A ban on the use of electronic tablets by MPs could be made tougher- thanks to a Huddersfield MP.

Barry Sheerman said rules should be introduced regarding the use of electronic devices in the House of Commons and parliamentary hearings.

The veteran Labour MP made the comments in a point of order after Treasury questions following the publication of photos of Conservative MP Nigel Mills playing Candy Crush Saga during a Work and Pensions Committee evidence session last week.

Mr Mills has apologised “unreservedly” for playing the game on his iPad, issued at taxpayers’ expense, during the hearing - as the Commons authorities launched a mole hunt for whoever caught him on camera.

Speaking in the Commons today, Mr Sheerman highlighted the importance of good behaviour in select committees.

He said: “Is it time we had some sort of rules about the use of electronic gizmos in select committees? Because otherwise the House of Commons will fall into disrepute.

“Could we make it very clear that use of electronic devices at certain times either here and in select committees is not appropriate?”

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman
 

Speaker John Bercow said there were already rules on such matters.

He went on: “I think it is fair to say that it is quite within the competence, in the literal sense of that term, of the chair of the committee to take charge of the matter and to rule accordingly.

“The expression of legitimate interest by a member of 35 years’ standing in the House is greatly appreciated, but I imagine that although the chair of the committee will be encouraged to enjoy your support, she is probably able to handle the matter without further assistance.

“But the point is on the record and I thank you.”

The pictures printed in newspapers were shot over Mr Mills’s shoulder during a meeting last Monday when the committee was discussing pensions and the insurance industry ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

A Commons spokesman has said the photographs broke strict parliamentary rules. Taking images without permission can lead to individuals being barred from the estate.

In a statement, Mr Mills, who represents Amber Valley in Derbyshire, said: “I apologise unreservedly for my behaviour at the committee meeting and realise it fell short of what is expected of a Member of Parliament.

“I guarantee it will not happen again ... I hope constituents will continue to support my campaigns such as lower taxes for hard-working people.”

Prime Minister David Cameron described Mr Mills as a “hard-working” politician, adding that he was sure the MP would “work even harder in future”.

One of Mr Mills’s senior Tory colleagues, Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), reportedly suggested he was trying to “keep himself awake” during a boring committee meeting.

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