Stella Creasy: Parliament to review rules on babies after MP reprimanded

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Stella Creasy: Parliament to review rules on babies after MP reprimanded
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The Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle has ordered a review into whether MPs can bring babies and very small children into Parliament during debates.

The move comes after Labour MP Stella Creasy received a warning from Parliamentary authorities after she brought her 13-week-old son Pip into the Westminster Hall chamber on Tuesday.

According to Parliamentary rules MPs can take babies or toddlers with them into the House when they vote but not while they participate in debates.

Sir Lindsay said the warning to Ms Creasy, issued by Parliament’s Chair of Ways and Means Dame Eleanor Laing, correctly reflected the current rules but it was “extremely important” parents were able to fully participate in Parliamentary work.

“Rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times,” he told MPs in a statement when he opened the Commons on Wednesday morning.

“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 to the business not being disturbed.

“I accept there are differing views on this matter.”

He added that Parliament’s Procedure Committee chairwoman Karen Bradley would review the matter and bring forward recommendations which will be “ultimately for the House to take a view on”.

Ms Creasy says she has to bring her child into the Commons as she has no childcare. Following Sir Lindsay’s statement, she tweeted: “Pleased to hear this - fwiw as currently on proxy voting scheme not able to be in chamber for statement as rules say I am not allowed in anyway due to having baby leave (!) but hope this means some of these rules will be reviewed to make parenting and politics possible to mix!”

Earlier she told Sky News that the rules were making it harder for mothers to have a political career.

“We are missing out on people not because of their skills or experiences but because they haven’t made a way of working the system for people who aren’t men of a certain age with independent means,” she said.

On the warning, Ms Creasy, who also has a daughter Hettie, added: “It’s a bit of a mystery. I have two children and I have taken them both into the chamber as needs must to make sure my constituents have representation because I don’t have maternity cover… But yesterday I was told I had committed a parliamentary faux pas in bringing my 13-week- old baby… He doesn’t do very much, he is very well behaved, even Jacob Rees-Mogg acknowledges that, maybe some of my colleagues are noisier than him.”

Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson tweeted her support, saying: “Unbelievable. Hello. We’re in 2021, not 1821.”

The warning appears to represent a shift by Parliament’s authorities.

In September, Ms Creasy was accompanied by Pip when she asked House of Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg to ensure new mothers were supported when returning to Parliament.

A Commons spokesperson said on Wednesday: “It is vital that all democratically elected MPs are able to carry out their duties in and around Parliament. Members can at any time consult with the Speaker, Deputy Speakers, Clerks and Doorkeepers about their requirements while in the Chamber or in Westminster Hall at any time.

“We are currently in communication with Stella Creasy about this matter.”

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Frankly I have a lot of sympathy for Stella Creasy… we do need to make sure our profession is brought into the modern world.”

Mr Rees-Mogg responded that he thought the rules were “perfectly reasonable and entirely in line with the law”.

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