There are no current plans for a crèche, but if there is an unmet need or demand, this can be looked at again. Members’ staff and staff of the House are eligible for child care vouchers. The Members Estimate Committee has recently considered extending the voucher scheme to Members, and will return to the subject shortly.
Will the hon. Gentleman talk to the Commission about undertaking a survey of staff and Members to establish whether there is a demand for a crèche? Also, as an immediate measure, would it not be possible for staff and Members to be able to pay to use nearby departmental crèches as and when the need arises, given the nature of their jobs?
I am sure that the possibility of using nearby departmental facilities could be investigated. I will refer the hon. Lady’s remarks about having a more general survey to the Administration Committee. A survey was conducted in 2003, which led to the conclusion that it was more convenient, particularly for members of staff, to have child care vouchers that did not have to be redeemed here at Westminster, but which could be used nearer to where they lived, such as in outer London boroughs—or, indeed, in the constituencies, because Members’ constituency staff are eligible for the vouchers and can redeem them in the constituencies.