Labour MP Stella Creasy just got a warning for bringing her baby into Parliament – and it's prompted an important parenting debate among MPs.
The Walthamstow MP received an internal email saying she broke the ‘rules of behaviour and courtesies’ at Westminster Hall by bringing her child to work this week.
But what else was the mum-of-one supposed to do when she’s still breastfeeding the three-month-old?
Stella took her newborn son into a debate at The Commons on Tuesday and even though it’s not the first time (she’s previously taken her daughter into Chambers in 2019) she’s determined that it won’t be the last.
Going public with the email on Twitter, the 44-year-old wrote: “Apparently Parliament has written a rule which means I can’t take my well behaved, 3-month old, sleeping baby when I speak in chamber.”
Apparently Parliament has written a rule which means I can’t take my well behaved, 3-month old, sleeping baby when I speak in chamber. (Still no rule on wearing masks btw).
Mothers in the mother of all parliament are not to be seen or heard it seems….#21stCenturyCalling pic.twitter.com/rKB7WbYQrL
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) November 23, 2021
"Mothers in the mother of all parliament are not to be seen or heard,” she continued, pointing out that there isn't even a rule on wearing face masks in the Chambers right now.
In the work email, Stella was told: “You should not take your seat in the Chamber when accompanied by a child,” according to paragraph 42 of the new Rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons. Sounds official, though as Stella points out, should it really apply to sleeping newborns still dependent on their mothers for feeding?
The mum-of-two returned to work just a few weeks after giving birth to her second child. “Even though it is actually technically illegal to ask a new mother to work in the first few weeks post-birth, I have been working," she told PoliticsHome back in September. Stella wasn't offered full maternity cover and other staff members couldn't undertake all her duties – including attending meetings with ministers – meaning she had to work.
The new man in my life - safely here to the strains of I am the resurrection by the stone roses…no name yet but definitely a keeper ….thank you to the amazing team at Whipps cross hospital for everything ❤️#parenting #kid2 #indieKid #loveWalthamstow pic.twitter.com/XOHFxXoF6K
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) August 24, 2021
Like many MPs who are parents, Stella uses the ‘fantastic’ on-site nursery for her older child because bringing her into Chambers would be "disruptive for everyone else" as she acknowledged in a later tweet. MPs such as Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones and Green MP, Caroline Lucas have all voiced their support. Although, in response to her outrage, Conservative MP Scott Benton asked: "What makes you so special?".
He wrote: "Parents who get paid a fraction of what you do pay for childcare and juggle responsibilities so they can go to work."
Fortunately, it's driven Parliament to review the rules again. Just the day after Stella's internal warning, speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked the Commons Procedure Committee to look into it, The Guardian reports. After that, MPs should be able to decide on how to go forwards.
Addressing the Commons, Sir Lindsay said: “It’s extremely important that parents are able to participate fully in the work of this House.” He added: “Rules have to be seen in context and change with the times.”
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