HC Deb 22 July 1971 vol 821 cc1650-2
4. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now make a further statement on probation officers' pay.

30. Mr. Pardoe

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the progress of negotiations within the Joint Negotiating Committee for the Probation Service.

35. Mr. Deedes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the outcome of recent talks on pay in the probation service ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maudling

I am not yet in a position to add to the reply which I gave on 24th June to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Fowler) and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short).—[Vol. 819, c. 1564–6.]

Mr. Dalyell

In the meantime, what information is available to the Home Office about the number of probation officers who are leaving the service because of financial considerations?

Mr. Maudling

We have a great deal of information about this, and I think that I gave the information to the House when I last answered Questions. In fact, the number involved is not as large as is often alleged, but that does not in any way detract from the importance of the issue.

Mr. Deedes

I recognise the difficulties but, accepting that the net recruitment rate to the service is now about 200 a year, does my right hon. Friend think that he will be able to reach his target of 4,700 probation officers in the near future on the present terms?

Mr. Maudling

I certainly agree that unless there is a settlement of this issue, the future looks very difficult, but I believe and hope that we shall reach a sensible settlement.

Mr. Spriggs

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the St. Helens courts the probation officers have now had to reduce their services? In the light of this information, what is he prepared to do?

Mr. Maudling

I do not know offhand about the situation in particular areas. If the hon. Gentleman will send me particulars, I shall be glad to look into them.

Sir T. Beamish

We are well aware of the need to conserve public expenditure and bring inflation under control, but does my right hon. Friend realise that the view is widespread that all the iacts here seem to point to the need for an early and generous settlement?

Mr. Maudling

I do not dissent from that.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the right hon. Gentleman take it that, if time allowed, many hon. Members would wish to ask questions on this matter, as there is general concern about it and a widespread feeling that probation officers have a case? Despite the need to bring inflation under control, he will agree, surely, that 3,000 probation officers are not likely to wreck the economy. Will he not accept that the position is unsatisfactory and that, if his intentions for non-custodial treatment are to be implemented satisfactorily, there must be a big increase in the number of probation officers, and this means a further increase in pay over the current offer?

Mr. Maudling

The previous offer was not, as is sometimes alleged, 8½ per cent. but about 13 per cent. altogether. As I say, further negotiations are in progress. I entirely accept the needs of this service and the great importance of reaching a settlement.