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Women MPs lobby Speaker against babies in debates

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Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

Sir Lindsay Hoyle says it is for a committee to decide on any rule changes

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle says he has been "heavily lobbied" by women MPs not to change the rules on bringing babies into the chamber.

Earlier this week Labour's Stella Creasy was told it was against "behaviour and courtesies" rules to bring her three-month-old into debates.

She said MPs were not able to take maternity leave, so the rules needed to help "parenting and politics to mix".

Sir Lindsay has asked a committee of MPs to review the rules.

But he told BBC's Newscast: "I have been heavily lobbied not to change the rules, by other mothers.

"I have texts on my phone saying do not give in."

A number of MPs have brought babies into the Commons when participating in debates, including Ms Creasy.

But after appearing with her son in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, the Labour MP received an email from the private secretary to the chairman of the ways and means committee, Dame Eleanor Laing, saying it was not in line with recently updated rules.

Sharing the email on Twitter, Ms Creasy wrote: "Mothers in the mother of all parliaments are not to be seen or heard it seems."

Image source, UK Parliament

Image caption,

Stella Creasy has appeared with her son during debates at Westminster Hall this year

She gained the support of a number of MPs, and No 10 said the PM wanted to see "further improvements" on making Parliament family-friendly.

But others spoke out against her, with Conservative MP Scott Benton saying: "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?"

Speaking to Newscast, Sir Lindsay said it would now be up to Parliament's Procedure Committee to decide what to do, and he would abide by its recommendations. In the meantime, he said he and his deputies should "use some discretion" over the rules.

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