BlackBerrys may be voted into the Commons

Report recommends allowing handheld devices in the House of Commons to increase productivity and combat boredom and low morale among MPs

The sight of bored MPs slouching in the House of Commons as a long speech drones on could soon be a thing of the past, as moves are afoot to allow MPs to take BlackBerry smartphones into the debating chamber.

A report by the Commons Modernisation Committee has recommended permitting the use of handheld devices in the Commons so backbenchers can make better use of their time.

According to the committee, lengthy speeches and long waits before being called upon to ask a question can mean backbench MPs are left twiddling their thumbs for hours. And that boredom leads to low morale and may even be discouraging some MPs from attending parliamentary debates, it said.

The report, entitled Revitalising the Chamber: The Role of the Back Bench Member, said: "Members might be more willing to spend time in the chamber listening to debates or waiting to be called if they were able to do other work at the same time, either dealing with correspondence or perhaps even using a handheld computer or laptop to deal with emails."

However the committee didn't go as far as recommending laptops be allowed. Instead it said: "The use of handheld devices to keep up-to-date with emails should be permitted in the chamber provided that it causes no disturbance."

MPs still have to vote to approve the change.

It's a different story across the Channel, however. According to the Financial Times, the French cabinet has been banned from using BlackBerry smartphones by the country's national security agency.

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