MP is thrown out for using camera phone
Friday 19 December 2003
A Conservative MP was thrown out of the Commons yesterday for brandishing his digital camera phone from the back benches.
Henry Bellingham, MP for Norfolk North West, incurred the wrath of the Speaker, Michael Martin, during Treasury questions when the glint of his camera lens caught the Speaker's eye.
Mr Martin immediately brought Treasury questions to a halt. He interrupted a reply by Paul Boateng, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to remonstrate with Mr Bellingham, declaring: "I understand you are using a camera."
The Speaker added: "I suggest you leave the chamber. You shouldn't even be using a mobile phone. I ask you to leave."
Mr Martin has frequently objected to the "beep-beep" of MPs' pagers in the Commons chamber, one of the few places in London kept scrupulously free from mobile phone ringtones.
Mr Bellingham, a 48-year-old barrister, admitted his crime but clearly was unhappy with the swiftness and severity of his punishment.
"I was sitting quite near the front of the chamber with my mobile, which has a digital camera attached," he said. "The clerk obviously realised and told the Speaker.
"I think it's a bit tough to give me a red card straight away. Normally you get a yellow card first.
"Lots of MPs bring up their text messages, e-mails or caller logs on their phones," Mr Bellingham said.
"I think it is a bit mean, but he is a Speaker and I must accept the ruling."
No time limit is set for returning to the chamber in such situations but Mr Bellingham said: "I probably won't go back in today."
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