When MP Stella Creasy was told she could no longer take her baby into the House of Commons the issue sparked huge debate.
While politicians are entitled to maternity leave like other workers, they are unable to represent their constituents if they take time off.
After attending a debate on Tuesday with her three-month-old son – apparently asleep in a sling – Ms Creasy was reminded of the ‘rules of behaviour and courtesies’ in the House of Commons.
A review has since been ordered into whether MPs can take their babies into the debating chamber.
We want to know what you think about allowing babies in parliament, and have taken a look at the attitudes to babies into political debating chambers elsewhere.
Fife councillor Fay Sinclair was the first mum to take her baby into Fife Council meetings five years ago, after having persuaded the local authority to welcome those who wished to breastfeed in council chambers.
Westminster ending its hybrid remote and in-person operating procedure was, she said, unfortunate both for parents of young children and those struggling to attend in-person for health or other reasons.
Mum-of-three Fay, who is SNP councillor for Dunfermline South, said: “There’s no provision for someone to cover your work. If you are not there taking part in debates and representing your constituents they are disenfranchised.
“From what I saw she [Ms Creasy] was wearing the baby in a sling, it was fast asleep, I don’t see how that would have been disruptive.
“When a baby is that small, particularly if they are fed on demand and breastfeeding, they have to be with you.”
We should be doing everything we can to make it more accessible and if that means making allowances for a sleeping baby then I don’t see a problem.”
Councillor Fay Sinclair
Fay took son Jamie, now 5, to his first council meeting when he five weeks old and has taken all three sons on councillor duties, such as attending community council meetings and canvassing.
She said: “I think people like to see their representatives are people like them, they are not someone who has a nanny to take over, they are a working mum juggling the same things as everyone else.”
The current operation of both local and national government makes them less accessible for those with caring responsibilities, she said, more often women.
“We should be doing everything we can to make it more accessible and if that means making allowances for a sleeping baby then I don’t see a problem.”
Are babies welcome in other political chambers?
Both Dundee City Council and Angus Council said they have no policy for or against babies being present in meetings, as the situation has not cropped up, but they would look to support councillors who were new parents as they do other employees. Perth and Kinross Council has also been asked about its approach.
The Scottish Parliament allows MSPs to take babies into its debating chamber.
Former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson told how Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh assured her before son Finn’s birth in 2018 the tot would be welcome.
A parliament spokesperson said: “It’s essential that parents, or carers, with babies are able to be fully involved in the business of the parliament and of course that includes the chamber.”
Ms Creasy is not the first MP to take her baby into Westminster Hall during a debate – the then Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson was believed to be the first MP to do so in September 2018.
Babies in parliament worldwide
Also in 2018 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the first world leader to take her baby onto the floor of the UN General Assembly.
A year later the country’s Speaker Trevor Mallard was pictured bottle feeding and burping a colleague’s baby during a chamber debate.
Footage went viral three years ago of MP Karina Gould breastfeeding in Canada’s House of Commons during a debate on legalising cannabis.
Apparently Parliament has written a rule which means I can’t take my well behaved, 3-month old, sleeping baby when I speak in chamber. (Still no rule on wearing masks btw).
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) November 23, 2021