ANGUS Robertson has criticised the Scottish Parliament’s lack of available childcare as “intolerable” and called for better provisions to be put in place.

The Constitution Secretary, and dad-of-two, said that Holyrood bosses had failed to put forward “realistic or creative” solutions to support politicians with young children.

"It's 2023, not 1923," he told The Scotsman newspaper.

In response, a Scottish Parliament spokesperson said an “enhanced outdoor place space” was being created at the on-site creche in a bid to ease the current time restrictions in place.

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The Holyrood nursery previously had a four-hour per day restriction, but was changed to four hours per week when it reopened earlier this year following the pandemic.

Due to a lack of ready access to safe outdoor space, the Care Inspectorate said after a visit in 2021 that it would not grant Holyrood a licence to run an on-site nursery.

However, as part of Holyrood’s bid to ease the four-hour restriction, a visit is scheduled by the Care Inspectorate for next month to consider an application for a “registration variation”.

"Westminster has full nursery availability for parliamentarians and staff, and by contrast in the Scottish Parliament we are being offered four hours of creche availability,” Robertson told The Scotsman.

“It's just not serious.

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"The Scottish Parliament was set up and billed as a family-friendly Parliament, which is an aspiration that anybody in any democracy should aspire to, because any parents involved in politics or working in a Parliament should be able to do their job, and be able to be good parents, and it is not possible in the Scottish Parliament."

Speaking at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, he added: "I'm somebody who represents Edinburgh. Imagine you're somebody who lives at the other end of the country. How on earth are you supposed to come to Edinburgh with your child because you don't have childcare support, or your partner's ill, or they're away and you have responsibility, and you have no solution to do your job?

"It's absolutely intolerable. Am I angry about it? Yes, I am, because the Scottish Parliament was supposed to be about doing things differently and doing things better, and the hours are – the hours are there to make it possible for people to have a family life and be better parents by being around, and that's good.

"But if it's not possible to have a workable support mechanism with creche or nursery facilities, then, as in past decades, everything is on the other parent to cover the fort."

Robertson argued that if the Holyrood building could not accommodate better facilities for childcare, then arrangements should be put in place with nearby nurseries, as securing childcare at short notice is the “most tricky”.

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"The challenge of childcare for all parents is a real one, and we're making progress, but there's still more to do,” Robertson said.

"But if we want Parliament to be representative and to be open to people at all ages and stages of life, we have to make it possible for people who have young families to be able to do their job, and that their children don't suffer as a result. And either we take that seriously, or we don't, and we're not taking it seriously enough yet."

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “As part of our work to improve the on-site creche service, an enhanced outdoor play space is being created in the MSP garden. The area will be provided with equipment, furniture and toys to give children access to the benefits of outdoor play.

"This is in line with Care Inspectorate guidance and we hope the new space will allow for an easing of the time restrictions that are present in our current registration.

"We are actively engaging with members who currently use the creche service, to see how it can be evolved to better meet their needs.”