Clause 1 - Payment of maternity allowance: Ministerial office

Part of Ministerial and other Maternal Allowances Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 11th February 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee 3:15 pm, 11th February 2021

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way and congratulate her on her happy news. I have had the interesting experience of having three children: as a councillor, where I took six months’ leave; as a member of the London Assembly, where I was the first then to take six months’ leave; and as a Minister and a Member of this House, where I took six months’ leave. It can be done, but there is an important element to consider.

Proxy voting, for example, which has an important role to play, can be seen to tether a woman to her job during her six months’ maternity leave and make sure that she has to follow every twist and turn of her job. We need to be careful in this debate that, while, of course, this Bill is a good move and while there are still many other measures that need to be put in place, we reflect and recognise that maternity leave is there for a reason. It is there so that we can bond with and nurture our child and come back to work at the point that we are ready to do so, with our child and our situation in a good place. It is important to make sure that, with some of the mechanisms that could be proposed, we are not unnecessarily tethering a woman to her job.