Following online criticism, British Parliament is set to review rules on babies after a lawmaker was reprimanded for taking her young son into the chamber on Wednesday.
Several British politicians demanded a change in parliamentary rules after Labour Party legislator; Stella Creasy was told she couldn’t bring her 3-month-old baby into the House of Commons.
Creasy said she had received an official email banning her infant in the chambers after she took her son Pip to a debate. She said she had previously taken both Pip and her older daughter to Parliament without problems but had been told the rules had changed in September. Members of Parliament are now advised that they “should not take your seat in the chamber when accompanied by your child.”
Now, the letter has started a furious debate online about paid maternity leave and accessible child care facilities for working mothers.
Creasy has asked for urgent clarification from Commons authorities, saying bringing a child had not been a problem on other occasions. The MP has taken both her children into the House of Commons before, without any complaints being made.
“Apparently Parliament has written a rule which means I can’t take my well-behaved, 3-month old, sleeping baby when I speak in chamber. (Still no rule on wearing masks btw)” she wrote on Twitter sharing the letter.
Creasy said the rule undermined efforts to make politics more family-friendly.
“There are barriers to getting mums involved in politics, and I think that damages our political debate,” she told the BBC.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, a Conservative, said he has “a lot of sympathies” for Creasy, but said the decision is for the House authorities to make.
“I think we do need to make sure our profession is brought into the modern world, the 21st century, and can allow parents to juggle the jobs they do with the family time that they need,” Raab said.
Green Party lawmaker; Caroline Lucas said the baby ban was “absurd.” She said babies were “far less disruptive than many braying backbenchers.”
Lindsay Hoyle; the House of Commons Speaker said he had asked Parliament’s procedure committee to review the rules, and noted that there were “differing views on this matter.”
“The advice given yesterday … correctly reflects the current rules. However, rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times,” he said.
“It is extremely important that parents of babies and young children can participate fully in the work of this House, which also has a nursery on the premises.
“Rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times,” he said in the House of Commons.
‘This House has to be able to function professionally and without disturbance. However, sometimes there may be occasions when the chair can exercise discretion assuming the business is not to be disturbed,’ Hoyle said.
British Prime Minister; Boris Johnson also weighs in on the matter, he said,
‘We completely understand the difficulties faced by MPs who are new mothers, new fathers or adopted parents and parliament has made some positive changes to becoming more family-friendly in recent years, including on proxy voting,’ a Downing Street spokesperson for Johnson said.
‘We want to make sure that all workplaces are modern, flexible, and fit for parents. This is obviously a matter for the House. I know they have stated on that today, but we very much do want to see further improvements,’ the spokesperson said.