Babies have no place in the Commons chamber – Tory MP

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Conservative MP Alicia Kearns has said the House of Commons chamber is ‘no place’ for a baby (Houses of Parliament/PA)
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns has said the House of Commons chamber is ‘no place’ for a baby (Houses of Parliament/PA)

The House of Commons chamber is “no place” for a baby, Tory MP Alicia Kearns has said.

Her comment came after Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he backs allowing MPs to take their babies into parliamentary debates as long as they are not disrupting proceedings.

But Ms Kearns said she has always been able to leave the chamber to feed her daughter and does not need to have that “live-streamed to the world” from the Commons.

MPs are allowed to take their babies with them when voting but not when participating in debates, although the Speaker and his deputies have exercised their discretion on the issue in the past.

Sir Lindsay has requested a review into whether the rules should be updated after there was an outcry over Labour’s Stella Creasy being told she can no longer have her infant son with her.

But Rutland and Melton MP Ms Kearns, who announced the birth of her second child in January 2021, said: “Babies have no place in the chamber.

“I’ve asked to leave debates to feed my child a few times – I have never been turned down.

“This is a debate about childcare that is wrongly being presented as one of rights and representation.”

She added: “In no professional workplace would you feed your baby in a meeting with your chief executive, or in a pitch to new clients, or on a stage in front of shareholders.”

She acknowledged there are difficulties in combining being a mother with being an MP, and there have been “a couple [of] days where security would not let my then eight-month-old daughter, in her pram, with her childcare, in to parliament because someone deemed it not to be ‘essential parliamentary business’”, but that was resolved by the Commons authorities.

“You’ll also see me frantically running around parliament feeding baby between votes/debates/meetings in corridors/terrace/Central Lobby,” she said.

“I don’t think being a mum should be hidden in parliament/workplaces.

“But I don’t want to feed my baby live-streamed to world. And I definitely don’t need to.

“This is a matter of childcare.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy speaking in the chamber of the House of Commons with her newborn baby strapped to her (House of Commons/PA)
Labour MP Stella Creasy speaking in the chamber of the House of Commons with her newborn baby strapped to her (House of Commons/PA)

The cross-party Commons Procedure Committee has been asked to examine the rules around babies in the chamber.

Sir Lindsay has said his view is that the “chair on the day has got to make a decision”.

Referring to Ms Creasy’s son, he said: “I saw that baby come into the chamber when I was in the chair. And did it affect the debate? No. Was it a quiet and peaceful baby? Absolutely. Did it disrupt? Not in the slightest. So did it matter to me? Absolutely not.

“What I would say, and I’ll be quite honest with you, is each chair will make a decision. Unfortunately it’s become highly political.

“It is now for others to decide, that’s why the committee is reviewing it. And I will then have to respect [that decision].”

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