In a new blow to Parliamentary democracy, a British lawmaker was reprimanded Friday for bringing her newborn daughter into the chamber of parliament to vote.
Conservative party lawmaker Liz Truss, 42, told the BBC on Monday that “it was the first time she had been to vote in her life” and that she was “absolutely” fine with the rule, which is supposed to be used to prevent infants from disturbing parliamentary proceedings. Truss said that her daughter, Grace, had been a bit “out of it” on Monday night, so she had brought her into the chamber to encourage her to stay awake.
Truss is in the middle of her campaign to become Secretary of State for Justice, the post formerly held by Michael Gove, the Brexit-campaigning justice secretary who took over as Prime Minister Theresa May’s running mate in the wake of her leadership’s botched attempt to form a new government. As a lawmaker, Truss votes on every parliamentary matter and does not have any of the outside obligations of the prime minister.
Despite the fact that Truss had no idea that her action would draw criticism, two Conservatives members of parliament sharply criticized her behavior.
“It is not acceptable in parliament to take a baby to the House,” Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP, said. “When she leaves Parliament Grace will almost certainly never be able to watch what goes on here without being distracted.”
The Conservative MP Caroline Johnson said the lawmaker’s action “prejudiced the ballot,” noting that a lot of the work required to make the vote happen takes place in the last 15 minutes. She also asked why Truss could not have brought her daughter in at 5 p.m. or earlier, noting that “the presiding officer can’t bear to listen to the ringing of the bell for four hours.”