UK iGovernment: Parliament dishes out 650 iPads to MPs

UK iGovernment: Parliament dishes out 650 iPads to MPs

Summary: The U.K. Parliament will spend upwards of $700,000 on iPads for elected politicians. But the additional charges, from apps to data, may end up costing the British public even more.

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TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
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British politicians elected into public office will soon be handed a shiny new iPad.

Despite the U.K. suffering from a double-dip recession, members of the House of Commons will be able to take their work with them, receive parliamentary papers, and even play Draw Something on the glorified rectangle --- all at the expense of the British taxpayer.

The plan to issue 650 iPads to the occupants of the Palace of Westminster will cost anything between £260,000 ($420,000) and £430,000 ($700,000) --- depending on which iPad model is bought.

(The new iPads will likely come equipped with data connectivity so MPs can work on the go, therefore pushing the price towards the higher end of the cost spectrum.)

While currently limited to members of the lower house, if pushed further to include the upper House of Lords, it could cost individual taxpayer 2p each, or 3 cents.

Dear HM Treasury, can I get that back in a rebate, please?

But if you look at the rough numbers, the benefits to our elected officials, levels of productivity and the environmental factors, it could prove to be a wise investment for the country.

2p isn't much, considering how much we spend on Her Majesty to remain on the throne per year. I crunched the numbers a few weeks ago:

"The British Monarchy costs each taxpayer in the U.K. around 55p ($0.87) per year as of estimates based on 2009-10 and 2010-11. Considering how much the Monarchy brings in through tourism, international trade relations, and the flogging of merchandise by third-parties, the taxpayers reap the rewards in returns. At least from a financial point of view, one suspects the United Kingdom won’t be called the United Republic any time soon."

A maximum of $700,000 could go to so many things. But if it helps the U.K.'s elected representatives to crank the cogs of government, then so be it. I think most would be content with spending a couple of pennies in ensuring our rubbish gets collected fortnightly and prevents the London Underground workers from going on strike every other weekend.

And that doesn't even take into account the environmental offset of saving paper, precious rainforest trees, and injuries per week on parliamentary staff suffering paper-cuts.

But anyone with an iPad knows the costs can quickly mount up.

Will British MPs bill the taxpayer for downloaded applications? A brand new iPad doesn't contain the crucial tools for office productivity. Those applications come at an additional cost. Apple's iWork suite for the iPhone and iPad includes Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, which cost £13.99 ($22.65) each.

If every MP bought the entire iWorks package, that alone would rack up to £27,281 ($44,146). Not looking so cheap on the public purse now, is it?

A liberal data plan of 3GB per month on Vodafone, the cheapest network per the upper data cap limit, and this adds £15 ($24) per MP per month, totalling £9,750 ($15,780) per month, or a whopping £117,000 ($189,352) per year.

Ouch.

There is an upside, however. The Commons Commission said MPs will be asked to trade in old computers in exchange for an iPad, which will be claimed on their expenses, under the condition they will in effect go paperless.

The Commission said if just 100 politicians swapped their old devices for a new iPad then £50,000 ($80,900) could be saved. But in Great British 'hand-me-down' tradition, the parliamentary staff lackeys will be given the MPs discarded computers.

Considering some of these MPs claimed dog food on their expenses, one doesn't hold out much hope.

Let's just hope --- for the sake of the British people --- that Parliament spends the public money on the older iPad 2, rather than the Retina display included iPad 3. That alone could save up to £45,500 ($73,617).

But at the end of it all, it's only a few pennies out of each individual's tax total. Let's just hope each and every MP doesn't get too distracted by Angry Birds like our dear Prime Minister appears to be.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC.

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13 comments
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  • "Despite the U.K. suffering from a double-dip recession ..."

    Weird phrasing; iPads proved to save tonnes of paper and completely cover expenses like in a year and further only giving net savings comparing to typical ways of functioning of parliaments (according to earlier examples of using iPad in other parliaments).

    Also, iPads do speed up work because parliament members can check their documents and law projects much quicker than before.
    DDERSSS
    • Not to mention, if MPs are anything like US politicians,

      MAYBE letting them play Angry Birds will have them at least give an
      appearance of accomplishing something!
      wizard57m-cnet
    • ipads save no more paper than any other computer technology.

      thats just a bs excuse. They could do the same thing with any other cheaper device including ones they probably already have, also purchased at tax payer expense. Has the UK govt made such great investments with taxpayer money that theyre now running the country off the profits alone and can stop taxing the hardworking citizens? No? then they shouldnt be wasting other peoples money.
      Johnny Vegas
      • iPads are certainly cheaper than notebooks which they could buy

        (No, they would not buy netbooks) So even on purchase stage iPads make perfect sense financially comparing to alternatives.

        Also, they certainly could not find any better 10" tablet for the $399 (in UK higher than that because of VAT) price that Apple asks for iPad 2. Even more: they could not choose no name just as hardware, nor they could choose lagging and yet pricier SGT 10.1, which only has like 3% of the market (together with SGT 7", SGT 7.7, et cetera Samsung Has 6% share in tablet market).
        DDERSSS
      • Good to know

        [i]Samsung Has 6% share in tablet market[/i]

        Then you also support any company that refuses to buy Macs because Macs only have about 6% share in worldwide PC market.
        toddbottom3
      • Vegas: The paper saving computing device does not exist

        The reverse has actually happened. Before computers, a single employee could only create a small amount of paper based output. With a computer and modern printers though, a single employee can create far more paper based output than was ever dreamed possible before.

        But let's give DeRSSS some credit. He never throws out comments with absolutely no ability to back up what he is saying. /sarcasm
        toddbottom3
      • What a waste

        Totally agree this is a waste of money. You cannot tell me that every MP isn't issued with a laptop to work on. Just another unjustified perk.
        glenndjones@...
  • UK iGovernment: Parliament dishes out 650 iPads to MPs

    I wonder how many of those iPads will be collecting dust in a month.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Agree

      Totally agree - They will by collecting dust, as MP's are dumb-ass idiots, who probably can't use their current PC/Laptop.

      Indeed even if they had an excellent Samsung Galaxy Tab/Note, or a not available yet Wonderous Windows RT tab, it would be a doorstop too.
      neil.postlethwaite
  • Cost

    The cost of replacing iPad's as the MP's lose them should also be included, and when they do lose them it is certain some will contain confidential data. Let's face it they lose Laptop's on a regular basis.
    chris.wright@...
  • techdoll

    chkout hte tips to maintain your phone baterry......... http://clicktechdoll.blogspot.in/
    meet oza
  • UK iGovt.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same...not surprised.
    duplai@...
  • Maybe they don't need iPads, but...

    Printing costs in every parliamentary body tend to be high and I would expect them to be especially so in a large one like the House of Commons. If MPs can get the current version of any proposal on their laptops or tablets, I have to think it would bring costs down.

    But they don't need iPads for that; a generic Android tablet will certainly do.
    John L. Ries