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Thu, 1 October 2020

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Labour's Stella Creasy blasts Commons maternity rules for making her 'choose between being an MP or a mum'

Labour's Stella Creasy blasts Commons maternity rules for making her 'choose between being an MP or a mum'
2 min read

Pregnant Labour MP Stella Creasy has said the lack of maternity support for those in Parliament is forcing her to "choose between being an MP and being a mum".

The Walthamstow MP said it had become "impossible" to square her professional and personal life as she accused parliamentary authorities of offering expectant mothers no financial help with constituency work.

Writing in The Guardian, Ms Creasy - who revealed she had twice suffered miscarriages as an MP - said the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority still did not "recognise" the need for MPs to take on extra help with their casework while pregnant or raising young children.

"Despite warm words about maternity cover two years ago from Ipsa, things have gone backwards," she said.

"Humiliatingly, it is making me beg for extra staff funding – or give up any chance of spending time with my child to make sure my constituents don’t miss out."

Ms Creasy added: "I never thought Parliament would tell me to choose between being an MP and being a mum. "

The Labour MP also described being "heartbroken by all the years that I have struggled with fertility", as she revealed that she had continued with her parliamentary duties through previous miscarriages.

"During my first miscarriage, aching and bleeding, I joined a protest for the extradition of a man who had raped and murdered a constituent," she said.

"The day after I found out that another baby's heartbeat had stopped, I led a public meeting on gang crime."

There are currently no formal maternity or paternity arrangements for those serving in Parliament, with MPs left to arrange time off with their parties.

Commons authorities announced in January that a year-long trial of proxy voting would get underway following an outcry over heavily-pregnant Labour MP Tulip Siddiq being forced to postpone the birth of her child so she could take part in a vote.

Ms Creasy's intervention has already won praise from MPs across the political divide, with Liberal Democrat leadership contender Jo Swinson describing it as "fearless and formidable".

"I don’t fancy IPSA’s chances defending their outdated position against your campaigning force," she said. "Let’s get this changed!"

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband expressed his "solidarity" with Ms Creasy, while fellow Labour MP Jess Phillips said: "I couldn’t be prouder of Stella for facing down the use of fertility and motherhood to define and control our politics."

Green Party co-leader Sian Berry added: "‘Choose or soldier on’ is no way to build equality into democracy. And it is just one example of how women in workplaces are short-changed in so many ways."

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