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.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow 3:15 pm, 11th February 2021

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. The challenge that she is speaking to is the same as the one that Jim Shannon spoke to with regard to his member of staff. The Bill is not just about pay, but actual cover. As I said earlier, it is the commitment that the current Attorney General will not get an immediate phone call saying, “We know you are on leave, but we need you because of X.” Somebody else will be formally overseeing that role.

It is not by accident that when I was pregnant, I thought about what I wanted to do for my community. It was not about money, but about being conscious that if I had been awake for two or three hours at a time, I probably would not be as useful to my constituents as someone who could focus fully on the job. As I discovered with my first child, those pockets of sleep for two-and-a-half to three hours—the point at which I saw coffee as a medicinal substance to keep going—were in the first few weeks and months after childbirth.

It is absolutely right that we work to protect the family life of any woman giving birth, so that she has that time to bond with her child and to properly take time out, but we cannot do that in this job if there is nobody fulfilling the role that we are doing. It is the same for a local councillor and the same in our Assemblies. That is the challenge that we are facing here, and why it is so important that we assess the impact of this legislation.