minister with all the latest information from across Whitehall—including the latest NHS waiting-list figures, crime statistics, unemployment numbers, and a wide variety of other data—at a glance.