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.

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

I do not want to test the patience of the Chair of the Committee by going into what the different schemes might be.

The point we are making here is about parity, and the lack of parity as a result of bringing in this system. If we have clarity on the cover for the Attorney General and clarity about the amount of money that will be paid, it would be right to look at whether we should offer the same thing for Back-Bench MPs, and indeed set the standard for local government and the regional Assemblies, perhaps offering to work with them in terms of our experience.

My simple point is that this legislation blows a hole in the argument that has been given for the past two years that we could not look at these issues because it was all too complicated. As the Paymaster General set out earlier, the complications around ministerial employment have been overcome in a day because of the guillotine of having a clear deadline set by one Member of Parliament. One of the challenges that has created for some of the drafting is that this maternity right is following not the person who might be pregnant but the position that they hold.

My argument is that there is direct discrimination in this place because this says to my constituents that they are not as important. I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch was able to get cover, and I know that Kizzy, my locum, was invaluable for my community in ensuring that they got 100% of the service 100% of the time. I believe the residents of Walthamstow are owed that. That is why I will continue to fight for this, but I also recognise that it is for every MP to make that decision for themselves. The point is that we are now making sure that that decision can be made, but only by a select few. That has an equalities impact, and we should know that and recognise its impact on public life.