HOLYROOD’s Presiding Officer has confirmed he would support any MSP who wanted to breastfeed in the Scottish Parliament chamber.

Ken Macintosh was responding to a letter from the Standards Committee on whether the Parliament's standing orders are sensitive to diversity.

A growing number of legislatures across the world are allowing mothers to feed their babies in debating chambers.

Larissa Waters, a Green MP in Australia, addressed colleagues in 2017 while feeding her 14 month old baby, Alia Joy. In Canada, Liberal MP Karina Gould breast-fed her three month old son during a debate on legalising recreational marijuana.

In Scotland, following a Bill introduced by Labour MSP Elaine Smith, Holyrood passed legislation making it illegal to bar women from breastfeeding their babies in public.

However, it is understood the definition of “public place” in the legislation makes it unclear whether the MSPs’ chamber is covered by the provisions.

SNP MSP Bill Kidd, who is the convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) committee, wrote to Macintosh in December about a recommendations of a commission on parliamentary reform which the Presiding Officer had set up.

He wrote: "The Committee…..agreed that it was important that there should be specific provision to ensure that Members with childcare responsibilities, particularly nursing mothers, were able to participate in Chamber business.

“I would therefore be grateful if you would give consideration to Members being allowed to breastfeed in the Chamber should the need arise.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The Presiding Officer is responsible for MSPs’ conduct in the Chamber. He has indicated that, although the situation has yet to arise, he would always support any mother who wished to breastfeed in the Chamber.”

The move is expected to build on Holyrood’s family-friendly working hours, which were introduced when the Parliament was created in 1999.

However, although the Parliament was commended for this approach, other aspects of its operation are believed to be in need of reform.

The Committee also told the Presiding Officer there should be “sufficient flexibility” in how MSPs can use the Holyrood creche, in order to “facilitate their participation in parliamentary business”.

By contrast, MPs are not permitted to breastfeed in the House of Commons debating chamber, a ban that angers parliamentarians.

Westminster’s long hours also infuriate campaigners who believe the working practices do not reflect the needs of the twenty-first century.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, who was heavily pregnant at the time, was last month pushed through parliament in a wheelchair so she could vote on Brexit.

MPs who cannot go through the Commons division lobby because they are ill or have a small child with them can be “nodded through”, which means their vote is still counted if they are on the parliamentary estate.

Smith said: “I welcome this clarification from the Presiding Officer, as it is extremely important mums are able to breastfeed whenever and wherever they want. We must turn around breastfeeding rates.”