A substantive motion on proxy voting for MPs taking maternity, paternity or adoption leave was tabled yesterday by the Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, for agreement on Monday. A decisive step forward in modernising Parliament and turning it into a modern workplace, which doesn’t penalise a member for their family circumstances.
This follows a resolution of the House which was tabled in Feburary 2018 which stated that “it would be to the benefit of the functioning of parliamentary democracy that honourable Members who have had a baby or adopted a child should for a period of time be entitled, but not required, to discharge their responsibilities to vote in this House by proxy”. The plan, which comes with a twelve month trial period, would allow female MPs to take up to six months leave and up to two weeks for men. Andrea Leadsom described proxy voting as being “vital for both the physical and mental well-being of parents and babies”.
The Procedures Committee published a report in May 2018 which examined the implementation of proxy voting for baby leave, with recommendations of when such voting would be allowed for, and when it should not be allowed, for example in a motion calling for an early general election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.
Speaking during the Urgent Question, Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said “proxy voting is only one aspect of modernising this, frankly, prehistoric workplace” and that change in this area “is far too slow and fragmented”.
The tabling of the motion comes after a return for demands for greater provisions for expecting and new parents, after Tulip Siddiq delayed her son’s birth in order to vote in last week’s meaningful vote and no confidence motion.