A bid to ensure MPs are able to take parental leave has passed its latest Parliamentary hurdle.
Labour’s Harriet Harman wants her colleagues to be able to take six months’ paid leave and nominate another MP to be their “maternity cover” and cast votes on their behalf while they are caring for their new baby.
Harman, the longest-serving female member in the House of Commons, said the proposals should be implemented as soon as possible, as four female MPs are currently pregnant.
Parliament’s procedural committee has released a raft of recommendations on making the plans viable, including publishing the names of members acting as a colleague’s proxy and whether proxy voting should be restricted to certain days or business.
They will now be put to Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, who will respond at a later date.
Her spokesperson said: “All new parents should be able to spend time with their family. The challenge is to facilitate this right for Members of Parliament while considering the constitutional implications of any reform.
“The procedure committee report’s proposals deserve careful consideration and the government will respond in due course.”
Harman thanked the cross-party committee, chaired by Conservative MP Charles Walker, for its “hard work”.
She added: “Two months ago the House passed a resolution agreeing to establish a system of formal proxy voting for MPs who are new parents.
“With babies expected by Cat Smith, Laura Pidcock, Jo Swinson and Holly Lynch, and no doubt many more by men MPs’ partners, and with very important votes coming up not least on Brexit, it’s vital that we sort this out quickly so no MP’s constituents are left without a recorded vote simply because their MP is giving birth or caring for their new baby.”
Harman has previously said it is up to Parliament to set an example to the rest of the country on parental leave.
“The reality is you cannot be on call for your constituency or voting when you are in labour,” she added.
“And you should not have to be on duty when your baby is only a few weeks/months old. But the constituency must have a representative at all times. There needs to be a proper system of leave and cover.”