Parliamentary Standards Authority debate
Eleanor Laing underlines the importance of having a legislature that broadly reflects the people who they represent, in particular allowing MPs with families to balance their parliamentary duties with family duties.
Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest) (Con): I welcome today’s statement. Does the right hon. and learned Lady agree that if it is really our intention to have here a legislature that is broadly reflective of the people whom we seek to represent, it must be made clear and taken into consideration that this is not a gentleman’s club, and that many Members have to balance their parliamentary and constituency duties with their family duties? That applies not only to those of us who are mothers of small children but to those with other family duties.
It has been very upsetting to read in the press the great idea that we could all live in barracks in London. I ask the House to take into consideration where we will put our children and when we will have time to see them. If we want to have a legislature that really reflects the people, it must reflect families. The financial arrangements must therefore reflect the need for some of us to undertake family duties as well as parliamentary and constituency duties.
Ms Harman: The hon. Lady has added another principle to the list that I suggest we all adhere to. We must not just be a millionaires’ Parliament, and we must respect the constituency link and have good professional offices. Also, this should not just be a Parliament of single people who either have never had families or whose families have grown up. The insight that hon. Members bring of struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, and of caring for older relatives and younger children, helps to shape public policy and helps us understand the lives of people in this country. I would definitely adopt the principle that she has put forward.