A Tory MP has criticised Labour’s Stella Creasy over her campaign to allow babies inside the House of Commons after she was told it was no longer allowed.
Creasy tweeted a photograph of an email addressed to her from the private secretary to the chairman of ways and means reminding her of the 'rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons', which were updated in early September.
Paragraph 42 of the rules states an MP “should not take your seat in the Chamber when accompanied by a child”, with the private secretary telling Creasy this also applies to Westminster Hall.
The email came following the Walthamstow MP’s appearance in the Hall on Tuesday with her three-month-old son, Pip, who is breastfeeding.
Despite support from several MPs, Scott Benton, who represents the Conservatives in Blackpool South, publicly criticised Creasy while highlighting her MP salary.
Benton tweeted to Creasy: “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 so special?”
Responding to the tweet, Creasy told Benton that MPs don't have employment rights or maternity cover, forcing her to take her baby into Parliament.
She added: "Guess being anti choice for women is just in your DNA."
Benton’s view was in contrast to deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, who said he has “a lot of sympathy” for Creasy and would not be distracted at the despatch box by the presence of a baby.
“I think we do need to make sure our profession is brought into the modern world, the 21st century, and can allow parents to juggle the jobs they do with the family time that they need,” he told BBC Breakfast.
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“When you see your colleagues with their children given the rough and tumble of politics, I just always think it brings out the best in people.
“Whether it’s the right thing in the chamber, there will be different views on that, it will be for the House authorities to decide, but it certainly wouldn’t distract me or get in the way of me doing my job.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said the rule is “absurd” and “absolutely needs to be challenged”, adding that babies are “far less disruptive than many braying backbenchers”.
The rule was branded "contradictory" by another MP, Alex Davies-Jones, who tweeted: "When I was first elected I was still exclusively breastfeeding my child.
"I met with @CommonsSpeaker [Sir Lindsay Hoyle] to discuss this and was assured that if the need arose I would be able to feed my child in the chamber or Westminster Hall.
"This rule is now a complete contradiction."
Following her campaign, Sir Lindsay has requested a review into whether MPs can take babies into the chamber.
Hoyle stressed it is “extremely important” that parents can fully participate in parliamentary work as he asked the Procedure Committee on Wednesday to bring forward recommendations for the House to make a ruling.
He said he was unaware that the warning was going to be issued to Creasy but accepted it “correctly reflects the current rules”.
Creasy said she hopes the move “means some of these rules will be reviewed to make parenting and politics possible to mix”.
She received the warning despite Pip being observed to be behaving “as good as gold” during Tuesday’s debate, during which he received praise from MPs.
Pip has regularly attended the Commons since his birth, as did Creasy’s older daughter.
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