Pregnant MP Tulip Siddiq ‘told she was bringing down the whole of womankind’ by taking a comfort break
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Heavily pregnant Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq was admonished for breaking Parliamentary procedure by leaving a debate to eat, it has been claimed.
Tory Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing reportedly told Labour member Ms Siddiq that she had “made women look bad” for leaving the Chamber shortly after she made a speech during Wednesday’s debate on Universal Credit.
The Deputy Speaker also allegedly said that Ms Siddiq was “bringing down the whole of womankind” and told her: “Do not play the pregnancy card with me”.
Ms Siddiq’s office confirmed that the incident had taken place and that the language being reported was correct.
Hansard, the official record documenting what is said in Parliament, shows that Ms Siddiq made her speech at 2,30pm. She had arrived in the Chamber at 12.30pm, and left at around 2.45pm.
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After she left, Mrs Laing, who was chairing the debate, said: “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.”
The seven months pregnant MP was absent from her place for around 45 minutes, and was called over to the Chair by Mrs Laing when she returned, where the exchange took place off the Parliamentary record but within the hearing of other MPs.
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Ms Siddiq apologised, but this apparently failed to satisfy an annoyed Mrs Laing, who allegedly told her: “People will think that women can’t follow the conventions of the House because they’re pregnant.”
Mrs Laing is a former Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, has one son, and campaigned to become Deputy Speaker saying she would help to make the hours in Parliament more family-friendly.
The spokesman from Ms Siddiq’s office said that she was not intending to make an official complaint, although some outraged MPs had apparently urged her to do so.
He added that Ms Siddiq was putting her energy into campaigning for more flexible Parliamentary practices, and is tabling an Early Day Motion to allow proxy voting for MPs on maternity or paternity leave.
Speaking to the Ham&High late last year, Ms Siddiq said: “Although things have improved in recent years, Parliament still has some way to go to become family friendly.”