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Baby Leave for MPs

January 29, 2019 2:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Last night, MPs finally got a chance to vote on bringing Parliament into the 21st century by introducing a year-long proxy voting trial. I've been working hard for this change along with MPs from all parties for a long time. This is a welcome - if long overdue - victory.

Our conventional pairing system is painfully outdated and vulnerable to abuse. Brandon Lewis broke one such arrangement with me on a crucial Brexit bill last year - in fact, he specifically broke the pair only for the two closest and most important votes that day. Worse, afterwards, it emerged that this was deliberate - the Conservative Chief Whip had also asked other MPs to break their pairs (though they had honourably declined to do so).

As a result, last week Labour MP Tulip Siddiq delayed the birth of her baby to vote against the Brexit deal because she didn't trust the Government to honour pairing arrangements. She came into the Commons in a wheelchair to make sure her constituents didn't lose their right to representation.

Our conventional pairing system is painfully outdated and vulnerable to abuse.

Proxy voting is a welcome step towards ensuring this never happens again.

Every year 54,000 women face pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work. It's shocking that Parliament is lagging behind when it should be leading by example. The Liberal Democrats demand better.

The Government must now make every effort over the next year to ensure proxy voting is properly implemented and that it becomes a permanent feature of how we do business in Parliament.