From the Editor - Is Parliament finally going to welcome children like Chloe’s?

Chloe Smith enters the House of Commons in London, holding her baby to support the Government in a v

Chloe Smith enters the House of Commons in London, holding her baby to support the Government in a vote on the European Union Bill. (Picture: PA) - Credit: PA

The following is a line us journalists don't get to write very often - so you might want to take a seat before you read it.

There were heart-warming scenes at the House of Commons this week.

Yes, that's right, heart-warming.

And what's more they involved one of Norwich's own members of parliament, Chloe Smith, as her baby Alastair made history to become the first infant of a Conservative MP to be taken into the House of Commons chamber.

It was heartening to see Parliament being so welcoming of the Norwich North MP and her child - because believe it or not that is one place of work with a reputation for being very behind the times when it comes to providing a welcoming environment for those with families to work.


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Yes, you read that right as well, even though we would expect this to be the one place that sets an example to the rest of the country and even though the right of parents to demand things like flexible working arrangements has been legislated for by parliament, it is widely regarded as one workplace where this does not apply.

Issues that have been raised by MPs, in particular female ones, around this include a failure to consider things like holidays when deciding upon recess periods, a failure to allow breastfeeding in the House of Commons chamber and sessions that drag on and on at times into the wee small hours of the morning.

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Perhaps that explains figures that were uncovered in 2012 which showed that at that time only 191 of the 650 MPs were women.

Meanwhile, 45pc of those women MPs were found to have no children, compared to 28pc of male MPs, and compared to an average of about 20pc of the population who remain childless.

There will be some who have little sympathy about this issue.

But surely if we expect MPs to represent as many different people as possible, the aims should be that the demographic is representative of as many types of people as possible?

I know from speaking to her that this is a frustration Mrs Smith herself feels and it will be interesting to see if that's something she actively tries to change now she has first-hand experience.

• If you have any news, views or feedback then please do drop me a line at david.powles@archant.co.uk

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