Heavily pregnant Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has been accused of ‘bringing down the whole of womankind’ after she left a debate on Universal Credit Welfare in the House of Commons after two hours to get something to eat.
Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing (pictured below) addressed the House as follows after she notice Ms. Siddiq’s absence:
I also remind the House, because perhaps newer Members have forgotten, having been away for Christmas, that if one makes a speech in the Chamber, it is courteous and required by the rules of the House that one stays in the Chamber certainly for the following speech and usually for at least two speeches thereafter. The people who have not done so today know who they are.
After Ms. Siddiq returned after a 45 minute absence, she was called over by Ms. Laing and the pair partook in an intense exchange. Despite apologising and explaining to Ms. Laing she was pregnant, Ms. Saddiq was accused of ‘playing the pregnancy card’ and ‘bringing down the whole of womankind’.
Following the conversation, Ms. Siddiq had the following to say:
The incident highlights how outdated conventions in the House of Commons are, particularly for those who are pregnant or have health problems.
My focus is now directed at trying to update older Parliamentary conventions.
On the subject of voting, for example, it is time that certain procedures in the House were brought into the 21st century for those with individual circumstances that require greater flexibility.
Just this week I tabled a cross-party Early Day Motion (920) to establish voting rights for MPs absent from Parliament due to maternity or paternity leave.
Elsewhere in society these matters would just be common sense, but it seems Parliament lags behind in correcting its standing orders and conventions that are in some cases literally centuries old.
I guess she’s got a point there. The House Of Commons refused to comment as an entity as they weren’t privy to the private conversation, but they did state that it was expected that after someone has spoken it was expected that they should stay for at least two speeches afterwards, unless granted special a brief leave of absence by the chair. Laing has refused to speak to anyone regarding the incident.
I suppose Ms. Saddiq didn’t do that and probably should know and follow the rules – especially with a structure that is so archaic and intent on following the rules – but again she does have a point about them being particularly archaic and stuck in the past. I guess it’s the age old debate in politics of conservatism v progression in a nutshell really isn’t it. I know which side I’m on.
Of course, it’s perfectly fine that there have been over 300,000 attempts to access porn within the Houses Of Parliament though. That’s perfectly within their rules.