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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 24 November 2021

Before we start today’s business, I want to say something about the presence of babies and very young children in this Chamber and the parallel Chamber, Westminster Hall.

It is extremely important that parents of babies and young children are able to participate fully in the work of this House. That is why, to give one example, we have a nursery. The advice given yesterday to the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) on the authority of the Chairman of Ways and Means, of which I was not aware until last night, correctly reflects the current rules. However, rules have to be seen in context and they change with the times.

This House has to be able to function professionally and without disturbance. However, sometimes there may be occasions when the Chair can exercise discretion, assuming that the business is not being disturbed. I accept that there are differing views on this matter. Indeed, hon. Members who have babies have contacted me with a range of views.

There are also likely to be some consequential matters. Therefore, I have asked the Chair of the Procedure Committee, the right hon. Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), if she and her Committee will look into this matter and bring forward recommendations, which will ultimately be for the House to take a view on.

Thank you. I am taking no points of order on this.