Procedure Committee to consider babies in the Commons
The Procedure Committee will take evidence on whether MPs should be allowed to bring their babies into the Commons Chamber and Westminster Hall. The committee will take evidence from MPs and others until 18 February on a number of issues relating to the presence of babies in the House of Commons Chamber and Westminster Hall during parliamentary proceedings, including whether this should be prohibited or permitted and under what circumstances; how the rules should be captured; and what discretion should be available to those chairing debates and legislative committees.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle referred the matter to the committee in November, after Labour MP Stella Creasy was reprimanded for bringing her baby into a Westminster Hall debate in an email from the private office of Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing. Current guidance to MPs states they “should not take their seats in the Chamber when accompanied by [their] child,” however Creasy and several others have bought babies into the Commons since 2018.
Karen Bradley, chair of the Procedure Committee, acknowledged “the strong views on this issue on both sides of the debate,” and the “important wider question relating to the support available to MPs who are new parents.”
“We are going to take evidence with a view to ensuring... that parents of babies and young children are able to participate fully in the work of this House,” Bradley said.
Creasy told The House that while she welcomed the news, “the only reason I took my baby into Chamber is because I don’t have maternity cover.”
She added: “The other women who’ve done it too were in a similar position – it wasn’t because they thought it would be a great wheeze, it was because needs must. It was an imperfect solution to a system that was not set up to accommodate and include parents of young children. Parents of young children are part of our society too, and therefore need democratic representation and engagement.”
Creasy has repeatedly called for a locum MPs scheme – which she piloted with IPSA in her first pregnancy in 2019 but was denied during her second – to be a permanent offer for MPs’ maternity cover. With Pregnant Then Screwed, she has launched the This Mum Votes campaign to highlight the challenges, and called on Parliament to “set the tone” for maternity rights.