Row breaks out after Labour MP Stella Creasy told her baby isn't allowed in Commons

24 November 2021, 10:39 | Updated: 24 November 2021, 11:52

Stella Creasy has previously taken both her son and daughter into the Chamber.
Stella Creasy has previously taken both her son and daughter into the Chamber. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Labour MP Stella Creasy has been told she cannot take her three-month-old son into the Commons, leading to a backlash online.

It came after the Labour MP appeared on Tuesday with her three-month-old son, who is breastfeeding.

"Mothers in the mother of all parliament are not to be seen or heard it seems.... #21stCenturyCalling," Ms Creasy tweeted, along with a copy of the email she received.

Within the email, it said: "I just wanted to make you aware that the recently published rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons states that 'you should not take your seat in the Chamber when accompanied by a child'."

The parliamentary rules have seen a mixed response online, with some backing the move while others felt it was harsh, considering she has been unable to take maternity leave.

In a follow-up tweet, Ms Creasy said: "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."

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In late September, Ms Creasy's then-newborn - Pip - was strapped to her as she rose in the Chamber to ask Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to ensure mothers were supported rather than "rebuked" when returning to Parliament.

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

Ms Creasy had regularly taken her son and previously her daughter into the Commons Chamber, as babies have been allowed in the past.

As a result, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been under increased pressure to clarify the rules.

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At the start of business in the Chamber on Wednesday, he said: "It is extremely important that the parents of babies and young children are able to participate fully in the work of this House. That is why, to give one example, we have a nursery.

"The advice given yesterday to the Hon Member for Walthamstow, on the authority of the Chairman of Ways and Means, of which I was not aware 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 disturbance.  However, sometimes there maybe occasions when the Chair can exercise discretion assuming business is not disturbed.

"I accept that there are differing views on this matter – indeed, I have been contacted by Honourable Members who have babies with a range of views.  There are also likely to be some consequential matters. 

"Therefore, I have asked the Chair of the Procedure Committee if she and her Committee will look into this matter and bring forward recommendations which will ultimately be for the House to take a view on."

Several MPs have come out in support of Ms Creasy, following the change.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said the rule is "absurd" and "absolutely needs to be challenged", adding that babies are "far less disruptive than many braying backbenchers".

Meanwhile, Tory former minister Paul Maynard told the debate on Tuesday: "I congratulate Pip on taking the sensible decision to fall asleep during his mother's speech.

"He had a nice long sleep, as we can all observe, which was perhaps a sensible decision by him."

Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden added: "I also thank our youngest member, who has attended the debate and been as good as gold throughout."