An MP who was wheeled into the Commons to vote on Theresa’s May’s Brexit deal after postponing a Caesarean section, has welcomed plans to allow new parents to nominate other members to vote on their behalf.
Labour MP and new mother Tulip Siddiq said a one-year trial of proxy voting for new mothers and fathers in the House of Commons was a “momentous and overdue” change.
MPs will have the chance to approve the pilot on Monday January 28.
Ms Siddiq was pushed into Parliament in a wheelchair two days before she gave birth so she could vote on the Brexit deal on January 15.
The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn described the trial as a "momentous (and overdue) change".
The move was welcomed by other MPs, with Labour's Jess Phillips pledging to unleash a "feminist army" on anyone who sought to block the proposals based on their "patriarchal, paternalistic, draconian, old-fashioned sensibilities".
Mother of the House, Labour's Harriet Harman said while it was "31 years too late" for her she was "absolutely delighted" by the "really important" move.
Responding to an urgent question, tabled by Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said: “I absolutely assure the House, I am absolutely committed to making progress on the issue of proxy voting and I am truly delighted to be able to confirm to the House today that a substantive motion on proxy leave in the case of maternity, paternity and adoption has been tabled today for the House’s agreement on Monday 28 January.”
Ms Siddiq tweeted as she held newborn Raphael on Tuesday: “Watching the Urgent Question with Raphael who, at just six days old, is delighted to have been mentioned in Hansard, due to the historic introduction of #ProxyVoting in the House of Commons.
“A really momentous (and overdue) change that I welcome.
“I first raised #ProxyVoting after my election in 2015 (see EDM) and was told: ‘don’t try and change rules in the Commons, nothing will change’.
“Well today the rules have changed and new parents will soon be able to cast votes for their constituents.”
In the Commons, Ms Swinson (East Dunbartonshire), said she welcomed the "overdue" move.
She said: “It’s shameful that last week (Tulip Siddiq) was put in the invidious position of having to try to make a choice between potential health risks to her baby and whether or not her constituents could have their voice heard on the biggest issue of our time. Nobody should be put in that position.”
She described the accusation from Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) that Ms Siddiq had delayed her Caesarean unnecessarily to “make a point” on Brexit, as "disgusting.
Ms Swinson said: “She was put in an impossible position and she made a choice and the judgment that comes from all corners to parents making choices like this and all sorts of others is out of order and I think we should respect the choice she made.”
She pointed out that she herself had been the victim of outdated Commons rules to deal with MPs who cannot be physically present to vote, with only a “pairing” system relying on trusting opposition MPs to abstain on votes.
Ms Harman added: "I too was Leader of the House and failed to get this through, so whoever succeeds in these long decades of progress, these baby steps into the 21st century, all power to your elbow."