Updated: November 26, 2021 10:22:22 am
A British politician has called for reforms to the parliament’s rule book after receiving an official email banning her infant in the chambers. Now, the letter has started a furious debate online about paid maternity leave and accessible child care facilities for working mothers.
Labour MP Stella Creasy was told by a representative of Parliament’s lower house that it was against the rules to bring a child to a debate at Westminster Hall after she attended it with her three-month-old son on Tuesday. While leading a debate about buy-now-pay-later consumer credit schemes during a conference Tuesday, the Labour MP and the mother-of-two notably had her infant son strapped to her chest in a sling.
Creasy has asked for urgent clarification from Commons authorities, saying bringing child had not been a problem on other occasions. The MP has taken both her children into the House of Commons before, without any complaints being made.
“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)” she wrote on Twitter sharing the letter.
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).
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) November 23, 2021
While talking to BBC News, Creasy said this was “not a system that works for anyone who isn’t a man of a certain age from a certain background”. Defending her move, she added: “I don’t have maternity cover – I don’t have the employment rights to have maternity cover,” adding the situation as it stands “is bad for our democracy”.
Creasy letter led to a huge outcry online with women across all walks of life weighing in on the matter. Several lawmakers urged parliament to change its rules to make it easier for female lawmakers to do their jobs, stressing that MPs do not get paid maternity leaves.
However, many women highlighted most workplace don’t allow mothers to take their infant to work nor they have the means to afford someone to look after the child while she is away.
Stop gaslighting Stella Creasy. MPs don’t get maternity leave. No one covers her role serving constituents. What’s she meant to do?
I used to park my baby’s pram out of shot to do national media interviews. As a Mum you do what you can, you do your best, and it’s hard work.
— Dr Julia Grace Patterson💙 (@JujuliaGrace) November 24, 2021
Astonished at some of the @BBCWomansHour responses to @stellacreasy bringing her baby to work. Such a lot of “I wasn’t allowed, so why should she?” If we all thought like that change would never come.
— Stella Duffy (@stellduffy) November 24, 2021
“You should not take your seat when accompanied by a child”. The specific wording says it all. Well women won’t tolerate this silencing of motherhood anymore. Thanks for battling on against all this absolute bull, @stellacreasy https://t.co/RI3iVvASOA
— Hannah Fearn (@hannahfearn) November 24, 2021
Why can’t @stellacreasy bring her baby to Parliament? They roll out ‘Women to Win’ but then reinforce that women must choose between motherhood and having a career
IT’S 2021 and women are STILL excluded from the workplace based on the biological fact they carry and feed children
— Alex Phillips (@ThatAlexWoman) November 24, 2021
Listening to @stellacreasy fielding some tough feedback on Woman’s Hour & can’t help feeling a point is being missed – it’s not ‘everyone shd be able to take a baby to work’ but ‘every workplace shd be willing to try small painless adjustments for parents’…
— gabyhinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) November 24, 2021
Fabulous point @Kathbum – following @stellacreasy being told that bringing a baby into chambers is not inline with “behaviour and courtesies” – I’ll just leave this here. Who looks most engaged and capable of debate? pic.twitter.com/KFNfBsnqGq
— Polly Buckland (@TypefaceC) November 24, 2021
If you’re going to make rules about “behaviours and courtesies” surely asking MPs to wear masks as a basic courtesy to their fellow MPs and commons staff should be higher up than making it harder for working mothers to do their jobs?https://t.co/2BFSJcfHEm
— Kit Yates (@Kit_Yates_Maths) November 24, 2021
Stella Creasy says it ‘has to be possible for politics & parenting to mix’ after being told she can’t sit in the Commons with her 3 month old son as it it’s against the rules to bring a child to a debate at Westminster Hall. Of course it was never expected that MPs could be WOMEN pic.twitter.com/cLKdHLHrUb
— Ann Johns, Grumpy Geordie Gran. #TAX THE RICH! (@AnnJohn30914404) November 24, 2021
Most working mothers wouldn’t even be able to consider taking a child to work.
Most working mothers earn less than 80K per year and still have to fork out for childcare
Most working mothers can’t get their child costs expensed
Most workplaces don’t have an on-site crèche
— Sophie Corcoran (@sophielouisecc) November 24, 2021
Stella Creasy earns £80k plus a year but can’t afford a babysitter..
What left wing bollox.
— sandieshoes 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@sandieshoes) November 24, 2021
Millions of people have to arrange child care every day, what makes Stella Creasy so special?
— Pugh Himple (@GBullstein) November 24, 2021
The self entitlement here stinks. Female Cops, nurses, fire officers, ambulance paramedic etc. None of them can take baby to work. Get the child’s father, your partner, family etc to provide child care and failing that pay for it like everyone else. @stellacreasy https://t.co/Fyo4Z4g8m1
— Stu Hamilton (@bluenobby) November 24, 2021
After the serious debate and social media outrage, a House of Commons spokesperson told The Guardian they are reviewing the matter. “It is vital that all democratically elected MPs are able to carry out their duties in and around parliament. Members can at any time consult with the Speaker, deputy speakers, clerks and doorkeepers about their requirements while in the chamber or in Westminster Hall at any time. We are currently in communication with Stella Creasy about this matter,” the statement said.
Bringing infants to parliaments is not new and several MPs around the world have done it in the past. From Anneliese Dodds taking her child to European Parliament in 2016 to New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern making history by bringing in her the then three-month-old daughter to the UNGA in 2018, many female lawmakers have done this in the past.
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