Forget Candy Crush, I would rather read a book - MPs respond as colleague is caught playing puzzle

Person about to play Candy Crush Saga on an Ipad. Photo: Steve Adams

Person about to play Candy Crush Saga on an Ipad. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

After a Tory MP was caught playing a puzzle game during a pensions meeting Annabelle Dickson asks how common playing puzzles is, and what Commons iPads are for?

There may be those who have sat in a long meeting who have some sympathy for the MP caught on camera avidly shifting 'candy' around his screen during a select committee meeting on pensions.

But as Nigel Mills admitted himself, after being caught red-handed playing a puzzle, there will be many who question whether it is appropriate conduct for a Member of Parliament.

He was yesterday forced to apologise and admit the error of his ways.

As our lives become ever more dominated by electronic goods, and distractions are just a click away, it has become more and more common to look around a meeting room and see people glued to their phone or iPad.


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Of the region's MPs questioned yesterday, none admitted to a Candy Crush addiction.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said: 'The will be people saying this is disgraceful, what was he doing in a meeting, I can equally see large numbers of people thinking I've been in a meeting and you look around at a meeting these days and that is what people do.

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'I have to say I think it is mindless,' he said. 'You wouldn't catch me doing that, I tend to read a book.'

He said that in 'statutory instruments' committees, which were often very detailed and backbenchers did not usually have a chance to speak, 'Colleagues take in constituency correspondence, they take in magazines. I normally have a good book. There are people who take in their iPads,' he said.

It was agreed in 2007 that MPs would be allowed to use their mobile phones, and other hand-held devices, 'to keep up to date with emails', but on the basis that it caused 'no disturbance'.

Norwich MP Chloe Smith said she used her iPad around parliament to do 'on-the-spot research' and to keep up with urgent business.

'I actually think it is quite important to use these tools to stay in touch,' she added,

While she would not comment directly on the actions of Nigel Mills, she said that she liked to get on with her work.

Great Yarmouth MP and housing minister Brandon Lewis said that while his children played the game, he did not even have the puzzle on his phone.

'In my spare time, if I'm not training for a triathlon, I read,' he said.

He added that he did not have time to play games when he was in the House of Commons chamber or committees.

'When I'm in the chamber I am responding to a debate so it is not that straightforward for me. I don't get the time to mess around. I'm there to open a debate or respond to a debate,' he added.

He said that, as far as he could remember, when he had been a backbencher, he had never had his electronic devices with him, 'I always liked to be involved in the debate so I can't say that from memory I used my electronic devices in a committee.

'I'm addicted to Twitter though.'

Acceptable or a disgrace? What do you think about MPs playing puzzles during meetings? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

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