On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. During the urgent question on proxy voting and baby leave, I saw you standing behind the Speaker’s Chair, taking a keen interest in the announcement that the House was moving forward in the matter. Was that out of personal interest, or the wider interests of the House and its Members?
That is the most interesting point of order I have ever been asked in my life, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for asking it. First of all, he is absolutely right in having noticed my presence in the Chamber—of course I cannot sit on the Benches when Mr Speaker is in the Chair, but a very important matter was being discussed.
I should make it absolutely clear that my personal interest in proxy voting or baby leave is historical. That is probably rather obvious, but it as well to make the point. I am one of those who dealt with giving birth to my son when there was no such helpful support from the House, the House authorities or anyone else for that matter. I therefore have every sympathy with those who are going through such matters at present. My son was born one week after the 2001 general election, and that was not easy to navigate, because there is no such thing as maternity leave on election day.
The hon. Gentleman was right in the latter part of his point—my interest now is general. It is very important that we make this House work as a reflection of the society that we represent throughout the whole country. That means understanding that producing the next generation is an important and necessary duty, which has to be done by women at the same time as they are doing other things. I am very grateful to him for having noticed my presence, because I thought I was invisible. I should say, while I am waxing lyrical, which I should not be from the Chair, that the hon. Gentleman and his Committee have done a wonderful piece of work on this important matter.
I apologise for the delay. We now come to the petition.