Babies In Parliament: Infants Allowed In House Of Commons

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OTTAWA - The Speaker of the House of Commons has ruled that MPs are allowed to bring their infants into the chamber provided they don't disrupt proceedings.

The ruling followed last week's case of the bounced baby, where a New Democrat MP brought her infant son into the House before a vote and mistakenly thought she was being told it wasn't allowed.

In fact, Speaker Andrew Scheer was concerned about MPs taking pictures of the child as cameras aren't allowed.

But the incident prompted MPs to ask for clarification around the rules involving children in the Commons.

As the parent of four children under the age of seven, Scheer said he's sensitive to the issues faced by MPs trying to balance work and home lives.

He says while votes are scheduled so far in advance that MPs should be able to make alternate child-care arrangements, he knows that isn't always possible.

"Plans sometimes fail. When that happens members may find themselves in a difficult position," he told the House.

"In such cases, provided there is no particular type of disruption or disturbance, the Speaker's attention will likely not be drawn to the situation and the work of the House can proceed as usual."

Scheer noted the number of young MPs in the Commons and suggested it might be time for a broader review of the issue at the committee currently reviewing House of Commons procedure.

He also suggested that when MPs have concerns about behaviour in the Commons, they raise the issue with him first and not go straight to the news media.

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