THE Scottish Parliament has introduced phone-signal blocking pouches as part of a crackdown on protests in the Holyrood chamber - but refuses to say how much they paid for them.

After many disruptions to First Minister's Questions earlier this year, mostly from climate campaigners This is Rigged, the Scottish Parliament heightened security and banned several protesters for six months.

And, they ordered 150 signal-blocking Yondr pouches that members of the public are now required to place their mobile phones in during visits to the Scottish Parliament.

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The National spotted several Yondr pouches being deployed on site, and requested information from Holyrood officials as to how much was paid for them

We asked how many had been ordered and the total cost.

While the response confirmed 150 had been purchased, the cost was refused because it would “prejudice substantially the commercial interests” of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) and Yondr.

The gadget, which has been deployed in some schools in the United States, reportedly costs between $15 and $30 (£11.86/£23.73).

The National: Holyrood.

However, it is unclear how much the SPCB has paid for the kit.

In its Freedom of Information (FOI) response, officials said the disclosure of pricing would “affect the SPCB’s ability to obtain best value for public funds”.

They added: “The disclosure of this information is likely to diminish potential supplier confidence in providing products to the SPCB because they would have to take into consideration that their commercial pricing information could be released into the public domain, allowing competitors access to their commercial pricing information which would allow them to seek to undercut their pricing.

“This is likely to hinder healthy competition and the ability of the SPCB to obtain best value for money.”

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The response added that disclosure would “immediately prejudice” the SPCB’s commercial interests and cause a “loss of confidence” in the procurement process and affect other contracts.

The fact that Yondr does not disclose its unit price publicly on its website was also used by the SPCB as a reason for refusal.

“The release of pricing information could be wrongly interpreted as it would not account for other costs included in the contract for purchase,” they added.


“Release of this information would disclose the specific pricing offered to the SPCB.

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“From this, competitors could discern the rates this company offers and adjust their own pricing in future procurements accordingly.”

However, it is likely that the pouches overall cost less than £5000, as all current contracts above that value are publicly available on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

A spokesperson for This is Rigged criticised Holyrood for advertising itself as an “open and accessible” parliament by responding to the Gallery protests with “repression”. 

“People with This is Rigged were asking that they vocally oppose all new oil and gas licenses, and ensure a fair transition for Scotland's oil workers,” they said. 

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“Dissent has always been a cornerstone of our democracy. 

“When the powers that be will not act in our best interests, we must ensure we cannot be ignored.”

They added that the introduction of the phone pouches, and refusal to disclose the costs, are “another repressive measure”, including the banning of protestors and others from the public gallery. 

“They are, plainly, feart of accountability because they know full well they are not meeting their responsibility to protect the lives and livelihoods of their people,” the spokesperson added.  

The National: Holyrood

“This only goes to demonstrate how crucial it is that we, as citizens, continue to hold them to account.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Following repeated disruption to FMQs, which was often filmed and shared on social media, it is now a condition of entry to FMQs that all mobile devices be stowed away at all times and must not be used in the public gallery during proceedings.

“The pouches were purchased to provide secure storage for members of the public’s electronic devices.

“This is one of a number of measures taken by the Parliament in response to protests. 

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“It is essential that the Parliament is able to carry out its democratic functions unhindered.”

We previously told how climate campaigners were defiant that heightened security measures would not stop their attempts at protest at Holyrood. 

In April, protesters instead targeted the outside of the parliament building with paint, leading to a number of them being led away by police.