Liberal Democrat plans to improve parental leave would provide “much-needed support to families” and also boost the economy, the party’s Scottish deputy leader has insisted.

Wendy Chamberlain said the Lib Dems wanted to double the rate of statutory maternity pay, taking this to £350 a week.

But she also said the party had set out plans to increase paternity pay to 90% of a person’s earnings.

In addition, the Liberal Democrats would create a “dad month” of use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers, which would also be paid at 90% of earnings.

Parents would also be eligible for these benefits from day one of their employment under the plans, with the Lib Dems proposing to extend such rights to those who are self-employed.

Ms Chamberlain highlighted the party’s proposals as she campaigned in the Scottish capital with Edinburgh West candidate Christine Jardine.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader said: “Millions of parents are being denied the choice to spend more time at home during that all-important first year with their child because the UK still lags behind other countries on shared parental leave.

“Many mothers and fathers are being forced back to work early because they simply can’t afford to take more time off.

“Not only would our plans provide much-needed support to families, they would also boost our economy by driving down the gender pay gap and helping parents return to work if they want to.”

Ms Chamberlain added: “Our proposals would overhaul parental leave to offer families real flexibility, giving them a genuine choice over how to manage things in the first months of their child’s life.”