Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Committee express disappointment at Government response to its report on impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave
Today, the Government gave their response to the Petitions Committee’s landmark report on the impact of COVID-19 on maternity and parental leave.
The report was the result of an extensive inquiry following an e-petition calling for the Government to extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of Covid-19 which received over 226,000 signatures. The Committee also received over 69,000 responses to its online surveys and Facebook posts which were run to explore the extent and impact of the pandemic on new parents.
The inquiry involved new parents, mental health and psychology experts, and representatives from the childcare sector. The investigation revealed an urgent need for the Government to review how new parents are supported, after almost a quarter of a million petitioners raised concerns about the pandemic’s dangerous impact on their children’s development and their own mental health.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s response rejects most of the recommendations of the Petitions Committee, stating “we believe that, for the vast majority of parents, the current arrangements have been sufficiently generous to cater for the variety of circumstances that new parents have found themselves in as a result of the pandemic.”
The Government did however agree to the Committee’s recommendation to provide an update on their discussions with the baby group sector, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicated they were happy to host a meeting with groups in this sector to better understand how they can be supported to help parents return to work – particularly when parents have experienced mental health issues as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown.
Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, said:
“I am extremely disappointed at the Government’s reply to this report and their response to understandably anxious mothers and fathers across the country on this issue.
“In this response, the Government have not only outright rejected a plea for maternity leave to be extended amidst the pandemic, but have also turned down a whole range of entirely reasonable, and detailed, proposals that would have lessened the impact of this terrible pandemic on new parents.
“The notion that current Government support to new parents during the pandemic is sufficient, when a quarter of a million people affected have signed this parliamentary petition, ignores the distressing reality expressed by many.
“This response simply fails to follow the science, and will come as a hammer blow to new parents across the country who need real targeted support now.
“The Petitions Committee will now push for a debate on this issue as soon as possible. Members from across the House can put their concerns on this matter directly to the Government on behalf of petitioners.”
There have been extremely limited opportunities for petitions that have each received more than 100,000 signatures to be debated by MPs, since the House of Commons decided to close Westminster Hall due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Committee has continued to hold the Government to account through virtual sessions, extensive surveys and public engagement, and correspondence.
With the Government intending to restore socially-distanced Westminster Hall debates in October, the Petitions Committee will schedule a debate on petitions requesting that maternity and parental leave be extended due to Covid-19 as a matter of urgency.
- Contact your MP and tell them why this is important to you
- Sign or start a petition
- Follow the Committee on Twitter
Latest News from
Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Agrifood and the Northern Ireland Protocol Government response18/09/2020 15:33:00
The EU Environment Sub-Committee writes again to Secretary of State George Eustice regarding implementation issues for Northern Ireland agrifood under the Protocol.
Committee on Standards publishes report on the conduct of David Morris MP18/09/2020 11:38:00
The Committee is grateful to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for her inquiry, which was undertaken following a complaint that Mr Morris had breached the paid advocacy rule when he asked a Topical Question and sent a follow up email to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Committee reports on Brexit financial settlement, 2021 fishing quotas, and EU energy strategy17/09/2020 15:33:00
In its latest report, the European Scrutiny Committee considers recent draft EU legislation and policy documents deposited in Parliament by the Government.
PAC condemns “badly missed” target to make thousands of Grenfell-style cladding homes safe17/09/2020 11:43:00
Three years after the Grenfell Tower disaster in which 72 people lost their lives, only a third (155 out of 455) of high-rise buildings with Grenfell-style flammable cladding due to be fixed by now have had their cladding replaced with a safe alternative.
Committee launches new inquiry on Xinjiang Detention Camps17/09/2020 09:33:00
The Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday launched an inquiry into the Xinjiang detention camps.
MPs to present concerns to Ministers on support for households during COVID-1916/09/2020 15:33:00
On Thursday 17 September, the Petitions Committee will hold a hybrid e-petitions session to put concerns to Ministers on support for households during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chair comment's on yesterday’s publication of BBC Group Annual Report and Accounts 2019/2016/09/2020 12:33:00
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP yesterday commented on the publication of BBC Group Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20
Insurance ruling provides “hope” for businesses disrupted by coronavirus16/09/2020 10:33:00
On 1 May 2020 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that it intended ‘to seek legal clarity on business interruption insurance to resolve doubt for businesses who are facing uncertainty on their claims.’