Mon, 15 August 2022

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Babies Should Continue To Be Banned From Commons Chamber, MPs Say

Babies Should Continue To Be Banned From Commons Chamber, MPs Say

Stella Creasy was reprimanded for bringing her baby into the Commons

2 min read

The Commons Procedure Committee has backed current rules which ban MPs from taking babies into the chamber during debates.

A new report from the group has recommended that MPs should be prohibited from taking babies and young children into the Commons chamber despite recent concerns raised by MPs.

Labour MP Stella Creasy was reprimanded by Commons authorities for taking her young baby into the chamber despite having previously spoken in debates while caring for her child.

Speaking at the time, Creasy hit out at the ruling, saying she had been told off for taking her "well behaved 3-month old, sleeping baby when I speak in the chamber".

She added: "Mothers in the mother of all parliaments are not to be seen or heard it seems."

But despite Creasy providing evidence to the Committee, the group of MPs backed the current rules, with Conservative MP Karen Bradley, who chairs the group, saying: "On the balance of evidence received, the Committee also recommends that current rules remain and Members should not bring babies into the House of Commons Chamber or Westminster Hall proceedings."

The report said that Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and his deputies should continue to "retain a degree of de facto discretion" over the rules, but said they should only be excercised "sparingly".

Meanwhile, the group urged the government to call a debate ahead of the summer recess to gauge opinions on extending proxy voting rules, which allow MPs to cast their vote without having to be present in Westminster, to those with a "serious long-term illness".

Under the current rules, MPs unable to attend debates can be 'paired' through an informal system with an MP from the opposing party to not vote on a certain division.

But the Committee said there should be consideration of a more formal process to allow MPs with serious illnesses to cast their vote remotely.

Bradley added: "Following the Committee's earlier work on proxy voting, and the House agreeing with our recommendation to make proxy voting for parental leave a permanent feature, it was perhaps no surprise for us to find in our inquiry the overwhelming balance of evidence supported extending eligibility for proxy votes to Members experiencing serious long-term illness.

"We now call on the Government to schedule a debate in the coming weeks to give the House a chance to debate whether proxy voting should be extended in this way, as a pilot and subject to a review."

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