May signals support for rethink of MPs’ maternity leave

Theresa May has signalled her support for a potential rethink of parliamentary rules over maternity leave after pregnant MP Stella Creasy admitted feeling forced to choose between “being an MP and being a mum”.

Labour backbencher Stella Creasy. Picture: PA

The Labour MP for Wal­thamstow said the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which regulates MPs’ pay, does not recognise that MPs go on maternity leave and does not provide for any paid cover for work carried out outside the parliamentary chamber.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “No-one should have to choose between being a mum and being an MP.

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“While Parliament has made positive changes to becoming more family friendly in recent years, such as introducing proxy voting and changing sitting hours, Stella Creasy’s comments highlight that there is much more to do.

“It is ultimately up to the independent Ipsa to make decisions on pay and allowances for MPs but the Prime Minister would urge them to look very closely at the issues that have been raised by Stella Creasy and determine what more support, such as temporary staffing, can be provided.”

Ms Creasy, who is expecting her first child after having had two previous miscarriages, wrote in the Guardian: “Humiliatingly, it is making me beg for extra staff funding – or give up any chance of spending time with my child to make sure my constituents don’t miss out.”

She added: “I never thought parliament would tell me to choose between being an MP and being a mum.”

There were widespread congratulations and support for Ms Creasy’s call for a change, including backing from Conservative leadership hopefuls who want to succeed Mrs May as prime minister.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: “Incredibly moving from @stellacreasy and impossible to argue with her logic. Insidious to force MPs to choose between serving their constituents and spending precious time with their newborn. Come on Ipsa, do the right thing.”

Deputy Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson described Ms Creasy as “fearless and formidable”, adding: “I don’t fancy Ipsa’s chances defending their outdated position against your campaigning force.”