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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 15:29 GMT
MPs 'should get free Blackberrys'
A Blackberry device
Ms Hodgson admitted being "an avid Blackberry user" since 2005
A Labour MP has called for handheld Blackberry computers to be made available - for free - to herself and everyone else with a Commons seat.

Sharon Hodgson, like all other MPs, can borrow a personal digital assistant (PDA) from Parliament's IT department.

But the gadgets loaned were "not in the same league" as a Blackberry, she said.

However the Commons Commission, which oversees the provision of services to the House, said its present set-up was "incompatible" with Blackberry devices.

Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey, on behalf of the commission, explained that the provision of "mobile computing services" had gone out to tender about five years ago.

At the time, none of the contractors which submitted bids offered a service for Blackberry computers, he added.

"In the years since then, the House has gone on to invest a good deal of time and money supporting Microsoft-based handheld devices," he said.

"Blackberry operates on a completely different system which would not be compatible with the infrastructure we've developed."

'Maximum choice'

Ms Hodgson, who represents Gateshead East and Washington West in north-east England, admitted she had been "an avid Blackberry user since 2005".

She stressed she did not want to "necessarily endorse any particular product" in the Commons.

"But I have to say that the PDA I have received... is not in the same league as a Blackberry, in my opinion."

For the Conservatives, MP Bob Spink said parliamentarians "should be given the maximum choice so that they can best serve their constituents" when it came to technology.

The rules in the Commons were relaxed last year so MPs could use portable devices to keep up to date with their work while waiting to speak in debates.

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