Jo Swinson has said she hopes taking her baby into a Commons debate signals a step forward in modernising Parliament.
The Liberal Democrat party’s deputy leader appeared in the chamber with her 11-week-old son on Thursday to listen to the closing remarks of a discussion about proxy voting, which could allow MPs on maternity and paternity leave to nominate a colleague to cast their vote in their absence.
Earlier in the summer Ms Swinson was “furious” when Tory chairman Brandon Lewis — who she was paired with while on parental leave, meaning neither would take part in Commons voting — joined a crunch Brexit vote in July.
Mr Lewis claimed he was not aware of the pairing arrangement at the time of the vote, but Ms Swinson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was not an honest mistake. It was very deliberate and it transpired in the days afterwards that other MPs had been asked to break their pairs and very honourably had told their chief whip to get lost.”
Ms Swinson said Gabriel into the chamber, in what is thought to be a first in a Commons debate, seemed the natural thing to do.
She told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “I spoke early on in the debate. The convention is that you come back at the end of the debate to listen to the final speeches.
“By that time I’d had to leave the chamber, I’d had to go and feed my baby and he had then fallen asleep on me in the baby carrier, and the options were: wake him up and hand him to somebody else for 20 minutes, or go in and sit down, do no harm, and he stayed asleep for most of it.
“I think it’s a step forward for modernising Parliament and for sending a message that it really needs to be possible for parents to be able to combine their responsibilities for their children with their working lives, and all too often that is made too difficult. Read more
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