Stella Creasy caused quite a stir in the U.K. Parliament last Tuesday when she brought her 13-week-old son with her into the House of Commons. According to the MP, she later received an angry email saying that she would not be allowed to bring her son into the House because of rules that are in place.
Creasy and Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle are asking a group of MPs to look into the rules about bringing babies in Parliament. Creasy claims that the UK government is not accommodating to working parents and that they should change the rules to be more modern.
She said, “I’ve been told very clearly that apparently Parliament has taken time to write a law that it’s a parliamentary faux pas and against the courtesies of the house to bring a child with you. But we don’t seem at the moment to have made a rule about wearing masks. It does seem to be a bit of a reflection of how Parliament was set up for another era when perhaps, you know, most MPs were men of a certain age and independent means.”
According to Parliament, the rules prohibit members of the House to sit or stand in the House of Commons or Westminster Hall while having a child with them. This rule book is issued by the speaker and deputy speakers and was recently updated back in September.
Stella Creasy has previously had her children with her when she was in the House of Commons. In 2018, the Labour MP was sworn in while holding her oldest daughter.
Creasy claimed after the incident that she wasn’t given maternity cover, so there was no one there to do her job in Parliament while she was on maternity leave. The working mother decided to combine both her jobs. She also pointed out another Parliament rule that says that MPs must be present in the House of Commons if they want their constituents’ views to be heard during debates.
Last summer, Stella Creasy was told that she couldn’t hire a locum to be her maternity cover for the birth of her second child. She was the first woman to have a locum for the maternity leave of her first child, which was part of a pilot program. She was told for this pregnancy that “an MP’s job can’t be covered by someone else.”
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab argued that “our profession is brought into the modern world… [so] parents can juggle the jobs they do with the family time they need.”
Many female MPs have supported Creasy after she was told not to bring her baby into Parliament. MP Alex Davies-Jones said she was told by Lindsay Hoyle that if she needed to nurse her baby in the House of Commons she could. She has also written a letter to the speaker asking for clarification on the no baby rule.
While many have supported Stella Creasy in her fight to allow parents to bring their children into Parliament, others have criticized her. Some of her fellow MPs have pointed out that other working mothers find a way to juggle childcare and their job.
Tory MP Scott Benton took to Twitter and said, “Parents who get paid a fraction of what you do pay for childcare and juggle responsibilities so they can go to work. What makes you special?”
Other tweets have expressed similar questions. They pointed out that people who are nurses and firefighters don’t get to bring their babies to work with them. One person said, “Stella Creasy is not in the right here because most women have to find childcare when working and no children are allowed and I’m sure on her big wage she can afford childcare. This is not the reality of a women’s work place. So, I don’t know what point she is trying to prove.”
Other babies have been brought into Parliament in the past with no issue. In 2018, former MP Jo Swinson became the first woman to hold her baby during a House of Commons debate. She was arguing for “proxy voting” and said that MPs on maternity and paternity leave should be allowed to have another colleague vote in their absence.
Also, in 2018, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the first world leader to bring her baby to the United States General Assembly in New York. She held her 3-month-old son while on the floor.