MPs fall prey to online distractions

FRENCH MPs have been spotted playing online poker and chess, and buying wine and clothes on tablet computers in the National Assembly.

The discovery has led to calls for the Socialist speaker to scramble wireless signals in the chamber for the sake of democracy.

In the past, France's MPs would discreetly stuff a newspaper inside a document during tedious debates. Now they brazenly get out their tablet computers.

Photographers in the press balcony have caught several, reportedly including ministers, taking online poker bets, reading adult cartoons, perusing online clothes catalogues and ordering wine. Others have been caught using tablets to flout a photography ban in the chamber.

The Socialist deputy for a Parisian suburb, Mathieu Hanotin, admitted to playing online chess during a late-night debate.

Such distractions are tolerated by the assembly's Speaker, Claude Bartolone, pictured, who has declined to use the scrambling device installed by a predecessor.

Telegraph, London