Maternity Allowances Bill
A long time in the virtual chamber today, dealing with the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill. Basically, the Attorney General is due to have a baby very soon, and there was no provision for maternity leave for a Government Minister in place. Obviously that's not good enough, and although I put forward a number of amendments designed to improve the bill, and crucially, to use the bill to progress improvements more broadly, I did not push them, and the Bill went through. That is fine, given she will have her baby pretty soon.
However, if there is the ability to press through a bill with this great haste, then the whole issue of maternity, pregnancy, paternity and parental leave, surrogacy, adoption, and all the issues which surround young families and parents can also be examined and they bear close examination.
The group 'Pregnant and Screwed' noted that of women they surveyed last summer, over 60% believed their pregnancy or maternity had contributed to their redundancy. That's all the more concerning in these Covid times when work is more precarious, and family responsibilities more challenging.
And there is the issue of pay - Among OECD countries, the UK ranks very poorly on how it deals with maternity, with the second lowest payment rates for maternity leave, with less than one-third of gross average earnings replaced by maternity payments.
On all this, we can and must see action from the UK Government. And if that action is possible in one case, it's surely possible to have the same focus on making things better for all.