Scottish Parliament needs to reopen its creche for the sake of democracy – Angus Robertson MSP
When the Scottish Parliament re-opened in 1999, it was designed to be as family friendly a parliament as possible.
Learning from Westminster where votes can occasionally go on past midnight, this meant votes finishing at a reasonable hour, and provision for care of children when their parents were working, be that giving evidence to a committee, partaking in a debate as an MSP, or simply visiting the parliament as a member of the public.
It is particularly disappointing that the parliamentary crèche – billed as the first in any European parliament – has not been open for many months, even when Covid restrictions have allowed. Now, due to cost-saving, it is unsure that it will open again.
Plainly, this goes against a vitally important core aim of the parliament to be family friendly. If parents cannot place their children in care while in parliament, many will not be able to do the work at all.
This potentially means losing expert witnesses to committees, putting off parents from running for parliament and preventing members of the public from accessing parliament – as is their right. More seriously, this would be a loss to our democracy and the country.
The Scottish Parliament should remain true to its principles as a family-friendly legislature. We need to explore all options to not only keep the creche open, but to expand its provision of care, so that we can continue to have a family-friendly parliament.
Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary