E-Petitions: The impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave

On Monday 5 October, MPs will debate a petition calling on the Government to extend maternity leave and pay for 3 months in light of Covid-19. This debate will start at 4.30pm and will be opened by Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee.   This debate follows the Government’s response to the Petitions Committee’s report on its inquiry into this petition which made a number of recommendations to the Government.   Read the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/306691 Read a summary of the report: https://houseofcommons.shorthandstories.com/how-has-maternity-and-parental-leave-been-impacted-by-coronavirus-/index.html Read the Government’s response: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmpetitions/770/77002.htm   Why is this petition being debated?   The Petitions Committee has the power to schedule debates on e-petitions in the House of Commons Second Chamber, Westminster Hall.   In deciding which petitions should be debated, it takes into account how many people have signed the petition, the topicality of the issue raised, whether the issue has recently been debated in Parliament, and the breadth of interest among MPs.   What will the petition debate achieve?   Debates on petitions in Westminster Hall are general debates about the issues raised by the petition(s).   MPs can discuss the petition(s) and, if they wish, ask questions about the Government’s position on the issue or press the Government to take action.   A Government Minister takes part in the debate and responds to the points raised.   These debates help to raise the profile of a campaign and can influence decision-making in Government and Parliament.   Petition debates in Westminster Hall cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition.   Creating new laws, or changing existing ones, can only be done through the parliamentary legislative process which involves a number of debates, and detailed consideration of the law in draft, in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.   This process is normally started by the Government, although there are some ways in which individual MPs or members of the House of Lords who are not in the Government (known as “backbenchers”) can ask Parliament to consider new laws.