Belfast Telegraph

Tablet computers for MLAs defended

Politicians at Stormont are to be issued with hi-tech tablet computers at a cost of more than £80,000.

All 107 MLAs will get an Acer Iconia W510P worth almost £500. A further three computers will also be allocated to civil servants on each of the committee teams.

A spokeswoman for the Assembly said the new computers would cut down on paper and slash the amount of time staff spent producing documentation.

"It is expected that there will be a reduction in the use of paper, in line with corporate objectives. There will also be a reduction in staff time used to prepare paper packs, enabling committee staff to use their time better.

"However, the real purpose of this project is to help MLAs retrieve and use information more effectively and efficiently, helping them to carry out their Assembly responsibilities," she said.

In total, the Assembly Commission has spent £83,934.10 buying 170 of the tablets including £7,442.60 on a three-year warranty and £160 for delivery to Parliament Buildings.

MLAs are expected to receive their new computers on Monday and are permitted to use the wifi enabled machines that run Microsoft Windows 8 software in the plenary chamber.

The spokeswoman said the Commission would not pay for 3G coverage.

Officials have also insisted the tablets are a business tool and not for personal use.

"Providing MLAs with these tablet computers will allow them access to information more effectively and efficiently, particularly in relation to the extensive information provided to committee members. It will also facilitate improved communications and connectivity with members," the spokeswoman added.

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