A Labour MP has brought her baby boy to the Commons to demonstrate new mothers are “rebuked” rather than supported when returning to Parliament.
Stella Creasy's newborn was strapped to her as she rose in the chamber to ask Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to take action.
Creasy said: “We know that the Leader of the House is keen to see MPs return to the chambers of Parliament, and indeed the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority refused to fund appropriate maternity cover for myself on the basis that people needed to be able to speak in the chamber.
“Yet today, in order to speak I have had to abandon my baby proxy leave vote or else be reprimanded by the House authorities for speaking in the chamber, making Parliament one of the few workplaces in this country where, when a new mother comes in for a ‘keep in touch day’, she is rebuked, not supported.
“I know some in this place are not fans of mothers in the mother of all parliaments, but I’m sure the leader is not among them, so will he meet with a cross-party delegation of MPs to look at how we can make sure everybody in this Parliament upholds the law on maternity cover and leave?”
Rees-Mogg said it was a “pleasure” to see Creasy in the chamber and congratulated her for the “impeccable behaviour of her infant”.
He noted: “Mine are, of course, perfect in every possible way, but I’m not sure they would have been quiet for the whole time during a parliamentary debate so I congratulate her most warmly.
“The rules provide for maternity and paternity leave and for proxy voting for people who want to take that. But if people want to come into the chamber to be here, of course they’re welcome, and I’d be the last one to deter people from coming in – but I don’t want to put pressure on people to come in, I think it is for them to decide for themselves, as (Creasy) has done.
“I think the rules as they are currently constructed are perfectly reasonable and entirely in line with the law.”
Rees-Mogg said MPs are office holders rather than employees, adding: “We have different rights and different privileges against employees. It is a different role and therefore employment law applies to us in a different way.
“We in fact have many more privileges than most employed people, not because of who we individually are but because of collectively our responsibility to represent the people of this nation.”
Rees-Mogg added he was always open to meeting MPs to discuss issues.
Creasy has bought one of her children to the Commons before and has previously urged parliamentary authorities to improve maternity leave for MPs.
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She threatened legal action when the government rushed through a bill to extend maternity leave privileges to ministers but not MPs.
The legislation allowed Attorney General Suella Braverman to take six months’ away from her post following the pending birth of her second child.
Previous laws meant Braverman would have to resign if she wanted to take time off with her baby.
At the time she said the new laws risked a two tier system and said “One in four women during the pandemic who is pregnant or newly-mum has said that they have faced discrimination, that they are losing their jobs, they are being furloughed."
Creasy was also the first ever MP to appoint a 'caretaker MP' when she went on maternity leave after having first child.