MP barred from bringing baby to Commons hits out at 'system built for men'

24 November 2021, 11:45 | Updated: 24 November 2021, 11:55

By Daisy Stephens

Labour MP Stella Creasy has told LBC that people could be "cut out" from politics because the system and its policies are "built" for men with no child-caring responsibilities.

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Speaking to James O'Brien, she said people could be "cut out" from politics because the system and its policies are "built" for men with no child-caring responsibilities.

The MP, who has recently been told she cannot bring her 13-week-old baby into the House of Commons, said not allowing women to care for children as well as play an active role in politics could lead to women not running to be MPs, or constituents not voting for them.

"I'm worried about the numbers of people cut out from our politics by these policies, not because they don't have the skills or the experience to contribute, but because we have a system that was built for basically men of a certain age with independent means, and that's not the majority of the British population," said Ms Creasy.

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

"I don't have maternity cover so there really isn't anybody else who can do [my job], and that faces an impossible position where either my son get my attention or my constituents are denied a voice for six months whilst I take maternity leave."

She said she did not think "we want to do that in British politics", adding: "We're basically setting up a rule that says if you elect a woman, especially a woman of a child-bearing age, you might lose her for six months and you might lose your voice in our democratic process, because we can't make the system work for the 21st century and put parenting and politics together."

Sir Lindsay has since said there will be a "review" into the rules, saying he appreciated there were "different views" on the matter.

He said it was "extremely important" new parents were able to contribute in the House, but added that Parliament needed "to be able to function" free from disturbances.

The Labour MP for Walthamstow received a written warning after bringing her son Pip into a Westminster hall debate on Tuesday, during which he was observed to be "as good as gold" and received praise from MPs.

She has argued that, because MPs cannot get maternity cover in the same way as most women, she should be able to bring her baby to her parliamentary work in order to ensure her constituents are not denied a voice in debates and votes.

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Since Ms Creasy shared the warning on social media, MPs have rallied around her.

Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones wrote to speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle calling for "urgent clarification" on the rules, after saying the warning left her and other mothers "hugely concerned".

Ms Davies-Jones said the warning appeared to be a "contradiction" to Sir Lindsay's assurance in January last year that he "wouldn't be upset by" a mother deciding to breastfeed her baby in the chamber.

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".

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