Is Parliament family friendly?

 

westminsterAs David Cameron commits to making Britain 'the most family friendly country in Europe', we asked MPs if Parliament had got its own house in order.

In our survey of MPs, over a quarter said the stresses placed on their family have resulted in them considering quitting as an MP, nearly two-thirds say being an MP has had a negative impact on their family and more than nine in 10 believe Parliament is not family friendly.

MPs were clear that the lack of a family-friendly attitude in Parliament had a serious impact on their family lives:

  • "I have a two-year-old daughter and no one cares if I don't see her."
  • "I never saw my children grow up and I'll regret this to the day I die."
  • "It is a hideous stress on your family, I work 360 days a year, the BlackBerry never stops buzzing."
  • "I am newly elected and cannot see how I can keep this up for the next four years without damaging my family relationships."

To help address Parliament's family-friendly deficit, half of respondents advocated regular recess dates, almost half wanted to end late-night voting and a quarter believed childcare should be subsidised.

But MPs were united in opposition to the idea of an MP jobshare, with three-quarters rejecting the idea.

To cope with life in Parliament, MPs reported moving house, moving their childrens' schools, relying on partners to give up work and even divorcing.

MPs' advice to new and aspiring MPs included:

  • "Don't become an MP too early, enjoy the family first."
  • "Make sure you make time for your family. It's easy to let the job take over but to be a good MP you do have to retain a good work and family life balance"
  • "Don't be embarrassed to say that you are a putting your family first. Help change the culture of politics."
"If we want legislation that reflects the needs of families, it seems fair we allow MPs to live as families. The country could waste a lot of talent if we give in to the viewpoint that Parliament is no place for a parent with young kids" Justine Roberts


This research forms part of Mumsnet's ongoing Family Friendly programme. Mumsnet is working with employers, businesses and those in charge to ensure families get the support and help they need to make life easier for parents and make sure Britain is one of the best places to raise a family.

We shall pass a full set of results to the Speaker's office and all relevant Parliamentary Committees.

 

To what extent would you describe the job of an MP as being family friendly?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Completely family friendly 1% 1
Quite family friendly 6% 6
Not very family friendly 33% 33
Not at all family friendly 58% 59
Don't know/ not stated 2% 2
answered question 83 101
Net Family friendly 7% 7
Net not family friendly 91% 92
     
What improvements do you think parliament could do to be more family friendly? Tick all that apply
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
End late night voting 47% 47
Subsidise childcare 26% 26
Regular recess dates 50% 51
Other/ not stated 60% 61
answered question   101
     
Would you say that going into or being in Parliament has had a positive or negative impact on your family life on balance?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Largely positive 7% 7
Somewhat positive 16% 16
Somewhat negative 37% 37
Largely negative 25% 25
Don't know/ not stated 16% 16
answered question   101
     
Would you say stresses placed on your family as a result of you being an MP have ever made you consider quitting?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Not applicable/ not stated 14% 14
No 58% 59
Yes - please feel free to provide details... 28% 28
answered question   101
     
Would you say the selection process for you to become an MP was ‘family friendly' or not?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 50% 51
No 35% 35
No response 15% 15
answered question   101
     
To what extent, if at all, would you support or oppose the idea of an MP job share? (Two MPs from the same party seek election and represent a seat as a job share).
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly support 6% 6
Tend to support 10% 10
Tend to oppose 17% 17
Strongly oppose 58% 59
Don't know 9% 9
answered question   101
Net support 16% 16
Net oppose 75% 76
     
 What age(s) are your children, if you have any? Tick all that apply
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Under 5 17% 17
5-10 22% 22
11-15 11% 11
16-21 25% 25
22+ 35% 35
No children 20% 20
Not stated 7% 7
answered question   101

 

Last updated: 03-Nov-2011 at 12:13 PM