Mobile phones not welcome in Cameron's Cabinet


New Prime Minister David Cameron has banned ministers from using their mobile phones during Cabinet meetings.

As in most industries, politicians have come to rely on mobile electronic communications to help them do their jobs, and the House of Commons allows mobile phones to be used, though they must be in silent mode.

But Cameron insists he will not allow such distractions around the Cabinet table in the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and ministers will have to leave their handsets in Number 10 pigeon holes for the duration of top-level meetings.

And if there was any doubt over the Prime Minister's resolve in keeping meetings firmly on message, veteran politician Ken Clarke found himself on the wrong end of an object lesson during the inaugural meeting of the new Cabinet this week.

Much to his colleagues' amusement, the newly appointed Justice Secretary was pointedly asked by Cameron to cut short a conversation with deputy PM Nick Clegg so he could begin the business of running the country.

Despite criticism from some quarters that the mobile phone ban was no more than a gimmick, a spokeswoman for the new PM said it would ensure the country's top team stayed focused on the challenges facing them and the country, and confirmed that Cameron hadn't spared himself from the ban.

Yesterday's Cabinet meeting was the first under the new coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, which was formed earlier this week after the 6 May election had failed to produce a clear winner. Cameron opened the meeting by saying the coalition represented an "extraordinary opportunity".