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Every MP will get an iPad Air 2

iPad Air 2 best tablet image

Commons commission organising hardware refresh, which will see 650 MPs get a new laptop and an iPad Air 2

Every single member of parliament is set to get a brand-new iPad Air 2, as part of a huge hardware refresh, which will also see them receive new laptops. The new hardware will be distributed to the MPs after the general election on May 7th.

Although the move is set to cost £200,000 per year (including the cost of SIM cards), John Thurso, who represents the commission, has said that iPads are “linked to a programme to reduce hard copy printing in favour of online publication that is already delivering savings in excess of £3 million per year. These savings are expected to grow further in the new parliament.”

The move is not something that all MPs are happy with. Chi Onwurah, the Labour Shadow Cabinet Office minister, raised some concerns about the provision. According to The Express, Onwurah said, “As we saw with Nigel Mills and Candy Crush, MPs will be using the games, and the iTunes and other features on the iPad.”

While that’s true to a degree, Android tablets also have games, while MPs will still have their phones. Laptops, too, can also be used to play games. In short, all technology can be used inappropriately, but there needs to be a policy in place to deal with people that go too far.

Onwurah also raised concerns about locking parliament into iOS and said that she preferred a “device agnostic” policy, stating, “Locking some of the most powerful people in the country into a platform that most of my constituents can’t afford seems like a mistake.”

It seems like a strange statement to us. If “the most powerful people in the country” are only allowed to use hardware that Onwurah’s constituents can afford, then how are they supposed to run the country properly? To us, it seems as though parliament’s only goal should be to provide MPs with robust and powerful technology for them to do their job. Cost should be part of it, but only when measured against performance and productivity: it is value that’s needed, not saving money by buying the cheapest kit.

In this case, the parliamentary commission has said that it’s done this evaluation. Thurso stated that an independent assessment was carried out comparing the comparative costs of different tablets. With iPads having been used since 2012, it was found that Apple’s tablet was “already well established with business process” and that moving away from iOS would incur costs to change these processes.

In addition, Thurso also said that iPads gave a greater access to parliamentary digital services and that security could be remotely managed in the event of a loss. While he admitted that these services could be provided on other tablets, it would require additional training and cost in order to deliver.

Our requirements are for a secure, SIM-enabled tablet with a good life expectancy and capable of supporting future upgrades,” said Thurso. “The Apple iPad Air 2 meets these requirements and is competitively priced when compared with similar models.”

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