Baby of the House paves the way

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY LUCINDA CAMERON

Lib­eral Demo­crat MP Jo Swin­son hopes tak­ing her baby into a Com­mons de­bate is a step for­ward in mod­ernising Par­lia­ment.

The party’s deputy leader ap­peared in the cham­ber with Gabriel to lis­ten to the clos­ing re­marks of a dis­cus­sion about proxy vot­ing, which could al­low MPs on ma­ter­nity and pa­ter­nity leave to nom­i­nate a col­league to cast their vote in their ab­sence.

Ear­lier in the sum­mer Ms Swin­son was “fu­ri­ous” when Tory chair­man Bran­don Lewis joined a crunch Brexit vote in July.

The two MPs were paired while on parental leave, mean­ing nei­ther were sup­posed to take part in Com­mons vot­ing.

Ms Swin­son said tak­ing 11-week-old Gabriel into the cham­ber – thought to be a first in a Com­mons de­bate – seemed nat­u­ral.

She said: “I spoke early on in the de­bate. The con­ven­tion is that you come back at the end to lis­ten to the fi­nal speeches.

“By that time I’d had to go and feed my baby and he had fallen asleep.

“The op­tions were to wake him up and hand him to some­body else for 20 min­utes or go in and sit down, do no harm, and he stayed asleep for most of it.

“I think it’s a step for­ward for mod­ernising Par­lia­ment and for send­ing a mes­sage that it re­ally needs to be pos­si­ble for par­ents to be able to com­bine their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for their chil­dren with their work­ing lives. All too of­ten that is made too dif­fi­cult.

“That won’t al­ways mean tak­ing your child to work. But in the case of very small ba­bies, for peo­ple who are work­ing at that stage, then that can be just one of the ways in which work­places can mod­ernise and there could be flex­i­bil­ity in or­der to make it pos­si­ble,” added the East Dun­bar­ton­shire MP.

FIRST STEP: Baby Gabriel makes his Com­mons de­but

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.