Multi-tasking MPs?

The New Marketing reports an idea proposed by Jack Straw that members of parliament should be allowed to use mobile phones, PDAs and wireless laptops in the chamber of the House of Commons to increase poor attendance rates.

I can’t think of anything worse – how could they possibly concentrate on the topics of discussion if their minds are elsewhere

There is a lot of online comment already regarding .  This is said to result from trying to focus on too many information sources simultaneously leading to superficial attention rather than considered reflection.

It may well be that humans are adapting to the need to concentrate on multiple items at once – although there is evidence that is not more efficient. 

Given the male dominance of the House of Commons and cultural indications that women make better multi-taskers, I’m not convinced this idea will get off the ground.

But in the event that it does, apparently if the solution if a brain become overloaded is to rest – which provides a new excuse for all those parliamentarians caught having a nap whilst in the debating chamber.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

4 thoughts on “Multi-tasking MPs?”

  1. I think the criticism of the idea of using electronic devices in the chamber is coming mainly from people with no experience of sitting through this type of debate,

    Even as a councillor I frequently sat through lengthy debates that weren’t relevant to me or my constituents, so that I was in the chamber for the bits that were. Having my PDA enabled me to prepare for the bit that I was actively involved in, while keeping half an ear on what was happening. Had I not been able to do this, then I simply wouldn’t have sat through the peripheral debates which would have led to less engagement, not more.

  2. Interesting viewpoint Stuart which raises issues about how debates are managed. Is it important to be present if a debate is not relevant? Is someone’s presence of any value if they are not engaged in a discussion but simply waiting?

    We wouldn’t hold managers captive in such meetings in corporate environments as it would be viewed as a waste of their time and energies. The meeting would be managed much more professionally.

    I think the impression given to the public if they watch politicians using electronic devices (as with snoozing) will be negative.

    It must be better to have a more professional, lively forum for debate than to keep people sitting around either drifting off or using technology to make the best of the current inefficient process.

  3. Great minds Heather, I’m with you on this. IThe Speaker of the House could find he had an impossible task to keep his MPs in order. Still, as Westminster is mainly a male domain, the chances are it could get voted through.

  4. Don’t the boys just love their toys? You can imagine all the device envy that will go on. Will they be able to resist when the various IT manufacturers start offering them freebies though?

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