The Guardian

Speaker to review rules on babies in Commons amid outcry after Creasy reprimande­d

- Jessica Elgot Peter Walker Alexandra Topping

The House of Commons will review rules that led to the Labour MP Stella Creasy being reprimande­d for bringing her young baby while she spoke during a debate in parliament, the Speaker has announced.

Creasy had asked for urgent clarificat­ion from Commons authoritie­s after being reprimande­d for having her infant son in a sling as she spoke in parliament on Tuesday, saying this had not been a problem on other occasions.

Commons rules state that MPs should not have children or infants with them in the chamber, but Creasy, the MP for Walthamsto­w, has taken both her children into the Commons before, without complaint.

“Without maternity cover, the residents of Walthamsto­w would be denied representa­tion if I didn’t keep working – but anyone with a threemonth-old baby knows they are too young to leave on their own,” she said yesterday.

She brought her three-month-old son in a sling as she led a debate about buy-now-pay-later consumer credit schemes on Tuesday afternoon in Westminste­r Hall, a subsidiary chamber in the Commons.

After an outcry when Creasy posted an email she had received telling her that her son’s presence was against the rules, the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, asked the Commons procedure committee, chaired by Karen Bradley, to look at the rules.

“It is extremely important that parents of babies and young children are able to participat­e fully in the work of this House,” he said, saying he had been unaware of the advice given to Creasy until last night.

“However, rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times,” he said. “I accept there are differing views on this matter, indeed I have been contacted by honourable members, who have babies, with a range of views.”

Creasy said she had received an email from the Commons authoritie­s saying the latest edition of rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons says MPs should not take their seat in the Commons with a child.

This edition, published in September, states that MPs can take babies or toddlers with them through the lobbies to vote, and if needed through the Commons to do so, but adds: “You should not take your seat in the chamber when accompanie­d by your child, nor stand at either end of the chamber, between divisions.”

Politician­s have rallied in support of Creasy, with the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, saying he had “a lot of sympathy”. Speaking on BBC Breakfast yesterday, Raab said the profession of MP needed to be “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”.

The former leader of the Scottish Conservati­ve party, Ruth Davidson, gave examples of the support she had received at Holyrood after the birth of her son, Finn, which included a note from the presiding officer of the Scottish parliament (the Scottish equivalent of the Speaker) assuring her that her baby was welcome on the estate.

“If it helps to know how other parliament­s around the UK operate, @ stellacrea­sy before I came back to work, the chief exec & PO got in touch to ask what I needed (I got a fridge for my office for storing breast milk) & to reassure me Finn was welcome on the estate & in the chamber,” she wrote.

However, Creasy received only lukewarm words from her party’s spokesman, after saying she felt unsupporte­d by Labour. Keir Starmer’s spokesman said it would be “inappropri­ate for me to comment while the procedure committee is considerin­g what it wants to do”.

Asked if Starmer has any personal views, the spokesman said: “You can clearly see we are supportive when it comes to wanting people to be able to juggle their work and caring responsibi­lities.” Asked about Creasy feeling unsupporte­d by fellow MPs, including her own party, he said: “You’ll have to speak Stella about that.”

Creasy, who also has a young daughter, has battled to ensure MPs can have proper maternity cover. The law prevents a locum from covering the parliament­ary work of MPs on parental leave.

The MP has also launched a campaign called This Mum Votes – originally named Vote Mama UK, after an existing US campaign – to help support parents in politics, saying she did not think her own party had properly backed her push for maternity rights.

‘It is extremely important that parents of babies are able to participat­e fully in the work of this House’

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 ?? ?? ▲ MSP Ruth Davidson praised the Scottish parliament’s support for her as a mother, and Dominic Raab said the Commons should be accessible
▲ MSP Ruth Davidson praised the Scottish parliament’s support for her as a mother, and Dominic Raab said the Commons should be accessible
 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES ?? ▲ The Labour MP Stella Creasy with her baby during a debate in the Commons in September
PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES ▲ The Labour MP Stella Creasy with her baby during a debate in the Commons in September
 ?? ?? Sir Lindsay Hoyle Speaker
Sir Lindsay Hoyle Speaker

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