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British lawmakers should not bring their babies to parliamentary debates, according to a new report on the legislative body’s rules amid calls by some legislators to change them, the Washington Post reported.
In the report, the procedure committee said the “long-standing practice” of keeping babies out during debates in the Parliament’s lower house should remain in effect for lawmakers to “observe, initiate, speak or intervene in proceedings.”
But the report acknowledged that legislators had brought babies into debates “without disruptions” in a number of instances since 2018. It added that the rules had not been fully clear, noting “a lack of awareness of the guidance.”
The review of the rules comes a year after Labour lawmaker Stella Creasy was reprimanded for bringing her three-month-old son to a session. Creasy and her supporters called for a change in the regulations, which prompted the speaker of the lower house to request a review of the rules.
Following the review, Creasy criticized the conclusions, saying that the ban challenges efforts to permit “politics and parenting to mix.”
Debates about amending parliamentary rules and conventions in regard to children have also taken place in other countries, as politicians grapple with how to make their workplaces friendlier to mothers, especially as politics have long been dominated by men.
In 2019, a Danish lawmaker was told she was “not welcome” after attempting to bring her baby into the parliamentary chamber. A year before, a German legislator was kicked out of a state parliament for bringing along her 6-week-old son.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern drew attention in 2018 when she brought her baby to the United Nations General Assembly.