Stella Creasy’s shock as she is told no babies allowed in Commons

Stella Creasy’s shock as she is told no babies allowed in Commons
The Walthamstow MP has previously brought her infant child into the chamber without complaint

Labour MP Stella Creasy was informed that it was against the rules to bring a child to a debate at Westminister Hall after having her three-month-old son in a sling as she spoke at parliament on Tuesday.

The Walthamstow MP has previously taken her infant child into Commons without complaint but after leading a debate on buy-now-pay-later consumer credit schemes on Tuesday afternoon she was reprimanded by House of Commons authorities.

The House of Commons said it was “in communications” with Ms Creasy.

“We have been made aware that you were accompanied by your baby in Westminster Hall earlier today,” the email from the private secretary the chairman of the Ways and Means committee

The email said bringing her baby into the parliament was not in line with recently published rules on “behaviour and courtesies” – the handbook for MPs. It added: “I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this also applies to debates in Westminster Hall.”

Sharing the email on Twitter, Ms Creasy, who has campaigned for mothers to enter politics, wrote: “Mothers in the mother of all parliament are not to be seen or heard it seems….#21stCenturyCalling.”

In a separate post, Ms Creasy urged support for a campaign to get more mothers involved in politics.

“Other countries show it doesn’t have to be this way – If you want things to change so politics and parenting can mix, please join our project to help directly support mums of young children to stand for office.”

The rule book, issued by the speaker and deputy speakers and applies to the House of Commons and Westminster Hall, was updated in September.

It says: “You should not take your seat in the chamber when accompanied by your child, nor stand at either end of the Chamber, between divisions.” The same wording was used in the previous version of the rule book.

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Labour MP, Alex Davies-Jones, tweeted that the rule seemed “a complete contradiction” given that when she was breastfeeding her child the commons speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, assured her that she could feed her child in the chamber or Westminster Hall if she needed to.

In an update to MPs on Wednesday, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, said he had asked the procedure committee to look at the rules around bringing babies into the chamber and said he was not aware of the email sent to Ms Creasy until last night.

He said: “This advice given yesterday to the honourable member from Walthamstow on the authority of the chairman of ways and means, which I was not aware of until last night, correctly reflects the current rules. However, rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times.

“This House has to be able to function professionally and without disturbances, however, sometimes there may be occasions when the chair can exercise discretion assuming the business is not to be disturbed. I accept there are differing views on this matter.

“There are also likely to be some consequential matters, therefore I have asked the chair of the Procedure Committee if she and her committee look into this matter and bring forward recommendations which would ultimately be for the House to take a view on.”

Ms Creasy, who also has a young daughter, has battled for MPs to have adequate maternity cover through her campaign This Mum Votes.

In September, Ms Creasy questioned commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg whether he would consider reviewing rules which mean that MPs on parental leave must give up the proxy vote they are permitted if they want to speak occasionally in the chamber.

Mr Rees-Mogg said in response he thought the rules were “perfectly reasonable and entirely in line with the law”.

MPs are entitled to paid maternity leave for six months and a proxy vote but MPs must be physically present at Westminster *in order to represent their constituents’ views during Commons debates.

Former Liberal Democrats MP Jo Swinson was thought to be the first MP to cradle her baby during a debate in the commons in 2018. In the same year, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden became the first world leader to take her baby to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.