§ Mr. JOHN GUEST
I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, to leave out from the word "be" to the end of the Subsection, and to insert instead thereof the wordsagreed upon between the committee and the local authority liable to defray that salary, or, failing agreement, as may be determined by the Secretary of State with the approval of the Treasury.I was hopeful that the Homo Secretary would have been so convinced by the modesty and the sense of the Amendment that he would have accepted it without placing upon us the obligation even of explaining it. The object of the Amendment is to safeguard the interests of the ratepayers in the fixing of the salary of the probation officers. At present the county councils have the authority for fixing the salary of the probation officers, and the responsibility of finding the money. Speaking of the West Riding of Yorkshire, which I know more particularly, I do not think that the 124 Home Secretary can say that the county council has neglected to fix a fair figure or that it has not done its duty to the probation officers. On the contrary, I claim for the West Riding that the county council has carried out the scale suggested by the Home Office some years ago. It has tried to co-operate with the Justices who make the appointments, and have done so in an amicable way, which has tended to the welfare of the probation officers. That has been and is the position. But the Bill contains a provision which, from my point of view as a representative of a county council, is entirely indefensible. It proposes to maintain the powers of appointment with the Committee of Justices and then to confer upon the Justices the sole power of fixing the salary.
§ Mr. GUEST
The right hon. Gentleman's point is that they must consult him, and that he will, if necessity arises, 125 receive representations from the local authorities. But in effect the Justices have the sole power, and the local authority, which has to find the money, will be in the position of having to go cap in hand to the Home Secretary in order to raise objections. My position, and that of most of the democratic organisations throughout the country, is that where taxation is involved, where money had to be raised from the rates, there shall be some representation upon the spending authority. In the West Riding we are far from having sufficient confidence in the Justices to think that they are the be6t authority to decide what burden shall be placed on the ratepayers. We have more confidence in the county council. We think that the county council knows more about the necessities of the case and is more likely to deal fairly with the matter than is a body of the Justices. We appeal to the Home Secretary to retrace what we regard as a reactionary step.
Surely the time has gone by when this House can take away from representatives of the people the power which they now have over finance, if only in a comparatively small matter, and hand that power over to unelected Justices of the Peace. Our suggestion is a sort of halfway house, or a golden bridge. It says that the magistrates shall have the appointment of the probation officer and the fixing of the salary, and that the local authority, which will have to find 50 per cent. of the salary, shall have a voice in the matter. In the event of failure to agree there would be an appeal to the wisdom of the Home Secretary to determine the matter. The proposal appears to me to be reasonable, sound, and calculated to produce more harmony than the suggestion in the Bill.
§ Mr. PALING
I beg to second the Amendment. It is a simple proposition, and one with which, I feel sure, the Home Secretary will agree, that he who pays the piper shall at least call the tune or help in calling it. If the Bill as drawn comes into operation the present power of the local authorities will be taken away entirely, except that they can appeal to the Home Secretary; but in view of the fact that the local authority has to find at least 50 per cent. of the money it is not asking too much that it should have 50 per cent. of 126 the "say" in fixing the salary. It is the desire of the Home Secretary that this Bill should work as smoothly as possible, particularly in regard to the probation officers. One of the ways in which to make it work more smoothly than it otherwise would, is to help local authorities in what they are seeking to achieve by this Amendment and give them some say in the fixing of the salary. I think in the Clause as it stands we are getting away from a principle which is well established and recognised as a good and sound principle, and I feel sure the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would be the last man in the world to seek to get away from that principle. I hope, therefore, that he will at least compromise with us on this proposal.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I always come to the consideration of these matters with an open mind, and the Mover and the Seconder of this Amendment have put their case very cleverly and they have convinced me. May I state quite frankly that what was in my mind in regard to this question was that local authorities might have been very unfair in paying too low salaries to these officers. I wanted to pay them a full living wage, and therefore I kept the power in my own hands. I am convinced, however, that there is something in the point raised by the Mover and the Seconder in regard to the local authority having to pay the half, and therefore I am prepared to accept the Amendment. I hope they will not take it as a sign of weakness on my part—
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. GUEST
I beg to move in page 2, line 19, at the end, to insert the wordsProvided that tins Sub-section shall have effect only in probation areas or combinations of such areas in which the Local Government and Other Officers Superannuation Act, 1922, or other provision for superannuation is in operation. Provided also that the scheme shall not give the right to superannuation of an amount exceeding that payable in accordance with such Act or provision as aforesaid.I am sincerely indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the concession which 127 he has already made and which. I know, will be acceptable to the local authorities. The object of the Amendment which I now propose is to prevent the setting up of a privileged class within the area of any local authority. There are authorities in this country, to-day, I am informed, who, rightly or wrongly— I am not defending their position at all—have not adopted the Superannuation Act and put it into operation, and the consequence of this Clause as it stands would be that probation officers would be entitled to superannuation, even in districts where the bulk of the local government officials were not receiving such treatment. We think that the question of superannuation should be dealt with in a district so as to cover all the officials of that history and that there should not be a privileged class. The design of the Amendment is to prevent probation officers receiving superannuation in any district where the officials generally are not receiving it, and it is further intended to prevent them receiving a larger amount than any scheme in their particular district provides for the bulk of the officials.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
This is a bad Amendment. It seeks to cut down pensions and I am surprised at hon. Members opposite bringing it forward. This Bill establishes a new class of public officer. I know how these probation officers worked under the voluntary system. They were very often underpaid; they had no pensions scheme, and the one thing for which they are hungering is a pension scheme. Now hon. Members opposite suggest that if in some district in England the local authority is so behindhand that it does not pension its own officials, therefore these probation officers in that particular district are not to have pensions, although all the other probation officers in the kingdom have pensions. It will not do.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
That has nothing to do with this Bill. I cannot 128 lay down pensions for town clerks and other officials in this Bill. Sufficient for the day is the goodness thereof. The hon. Member had better withdraw his Amendment. I do not advise him to Vote upon it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.