§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
My Lords, I should like first to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who has introduced this Motion to your Lordships House and to thank him for the manner in which he has done so. I know only too well how strongly the noble Lord feels on this subject—as, no doubt, do many others of your Lordships—and I think that all your Lordships will agree that the noble Lord's speech in introducing his Motion was a most reasonable one and, as always, carefully thought out and considered. But I do assure him that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary fully appreciates the content, not only of all that the noble Lord said but all that he meant but left unsaid.
In the comparatively short history of the Probation Service there are several events that stand out. First and foremost, perhaps, there was the establishment of the modem probation system by the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907. 409 The noble Lord, Lord Rea, from the Liberal Benches, paid tribute to his noble friend who was then, as Mr. Herbert Samuel, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office. It was he who played such a great part in the beginnings of the Probation Service. On behalf of Her Majesty's Government I should like to echo the sentiment expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Rea: we are all so pleased that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is still a well-loved and highly respected Member of your Lordships' House.
Following the Act of 1907 there were later successive Departmental Committees, in 1909, 1920, and 1934, the last of them being the inquiry by the Departmental Committee on the Social Services in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction, of which my noble friend Lord Feversham was a member. That Committee's Report underlies the probation provisions of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, which is the present statutory foundation for the Probation Service in England and Wales. March, 1962, when the Morison Committee reported, is another milestone in the history of the Service. It is right, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, should give us this early chance of studying the Report in your Lordships' House. I can say at once that, taking the Report as a whole, the Government welcome it as a valuable guide to the future development of the Service.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, especially paid tribute to the Service and its members, as indeed did the noble Lord, Lord Rea. Straight away I say that the Government are fully conscious of the deep feelings which have been aroused, both within the Service and outside, by our decision that any immediate salary increase for the probation officers should be limited to 2½ per cent., and that consideration of the substantial salary increases proposed by the Morison Committee should be postponed until the beginning of next year.
I know that noble Lords will acknowledge the active personal interest that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary takes in penal reform, and in treating offenders with humanity. I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, reflected that sentiment in the course of his speech. Your Lordships will, I am 410 sure, appreciate that his decision to apply the 2½ per cent. limit to a Service which has had to work under considerable pressure for many years, and for which suitable recruits are not yet forthcoming in the required numbers, was taken only for the most cogent reasons of national policy. These reasons have had to override the claims of this particular Service for the time being. It would be wrong of me to suggest a change of policy. We will take full account of what your Lordships say in this debate, and my noble friend will explain in greater detail, when he winds up the debate, the considerations that led the Government to their conclusion.
Nothing in this decision detracts from the importance that we attach to the Probation System and to the expansion and continuing improvement of the Service. Both the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, paid attention to that point. In the opening chapter, the Morison Committee have stated impressively the moral and social value of probation. They state, especially in Chapter 4, that the work of probation officers calls for a high standard of professional training and skill. The Government accept the Committee's conclusions, and they accept, too, that there is little scope for reducing the wide range of duties which the Service is called upon to undertake, and which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, so graphically explained.
Paragraph 265 of the Report gives the staff position in England and Wales at October 31, 1961. There were then 1,749 whole-time probation officers. They suggest that soon a strength of rather more than 2,000 whole-time officers will be necessary. We agree. They thought that it might have to be built up to 2,750 in the next few years. Despite the gloomy picture—and that is the only way I can describe it—which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, painted for us, the strength of the Service in England and Wales has been steadily increasing, even since the Morison Committee prepared their Report. It increased from 1,749 at October 31, 1961, to 1,837 at May 25, 1962. This is an increase of about 150 officers a year, and is 50 per cent. above the figure for 1955. This suggests that the total of 2,000 might be reached in a little over a year's time. It remains to be seen whether the decision which the 411 Government have had to reach about salaries will affect the rate of recruitment, but we see no good reason to suppose an adverse effect. We have made it clear that we accept, in principle, the case for a substantial salary increase, and that the revaluation of the Service will be considered at the beginning of next year.
My Lords, I think that that explanation goes a long way -towards making clear what my right honourable friend the Home Secretary thinks with regard to those assurances for which the noble Lord who introduced the debate has asked. I can go mo further than what I have said. There is no reason for a potential trainee officer to hold back because action on the Morison Committee's salary recommendations has had to be postponed.
Faced with the present crime situation, which the noble Lord has so graphically described, probation committees—and, in the Metropolitan Magistrates' Courts area, the Home Secretary, as the probation authority—have not been able to confine appointments to the Probation Service to people who have passed through the one to three year training course provided by the Home Office training scheme. Instead, they have had to appoint otherwise suitable people with a view to giving them appropriate training after their appointment. Paragraph 269 of the Report shows that 670 whole-time officers were first appointed in England and Wales in the period January 1, 1958, to October 31, 1961. Of these, 302 (45 per cent.) were "direct entrants". The corresponding figure at May 25, 1962, is 47 per cent. So the situation is not improving; and, my Lords, we do not look at it with complacency.
It has been the aim of successive Home Secretaries to appoint only pre-trained staff. The present Home Secretary shares the regret, Which he knows is felt by probation committees, that such a high proportion of not fully trained people have had to be admitted in recent years. However, he is satisfied that without this direct entry the Service could not have been expanded to meet the demands of the courts. There is no question of persons having to come into the Service as direct entrants because pre-appointment 412 training is not available for them. The Home Secretary has been, and remains, ready, with the assistance of his Probation Advisory and Training Board, to provide training for as many suitable applicants as can be recruited. Paragraph 290 of the Report shows that there are, in fact, plentiful applications, but the proportion of applicants found suitable is comparatively low. In 1960 and 1961 it was about 13 per cent. We certainly hope that when it is possible substantially to increase the Probation Service salaries the field of applicants will improve. Nevertheless, because of the urgent need for expansion, the Home Secretary feels bound to agree with the Morison Committee's conclusion that it is not yet practicable to name a date after which the appointment of direct entrants must cease.
Paragraph 328 of the Report fully describes the three types of existing training. Of the 90 direct entrants in 1961 who are still in post, 68 have already begun training; three have completed it. Training for the 1960 entry will have been wholly completed by Easter of next year. A great deal of credit for this progress must go to the Probation Service itself, which, of course, has had to shoulder the burden of giving these entrants practical training and experience. Since the appointment of direct entry officers has been necessary to meet unparalleled pressure on the Service, it would be unrealistic to hope that it will be possible, in the foreseeable future, to release direct entrants for a full-length training as the Morison Committee has recommended. I give special mention to paragraph 328 because I know of the concern that is caused by this method of appointment. I want, however, to emphasise that, although we are far from being satisfied with recruitment to the Service through the pre-entry training scheme, a very considerable intake to the Service can be expected in the next year or two through this method.
A number of aspects of training will have to be examined in the light of the Morison Report—and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, suggested one or two of them. This is a task in which the Home Secretary will look for assistance to his Probation Advisory and Training Board, which is shortly to be reconstituted. It is a great help that Mr. T. A. F. Noble, 413 who was a member of the Morison Committee, and is shortly to become Vice-Chancellor of Leicester University, has agreed to become the Board's first independent chairman. The Committee recommends an independent chairman. Also, as recommended, the Home Secretary will be consulting the interested organisations when making his appointments to the new Board.
I turn now to some of the administrative issues raised by the Report. The Home Secretary welcomes the Report's endorsement of the system of administration in England and Wales by probation committees of magistrates. Paragraph 171 says that the system is open to theoretical objections; but, like so many such arrangements in this country, it has worked very well in practice. It has, I believe, been instrumental in developing the courts' understanding of the probation system, and the high reputation which the Probation Service enjoys The Service also enjoys a high reputation abroad and many students come from other lands to study how our system works. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for paying credit to the Service on this point.
The Home Secretary welcomes paragraph 174, which encourages the Home Office policy of merging petty sessional divisions, where possible, into combined probation areas of a substantial size. There are about 900 petty sessional divisions in England and Wales and each of these is a probation area, with its own administering committee, unless the Home Secretary has made a combining order. In fact, the process of combination has reduced the number of probation areas to 103. The Report points out that a number of areas would benefit by joining larger units. The Home Secretary took no action to create such areas while awaiting the Morison Committee's views. He accepts, in principle, the Committee's view that any area that cannot sustain a staff of six or more probation officers, excluding a principal probation officer, should be merged in a larger administrative unit. He will have that principle in mind in resuming the policy of creating combined areas in appropriate oases.
The law makes it clear that no action to create a combined area can be taken without consultation with the magistrates concerned; and that account shall be 414 taken of the views of the relevant probation committees. In some cases it will be desirable to await the outcome of the local government corn-missions before deciding possible combined areas. The Report suggested, in paragraph 195, that the Home Secretary should, in future, approve probation committees' establishments of probation officers. In view of the controversy, I emphasise that the Home Secretary has reached no decision on this proposal, and he is open to argument on it. This proposal has caused concern to the Central Council of Probation Committees. We will be receiving a deputation from them soon. The Exchequer pays a probation grant for half the service cost. Yet the Government have no control over the number of probation officers employed. Nor, indeed, are probation committees required to consult the local authorities, which meet the other half of the cost, before increasing their probation staffs. The Morison Committee suggest that a control of establishments would be more meaningful than some of the other controls now exercised by the Home Office, for instance, over the purchase of oars and equipment for probation officers. This idea clearly deserves consideration.
Apart from this, the Committee thought that the control would help to make probation officers available to areas where they were most needed. There seems to be some misapprehension that this would involve the direction of officers to particular areas. That is not so. On leaving training, it would remain open for a probation student to apply for any available vacancy. The control would simply affect the distribution of vacancies. For example, it might be necessary to say to well-staffed areas that they should not increase their establishments for the time being, so that there would be a batter chance of students applying for vacancies in the less congenial areas. The needs of these areas are acute, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, pointed out. I do not say this in any sense as a criticism of probation committees who are pursuing above average standards of staffing. That is a praiseworthy objective, but we must face the position over the country as a whole.
We welcome the emphasis that the Report places on the part to be played in the development of the Service by 415 the Home Office as the central administering authority. I appreciate the Committee's tribute, in paragraph 182, to the Home Office probation inspectors. The Committee have placed great emphasis upon the inspectors' functions, both in visiting probation areas and in selecting and training probation students. We are reviewing the establishment of the Inspectorate in the light of the remarks of the Committee. The nature of the inspectors' job has been affected by the appointment of principal probation officers, which, thanks to the policy of creating combined areas, has now been possible in some 60 areas in England and Wales. The leadership provided by the principal officers is a major factor in developing the standards and techniques of the Service, and we look forward to a continuing and fruitful partnership between them and the Probation Inspectorate.
The Morison Committee criticised the Home Office for not always succeeding in giving the Probation Service a full picture of its activity and of its warm and genuine interest in the welfare of the Service. The Committee suggests that the Home Office should publish a periodic report on the work of the Service. The Home Secretary has accepted this recommendation. The Committee thought that reports need not be annual, but should be "reasonably frequent". I hope that I have shown that the Home Secretary is bringing an open mind to the recommendations in the Report. As I said at the beginning, I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said and I assure him that there is still time to think and that my right honourable friend will be considering very seriously all that he has said. We will consider your Lordships' debate most carefully. I have not ventured to speak upon matters which are within the sphere of responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland, but I know that he would wish me to give a similar assurance on his behalf. I have no doubt that he will know that his business is secure in the hands of my noble friend Lord Dundee.
§ 4.0 p.m.
THE EARL OF FEVERSHAM
My Lords, as one who has been closely connected with the development of the 416 Probation Service since the year 1927, and who during the course of that time has had occasion on behalf of the Association of Probation Officers to make repeated approaches to various Home Secretaries, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, how grateful I am, and the Probation Service will be, for the very clear, forceful and, if I may be permitted to say so, truthful statement that he has made to your Lordships this afternoon. I am also grateful to the noble Lord for drawing attention to the Report of the Departmental Committee on the Probation Service, because this Report is a most valuable survey. I should like to add my warmest congratulations to the Chairman and to the members of the Morison Committee on the comprehensiveness of their inquiry, and, with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to say that, in my judgment, Parts 1 and 2 of this Report are the best statement on the value and place of probation that I have ever seen.
I agree with almost everything that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said, and particularly with regard to the long and sad history of negotiations concerning the paucity of salary from which probation officers have always suffered since the Act passed in 1907, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. I thought it appropriate, if I may say so, for the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to admit that during the time when his Party were in office, from 1946 to 1951, although Mr. Chuter Ede, who during the greater part of that time was Home Secretary, during a wage-freeze permitted increases to the police, he none the less resisted increases for the probation officers; and the situation is now very similar to that which we have known for such a long time.
The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who I understand is to reply on behalf of the Government at the conclusion of the debate, will necessarily place the pay problem of the Probation Service into the context of the present economic circumstances of the country. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to anticipate some of the arguments that I suspect the noble Earl will use and thereby paint a few strokes of my own on to this large and important canvas before turning to speak on other aspects of the Morison Report.
417 On this side of the House, quite naturally, I agree with the broad intention of Her Majesty's Government in establishing a positive incomes policy related to national productivity. It is working: we have been told, not once but several times, that it is. But the Government have admitted that they are using a very blunt instrument, and this, your Lordships will know, has been borne out by the facts shown in the Ministry of Labour Gazette for the first four months of this year of the number of workers who have had wage increases. The aggregate of the increases given was higher than in the corresponding months of last year when no pay pause was applied. No doubt your Lordships will have seen these figures recounted in The Times quite recently. The net result is that last year 5,020,000 workers received increases totalling £1,703,400 per week; and this year 5,834,000 workers have received inoreases amounting to £1,900,300.
The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, will no doubt say, as we have heard before, that since April 1 categories of public service within the Government control have been limited to receiving small increases of 2½ per cent. But outside the public services controlled by the Government we have seen heavier increases in the wage packets of industry. My right honourable friend the Minister of Labour said recently in another place that there had been 77 separate breaches of this policy since it began. On this broad ground, it seems that the exhortations of the Government to get industry and trade unions to follow their example have sadly failed.
Most people's minds do not search to the root of the employing authority in categories other than their own; nor do they in their daily tasks follow precisely the ebb and flow of Government action to control inflation, which has tried the pockets and patience of us all ever since the war. I would submit that the ordinary man is utterly confused in his mind when at one moment he is told that his standard of living might be doubled in 25 years, and that he "never had it so good ", and when he sees around him the Armed Services, the police and the dockers obtaining considerable rises, and at another moment, because he may happen to have a considerable vocational occupation for helping his fellow 418 men (such as nurses and probation officers) he falls within a group which is denied comparable terms. The disillusionment and disappointment is great.
I would suggest to noble Lords opposite, and indeed to the present leaders within the Party (and I do not wish to strike a discordant note in this debate) that if the force of their intellect and authority could be used to persuade others from unduly inflating the natural human instinct to demand higher incomes irrespective of higher productivity, they would be emulating the leadership of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in 1948. Your Lordships have been reminded that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, made a broadcast in February of that year, and I think what he said is worth quoting. He said:If incomes go on rising, there must come a point at which the Government cannot hold the cost of living at a reasonable level any longer. It will be swept away in the rising tide of inflation. The safeguard lies, not in the hands of the Government, who cannot directly control the amount of money people are paid and have no intention of trying to do so, but in the hands of the ordinary people. The Government believe that the people of this country are intelligent enough to see and appreciate the nature of the danger; and public-spirited enough to join in fighting it."'
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Earl to say that we on this side of the House still wholly support those views. The difficulty is in persuading working people to accept them When they see before their eyes so many examples of people in well-to-do circumstances to whom this restraint is apparently not going to be applied.
THE EARL OF FEVERSHAM
I would agree with the observation of the noble Lord, provided he left out the words "people in well-to-do circumstances". As I see it—and this, I think, would be unanimously agreed—the problems of inflation yesterday, during a Socialist Government, and to-day during a Conservative Government, concern the conscience of the whole nation. If the nation's economy is being improved by this painful pay pause, then the whole nation must realise that the sacrifice has been borne largely by the people who look after them when they are ill, by the people who look after them when they 419 are in trouble, and the people in education who qualify many for the higher incomes they earn. In fact, the brunt has been borne by those people who have a very great national conscience and whose most powerful sense is to help their fellow-men. It is so easy, as I have said, for anyone to say that his particular group are in a special category.
I am therefore greatly encouraged by the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, who has reiterated that the Government accept, in principle, the urgent need for readjustment of probation officers' salaries. The noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, has repeated what my right honourable friend said on Thursday last in another place, in exactly the same terms as were used in another place on May 17 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 659 (No. 114), col. 139]:The Government were in no doubt that the Probation Service ought to receive a substantial increase of pay at the appropriate time, and were prepared to examine its claims at the beginning of next year.But why examine its claims at the beginning of next year? As the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, the Morison Committee spent three years examining these claims, and they have made very specific recommendations.
The probation officers, on whose behalf I can speak, do not want to be "fobbed off" again with being told either that their claims are going to be re-examiined afresh, or that they should be singled out, with one or two other categories, in the midst of a wage freeze or pay pause and subjected to it. The special recommendations were acted upon, as we have heard, by the Joint Negotiating Committee, Who recommended an interim increase of 10 per cent. to take effect from last April without prejudice to the Morison Committee recommendations. The Home Secretary also said on Thursday last, May 31, that no communication had been received from the Joint Negotiating Committee since the 2½ per cent. decision was made known to them on May 17. My Lords, this seems to me to be a deliberate piece of "stone-walling" on the part of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. How does he expect the Joint Negotiating Committee, who gave four distinct grounds for immediate and special 420 treatment of probation officers and were flatly turned down, to react so soon? I did not catch the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, if he said what those four special grounds of the Joint Negotiating Committee were, and therefore perhaps I could repeat them. They were: The very long period of over three years since the Departmental Committee was appointed; the lapse of time between reaching of conclusions and the signing of the Morison Report; the restraint exercised by the probation staff side of the Committee; and the very special case of the Service for special treatment.
After the tributes that have been paid by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and others of your Lordships, to the present Home Secretary, I cannot believe that such an extraordinarily unsympathetic statement could emanate from him. I therefore inquired how that could have arisen. On May 9, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs first received information from the Joint Negotiating Committee. On May 10, the following day, there was a debate in another place on Home Office supply, and it was then that my right honourable friend said that the communication he had received would receive careful consideration. That very night my right honourable friend left this country for priority business in Africa, but on May 17 Mr. Renton, the Minister of State, then said that the specific recommendation of the Joint Negotiating Committee, of 10 per cent. had been reduced to 2½ per cent. As your Lordships know, the Probation Officers' Association has rejected that offer.
In reality, the total cost of the increases recommended by the Morison Committee are small. When the Committee ask for an increase in salary of probation officers, they are not involving 3 million people, as are involved in the shipbuilding and engineering unions; they are not involving even 200,000 nurses, but only 1,749 probation officers. It is estimated that the total cost of the full implementation of the Morison Committee's recommendations at the present levels would amount to less than £500,000 per annum. Of this increase, half would be borne centrally and half by local authorities.
How does that look at the local authority level? To satisfy myself I took as 421 an average example a borough in Lancashire with a population of 160,000. In that borough there are two male probation officers, one woman, and a senior probation officer, who is also responsible for a county area. The total cost of their salaries to the borough is £3,412. The increase of 30 per cent. recommended by the Morison Committee would amount to £1,023 12s. 0d., of which the borough would pay half, making, I reckon it, £511 16s. 0d. The product of a penny rate in the borough is £8,250, so that the full increase of 30 per cent. would cost the borough less than one-sixteenth of a penny rate. The present total charge for probation in this borough is £5,300, or three-quarters of a penny rate. The total expenditure of this borough on all services is £5,128,830, of which probation costs, as I have said, £5,300. If one were to review this purely as a financial arrangement, one could not question which is the cheaper—and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, made this point very effectively—whether to put an offender in an institution or on probation. The average cost of putting an offender in borstal is £694 a year. The full cost of probation for each offender is £25 a year, to which only £16 is attributable to the officer's salary.
The return which the community receive for their expenditure on probation is obvious, as your Lordships will have gleaned from the figures the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, gave in respect of their range of duties. I was going to give your Lordships some of those figures, but I shall not now do so except to say that when the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, referred to the fact that there were nearly 64,000 probationers as opposed to 36,000 offenders in prison, borstals, detention centres and approved schools he did not say the cost, as I understood it, of those in the latter institutions, and that cost is £18 million a year—and to be even more exact, £17,843,700. Of course I agree with the noble Lord that that does not mean that the Probation Service can render unnecessary the new penal institutions that are being built or that there would not be, in these days of the crime wave, provision necessary for approved schools, borstals and detention centres. But the figures that 422 I have submitted to your Lordships clearly go to show that an expanding and efficient Probation Service is an economy to the country. This was very strongly recommended in the Morison Report. On page 10, paragraph 26, they said:… we do not recommend any narrowing of the range of functions which probation officers undertake. Indeed, we shall show reasons for thinking that the demands on the Service must increase. We have reached this conclusion in the knowledge of the heavy pressure upon the Service at the time of our inquiry. In view of the pressure, we considered whether any functions of the Service should be permanently or temporarily removed from it; but we are satisfied that this would be retrogressive and that ways of expanding the Service must be found.The Committee went on to suggest specific ways in which the Service should be expanded.
To reduce the case load from its present level of 61 to a case load of 50 would require an additional 150 officers immediately. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that more officers and better training are required to expand matrimonial conciliation and a tremendous increase is required to provide for the after-care of offenders from prison and borstal. My noble friend Lady Swanborough is going to speak subsequently in this debate and she has made a particular study of the need for aftercare, as, indeed, the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act, 1961, has required. At the Home Secretary's Conference on Juvenile Crime Lady Swanborough made the point, which I hope she will make again, that the second offence is just as important as the first and without effective after-care we so often get readmissions.
I should like to speak to your Lordships on the necessity of social inquiry. The Report showed, in paragraph 32, that a probation officer cannot provide an adequate report to the court unless he has sufficient time to compile and check his data and reflect on it. I am very concerned to see on page 14 that in magistrates' courts in 1960, whereas full social inquiries were made in 19,743 cases, inquiries were made only on the day of hearing in another 15,736 cases. I am still of the opinion that where a report is required it should be made possible for it to be done fully. If a report is not, the system of probation 423 is likely to fall into disrepute; and, moreover, the treatment or sentence of the court becomes a hit or miss affair. How can a bench of magistrates act with wisdom if they are not provided with particulars of the home surroundings and other factors contributing to, what I call, the emotional immaturity of the individual? Any good magistrate must know that the more serious offences are generally the outward expression of a deep-seated malaise. I made this point in speaking on the Children and Young Persons Act, 1932, in this House and I said then that it was essential that the probation officer should investigate those cases for which he is afterwards to be held responsible by the court; otherwise the full value of the probation system is lost. The Committee say that the courts are likely to see social inquiry reports in an ever-widening range of cases. But the fact remains that probation officers have so much work piled upon them that it is often impossible for them to do this properly.
Even now, all through this Report the Committee cite the need for expansion, not only to cope with current demands but to prepare for the future. To expand the Service requires more officers, and, in my submission, they can be attracted only by higher salaries and higher status. The noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, said in his remarks that it remains to be seen whether the present restrictions will adversely affect the increase of probation officers, and he added something to the effect that the Government see no reason why they should adversely affect the supply of probation officers. Let us be realistic about this. Educational standards and training mean more than improving the quality of the Service. They are an inducement to recruits. In all kinds of industry and in all kinds of public work the prospective applicant is looking for a post which carries special qualifications for the job. To get enough suitable applicants we must compete on equal terms, and we must compete now, not at some indeterminate time in the future.
My Lords, the truth of this is borne out in a statement made by a young trainee at the Probation Officers' Conference two weeks ago which I attended, 424 and I think it is so impressive that, with your Lordships' permission, I will quote it:I am a Home Office student in my last case-work training placement. I am a graduate. My degree course lasted three years. I have a post-graduate diploma in Social Science and have almost completed a year of case-work training. Before this, when some student colleagues were doing equivalent pacifist work, others of us were doing our National Service. That makes a total of seven years; seven years of slumming. Some of that time wives and children were slumming with us. Some of my colleagues with families are heavily mortgaged and have had to borrow on the strength of life insurances et cetera. We have made the effort because we looked upon probation as a professional social work career and proposed to enter the Service as trained men with full initial qualifications. We were prepared to slum a bit longer and accept that the starting salaries were pitfully low because we knew the Morison Committee was soon to report. We expected, rightly, that some recognition would be given to the conditions prevailing, but the Government has shattered our hopes.He added:I acknowledge the challenge of probation; I have been preparing for that challenge. I refused the offer of an interesting career, with considerable prospects, to seek that challenge. I was an idealist no doubt, my friends think I am a mug, but I was sincere. Now, although the challenge is there still, I do not know whether I can afford to accept it. We cannot afford to take that challenge and begin now, and only now, to live on less than a labourer's wage".In all sincerity, it will require more realism, more inducement and more imagination than anything we have seen yet to build a Probation Service anything like that envisaged by the Morison Committee. The power and potentialities of the Probation Service are now only beginning to be realised.
My Lords, I have spent much of my life fighting for recognition of the work of probation officers. Quite clearly, I have not been conspicuously successful in that attempt. I have time and again, in and out of your Lordships' House, over the last thirty years tried to indicate the factors in contemporary life which cause breakdown of the individual. This breakdown, as we know, may take the form of an offence against society or perhaps a form of mental illness. The choice is relatively simple. Is the community going to pay by its suffering? Is the community going to pay for locking people up, with the consequent cost of institutions, diversion of manpower and loss of production? Or 425 is the community going to tackle the roots of the whole problem by stimulating and empowering social work at the deepest individual level, keeping people out of institutions and at work and promoting prevention wherever there is a chance?
The responsibility of the family is the cardinal point in the prevention of crime. The parents share responsibility with the child, and it is with both of them that probation officers should work. This Report is not the last word in the development of the probation service. A scheme is now being investigated to see whether it is a proper and practical proposal to place parents of offending and uncontrollable young children on probation. Personally I am convinced that the crime wave among the young will go on increasing, and there is no single act that will reduce it more effectively than to make parents more responsible in the upbringing of their young, and placing them on probation may be a means to that end.
My Lords, these are difficult times. I would point out to the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, that the Probation Service is a special case. It has no parallel, and to make it more effective will create no precedent. I know the noble Earl is going to reply that a rule in this case is a golden rule. But the White Paper on Incomes Policy was drafted in the light of productivity. The productivity here is the character, make-up and personality of the individual. I do not know of any other field where quite the same measure of good work is being conducted as in the Probation Service. I would, therefore, ask the noble Earl to convey to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary the urgency of the recommendations of this Report and to extract a promise that not only will the salary claims of the service be considered early in 1963 as a special case but that they will be met in full. In the incomparable words of Sir Winston Churchill:There can be no more revealing test of the civilisation and culture of a great people than the measure of their treatment of the criminals and degenerates who live in their midst.My Lords, let this moment of our civilisation show its determination to provide, not ambulance work, but a concerted attack on the very roots of the criminality that is in our midst.
§ 4.35 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will appreciate that this subject is one of real concern to anybody who speaks from this Bench, though I do so without any specialist knowledge such as is possessed in outstanding degree by the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, to whose speech I have listened with so much admiration.
In, the law of Athelstan in the early 10th century appears the following:If his kindred will not take him nor be surety for him, then swear he as the Bishop shall teach him, that he will shun all evil, and let him be in bondage for his price.This is an interesting instance of the origin of the Probation Service. In the last century the Police Court Mission assisted in the provision of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907, which marked the birth of the Probation Service as we know it. The probation officers ever since in many places have been in close co-operation with the ministers of religion; I will not comment on that contribution except to say that I believe it to be one of very great importance.
I have found this Report of extreme interest but nobody can read it without being gravelly disturbed by it. The issue which is of the greatest consequence is obviously that of recruitment, and it was very welcome to learn from the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, that there have been improvements in the recruitment figures on a background of deterioration over the past seven to ten years. Many areas were very heavily overloaded and could not gat staff. The Departmental Committee considered that the maximum case load figure for male officers should be 50, and estimated that on the present staff of 1,749, which is the October, 1961, figure, and the more recent figure which has been given this afternoon of 1,837 on the 25th May this year, an additional 129 officers will be needed to correct the present shortage. In fact the figure is probably now higher. The Committee also estimated a need for a further 150 officers in addition to those already mentioned. The extension of the Service from 1,750 to 2,750 in the next few years is envisaged in the Report.
The extent of the deterioration regarding staffing, or the deterioration until 427 quite recently, is demonstrated by the constant inability to fill posts. In Suffolk last year a woman officer left upon marriage, and the probation committee were unable to fill her vacancy for eight months, there being no replies to advertisements, although this is an area which one would think would have attracted many people. So an area of approximately 400 square miles was without a woman officer. This story can be paralleled in other parts of the country. From the figures that have been given to me I find that the number of male officers carrying more than 80 cases has increased from 38 to 136 during the past three years.
There is no exact costing figure with regard to an individual under the supervision of a probation officer, but I was interested in the figures which the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, gave. It is safe to say the average would be not more than £30 per annum—I think £25 was the figure he gave—taking into account all the other functions of the officer, whereas the cost of all forms of institutional correction are certainly greatly in excess of £400 per annum. The total cost of fully implementing the recommendations of the Departmental Committee with regard to salaries is approximately only three-quarters of a million pounds per annum. The officers of the Probation Service are not materialistic. They want a reasonable salary, but they never expected to be among the highly paid. They are a sincere body of people who are prepared to work long hours to carry out their job effectively. That they cannot do this because of overloading and inability to get staff is perhaps one of their greatest frustrations.
In pleading the cause of the Probation Service at a time when, as the Report indicates, there are serious difficulties, one is bound to reckon with two dilemmas, both of which have been referred to in the course of to-day's debate. The first is related to the national economy and the Government's efforts to resist inflation. In two other recent debates I found myself allied with those Who pleaded for more public money for vocational services. The other two instances were the Youth Service and the Universities.
Having imposed the pay pause the Government were bound to see it en- 428 forced in that sector of the economy over which they had control. Unfortunately, the public sector of the economy included most of the vocational services. If breaches of the pause take place in the spheres over which the Government have no control, then the vocational professions must suffer in proportion. I should like to make a comment later on upon that. But the second dilemma is within the profession: namely, that the kind of people needed in the Probation Service are not those who are attracted to it by salary prospects. If the salaries fall below an appropriate standard then either they will lie down under it—and in this connection I would simply say that holy poverty should be a voluntary option and not a public insistence—or, alternatively, resort to campaigning for higher salaries for themselves; and this is, or can be, harmful and prejudicial to the standing of a profession of a vocational character. Or, thirdly, they will seek other employment.
The need is to decide what is in fact an appropriate salary scale and then see to it that this is provided for them. I was interested in seeing in the Report the basis upon which that salary scale was estimated. It was not on a comparison with other walks of life (I am sure that that is right) or even on the relative purchasing power of a probation officer's salary—what he gets now as compared with the relative value of his stipend before the war—but on the consideration of a more objective approach. I could only have wished that this Committee had expanded their views somewhat in paragraph 359, where they addressed themselves to this particular problem. It is very difficult indeed to establish this figure. Surely it might have been approached on the basis of a family budget, and what in fact the probation officer needs to do his work, and the standard of living Which he and his family should have in order that they may have that degree of security and the conditions to enable them to perform their work effectively. If the probation officer is to be able to do that, he will need conditions in which a person of his interests, education and background can take his place normally in the community—that is, if he is to be in a position to help those under his care 429 back into their proper place in the community. If his salary position is such that he is cut off from the society of his friends, this vital element of normality will be difficult to retain. I do not know many probation officers, nor have I discussed this subject with a probation officer, but I should imagine that that is the sort of basis upon which they would be adequately satisfied and should receive.
Secondly, whilst I recognise that one duty of the Government is to balance the economy and prevent inflation, they also have a duty to give a lead in the order of priorities in the national interest. Whilst appreciating the many rival and important claims upon which the safety and well-being of this nation depend, one cannot escape the impression that, in proportion to the total sums involved, the Probation Service does not appear to be receiving the proportionate priority it deserves. I fully agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, said in regarding this as a special case which has got grievously out of step; and from the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, I think he would in general agree with that.
But whilst I believe that the issue of salaries is urgent, I do not believe that the problem of recruitment in quality as well as in quantity will be solved simply by securing better or more equitable salaries. There is the matter of training and the concept of status depending upon it, and these are necessary bases for something else. It is a serious reflection on the state of our society that all the vocational professions are in short supply. The remedy does not rest with the Government alone, but with the community as a Whole; and the remedy is one which must naturally be on the care and conscience of the Christian churches, for it is by other means than financial inducements that suitable men and women will be ready to offer their services for work which is most demanding, most difficult, immensely worth while, and which, unlike some other and more lucrative walks off life, requires attributes of sympathy, of good sense, of personal judgment, of integrity, a sense of dedication and high standards of character. In the Probation Service we have one of the finest and most valuable instruments with which to work towards a more effective penal system—effective 430 because its purpose its primarily remedial. It is the one thing in which the offender can be dealt with within the community, indeed within his own home life, and not be cut off from it. It is already well-known that our prisons are unable to keep pace with the increase of the criminal population. It will be a serious and a tragic matter if there is a shrinkage of the Probation Service, or rather if we are unable to provide it with the total that it requires for its present needs, or if any lowering of its standards should occur; for in all probability this would result in an increase in crime, detected or undetected, and an even worse crisis in the prisons.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I should like to say how delighted we were to hear the two speeches to which we have just listened. Thirty years ago, the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, and I met in the company of some of his probation officers friends and discussed probation work. I think that about that time, or shortly afterwards, he was working as a probation officer in South Africa. Anyway, he mentioned his immensely long connection with the Probation Service, and I think we all felt that, from that length of experience, the support he gave to the Morison Report was particularly valuable.
There were two things in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, which rather surprised me. The first was that he did not seem to recognise, as did the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, and certainly the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken, that the Probation Service should be treated as a special case in relation to the wages and incomes policy of the Government. I fear that that view of the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, may be endorsed later by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, as Front Bench spokesmen usually speak with the same voice. On the other hand, I have read speeches of Ministers in which they say that this policy of near-freezing of wages and incomes is not to be applied in blanket form, in exactly the same way, to all professions and employments, and that there must be certain exceptional cases; that these exceptional cases will receive exceptional treatment, and that the criteria in such cases would be of need and merit, and usefulness to the community.
431 No one, I think, can doubt that the Probation Service is extraordinarily badly paid in relation to other professions, because, taking into account that it is, in the ordinary sense, as the right reverend Prelate said, a vocation rather than a profession, the need is there. Nor do I think that anyone can doubt the merit of the service rendered to the community by the Probation Service; so that the merit of service and usefulness to the community is there. I hope that the Government will regard the Probation Service as a special case in relation to their wages and income policy, and that they will not act again in the spirit of their 2½ per cent. award on April 1, which, if they had regarded the Probation Service as a special case, should surely have been a 10 per cent. award.
My Lords, the other thing that surprised me was that, although the Government appeared to accept in principle the recommendation of the Morison Committee that there should be a substantial increase in the salaries paid to officers in the Probation Service, in order that the Service can be efficient and enabled to carry out its work, at the same time the Government decided not to start discussing this substantial increase until the beginning of next year. Surely the discussion of this increase, which has been accepted in principle, should start now. I cannot see any reason for that delay, even in view of the economic situation and the incomes policy of the Government. We are told that the economic situation is improving; that production is expanding. Surely this is the moment to start discussing the increase in emoluments that is required to bring this Service up to a higher degree of efficiency. The present time should be the beginning of this consideration of the matter, in order that these increases shall be made just as soon as the country can afford it.
These general remarks are probably the least useful contribution I shall make to the debate, in the sense that they are the remarks that are least likely to carry any weight with noble Lords opposite. But I shall make a few observations which are based on my personal experience as a member of the Council of the National Association of Discharged 432 Prisoners' Aid Societies. Having been working for this Council for some time I have been concerned with the Probation Service in relation to after-care. After-care is, of course, a sideline of probation, and court work is more important; but after-care is a very valuable sideline, and indeed a new and increasingly important function of this Service. Its novelty can be judged by the fact that before 1948 after-care was provided by probation officers to young offenders discharged from Borstal. Since 1948, adults serving sentences of preventive detention or corrective training were added to these young persons, but it was only upon the passing of the Criminal Justice Act of last year, which your Lordships will well remember, that the responsibility of probation officers for prison after-care was extended to cover a really large number of discharged prisoners.
Your Lordships will remember that this Act added several new classes of prisoner to those who were already receiving compulsory after-care. These new classes were chosen because they included those who were likely to obtain the greatest benefit from the trained skill of the probation officer, and who might otherwise very well get into more trouble and return again to prison. For example, there were the people with long sentences, of four years and over, who obviously find it difficult to adjust themselves on their release. There were the young people under 26 who had served sentences shorter than four years but not less than six months; and there was also a very large batch of second offenders who it was hoped could be saved from a third offence.
It is interesting to compare the number of released prisoners who are being dealt with at the moment by probation officers, with the large number which it is estimated should be dealt with, if the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act are to be carried out. The present number of persons subject to statutory aftercare is only 700. It has been estimated that this number would be increased to about. 12,000 if the Criminal Justice Act were fully implemented—there would be more than ten times the number receiving after-care from probation officers. It was recognised at the time, of course, that the provisions of the Act would have to be carried out by stages, but the 433 limiting factor in the extension of compulsory after-care, and therefore in the implementation of the Act, is the number of probation officers available to do the work. This Act, which your Lordships considered with so much care and improved in so many ways, will remain a dead letter in this respect until the Probation Service is able to take on this added responsibility.
Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to quote the Morison Report, in support of the view I have expressed about the Probation Service in relation to after-care. Paragraph 103 of the Report states:When these enabling powers "—referring to the enabling powers in the Criminal Justice Act—were granted, the Government made it clear that probation officers would be the primary agents for the extended after-care and that the additional categories would be introduced only as the Probation Service was thought to be able to carry the additional burden of work. We have no doubt that a very considerable expansion of the service will be needed before Government policy in this matter can be fulfilled.Then, my Lords, on page 150, conclusion (31) says:The after-care duties of probation officers have appropriately been placed upon them. A very considerable expansion of the Probation Service would be needed before probation officers could undertake the aftercare of all those for whom the Criminal Justice Act, 1961, enables it to be provided.My Lords, it seems almost chimerical to talk about the duties the Probation Service could undertake in the future when we are considering the enormous difficulties which face the Probation Service in carrying out the duties it is supposed to carry out at the moment. The trouble at the present time is not just that there are too few probation officers to take on these additional responsibilities, but the existing officers have far too heavy a case-load. This was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Stonham very effectively when he mentioned the number of cases with which a probation officer has to deal. Often these officers are so overworked that, if they are to do their court work satisfactorily, after-care has to be neglected. They have to arrange things in order of priority; and naturally they give priority to their court work.
434 I should like to give one tragic example of what is happening at the present time—a case which I heard about last week. A man who left Swansea Prison on June 1, cannot be seen by a probation officer in Carmarthenshire, where he was going, until June 13—nearly a fortnight later. As your Lordships will know, the first days after release from prison are the most critical in an ex-prisoner's life. He may get into trouble if anything goes wrong, and he has no one to help him settle into a job and find accommodation, as all of us who have had any experience of this sort of work realise. I do not for a moment suggest that the case I have cited is typical, but it is typical in the sense that it can happen, and is happening; it is the most vivid illustration of the result of an understaffed probation service.
Direct entry to the Service has already been mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, and it is a tragic thing that the Probation Service is not only undermanned but deteriorating in quality. In 1960, of 209 recruits only 95 were trained. What the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, did not mention in his speech, when he spoke about direct entry, and gave figures for 1961, was that the reason why there was this very large number of people who came in by direct entry is not only the volume of work but also that probation officers are so very badly paid. This is another factor in bringing about what we might call the dilution of the Probation Service. I should like to say one further word about the future, because I believe that it is vastly important, when we are considering what should be done about the Probation Service, to remember its vast scope and the immensely important part that it may be called upon to play—a far more important part than it is even playing at the moment—in the treatment of the offender.
As your Lordships know, the whole question of voluntary after-care (I have been dealing only with compulsory aftercare) is now under examination by the Committee which advises the Secretary of State on the treatment of offenders. The Report of this Committee may, of course, entirely change the present system—indeed, I hope that it does bring about a very considerable change. It may easily happen that the outcome of the Report, and the Home Secretary's 435 decision on the Report, will be to put an end to the present division between statutory and voluntary after-care, so that all offenders will receive the attention of professional men, skilled men, trained in after-care work. In that event, we might easily find oursalves with a single Probation and After-Care Service, just as we have at the present time the single Prison Service. But this, of course, would be possible only if the Probation Service could be enormously expanded as compared with its present numbers. Expansion depends on recruitment and training; and recruitment and training depend, of course, on pay and other conditions of service. Conditions at the present time are so bad, as noble Lords have pointed out, that the Probation Service is unable to attract enough trained men to carry out its present duties, so that much of this work is being done by untrained or semi-trained personnel. Therefore, it is certainly in no state to undertake fresh duties.
My Lords, I believe that the treatment of offenders, of which the probation service is one aspect, is the most neglected of all our social services. Just compare it with health, housing or education. In a public statement, the Minister of Health has said that our prisons are the most neglected of our social services. But I think that the thing is really more general; I am afraid that the whole of our treatment of the offender, as compared with the treatment given in other countries, is extraordinarily backward and extraordinarily behind the times. I feel that, in doing something for the Probation Service, we shall do something to bring this whole social service up to a higher level of efficiency, and we shall help to make it a greater credit to our country.
§ 5.4 p.m.
LORD COUT ANCHE
My Lords, reference has been made twice this afternoon to the work done by Lord Samuel, when he was Sir Herbert Samuel, for the Probation Service. In the year 1932, when he was -Secretary of State for Home Affairs, I had the honour of being the Attorney General for Jersey. He paid an official visit to the Island, and with his usual care he inquired most fully into the systems then in force for dealing with crime. He found, as was in fact the case, that we were still 436 operating an antiquated system—which some of your Lordships may remember—which was known as the First Offenders Act. It was obviously hopelessly out-of-date under the then existing conditions. He asked me whether I could bring about the enactment by the States of Jersey of a probation law which would be comparable with the law which existed in this country. I was happy to be able to do that, and I should like to add my tribute in this House to-day to the great work which that great Home Secretary did in this field. I was very happy not long ago to meet Lord Samuel in the House and to realise how very vital and active he still remained.
By the time that that enactment had reached the Statute Book in the Island of Jersey, I had ceased to be Attorney General and had become the Bailiff or Chief Justice of the Island, and for a period of 25 years I was actively engaged with a jurisdiction which included probation. I think it is right that I should say that, in a small place like Jersey, with a court with an almost unlimited criminal jurisdiction, the opportunity which I had as Bailiff or Chief Justice of gaining first-hand knowledge of probation was probably greater than that which would be enjoyed by many judges in this country who have to deal with a very much greater geographical area.
As soon as it was published I read this Report with the greatest interest. I think it is a wonderful Report, and I say that with the knowledge of a person who for 25 years has had practical experience of the working of the probation system. The Report seemed to me to bring out concisely many points which are implicit in probation and which are, indeed, the foundation stones upon which it rests. Obviously, among the recommendations contained in the Morison Report is one which has occupied the attention of your Lordships a great deal to-day; and that, of course, is the question of the proper emoluments and terms of service of the officers engaged in it. I feel that perhaps I shall be doing greater good for that cause, in which I very fully and sincerely believe, by saying what I am going to say rather than by dealing specifically with the financial aspect of the matter. To put the matter in another 437 way, my Lords, I believe that by stressing, as a former judge, the value of the Probation Service to the administration of justice in the countries in which it operates, I may be doing a greater service to those officers who are employed in it than I should by specifically pleading the cause financially.
The Morison Report laid down quite clearly that there is a moral duty in a society Which believes in human rights, as does our society—I am paraphrasing—to provide, if possible, a system such as the probation system by which those who have offended may be kept in the mainstream of life and rendered once again useful citizens. In their Report, the Morison Committee naturally seek a definition of what is meant by "probation", and they have had in mind the definitions which have been sought by the League of Nations and by other bodies dealing with this great subject upon an international basis. The Morison Committee has pointed out that it is concerned, and concerned only, with probation in the United Kingdom and it confines its definition accordingly.
It seems to me that that definition can be summed up in this way: probation is a suspension of judgment. It is not, as is the case in some countries, that a count pronounces a sentence and then simply postpones its execution. In this country, as I understand it—certainly it was so in the jurisdiction which I administered—the count, being of the opinion that a crime or misdemeanour has been committed but that it is one Which may be dealt with by means of probation, inflicts no sentence of imprisonment or other punishment but, on the contrary, pronounces the sentence of probation; and, if that probation is successful, there is an end of the matter. The case is at an end.
I think there is one very important element which flows from that, and that is very clearly stated in the Report. It is essential that the magistrate or the judge who presides at such a trial, when probation is deemed to be the appropriate outcome, should make it abundantly clear to the criminal that probation is in no sense a "let off". Quite on the contrary, he or she is being trusted by the court with his or her own redemption. I think it is here that the tremendous importance of the probation officer can perhaps best be seen. He 438 must have played a great part before the count reached the decision that probation was the right answer; he will have made what I was always taught to call a probation report but which is now to be called a social report; he must have gone into the background of that criminal with the greatest care and made a confidential report, if possible with the assistance of the offender, to the court; and, on that report and on the recommendation contained in the report, the court will have decided that the case is one which is fit for probation.
There will have been this very careful warning given by the judge that probation is no "let off"; and your Lordships are well aware of the consequences which flow from the breach by an offender of the terms or conditions of his order—or, indeed, which flow even more seriously from the commission by him of a subsequent offence while he is on probation. But when the judge, whether he be a magistrate or a trial judge, has given that warning, and when he has done the best he can do to fulfil his statutory duty (because it is a statutory duty which lies upon him), then the responsibility of the probation officer comes into its full force and vigour. If all goes well, that judge will never see that criminal again, but the future of the man or woman is in the hands of that probation officer.
It does not require any special pleading from me to say to my noble friend Lord Bathurst and my noble friend Lord Dundee that I subscribe very fully to the belief that the Probation Service is deserving of every encouragement, financially and otherwise, which it can obtain. Let us consider what are the responsibilities of the probation officer. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who referred to the differential between the payment received by a probation officer and that received by some of the persons who are under his care. That is a most important aspect of this matter. It is most important, in my experience, that the State or the local authority should provide the probation officer with proper premises, where he can interview his probationers in decent and dignified surroundings. It is highly important that the probation officer should be placed by the employing authority in a position to come to that office in 439 dignity; and, since he lives and operates in small communities, he must be able to hold his head high in the community in which he is called upon to serve, knowing that he is a servant of the State who is meeting his obligations to that community in every way. In order for him to do those things, do we not all know that it is necessary that he should have appropriate remuneration?
I have ventured to speak to your Lordships to-day because I have a long practical experience of the working of the Probation Service from the bench. I know that many of your Lordships have similar experience, but in the course of this debate no one has given expression to those exact thoughts. I have been honoured and proud to address your Lordships and to say these things to-day. I conclude, as I began, by saying that if I have not referred in very definite terms to the financial aspect of the recommendations of the Committee, it is because I hope and believe that by paying the tribute which I have tried to pay to the Service I may have done them more good than if I had engaged in a lot of special pleading on their behalf.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
My Lords, this debate, on a very remarkable Report, has shown your Lordships, I am quite convinced, the special urgency that marks the needs of the Probation Service; and not only the special urgency, but the special needs that make that urgency so strong. If only we could find a variable by which to evaluate the work done by the probation officer, the evidence would be so conclusive that we should not need to say anything more to prove our case. One of the difficulties, I think, is that the work of the probation officer, and the real value of his work to the nation and the community, can be absolutely appreciated only by those who work with him and are in very close touch with him. I think that what the noble Lord who has just sat down has said shows us very clearly how much one has to be steeped in the work itself to realise to the full the contribution the probation officer makes to the community in which he operates.
Like other speakers, I am convinced that it is imperative in a scheme of value 440 to the nation that the pillars of such a service should be properly prepared for their task with adequate and necessary training in every one of its facets, and that they should be properly—and I mean properly—paid for the job. We as a nation have great pride in the lead we have always taken in matters to do with the law; in the pattern and the calibre of our police force. I should like to suggest to your Lordships that we are now at the stage where an opportunity is given to us to place our probation scheme alongside the other great adjuncts of the law. Anyone who has read the Morison Report, or even just a part of it, must be dismayed at the versatility that is demanded of a probation officer. He must have a really working knowledge of the law; it is necessary that he understands and is master of the difficult task of giving evidence; he has the full responsibility, as the Morison Report states on page 4, of the offender, who isconditionally entrusted with freedom so that he may learn the social duties it involves…And, as the Morison Report also states, he must see that the offender gets continuing attention from him.
The probation officer is the modern method of dealing with special cases of law-breaking within the community, and on him may well depend whether a human being leads a life of normal decency or degenerates into a complete and tragic ruin. In view of this prime responsibility, he must, in addition to his learning—and I think this is one of the most difficult things of all—understand and practise discipline in the right measure; and because of the type of person he is invariably working with, he must mix compassion with discretion, and sympathy and human understanding with fact-finding and balance in judgment. I think that the probation officer of this generation has done one of the finest jobs of pioneering in his field that could ever have been envisaged by anyone, and I hope that your Lordships will agree with me that the time has come to give the scheme national standards, and make it a national service, with national support and national incentive.
If I could paint a picture of the Probation Service which I should like to see (and, because I should like to see it in my lifetime, I should like it to start very soon), I should take the objective as a 441 recognised national service, with its own special training, its own good standards of pay, and its own methods of promotion. This would ensure that the right people would be attracted, which is the only way we shall get a good service; and not only would they be attracted, but recruitment would be brisk, and officers would not be lured away through a salary temptation.
Those who seek to serve the Probation Service are not greedy; their seeking other posts with better pay is not because of an urge for greed, but from a sense of despair and out of consideration for their families. If salaries were adequate, men and women would remain in the Service not harassed by the knowledge that they were earning less than they should be earning, and that, in consequence, their dependants were suffering. They could, with a clear mind, continue to render a really valuable contribution to the life of the community and to the nation as a whole. I feel that it is incredibly short-sighted of us to spend time (which is costly) and effort (which is specialised) on training people who are then lost to the community in a very special field, because of our failure to see that we are giving up a capital asset. As the greatest nation there has ever been in the realm of unseen exports, it is surely tragic if we close our eyes to this loss of a capital investment in the shape of a trained and experienced probation officer, even if he be not listed as an asset in the books of the country.
I should like to see the Probation Service extended to undertake the aftercare of all those who require it, and not to have its activities limited to those who are subject to statutory after-care. But as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, this can come only in due course. I should like to see the Service grow, expand and prosper; and for this purpose I believe that there should be an independent board at the head of it, appointed by the Home Secretary, but with sufficient latitude of construction so that such a board could really support and strengthen the Service in its growth and in its work, and an advance on present conditions could be achieved in the very near future. Such a board would obviously work with the local committees, and would carry the full 442 responsibility of training, inspecting, evolving and supporting the Service as a whole.
To my mind, the value of such a board would be that it would not be large. Too many boards seem to be suffering from being so large that they have difficulties inherent in their formation. The board should have on it very specially selected people of real worth who really mind about the Service with which they are dealing. The members of the board, at any rate in the incipient stages of its construction, should be chosen because of their personal worth. I should like to see a valiant heart—a man with vision, understanding, and courage—take on the task of chairman of such a board, and for the board to clear a path, make a pattern and establish a way to achieve the standards we are all agreed upon.
If such a board were responsible to the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, but could be otherwise independent in their action and flexible in their approach, a tremendous move forward could be achieved, and the law and order of the country served in a very up-to-date way. It must be an independent board, responsible, of course, to the Home Secretary, but engaged on the work of probation and after-care service alone, and should not be in any way a board of people whose hands are tied in any respect by stereotyped rules and regulations. If such a board were allowed to build a Probation Service, it could be ours within a very measurable time, and the whole world would envy it and, indeed, would aim to copy it. Such a piece of work would be worthy of its protagonists, and would be a challenge, too. But the results could be more far-reaching in the life of our country than, I respectfully submit, even your Lordships realise. It would need courage to undertake and would take zest to achieve; but these are the characteristics of the real men of this country, and I am convinced that it would be possible.
The real value of a Probation Officer is that he cares about his job. He really minds about his "patient". He is anxious to succeed in his task of helping those who have broken the law, and his objective is to re-establish this 443 same "patient" in normal life and to a normal way of living. To do this, the probation officer has a variety of officials and voluntary services on whom he can call; but, as happens in life with each one of us, he will use only those persons who have gained his confidence and earned the right to serve. All people who are hard pressed tend to do more and more themselves, because there is no time to look around and use other media; and the recommendations in the Morison Report makes these points clear and easy to understand.
If we were able to undertake and achieve what I am visualising, I believe that the probation officer of the future could call on so many less qualified people to help him that his task in regard to ancillary matters could be greatly eased, and the community could be brought into further service by its citizens' contributing their efforts towards the solution of local problems. In the long run, this would make a real impression on national trends, and would, I believe, be of real value to the country.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, I want to intervene for only a very few moments to make one particular point; and it is not inappropriate, perhaps, to do so after the very important speech of the noble Lady, who has stressed once again the urgency of this matter. The point I wish to speak about, very shortly, is the problem of the direct entrants, which has already been referred to by other noble Lords. Everyone who knows anything about the Probation Service must be anxious about this matter. The trained probation officers are, as we all know, very overworked; and they are overworked particularly on account of the existence of the direct entrants, for two reasons. One is that their case-loads are much heavier than they would be if there were more fully trained people; secondly, they have the extra work involved in training the direct entrants. The figures of case-loads are really misleading, because whereas an officer who is highly trained has a very heavy caseload, a direct entrant is naturally allowed and encouraged to have only a very small case-load. So that when you see the average figure for the case-loads of probation officers, it is totally misleading 444 and does not represent at all the extreme overwork of the trained officers.
The point I want to make is referred to on page 158 of the Report. The Departmental Committee there say this:The rapid expansion of the service in England and Wales has not kept pace with the increase in work and it has been necessary to admit a high proportion of untrained persons".That we all know. The next sentence, which is the only sentence in this admirable Report with which I do not agree, says:It would be unrealistic at present to set a date after which such appointments are forbidden".From a little experience of administration, I think that that is a mistake, and I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply whether he would consider this point. I believe that unless we give the administration of this Service a definite target, and set a date, we shall not get this job done. It is very urgent. I would rather say here and now that, even at a distance of five years, direct entrance will come to an end and will not be permitted any more. If we accept that one sentence in this wonderful Report, I suggest that we shall not have that urgency which is demanded by the situation. The Report does not say why it would be unrealistic to set a date and the paragraph to which it refers, paragraph 284, does not say so either. I can understand officials not being anxious to be tied down to a date, but I think that it is very good for them to be tied down to a date, and I should like to ask the noble Earl whether he will give serious consideration to this matter.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I have never been more uncertain about whether I was wise to ask your Lordships to let me speak at all. It is a very sound convention in your Lordships' House that anyone who purports to wind up a debate for any side should have heard the debate or missed very little of it, but for reasons not under my control I was bound to be away from the House until now and it might be asked if my speech were really necessary. If any noble Lord moves, "That the noble Lord be no longer heard", I can sympathise with him.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
We are all against it.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The noble Earl is too kind. If any noble Lord were to do that and it were to be put to the House under Government Whip, I am certain it would be carried.
I would venture to speak for a few minutes only to indicate my tremendous concern about this problem. My connection with the Probation Service does not go back so far or so deep as that of the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, who is the master of all of us in this field, and I apologise to him for having missed his speech. I hear that it was impressive and formidable and I will read it with great care. The noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, and other noble Lords who have spent many years in the closest association with the Probation Service, have spoken this afternoon, and I have a rough idea of the speech of my noble friend Lord Stonham, who is a real champion of the Service in your Lordships' House and elsewhere.
I feel that everything that I have heard and the things said before I came in have in no way overestimated the anxiety that everybody must feel in regard to this Service, which is one of the moral key-points in the development of the Welfare State. I simply do not accept any argument—I do not know whether one has been put, but I hope it was not—that recruitment is proceeding at a satisfactory pace. I do not believe that any noble Lord would submit that idea to the House. There must be a great anxiety about the recruiting position, particularly when we regard the much increased responsibilities that are bound to fall on the Probation Service.
I am one of those who line up behind the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, in the lead she has given in the field of after-care and behind other noble Lords in pressing other responsibilities on the Probation Service. All this, as the Committee point out, must increase their responsibilities greatly. Unless I am mistaken, the special responsibilities which the noble Baroness has in mind in the field of after-care have not been fully taken into account, because the Government have not yet reached a decision, and any figures quoted from the Report 446 about this target must be lower than the figures actually required.
Perhaps I may branch off for a moment to return to what I said about the Probation Service being the moral keypoint to the Welfare State. It is perhaps the most important of all the services that are trying to make our Welfare State. It is not only a service of material improvement, but a service of moral regeneration. There are many other services which rival it in these directions. One thinks of prison officers, of teachers and of the workers in the field of mental health, with whom the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, is so closely concerned. Wherever one looks, it is a question of whether the Welfare State can achieve our aims or whether it will be defeated by a lack of necessary personnel.
I am also sorry that I missed the speech of the right reverend Prelate, but I believe he pointed out that holy poverty should be enjoyed by those who preach it rather than imposed on those who have to suffer it. If he spoke to that effect, I would heartily agree with him. I am bound to say that I become a little sick—although in the course of years in politics I know that a Minister becomes desperate when his case is bad—when I hear it said that the wonderful people in the Probation Service are above any material award. I hope that that suggestion will not be made to-day by the Minister in reply. But I am bound to say that Ministers have talked in this way, that it would be almost insulting to offer these people a living wage. This is what I am afraid turns the stomach a little. But I cannot believe that either the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, or the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, would adopt any language of that kind.
I will not begin to discuss the pay pause, particularly as I have heard so little of the debate. But the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, is a connoisseur of nice quotations and I have this from an essay about President Lincoln, which I think will appeal to him, in the abstract, if not as it might be applied to the pay pause. When President Lincoln dismissed McClellan in 1862, he spoke about him in this way to a fellow politician:Yes, he has got it slow, Mr. Blair. He is an admirable engineer, but he seems to have a special talent for the stationary engine.447 With some qualification of the reference to the "admirable engineer", this is how many of us see the performance of the Government to date. They have a genius for promoting stagnation and then making a virtue of their own unpopularity. That is all I need say on this subject, because we can debate this matter another day.
I would recall something that was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a great gathering the other day. He is reported in The Times as saying—and I quote this because it should perhaps be of some interest to those who feel bound to accept the pay pause for want of anything better but are ready to consider the possibility that the Probation Service is a special cause. Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, according to The Times, said that the Governmentfully recognised that there were special cases in which the pay of specialist services needed reviewing, particularly where a longer training is required and there is a special sense of calling, but they must reserve special treatment for what were genuinely special cases.I do not know what special cases he could have in mind which would be stronger cases than that of the Probation Service. There may be others as strong—they do not come into my mind at the moment—but none could be stronger. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships will feel able to vote for this Motion, which I hope will be pressed, without passing censure on the whole economic policy of the Government; because there may be noble Lords who feel that, with the best will in the world to the Probation Service, they can hardly commit themselves to a sweeping condemnation of those whom they revere on other grounds.
The argument placed before us this afternoon seems to me to be clear: that the Morison Report, to which we all, I am sure, pay genuine tribute, has said that the Probation Service cannot do its work unless there are substantial increases in pay; and Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said that there are special cases in which an increase of pay beyond his 2½ per cent. would be justified. I would respectfully submit (although I missed the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst) that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, or any Government speaker would find it impossible to justify the 448 attitude that has been taken up. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has, I believe, explained the story of the wage negotiations. He has explained that from that point of view also, apart from the special urgency of the work that these people are doing, here is a special case. Pay increases would have been granted three years ago, as I understand it, and it was only the accident of Government initiative in setting up a Committee that, so to speak, caught the Probation Service in the pay pause.
I realise that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, is a member of a team and unable to give effect to his own sentiments, whatever they may be, this afternoon. I appreciate, therefore, that he is a victim rather than the aggressor in any steps that may be taken. But I ask him to believe that the kind of argument used by the Prime Minister the other day, that the blame for this restriction of pay to the Probation Service should not be directed towards the Government but towards certain employers and unions, is the most discreditable argument I have ever heard from an eminent man whom we all greatly respect on other grounds. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, spoke strongly on that argument. This suggestion that nurses and probation officers might cry out to the employers and the trade unions and ask them in some way to go slow so that an increase of pay could be accorded is one that I never thought to hear from anybody who led our people.
I realise that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has little latitude. I feel that if he had any latitude, with his well-known humanity he would, in view of this debate, wish to make full use of it. But while I appreciate that the noble Earl must for the moment stand by his Government's decisions, I hope that all who care for the Probation Service will, within half an hour or so from now, show in the clearest possible way that they view the Government's attitude to these invaluable, indispensable and almost uniquely devoted officers with horror and contempt.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, our discussion to-day has been distinguished by speeches from nine of your Lordships whose knowledge of this subject is unrivalled and many of whom 449 have devoted themselves for many years to the purpose of making our criminal laws more liberal and humane and with the object of reforming criminals when their reformation is possible. The speech of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, I can assure him, is not the least interesting and important of those to which we have listened and, although he arrived at the eleventh hour, we who have borne the burden and heat of the day certainly will not grudge him at least an equal reward to that which any of us may claim. I am grateful for the kind references that he made to me, and I will certainly try to avoid saying anything which might offend the proprieties of the senior common room.
My noble friend Lord Bathurst, in an admirable speech, has clearly expressed the attitude of the Government towards many of the issues arising out of the Morison Report. Lord Bathurst is the only member of the Government in your Lordships' House whose official duties are connected with the Home Office. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, who would no doubt have been winding up the debate if he had been here, has obtained your Lordships' leave to go on a visit to the United States, and I must therefore plead for your Lordships' special indulgence in replying to this debate. Not only has my mind been heavily preoccupied lately with foreign affairs, and occasionally with transport, but even if I had had more time officially to study the issues arising out of this Report, my knowledge of the subject would be very much less than that of any of your Lordships who have spoken this afternoon, whose knowledge is based on real experience and work up and down the country.
The questions which your Lordships have raised have, I think, fallen generally into two parts: first, dissatisfaction with the postponement of the major increase in pay recommended by the Morison Report; and secondly, a number of questions, some of them small and some large, upon the implementation of the Report, and detailed questions, some legal and some administrative, arising out of it, which, of course, include, among other things, the question of how pay should be decided in future—although that is not relevant to the first question about the present recommendation for an increase, because 450 that would have to be settled, in any case, before new legislation could be passed.
I feel that I should deal with the pay question first, because not only did the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, make it his main point of criticism, but many other of your Lordships have expressed strong and easily understood feelings about it. Indeed, I listened carefully to the most well-thought-out and delivered and interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and it seemed to me that the only real point of difference between us was the date at which this recommendation to increase pay should be implemented by the Government. He gave the figures very frankly, and I agree with the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, that, however much or however little the probation officers may be getting, their pay has in general for a very long time been out of proportion to other people's. It is a question of proportion rather than the actual amount. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, frankly and candidly admitted that there had been no increase from 1946 to 1951. There was, in fact, an increase of from £570 to £590 of the maximum salary in January 1951. Since then, I will give the figures of such increases as have occurred. In January, 1952, there was an increase in the maximum rate from £590 to £610; in September, 1952, to £675; in April, 1954, to £700; in January, 1955, to £750; in March, 1956, to £795; in January, 1957, to £860; in October, 1958, to £910, and in August, 1960, to £1,025.
I have admitted that my own acquaintance with this subject is pitifully small and I ask for your Lordships' indulgence. I have tried to ascertain the opinions of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary about this whole Report so that I may be able to give them accurately to your Lordships. I agree that this figure of £1,025, although it is nearly twice as much as it was 1951, is too little. As the right reverend Prelate said, that is in proportion to other people—it has not gone up enough. But when the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, made his quotation from King Lear:The weight of this sad time we must obeyI could not help feeling that the weight and the sadness of the misfortunes about which King Lear was complaining were 451 perhaps a little heavier and a little sadder than the misfortune of having your pay doubled in ten years, even though you may rightly feel that it ought to have been trebled instead.
§ LORD STONHAM
May I interrupt the noble Earl? If a man has been in training for seven years and has just come out of training, and he is going to get an increase, not on £1,000 a year but on £12 a week—which is the basic salary after waiting four years—then he feels that his plight is something more than he can bear, and he leaves the Service.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I was only suggesting that what King Lear suffered might perhaps be a little more strenuous than that. But I admit that it is proportionately too little.
The noble Earl, Lord Feversham, in the course of a most moving speech, based on profound and long experience of this subject, in a few asides was kind enough to anticipate what my speech would be, and he put it much better than I could have put it myself. But I feel that if I did not say anything about the Government's economic policy in this context, which a Front Bench spokesman is expected to say, the noble Earl would certainly want his money back. Therefore, it is necessary, and relevant, that I should discuss this question of probation officers' pay in the only context which matters. Because if it were not for the context of our economic policy there would be nothing between us at all. I know that my right honourable friend would have accepted the recommendation immediately, instead of with a year's delay.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, have the Government made it plain (I apologise for being absent when possibly this was explained earlier) that they would accept these actual recommendations about pay with a year's delay?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I would ask the noble Earl to read in Hansard what my noble friend Lord Bathurst said in his speech about that matter. Just to get it quite right, I will, if I may, repeat, not exactly what my noble friend said, but make a more careful statement about that a little further on. It is so easy, 452 when replying to an interruption, to say something which might be misunderstood, and I want to be careful to get everything exactly right. So, if the noble Earl will allow me, I will leave that to a little later.
I quoted a moment ago the maximum salaries since 1946. It is rather interesting to compare the general trend of wages and prices since then. I would assure your Lordships that I am not doing this from a Party point of view at all, because I have often said in debates in your Lordships' House that from 1946 to 1951 the difficulties were greater than they have been since. Moreover, we were only just beginning to grapple with the problem of trying to reconcile full employment with stable prices, and the fact that we had less success in the first five years does not necessarily mean that the people who were in power were to be blamed for it. We are all trying to learn by experience how to do the same thing.
For the first five years after the war, prices went up by about 40 per cent., and wages by about 37 per cent. For the next ten years, prices went up by about 35 per cent. and wages by about 80 per cent. So you may say: "Well, why worry? You have now reached a position in which prices are only going up 35 per cent. to every 80 per cent. increase in wages. Surely, the majority of people must be getting better off". But, my Lords, that does not mean that it is good enough. It is not; and I think we ail know why.
There are several reasons why it is not good enough. One is, as I am sure your Lordships will have often read in the Reports of the O.E.E.C. (which give a view which is not an internal view, but a view from some of the best economists in the world outside this country) what is happening to our economy. They have always pointed out that our tendency here to increase our incomes more quickly than production has greatly lowered our competitve power, and that the result of this inflationary wage-cost spiral has been that we are not able to increase our exports and our economic growth nearly so quickly as we should otherwise have been able to do. That is one very good reason for every Government and every Opposition, and all of us together, trying to bring an end to inflation.
453 Another domestic reason is, of course, that although a great many people are relatively better off for the time being under this inflationary spiral, a great many other people, who may be much more deserving, are worse off. And the people who are most apt to be worse off are university dons, hospital nurses and probation officers, exactly the kind of people about whom we are in difficulties now in this pay pause. But in the long run it is more to their advantage than to anybody else's that inflation should be checked.
Perhaps the strongest reason of all, which we do not always think very much about, is that this lowering of our competitive power by the wage-cost spiral prevents us from earning enough money to help under-developed countries all over the world. It is to some extent the same in every other big industrial country. Even the huge amount which America is able to give would be greater if the United States to some extent had not had the same problem as we have had, of the power to earn foreign exchange being held in check by a wage-cost spiral at home. In fact the amount of foreign aid we have all been able to give has hardly been enough to compensate these under-developed countries for the losses which they have suffered by falls in the prices of primary products. Therefore it is very important for their future—and for ours, too, because our future depends in the long run on how much we can help these underdeveloped countries, and the future of freedom—that we should earn enough to give them the help they need; and we cannot do that while this wage-cost inflationary spiral goes on.
Your Lordships will remember that it was stopped for a very short time from about the end of 1957 until near the end of 1960. Measures taken at the end of 1957 did stop inflation at the cost of checking economic growth. A year or two later economic growth began again. I am afraid that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is not here at the moment, but I must refer to one thing which he said; that surely now, this year, when our economic growth is beginning again, when production is increasing and our balance of payments is improving, was the time we could afford to make increases in our expenditure. That is exactly what happened in 454 1959–60, with the result that the spiral occurred all over again, and we found that we had not really got out of this "'Stop 'and' Go'" policy.
What we should all aim at trying to do is not to spend money before we have earned it; not even to spend money as we earn it; but to spend money a little after we have earned it, so that we have a surplus, so that we are able to build up and are able to reduce our costs. In these times that sounds a foolish ideal, although it used to be a practical ideal not to increase our costs but to increase our productive power. That is what we want to do. We tried for the first period of what was called the pay pause, from July to April, to persuade everybody not to have any increase in incomes at all.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
The noble Viscount asks about surtax, but he does not mention the double increase of profits tax, in 1960 and 1961, which raised profits tax by 50 per cent.
This policy which we have been trying to introduce since last July was divided—it has always been divided—into three stages. The first stage, in which we hoped there would be no increase in incomes, came to an end in April. Then came another period, which will last probably until the beginning of next year, in which, although we think it is in accordance with good political economy that there should be some increase, it should not in general exceed 2½ per cent. The most difficult time comes after that when we want perhaps to have a greater increase in incomes but with a better proportion, so that those who are engaged in work which ought to be paid more highly get bigger increases than other people. What we have to do is to find some method by which one justifiable increase in wages will not be followed automatically by a whole round of other increases which will only have the effect of raising prices and making things worse relatively than they were before.
My noble friend Lord Feversham asked if this pay pause is succeeding, and suggested that it was not. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, also mentioned, I think it was, 77 cases in which wage 455 increases had been given in excess of what the Government described as the ideal to be aimed at. Of course many of those were in respect of agreements which had been made before the pay pause began, but I agree that there have been a fair number of wage increases which have not been in accordance with the Government's policy. That must certainly be admitted. But I do not think the increases have been so many or so large as they would have been if the Government had not made this appeal and given an example themselves of wage restraint. We estimate that between October last year and April this year wages have, in fact, increased by just over 2 per cent., and that if it had not been for the pay pause they would have increased by 3 per cent. That difference of just under 1 per cent. may not seem very much; but even a marginal difference like that has a very great effect on the economy.
Of course in these things there is always a time lag between a wage increase and the price increase which follows it. It is to be hoped that the recent rise in the cost of living may soon stop; and, as your Lordships know, there is much welcome evidence that our balance of trade, exports and production are improving. It is natural, I think, that the Press should give prominence to any cases in which wage awards are made inconsistent with the Government's policy, and represent that it is breaking down; but very little or nothing is said about the millions of workers, the great majority, who either have not had a rise in incomes or have had increases which are in accordance with the prescription laid down by the Government.
I am not going to look any further forward than this. I saw, and no doubt your Lordships saw, the first leading article in The Times this morning with the heading "Freedom" in which The Times pointed out that it was perfectly consistent with political freedom that we should insist on enforcing the collection of taxes and that nobody would suggest that taxes ought to be fixed by negotiation between the Government and the taxpayer. The Times went on to argue that in the same way, if it is in the national interest that wages should be restrained, we should not leave wages to free negotiation between the worker and the employer but that we should intro- 456 duce some kind of measure, some kind of compulsion—which they did not specify—in order to see that the inflationary wage spiral in future was held in check.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I have it here. I do not know whether the noble Viscount has seen it or was interested in it.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
The real argument which the article is pointing out is what is real freedom and what is not; that what is sometimes understood by freedom is something which cannot be managed. But the Government did tell the people that they would "set the people free".
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
That is a very interesting point, but I was not going to argue about the merits of The Times' leader this morning. It is possible that events may prove that The Times is right, and that you cannot check the inflationary wage-cost spiral unless you introduce some measure apart from voluntary co-operation and guidance by the Government, so as to enforce more stable and level prices and to enable us to have more competitive power. The noble Earl, Lord Feversham quoted what Mr. Attlee said ten or twelve years ago about the need to do this by voluntary effort; and I have often heard in your Lordships' House during the last five years proposals put forward, and always I think received with a very wide measure of approval, that we ought to have some voluntary body, on which the employers, trade unions and the Government would all be represented, to try to keep wages more stable by voluntary action. I think we ought to give that a chance before we consider anything more. We have set up the N.E.D.C. which we hope will do, when the third stage of this policy arrives, precisely what we all want: that is, agree voluntarily on a wage policy which will enable some people to get their increased wages without everybody else claiming an equally large increase at the same time.
I have tried to make this general policy plain because I know your Lordships wished it. But let me just give 457 one more assurance particularly about the probation officers. I want to make it clear that there is no question of the Government turning down the case made by the Morison Committee for revaluation of Probation Service salaries. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced in the House of Commons on May 10 that the Government were in no doubt that the Probation Service ought to receive a substantial increase of pay at the appropriate time, and he has made it clear that the Government are ready to examine the wider claims of the Service at the beginning of next year. The problem is to find a way of revaluing particular and deserving services without departing from the general policy of linking wage increases to increases of productivity. Might I just repeat again that our fundamental object of preventing inflation is a thing which in the long run will be of greater benefit to those people who are suffering most at the moment, relatively speaking, from the pay pause; those people like dons and the hospital nurses and these probation officers. That is why I said when the noble Earl, Lord Longford, interrupted me that I thought, so far as I could see, the only difference between the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the Government was the date at which we would implement this recommendation.
The noble Lord also asked a number of particular questions. He asked about the administration of the London Probation Service and what was to happen about that. My Lords, this proposal will be considered in the light of the new structure for local government in Greater London which the Government propose to introduce. I sympathise with What the noble Lord said and what the Morison Committee said about this. They themselves pointed out that local government changes will affect the administration of a number of probation areas and parts of areas, including the metropolitan magistrates' courts area, and it would not be practicable to consider that as a separate problem. He asked also about the prescription of probation officers salaries by the Secretary of State which is dealt with in paragraph 347 of the Morison Report. I particularly asked my right honourable Mend about this and he said he would take account of any views expressed in the debate. The proposal will have to be 458 considered not only in relation to the situation in this particular Service but with due regard to the Government's interest in the public sector as a Whole, which cannot, of course, affect the present salary negotiations because it is a question of future administration.
The noble Baroness, Lady Swanborougih, whom we were all so interested to hear, raised the subject of voluntary assistance to probation officers. Probation officers are trained to make all appropriate use of the help of voluntary agencies. Your Lordships will appreciate that their supervisory work calls for the skill and training of professional case workers. On the other hand, there may well be scope for greater voluntary assistance, especially in the field of after-care, and that will be a matter which the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders will have in mind in their present study of after-care. The noble Baroness will know that Miss Johnson, social service administrator of the W.V.S., is a member of the subcommittee of the Council which is making thus inquiry, and I am sure that her experience of voluntary work will be invaluable to them.
There are many other matters which various noble Lords have raised; that which my noble friend Lord Clitheroe raised about direct entry was dealt with earlier toy my noble friend Lord Bathurst. We might extend the arguments for it, but as there is such a shortage, or likely to be such a shortage, as the work of the Probation Service expands, I do not think we could give a date. In fact we agree with the Morison Committee on this matter, which was the only point on which my noble friend Lord Clitheroe said he did not agree with them.
The question of case loads was also raised. The Committee's recommendations on the assessment of the amount of work which it is reasonable for a probation officer to carry are matters which the Home Secretary will consider in the light of the present staffing situation. Of course there are some case loads at present which are below the recommended standard. The average at the end of 1960, the latest available time, was 61, and I do not think there is any reason to fear that it has fallen substantially since then.
459 In considering this Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has put down, urging the Government to accept the recommendations of the Report, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is very anxious to assure your Lordships that he does accept the principle of this, and he has given me authority to advise your Lordships to accept the noble Lord's Motion. In view of the speech which the noble Lord has made, I am quite sure he would not wish the acceptance of this Motion to commit the Home Secretary to implement every recommendation in the Report without first consulting the various local authorities, committees and others who have to be consulted before recommendations can be implemented.
That particularly applies, I think, to Scotland, which none of your Lordships has discussed in our debate. The local authorities in Scotland, I think, would be very anxious to be consulted very thoroughly indeed about this, and we could not accept a Motion of this kind without making it absolutely clear that we should have to have very full consultation with Scottish local authorities before accepting any of the recommendations in regard to Scotland. This applies similarly to the recommendations on recruitment and training of probation officers, on which my right honourable friend will naturally wish to take account of the opinion of his Probation Advisory and Training Board, and, indeed, of the Probation Service itself before he reaches any conclusions. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, would agree that his Motion does not imply that any of these necessary consultations must be dispensed with, or that people who ought to be consulted should be neglected.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, might I ask one question on one point? I agree that not one of us would want an undertaking that all the recommendations of the Committee would be accepted without consideration and consultation with the authority concerned. But does the acceptance of this Motion indicate acceptance by the Government of increases in salary of the order of the recommendations?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I have tried to indicate what it does mean. My right honourable friend has not gone any further than to agree that a substantial increase in salary is warranted. It seemed to me that the difference between the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the Government was not on the substantial nature of the increase which is warranted, but about the date at which it should be done.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I must point out that, whilst one is most anxious to be conciliatory when the noble Earl says that the Government accept the Motion, of course longer and longer delay may mean that even the figure in the recommendation of the Morison Report will be insufficient to meet the situation which may arise.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, all I can tell your Lordships is that my right honourable friend has authorised me to accept Lord Stonham's Motion. And I think it only right that I should make these qualifications, which I think must be obvious: that he has to consult with such people as the Scottish local authorities and his own Probation Advisory and Training Board. Having said that, I would again assure the noble Lord that the Home Secretary is content to accept his Motion as a general expression of the feelings of the House about the Report, and of the importance which the House rightly attaches to the continuing improvement and development of the Probation Service, to which the Home Secretary also attaches the highest importance. My right honourable friend has asked me to assure your Lordships that he and the Government will continue the examination of the Committee's recommendations with all possible speed, and without any avoidable delay.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Earl for his speech; but he will appreciate that since he was not himself entirely clear as to where he stood, we are in somewhat the same position and do not quite know where we are. I feel that when one moves a Motion in your Lordships' 461 House and is told by the Minister replying on behalf of the Government that he accepts the Motion on behalf of his right honourable friend and the Government, no more can be asked for, or expected. But I hope that, before the Motion is put to your Lordships, I may be allowed just to express my thanks to my noble Mend Lady Swanborough, and those noble Lords who have taken part. I feel it to be true that every contribution was made from great knowledge, and with great sincerity, and will be much appreciated by those devoted men and women whom we desire to serve. I should hope that the whole debate has not been unworthy of them and of the Service. Certainly it has been a debate completely free from acrimony and from any kind of Party feeling.
Everyone, including the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has now spoken in favour of the Motion. I must confess I had a little doubt when he took me to task for my reference to King Lear. The noble Earl seemed to think that that was stretching it a bit. But, after all, King Lear was only one old man in a mess because he had two delinquent daughters. We are concerned with hundreds of thousands of people in a mess, who will be in an even greater mess if they lose any of their 1,750 probation officers. So I do not think that that point was exaggerated.
At the beginning of his speech the noble Earl said that the only real point of difference is the date when the increases in pay will be implemented. That is extremely important. If the noble Earl had not taken the course that he has, I should have indicated its importance in respect of those most devoted officers who we have reason to believe (the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, will know this to be true) have handed in their resignations since May 10, or are about to do so. I shall not burden your Lordships with them, but I have copies of most moving letters which would convince anyone. I do not want to read them. The point is that I hope that this debate will be a message of encouragement and hope from your Lordships' House, and 462 that it will be interpreted as such by the probation officers.
The second point of importance is the actual rate of the salary increases. Of course I am not going into the arguments—the Morison Committee did that; but I think the general consensus of opinion is that the recommended increases were no more than fair and no more than was necessary. It seemed to me that the noble Earl's answer, when he was pressed by my noble Leader and myself, was somewhat equivocal. I hope that acceptance by your Lordships of this Motion:that this House urges Her Majesty's Government to implement its conclusions and recommendationswill be interpreted by your Lordships, by the country and by the Government, when they have studied this debate, as at least the desire of us all that they should get all that is suggested, now that the case has been established; that they should not have to wait until 1963, and that as soon as the consultations have taken place with the authorities, then these salary increases should be granted.
§ LORD STONHAM
My noble Leader suggests that I ask whether the increases, when they are granted, could be dated back. That, of course, is a matter of great importance. But the noble Earl himself asked me, did I mean dated back to 1959, when the Committee was formed, or only to May, 1962, when it announced its findings. I hope that this debate will be interpreted as our urgent wish that the matter should be considered with the greatest urgency, and that, irrespective of the other detailed recommendations, the recommended increases in salaries will be granted as quickly as possible, which means long before the beginning of 1963.
§ On Question, Resolution agreed to.
§ House adjourned at twenty-nine minutes past six o'clock.