§ 2.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Austin (Stretford)
I would like now to raise another subject, and not to detain my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General. I do so because, last week, on the Criminal Justice Bill, I hoped to make comments on two or three items, and was unable to do so. Today, I content myself with calling the attention of the House—although I appreciate that there will be no possibility of a Ministerial reply—to the recruitment of probation officers, as envisaged under the Criminal Justice Bill.
Mr. Deputy - Speaker (Sir Robert Young)
The hon. Gentleman cannot raise, on the Adjournment, matters involving legislation, which is what he is attempting to do now.
§ Mr. Austin
I am not asking for any further legislation, Sir. All I wish to do is to call the attention of the House, and the Home Secretary, to the existing scale 748 of salaries of probation officers, under Statutory Rule and Order, 1946, No. 1967
That would require legislation, and as the hon. Gentleman wishes to ask for legislation, that would be out of Order.
§ Mr. Austin
If I wish to call the attention of the House to the existing salary scales of probationary officers, is that to be interpreted as requiring further legislation?
It is very difficult to answer that question. There is nobody here to answer. We have nothing before us to show whether it requires legislation or not, but if the matter requires legislation it is out of Order.
§ Mr. Austin
May I point out that the existing scale of salaries of probation officers is provided not by legislation but by Statutory Rule and Order? In view of that fact, I submit that I am in Order in discussing the scale of salaries.
§ Mr. Austin
It is obvious from the various points of view raised in discussion on the Bill last week that there is increased scope for work by probation officers, and there will be an increased need for more probation officers in the country. There will be an extension of the use of this service, and, if I may refer to the Fifth Schedule to the Bill——
The hon. Member is about to do what I have suggested he cannot do, and he must not do it.
§ Mr. Austin
Very well, Sir, I will confine myself to the salary scale. At the end of the Debate last week, when the Under-Secretary sat down, I interjected to say, "Is he aware that the scale of salaries is entirely inadequate?" May I for the information of the House, enlighten it as to the scale of salaries? Under Statutory Rule and Order, 1946, No. 1967, is laid down the scale of salaries to be paid to probation officers. In regard to those over 30 years of age it may be said that their salaries were raised by approximately £100 with the passing of this regulation, and, therefore, men officers commence at £400 per annum. I 749 am more concerned with those under 30 years of age because I believe that there are many who feel that the probation service offers them a career. If we regard the probation service as a calling, and agree that there are some individuals with private incomes, it may be that they can afford to take up the probation service in the same way as other individuals take up the profession of medicine or missionary.
When I inform the House that the present scale of salary for a probation officer at 23 years of age or over is £305 per year, and for a woman probation officer of 23 years or over, but under 24, £290 a year, and there on until the age of 29 it goes up by increments of £10, and, in some cases, £15 per year, it will give some indication of the pitifully inadequate salaries which we are paying to these very responsible people in public life. A rough calculation shows that £305 a year for a young man of 23 works out at £5 18s. a week. I ask the House whether it can contemplate anyone maintaining a decent standard of life on a salary of £5 18s. a week, thereafter rising to £385 a year at the age of 29? I must admit there is an allowance of £30 for those in the Metropolis, but that obviously is eaten up by the increased cost of living in the London area.
I will content myself by saying that probation officers are needed in ever-increasing numbers because of the postwar neurosis of these difficult years when domestic lives are upset considerably, homes have been torn apart by the exigencies of factory service or war service by husbands and wives, and children being sent from homes already wrecked, and the probation officers find themselves in the difficult position of reclaiming human salvage and in the reclamation of home lives. I submit to the House—and I hope that this will reach the ears of the Home Secretary—that if we are to provide an adequate probation officer service necessitated by the needs of our people, we shall have to see that we improve the scales of salaries so that those who undertake this arduous and onerous task can live at least in decency and comfort themselves before they attempt to uplift the difficult conditions of those with whom they come in contact in the course of their work.