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Day Nursery

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

26. Whether the Finance and Services Committee has advised the House of Commons Commission on the cost of establishing a day nursery. (321532)

The Commission considered it important to have the nursery facility operating early in the new Parliament, before new Members had made other child care arrangements. This is a challenging time scale, and in view of the time constraints the Commission decided it was not feasible to consult the FSC for appraisal in the usual way.

But under Standing Order No. 144, the Finance and Services Committee should have been consulted, and is it not correct that the Chairman of the Commission knows that the project is not a good use of resources, is a reckless waste of taxpayers’ money, and would never have been approved by the FSC? Is that not the reason why it was never referred to that Committee, and will he ensure that it now is?

There would be no question whatever of the Commission proceeding with something that it considered reckless or a waste of public money. Competitive tendering will be undertaken for the contracting of works and for running the nursery, and a significant proportion of the work paid for by the money that has been referred to as having been spent on Bellamy’s bar over the past couple of years will be reused in the new scheme.

May I press the hon. Gentleman on the answer he gave my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope)? Given that the hon. Gentleman attended the meeting of the Commission, can he tell the House which member of the Commission expressly voiced the opinion that the matter would not be put before the Finance and Services Committee—because it was known that Committee was not very happy with the proposal and the cost?

No, the decision not to refer the matter to the Finance and Services Committee was simply one of timing, because we wanted to make the facility available early in the new Parliament.

Now we come to the business question—[Interruption.] Order. The hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) should calm himself—he has the weekend ahead, which he can enjoy—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should calm himself.