At its meeting on 13 February the Services Committee approved in principle the provision of child care facilities for Members, their staff and staff of the House. The House of Commons Commission has agreed that an examination should now take place to identify what accommodation could be allocated for that purpose and has instructed that further steps should be set in train to determine the likely costs and other financial implications. Once these are known, a survey of potential demand will be undertaken and a final decision taken on whether to proceed.
I welcome the very belated decision of the Services Committee to agree in principle to the provision of child-care facilities. The hon. Gentleman will recall a feasibility study which indicated that there was not the necessary political will to provide a crèche. Can we be assured that that is no longer the case and that all existing accommodation will be scrutinised? The matter should not be left for the phase 2 programme some time in the next century. Staff members and their trade unions are asking whether the hon. Gentleman is serious about the provision of a crèche, or whether he is just toying with the idea.
I am certainly in favour of the House proceeding quickly to the establishment of these facilities. However, the Services Committee is responsible for seeing whether, in our very crowded building, suitable accommodation can be found in advance of phase 2. Obviously that is important if rapid progress is to be made.