UK Parliament Bans Babies From Chambers After Lawmaker Brings Infant to Debate

The U.K. Parliament is being asked to change its rules after a lawmaker brought her three-month-old son to a debate, the Associated Press reported.

Labour Party legislator Stella Creasy posted an email on Twitter that she received from the House of Commons, which said children were not allowed in Parliament. "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," she wrote, noting that mask mandates were still not enacted despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Mothers in the mother of all parliament are not to be seen or heard it seems," she added.

The rule cited in the email was quietly enacted in September 2021. According to the email sent to Creasy, Parliament members "should not take...seat in the Chamber when accompanied by a child."

Despite this, many lawmakers are speaking out in support of Creasy, who had previously brought both her newborn son and older daughter to debates. Green Party lawmaker Caroline Lucas labelled the ban on children "absurd," while House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he has requested a committee review of the rule.

"It is extremely important that parents of babies and young children are able to participate fully in the work of this House," he said.

The BBC reported that a House of Commons spokesperson said that it is of utmost importance that members of Parliament (MPs) are able to do their elected duties appropriately. If they had questions or concerns about such requirements, they could talk to the Speaker, deputy Speakers, clerks and doorkeepers.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Stella Creasy 2019
"Mothers in the mother of all parliament are not to be seen or heard it seems," MP Stella Creasy said. Above, Creasy, eight months pregnant with her first child, Labour candidate in her constituency Walthamstow in London on November 4, 2019, London, England. Photo by Nicola Tree/ Getty Images

Creasy said the rule undermined efforts to make politics more family-friendly.

"There are barriers to getting mums involved in politics, and I think that damages our political debate," she told the BBC.

Britain's Parliament, once known for its boozy, macho culture and late-night hours, has changed in recent years. One of the building's multiple bars was converted into a nursery for the children of politicians and staff.

Lawmakers are entitled to maternity, but without the ability to have someone cover their job while they are away, most can take only a short time off.

Lucas said babies were "far less disruptive than many braying backbenchers."

Hoyle noted that there were "differing views on this matter."

"The advice given yesterday ... correctly reflects the current rules. However, rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times," he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman, Max Blain, said the government wanted to see "further improvements" to make Parliament more family-friendly.

"We want to make sure that all workplaces are modern, flexible and fit for parents," he said.

"The exact way that operates is rightly a matter for the House."

Stella Creasy House of Commons
In this shot from House of Commons TV, Labour MP Stella Creasy carries her son, Pip, during a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament, London, November 23, 2021. Some British politicians are demanding a change in parliamentary rules after Creasy was told she could not bring her 3-month-old baby into the House of Commons chamber. Creasy said the rule undermines efforts to make politics more family-friendly. House of Commons/PA via AP