Children of MPs to be cared for in Parliament’s first crèche
MPs taking part in late night Commons' votes will be able to drop their children off to be cared for in a purpose-built £400,000 crèche from September.
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent, The Telegraph
Published: 4:18PM GMT 15 Dec 2009
Under plans to be announced shortly, the House of Commons will for the first time offer a flexible "short-term, short-notice" child minding service on the Parliamentary estate.
The children of secretaries, civil servants, police officers and other pass holders working in the Commons will also be entitled to use the nursery facilities from the start of the new school year.
Building projects elsewhere in Parliament, including the replacement of the lead roof of the main Commons building, are being cancelled or delayed to pay for the cost of the new crèche, which is likely to be housed in the modern Portcullis House building where many MPs have offices.
Parents will pay around £10 an hour to use the service, roughly the same as the average rate in central London.
The crèche was approved by the House of Commons Commission, a group of senior MPs, and is said to be a “pet project” of John Bercow, the Speaker.
A spokesman said that the running costs would be “cash neutral,” with no extra cost to the taxpayer, and that the aim was for the nursery to eventually be run at a profit. The Commission estimated that between 30 and 50 children would be cared for at any one time in the crèche, although it was impossible to make accurate predictions due to the high number of new MPs due to join the Commons after next year’s general election. A spokesman for Mr Bercow said: “At least 120 MPs have already said that they will stand down, and more are likely to follow.
“Whatever the overall result of the election, it is inevitable that MPs will lose their seats on top of that.
“While it is not possible to ask candidates whether they have children and would find a crèche useful, the fact is that the new intake will certainly be younger than those they are replacing. “Many of them will have young children, suggesting that this is a service they would appreciate. “A number of these new MPs will come from the world of business, where crèche facilities come as standard, and will expect this kind of facility to be available in a modern workplace.”
A source added: “There is a hairdresser, travel agent, post offices and numerous restaurants and bars in the Commons, it makes sense that there should also be a crèche.” The source said that the aim was that MPs would be able to contact nursery staff at short notice if they needed someone to care for their child. An MP would be expected to pay around £300 a week to have their child cared for for six hours a day, although the spokesman said that may Commons passholders were part time workers who would use the nursery less than that.