Clause 1 - Payment of maternity allowance: Ministerial office

Part of Ministerial and other Maternal Allowances Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 11th February 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow 3:30 pm, 11th February 2021

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for sharing her experience. I think that speaks to the challenge of this legislation, in terms of the impact it will have in this place by setting up a two-tier system. For a member of the Cabinet or a Minister, it will now be clear what will happen and what their rights are. They can be confident and relaxed. I return to the honesty of my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield North in talking about how scared and worried she was and about the lack of clarity in the lack of parity on these issues, so that she felt she would be put at risk of people saying she was not pulling her weight or would not be able to support her constituents, or that she would be dragged back into work. We have a duty of responsibility and care to her, because she is in the same position as me, but a bit further on.

I want to be clear that this legislation recognises the Minister’s absolute right to a family life. That is an article 8 human right, and we need to protect that. We need to act to ensure that no one is discriminated against in that regard. The lawyers I have consulted tell me that it is arguable that this legislation breaches the human rights of those of us who are not covered by it but who are in the same position in seeking to do a job in this place, because article 14 says that we should not be discriminated against in terms of the rights that are accrued in the workplace. So for me, there is an arguable case here.

I do not want to be in the position of taking the Government to court. Frankly, I want to be in the position, especially now in the early stages of pregnancy, of being able to sit down and sleep for hours on end, and in later pregnancy probably just to sit down in general, but I know that it is vital for my constituents to have clarity about who will be covering the role that I do. The previous locum I had was fantastic, but we had to write the job description. We had to sort it out. In comparison to what the Attorney General and any other Minister will have, that is not parity. It is a form of direct discrimination because it affects the ability to have family life. I have been very clear with the Minister—