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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 18:18 GMT
MSP in Holyrood creche campaign
Children in parliament foyer
The parliament is intended to be family-friendly
An MSP has called for Holyrood's creche to be opened up to the hundreds of people working in the building.

The use of the Scottish Parliament facility has been restricted to the children of visitors.

An average of three children have been placed in the creche each day, despite space for 25 youngsters and an expected daily uptake of 10.

With the future of the facility under consideration, Green MSP Shiona Baird has called for wider use.

The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) has been considering reducing the size of the creche, which was hailed as a first in Europe when the Holyrood complex opened.

Ms Baird has put forward a motion calling on the SPCB to establish the childcare needs of MSPs, staff and visitors.

Our facility was designed with public use in mind and has a maximum stay of three hours with the service designed to entertain rather than educate children
Scottish Parliament spokeswoman

Her motion has been backed by more than 20 MSPs and states that the creche has an important part to play in upholding principles of equal opportunities, accessibility and openness.

A Scottish Greens spokeswoman said: "There are valid concerns that a decision on the future of the creche is being made without solid information on the scale of demand for the facility and what kind of service the creche should offer.

"Before rushing to close the facility, surely we should ask how we can make it more accessible and available and more likely to meet the needs of visitors, staff and MSPs.

"We ask that existing and potential users are canvassed on their needs, that best practice is aspired to and that any decisions taken are evidence-based."

Voucher system

A parliament spokeswoman said: "The parliament offers a creche facility and not a nursery.

"Our facility was designed with public use in mind and has a maximum stay of three hours with the service designed to entertain rather than educate children.

"Quite separately, for MSPs, their staff and parliament staff, the parliament's voucher system provides an equitable way of supporting an element of childcare provision close to the family home, wherever in Scotland that might be.

Advisory group

"This is offered as a direct alternative to a workplace nursery."

However, the SPCB later said it had agreed to set up an advisory group featuring representatives of staff, MSPs, creche staff and potential users.

The group will consider all options for "maximising the opportunities offered by the parliament's public creche facility".

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