Over in rainy Britain, members of parliament (MPs) might have something to smile about. The Commons Administration Committee has recommended that they all be given iPads and cellular data plans. This would cost a relatively small amount, around £260,000 ($415,000) plus data plans.
Currently, every MP is bought two notebooks and three desktop machines “for office use” says the BBC. The iPads would be provided in addition to these machines, which are presumably used by the MPs’ staff, and not just left at the office running BitTorrent clients.
Why? Because 70 MPs have already bought their own iPads (on expenses, of course) and are saving “thousands of pounds” already, mostly in saved printing costs.
The £260,000 figure is based on giving a £400 Wi-Fi iPad to each of 650 MPs, although this is a little off as the committee also plans to use the 3G/4G networks. This means that it would have to buy £500 Wi-Fi+4G iPads, which comes to £325,000, or choose to go with the old, slow, ugly iPad 2 instead.
Even at these prices (which are surely insignificant next to the costs of all those computers), some people are crowing about it. Emma Boon, spokeswoman for the Taxpayers Alliance, said that “with the public finances in such a mess, the last thing taxpayers want is to fork out for a new toy for every MP,” adding that “Many members don’t want one or need an iPad, or simply prefer paper.”
Those paper-loving members could of course simply opt out, or give the thing to their secretaries who probably do all their work anyway. But what Boon (along with comedy “newspaper” the Daily Mail) are missing is that iPads will make the process of government quicker, smoother and more modern.
Besides, who would you prefer running your country? A gaggle of old men and women who scoff at this passing fad called “the Internet” and pass laws to break it, or a bunch of tech-savvy politicians who are living and working with the very tools that will shape the future?.