MPs defeat bid to ban Twitter in the Commons

By Ian Dunt

An amendment which would have prevented MPs using Twitter while in the Commons was roundly defeated by 63 votes to 206 today.

Tory MPs James Gray and Roger Gale had grown tired of MPs using their phones to tweet from the Commons and submitted an amendment which would outlaw use of handheld devices during Commons debates.

Arguing against the use of Twitter, Sir Alan Haselhurst said observers of the Commons would be unimpressed if they discovered many points of MPs' speeches were being gathered from the internet.

"If we get into a situation where it appears we are being prompted from outside then I think our reputation will decline," he said.

"I do believe hand-held devices will accentuate the tendency to read speeches. The reading of speeches does have a dampening effect on debate."

Those MPs who do use Twitter took to the internet to express their disapproval this morning.

"Twitterati, lobby your MP to vote for tweeting from the chamber this pm. Don't let the crusty Luddites win," Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted.

"Looking forward to voting for the future, modernity, and tweeting in the Commons today," tweeted Tory MP Matthew Hancock.

Labour MP Stella Creasy wrote: "Will be voting against banning it simply because pointless and unenforceable proposal."

MPs will now be free to continue to use handheld devices in the chamber as long as they conduct themselves "with decorum".

Fittingly, many MPs struggled to tweet during the debate due to continued problems with the Blackberry service.