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The House of Commons chamber is ‘no place’ for a baby, Conservative MP Alicia Kearns said after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle backed allowing MPs to bring their babies to parliamentary debates as long as they don’t disrupt proceedings. .
Rutland and Melton MP Ms Kearns, 34, said that she has always been able to leave the chamber to feed her daughter and that she does not need it to be “broadcast live to the world” from the Commons. .
MPs can take their babies with them when they vote, but not when they participate in debates, although the president and his deputies have exercised their discretion on the matter in the past.
Sir Lindsay has called for a review on whether the rules should be updated amid a protest at Stella Creasy’s censorship of Labor for bringing her son Pip, who was then three months old, while speaking at a debate in November.
But Ms Kearns, who announced the birth of her second child in January 2021, said: ‘Babies have no place in the chamber. Sometimes I asked to leave the debates to feed my son; they never turned me down.
“This is a debate about childcare that is misrepresented as one of rights and representation.”
Sir Lindsay Hoyle backed allowing MPs to take their babies into parliamentary
Ms Kearns added: “In no professional workplace would you feed your baby in a meeting with your CEO, or in a speech for new clients, or on a stage in front of shareholders.”
She acknowledged that there are difficulties in combining being a mother with being a parliamentarian, and there have been ‘a couple of days when security did not allow my eight-month-old daughter, in her stroller with her childcare, to enter Parliament because someone considered that It was not an ‘essential parliamentary matter’, but that was resolved by the Commons authorities. ‘
She added: ‘You will also see me running frantically through Parliament feeding the baby between votes / debates / meetings’ in the corridors, on the Commons terrace and in the Central Hall.
“I don’t think being a mother should hide in Parliament / workplaces. But I don’t want to feed my baby broadcast live to the world. And I definitely don’t need it.
“This is a childcare issue.”
The multi-party Commons Procedures Committee has been asked to examine the rules on babies in the chamber.
Sir Lindsay told the Daily Telegraph that his view is that “the president of the day has a decision to make.”
Referring to Mrs Creasy’s son, he said: ‘I saw that baby come into the bedroom when I was in the chair. And did it affect the debate? No. Was she a calm and peaceful baby? Absolutely. It was interrupted? In the least. So did I care? Absolutely not.
‘What I would say, and I’ll be quite honest with you, is that each president will make a decision. Unfortunately, it has gotten very political.
Now it is others who must decide, so the committee is reviewing it. And then I’ll have to respect (that decision). ‘
Ms. Creasy argues that while she can take maternity
Ms. Creasy argues that while she can take maternity time off with full pay, current Commons rules do not allow her constituents to be fully represented while she is free and has continued to work.
She noted that she was previously allowed to speak in debates with her son in a sling, and authorities took a relaxed stance.
The case polarized opinion with some MPs who said the rules should be relaxed for mothers with very young children, and Downing Street said it was sympathetic to her case.
But others have accused her of “bombast”, while a YouGov poll found that a majority of Britons believe that MPs should not be allowed to bring babies to the camera.
Ms Creasy, a mother of two, welcomed the review after authorities emailed her about the rules against bringing children to debates after taking Pip to a debate at Westminster Hall.
Walthamstow MP Creasy said she hopes the measure “means that some of these rules will be revised to make it possible for parenting and politics to mix.”
Pip, who is breastfeeding, has regularly attended the Commons, as has Mrs. Creasy’s eldest daughter.
Alicia Kearns Quick and Facts
- Alicia Kearns said she has always been able to leave chamber to feed daughter
- Mother-of-two added she does not need to have that ‘live-streamed to the world’
- MPs allowed to take babies when voting but not when participating in debates
- It follows an outcry over Stella Creasy being told she cannot have son with her