The government has agreed to change the wording of a bill that allows ministers to take maternity leave, so that it uses the term “mother” and not “person.” The bill was introduced in time for Attorney General Suella Braverman, who is expecting her second child, to take maternity leave this year.
As the law stands, she’d have to resign if she needed time off after giving birth. The Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill will when passed, give ministers up to six months paid leave with full pay.
The Bill has already been passed by The House of Commons, but The House of Lords sent it back down, demanding that the word “person” be replaced with “mother.” In a debate on the wording of the Bill yesterday, Cabinet Office minister Lord True said that the government “recognised the strength of feeling” on the use of language in the Bill and would change its mind.
The government had been accused of “erasing women” in the wording of the Bill. Tory peer Baroness Noakes dismissed as “garbage” claims that the word women could not be used in the legislation for inclusivity reasons.
During the Bills second reading, she put down an amendment expressing regret at its drafting which she said, “does not respect the fact that only women can be pregnant.”
She went on to say that; “It is a biological fact that only women can be pregnant and give birth. That is why laws that relate to maternity issues have in the past routinely been drafted using the words woman, she and her.”