PARENTS

Should MPs Have Offered Their Seats To Seven Months Pregnant Equalities Minister?

14/08/2014 16:54 | Updated 22 May 2015

Chivalry R.I.P. That seemed to be the message coming from our esteemed leaders in the House of Commons yesterday when not one gallant male – or female - offered to give up their seat for a heavily pregnant colleague.

Or perhaps we're being old-fashioned. Here at Parentdish we routinely open doors and offer our seats. It's just polite and kind, we think.

But, as we know, MPs live by different rules to the rest of us in society, and so when seven months pregnant Equalities Minister Jo Swinson arrived late in the packed House on Wednesday, nobody batted an eyelid, nor raised a cheek, to give the MP a place to take the weight off her feet during Prime Minister's Questions.

However, it seems those who were outraged by such a lack of manners (including ourselves) should keep our mouths shut – because even the heavily pregnant minister herself regards such chivalry as sexist.

A source close to Lib-Dem Ms Swinson said: "The suggestion somehow that people should be outraged on her behalf is ridiculous.

"The idea that just because she is seven months pregnant she has lost all ability to stand on her two feet or fend for herself is quite sexist. She did not think it was an issue.

"She's absolutely confident enough, as a woman minister, to ask for a seat. There was no issue."

But David Cameron's official spokesman thought otherwise and indicated he believed men should give up their seats for pregnant women.

He said: "I think if you see someone in any walk of life in greater need of a seat, there are many reasons why that might be the case, I think it is understandable and a good thing to do."

Ms Swinson, 33, was 10 minutes late for the 30-minute debate on Wednesday and stood at the back.

The source added: "She wasn't visible to the majority of MPs who had their backs to her. She also knew she had to leave early because she had another event to go to."

Ms Swinson, who champions women's rights, is due to give birth on Christmas Day. She earlier told how she had discussed how to 'share the parenting' with her husband, fellow Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames.

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