Lib Dem MP urges charity fines for mobile phone menace MPs

by Stephen Tall on November 11, 2008

Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, has urged House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin to introduce fines whenever an MP’s phone rings in the chamber. His proposal came after Culture Secretary Andy Burnham was repeatedly interrupted by Tory MP John Whittingdale’s Blackberry (he was, apparently, unaware how to switch it off).

BBC.co.uk takes up the story:

Calling a point of order minutes later, Mr Mulholland, a former Leeds city councillor raised the subject of the interruption. He said: “Whilst accepting that we’re all fallible in terms of the potential to leave our mobile phones on, may I recommend to the House a scheme in Leeds City Council whereby the Lord Mayor of Leeds fines a member of council who has his or her phone ring?”

He added: “And may I suggest that the Speaker considers a suitable charity and introduces a similar scheme in this House?” To laughter in the Commons chamber, the Speaker responded: “I’ve no powers to fine honourable gentlemen or ladies for that matter”. …

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Mulholland accepted that the Speaker clearly cannot budge on the matter, but said “I was talking about an informal protocol, not a serious thing”. He added: “If I get caught out I will pay money to a charity – and if the speaker doesn’t want to nominate one, I will find someone who will. It seems a particularly good natured way of dealing with this.”