Baby of the House paves the way
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