HL Deb 18 December 1972 vol 337 cc920-38

7.48 p.m.

LORD WELLS-PESTELL rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the deep resentment in the Probation Service at the implementation of the A and B salary scales for probation officers recommended in the Butterworth Report. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is with some regret that I ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper, because along with a good many of my friends in the Probation Service we are not unmindful of the understanding and the sympathy which the noble Lord, the Minister who will be replying, has shown to the Probation Service. That is true of his predecessor also, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. We had hoped that with the setting up of the Butterworth Inquiry—whose Report the noble Lord, the Minister, I am sure will say, the National Association of Probation Officers said they would accept—this would be the end of many difficulties in that particular Service. Perhaps I ought to have asked your Lordships in a proper Motion to examine the Butterworth Report, but I did not do so because I thought it would be more appropriate to ask your Lordships to consider just one aspect of the Butterworth Report which is causing grave anxiety and, to put it quite bluntly, deep resentment in the Probation Service at the present time.

I have known the Probation Service intimately for forty years. Long before the war I spent some years in that Service. I think it is true to say that until two or three years ago it was comparatively little known, because it was very much a silent service, but to-day, for the first time in its history—and I regret this very much indeed—a large number of probation officers have gone on strike for one day, and many of them have visited the precincts of the Houses of Parliament.

I want to confine myself, as I said, to one aspect of the Butterworth Report, which, in an attempt—and I am quite prepared to believe it was a sincere attempt—to try to deal with the salary situation, has introduced into the Probation Service something which I believe is quite intolerable: and I mean what I say when I say "intolerable". The Butterworth Inquiry was set up by the then Secretary of State for Employment, Mr. Robert Carr, in December, 1971. If your Lordships will allow me just to paraphrase its major term of reference, it was: to carry out a fact-finding inquiry into the work of basic and senior grade probation officers and that of grades of social workers of broadly comparable salary levels employed by local authorities and hospital authorities, and to evaluate and compare the work of those groups. It was further charged with the responsibility to make recommendations in respect of the Probation Service in time for negotiations for a pay settlement operative from July 1, 1972. And, broadly speaking, it has discharged both those responsibilities, I accept.

The Butterworth Inquiry paid considerable tribute to the work of probation officers. It drew attention to the fact that in recent years the work has gone far beyond that of probation work as we understand it. It has brought in the after-care of people discharged from detention centres, from borstal institutions, from various other penal establishments, even to taking on parole. If I may be allowed to refer to the Minister as my noble friend, he has said in this House on more than one occasion, as his colleague has said in another place, that the working of the Criminal Justice Act will depend to a very large extent, if not entirely, upon the goodwill and the dedication to service of the probation officers.

What the Butterworth Report has done is to introduce an A and B scale of salary for the main grade officer, and it has become necessary, therefore, for somebody to lay down the kind of criteria by which one can progress from Scale A to Scale B. One of the criteria is that one has to be in the Probation Service for a minimum of three years, it has been said possibly five years, before one can be considered for promotion to the B scale; and only then when that person is held to meet a number of other requirements in relation to qualities and characteristics. I want your Lordships to ask yourselves what must be the position when you get two properly qualified probation officers working in the same office, in the same court, dealing with precisely the same kind of delinquents, but one on the A scale, which is the lower scale, and the other on the B scale. Because that is the situation; those are main grade probation officers.

All through the country at the moment, not only here in Inner London, probation officers who were originally on the same level—besic grade or main grade officers, on the same salary scale—now find themselves sorted into sheep and goats, where one is getting a much lower scale than the other for doing precisely the same kind of work. Can your Lordships visualise anything more calculated to cause annoyance, frustration and resentment? For the life of me, I cannot understand how anybody could introduce a system like that without realising the devastation that it would cause in the Probation Service. I can understand the chairman of the Butterworth Inquiry being so unfamliar with the Probation Service as to make a recommendation of that kind, but, if my noble friend the Minister will allow me to say so, I cannot understand how anyone at the Home Office could countenance bringing it into operation. I should have thought that the people in the Probation Department at the Home Office would have had sufficient working knowledge both of the Probation Service and the people in it to realise that that was dynamite; and yet they have done it.

If I am going to be told that it is really a sincere effort to sort out the sheep from the goats, those who are not as good as some others, may I point out to your Lordships that after one has been admitted into the Probation Service and has served for a year as a probation officer one's appointment has to be ratified and confirmed. That is done by the senior probation officer who has had the main grade probation officer under his supervision for one year, has given him a certain amount of in-service training, a certain amount of continuous training during that year. At the end of the year the senior probation officer, with the asistant principal probation officer for the region, then decide whether this person has made the grade, whether he really has the competence, the ability, the personality and all the characteristics that are necessary for him to fulfil his role as a probation officer; and if the answer is "Yes", that person is confirmed in his appointment. Subsequently, in the course of time, the Home Office inspectors catch up on fairly new entrants, and they are subject to Home Office inspection from the Probation Department And on that, too, they continue, or something else happens to them.

Having gone through all this, every one of them without a single exception, somebody comes along and says, "Ah, but you see, we are now going to make an attempt to assess that some of these basic grade officers"—or, as the Report calls them, main grade officers—" are better than others, and we are going to have two classes of main grade officers, one on an A scale and the other on a B scale". I have never known this silent service to be so seething and so frustrated as they are at the present moment, a service which, almost without exception, everybody knows has given good measure, pressed down and overflowing.

The Inner London Probation and After-Care Committee consists, as do most such Committees, of Crown Court judges, stipendiary magistrates and lay magistrates and is, in a sense, the employing authority. It is very much opposed to the A and B scales and although that may not be the position in the whole of the country, it is certainly true so far as Inner London is concerned. As I think my noble friend the Minister will agree, never in any of the negotiations that have taken place between the Probation Officers' Association and the employing authority has it been suggested by either side that there should be so divisive a scheme as two scales for people doing precisely the same work, under the same conditions, in the same place and in the same field. Quite recently, at Wallington in Surrey, four of a team of eight probation officers resigned. It is true that they have done much better for themselves as area officers and senior welfare officers in the local authority, but they are a loss to the Probation Service at a time when we can ill afford to lose any of them.

I do not want to take up your Lordships' time unnecessarily, and I am hoping that those who are to follow will mention points that I have deliberately left out. But I find it extremely difficult to understand that anyone who has a responsibility for this Service—and I lay the responsibility fairly and squarely at the door of the Home Office—could countenance such a practice as this. I want to be perfectly fair, and I know that this Government have been very concerned about the Probation Service. It is only fair to say that since they have been in government they have viewed this matter with some concern and understanding, and I have reason to know the lengths to which certain people, including the Minister himself, must have gone to meet certain difficulties in the past. But I hope that they will look at this particular matter again.

I am sure that the noble Viscount, the Minister, will say that matters have gone too far to do anything; but I wonder whether I may make a suggestion which I hope not only he but the Home Office itself will seriously consider. I might be prepared to accept that the situation has gone too far to make a fresh start, but perhaps the noble Viscount could say, if not to-night in the not too distant future, that this disastrous A scale will in future apply to people in the Probation Service only during their first three years, and that after that they will automatically go on to the B scale. I do not know whether I am helping him off the hook in any way, but I like to think that I am. That may be the only way of solving this matter to the satisfaction of the Probation Service which, as I said, is at the moment in a state of deep resentment and discontent.

8.5 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to take up only three or four minutes, but I want to support warmly everything that my noble friend has said. Undoubtedly, he has brought before us a very real problem. One has only to reflect upon what he has told us about the strike in London to-day, to realise that there must be a very deep and bitter feeling among the probation officers. I doubt very much whether more than 10 or 20 per cent. of those in the Service would stay in the Service if they were concerned only with money. They have a very real sense of vocation and for them to strike means that there must be something very seriously and basically wrong with the present position.

I can understand that Mr. Butterworth and his colleagues were right in two respects about the salary scale of the main grade of probation officers. First, I can see that they would consider that, even with the proposed increase which they recommended and which has now been accepted, the salary scale of the main grade of probation officers is still too low, both absolutely and comparatively; and, secondly, that the career prospects, the promotion prospects, are especially limited and that the possible year after year of service which can face an officer before he has a chance of going up another rung could be most discouraging. I imagine that the concept of this A and B grade was an attempt to do something about both these considerations but, with all respect to the Committee, I believe they have fallen back on a poorly thought out solution. It is, I would almost say, a facile solution. I cannot think that in practice it can work out well from any point of view.

If I were a principal probation officer I know how I would view this present scheme. I would implement it rather like the Chinese general, of whom we have heard so much, who baptised all his troops with a hose pipe. I would recommend all of my main probation officers as Grade B, and that would be that. I would not try this invidious selection that is required by the Report's proposals. As my noble friend said it is quite intolerable in most cases that an officer should be asked to make a selection of this kind. Maybe the noble Viscount can tell us what in fact has happened since the implementation of this Report. What proportion of the main grade probation officers are now on the A and B scales respectively?

I shall not go over the ground which my noble friend has so thoroughly covered; but with the arguments already advanced and with those to be advanced by the right reverend Prelate, and with the clear evidence that where the hose pipe technique has not been used there is a very real and serious grievance, I hope that the noble Viscount can respond to the plea of my noble friend. I hope that he will tell us that he is bringing his enormous gifts—and I mean that genuinely and sincerely—to bear on this problem and will see whether he can devise something which would sort out this unsatisfactory situation.

8.9 p.m.


My Lords, I venture to intervene in this debate because, although I can claim no kind of authority or expertise, and indeed must confess to a very deep ignorance of the Butterworth inquiry, I am moved by personal considerations. It so happens that two of my children have been trained in the social welfare services, and although neither is a probation officer I have had the opportunity of knowing many of their friends and contemporaries who are. Knowing that this subject was coming up to-day and that I was attending this House, one of those young people persuaded me to go to another part of this building to meet a considerable group of 120, mostly young, people who had come to press their views on this subject of the differential pay scale. I listened to them carefully, because there is almost no group of young people whom I would regard as more completely disinterested in their own personal welfare, in their career structures and in all the rest of the apparatus of ambition, than most of the young probation officers that I know. But they care desperately about the Service which they have joined. Therefore I felt that any complaints that they were making were additionally deserving of being heard.

Although up till about three o'clock this afternoon I knew next to nothing about the subject, I did feel that the four objections which were advanced against this differential pay structure were such that I ought not to keep silent as this opportunity to-day occurs: first, that the differential pay is unjust; secondly, that it is subjective; thirdly, that is is divisive; and. fourthly, that it is dissuasive. They believe it to be unjust because it means, as noble Lords who have spoken before me have pointed out, that people with equal qualifications and experience performing the same tasks are getting widely differing salaries. Secondly, this is a too subjective division because the assessment of the competence upon which the differential is to be made, they feel (I find) is too tied to the sort of temptations to pay too much attention to what your superiors expect of you as distinct from what you think it is right to do.

In a Service of this kind, it is really essential that there should be the minimum temptation to people to look over their shoulders in this way. People should be trusted to take an unpopular line, to try to show that a personal judgment they have made that such-and-such a person is trustworthy is something in which they are prepared to back their judgment. They feel that the sort of temptation which would make it all too easy to pay attention to what is expected of you rather than what you think is right should, wherever possible, be eliminated from the whole framework in which they operate. They consider that this presents them with a temptation which was not present under the former pattern.

Thirdly, that it is divisive. We have heard already that it has created within the Service a differentiation which did not previously exist in the same way. I have no nostrums to suggest how this might be overcome, but I bear testament to the fact that some people have discovered in the last few months that a new element of divisiveness has come into the Service of which they are so proud which was not there before. Finally, they maintain that these factors do nothing to stop wastage and might well accelerate resignations at points where, as your Lordships know, the need is for more and not fewer in the Probation Service.

It is because I felt that this group of young people, whose disinterest always seemed to me to be beyond question, were undoubtedly feeling very strongly on that matter, that I thought it right, in spite of my lack of qualifications otherwise, to intervene in this debate.

8.14 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add a word from these Benches because I was, for many years, a chairman of probation committees and all my life I have had to do with probation officers in addition to many other people doing professional social work. Like the right reverend Prelate, I have not read the Butterworth Report. It is true to say there were always differential payments in the Service, but they were based on experience. The chief probation officer obviously was paid far more than a recruit into the Service. What impressed me in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, was the fact that this proposal does not differentiate between someone with much more experience than another, but between two people with similar experience. I am sure that that is not the way to encourage people to join the Probation Service.

I know from experience how short we are of good probation officers. I believe that everything the Home Office can do they should do to encourage people to come into the Probation Service. When I was for some years on a Committee at the Home Office, the Long-Term Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, the Home Office was the Department which was most keen about the Probation Service. They were 100 per cent. behind it and were continually working to improve the conditions. I feel that it is an odd coincidence that to-day we should be discussing something which seems to point to an attitude by the Home Office which, in my experience, was not the attitude they displayed in those days. I hope the Minister will be able to assure us that there is some sufficiently good reason why this attitude has changed.

8.17 p.m.


My Lords, this is a sad story. I remember that when I was at university I found that Mr. Butterworth, in his post as Dean of my college, was in a position to constrain me from some of my more evil pursuits. Little did I think that one day I should stand up in Parliament to defend some of his deliberations against attacks which have been laid against them to-day. As the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said, we must all have hoped that his Report would bring a certain satisfaction. I confess that if people do not like the two ranges of salaries that he has suggested, I do not think that I am myself sufficiently gifted to produce an alternative to what was a very detailed, very technical and, as I read it, very skilled Inquiry. After all, Scale A—and we are talking about these two scales primarily in this debate—is equal to the nationally-negotiated scale for basic grade local authority social workers after last July. Scale B is a higher one but linked with the scale on which most senior social workers in the local authority departments are paid.

The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, says that this is a facile solution. The right reverend Prelate produces four unappetising epithets, if I may put it that way, for the solution; but although the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, has confined his Question to the A and B scales I cannot do justice to my former Dean unless I try to put the matter in context. This debate, on its face, talks about the Probation Service, but the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, very fairly read out the reference, the remit, of the Butterworth Committee, which was over a broader sphere of workers in this sort of (but not precisely the same) work. I think, therefore, one must bear in mind what Mr. Butterworth was doing. He had this fact-finding Inquiry into the work of the basic and senior grade probation officers and also the grades of social workers, the very people of whom the right reverend Prelate's family are part these days. He was asked to find out whether the situation was that there were broadly comparable salary levels for those employed by local authorities and hospital authorities; and he was asked to evaluate and compare the work of these groups and to make recommendations concerning an appropriate relationship between the pay of the three Services concerned.

He came to the conclusion with his assessor that the only practical method of establishing pay relativities was to take the existing salary in the local authority service and relate it to the others. That is in paragraph 212 of the Report. He thought that that was necessary because the local authority social services and the social work departments contained well over half of all the staff in the total range of people with whom he was concerned. There had just been the July salary agreement in that particular sphere, and over the years it had become the practice to make comparisons with local authority scales. Finally, he pointed out that there was a similarity of fundamental scales—they might be developed differently later—across all these three professions that he was examining.

My Lords, he certainly recognised the difficulty of the approach because at that stage the Probation Service had a uniform grade structure, fixed salary scales, whereas the local authorities had a much more flexible grade and pay system. But he thought it was only practicable and equitable in the future to link these matters of pay together, so far as he could. He went in for a detailed evaluation of the position of the various services and evaluated a cross-section of the jobs, and he concluded that there was a clearly discernible difference between the job size of the experienced main grade probation officer and what might have been thought to be the corresponding level of social work. I set it out in the table as a result, first of all, of the structure that has resulted from his Report and the local authority social worker pay award of July. One sees the intricate cross-relationship of the two. One sees the scale for the local authority social worker which corresponds with the A scale of the probation officer that he suggested. One sees how this cross-relates and to some degree overlaps the AP4 scale of local authorities. That, in turn, overlaps the AP5 scale. Both of those are rather wider than the probation officer B scale that he recommended; and above those, in turn, we have the SO1 and SO2 local authority scales, neither of which corresponds exactly, in the view of Mr. Butterworth, with the senior probation officer who comes in between the SO1 and SO2 in the local authority.


My Lords, the noble Viscount is making a very detailed analysis and I hesitate to interrupt him. But he quoted, I thought rather disapprovingly, my use of the term "facile". I was not saying that it was facile to correlate the scales of the work done or the salaries paid in the Probation Service, on the one hand, and the Hospital Service, on the other. What I was saying was facile was this idea that a principal probation officer should, on his own initiative, with no real criteria, say that one man is an A grade and another man is a B grade.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Viscount, but I wonder whether he would be generous enough to allow me to ask him this question. Is he really saying that there exists any other sphere of social work in which people are employed in the same grade and getting two different scales of salary? I say that there is not; and this, with very great respect, is the point at issue.


My Lords, first, if I have misquoted the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, I apologise. I am coming on to this aspect in a moment. As to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, I think that as I elaborate my speech (I am trying to explain the situation to the House because the intricacies of it are considerable. I know that the noble Lord knows them, but it may be that there are others here who do not) it will be seen that here we have a situation where Mr. Butterworth and his Committee were looking, not simply at the Probation Service, not simply at the service where he was suggesting that there should be two scales—I am coming on in a moment to whether they are exactly the same job—but at the whole subject across the board. He was trying to cross-relate and cross-evaluate the different jobs of the three different branches of what are I think sister services or brother services, or whatever it may be. It was this I was trying to explain at the time. I know that the matter is very complicated, but what is clearly shown, I think, is that it is not possible to find an exact parallel in the local authority social worker field to determine the pay of the main grade probation officer.

That does not necessarily mean to say that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, that one has then to have the two parallel salaries. But there were other reasons for this. There are distinctions, and I would say that if you tend to concentrate solely on the Probation Service A and B scales without taking into account that sort of background in the local authority and hospital field you have not the whole picture before you, and you are not looking at the same thing that Mr. Butterworth and his colleagues were doing when they prepared this Report which is now under criticism.

My Lords, he explained the rationale for the two probation officer salary scales. Briefly, he said that there were three main factors that influenced the recommendation. The first was the discernible difference of job size, which I have mentioned already, and which emerged from the evaluation exercise. Then there was the career prospects of new entrants, which in the case of the Probation Service were thought to be less favourable than for those going into social work, and which led to the wastage rate mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell in connection with Wallington just now. This is a modern occasion for it, but the wastage rate was well known before and is one of the reasons why the Committee were appointed.

Then the probation officers expressed discontent at the absence of any way of improving their pay while still undertaking case work, which is not quite the same situation as in the fecal authority field where one find in some cases a better mixture of case work and supervisory work. After all, many probation officers wanted to stay, even when in a high grade in the senior status, doing case work and not getting involved in too much paper and "admin". So he recommended the creation of the new section of the main grade with a high rate of pay, and he suggested that movement to it should be open to all probation officers who completed the three years' service mentioned by the noble Lord and whose experience and performance (and I think this is important) justified that recognition. He set out the reasons for this. He saw it as a recognition, of the all-round professional skills which an experienced officer developed to perform the full range of duties demanded of the service. And he saw the B scale as providing, an improved salary ceiling for competent, dedicated main grade officers who wish to continue in work which satisfies them and is of value both to their clients and to society at large. That is the case work, in the view of those people who prefer that.

He recognised that the detailed procedure, which also has been under criticism today, would have to be negotiated with the joint negotiating committee. He thought, however, that there would be an annual selection and that this would be determined for each probation officer, not by the senior probation officer but by a panel appointed by the probation committee for that purpose and for that area. It may have been a recommendation, but the appointment was in the first place to be by the committee of the probation area. I take the point about the Inner London Area. If this authority do not like the whole scheme, then it may not work particularly well in that area. But it was the panel that was intended to make the selection. He did, however, think that there should be a common standard, so far as possible, and that is why we brought in the notion of the Home Office Inspectorate to advise upon this.

Finally, the Report said: In view of the standards which we confidently expect to be applied, we would not anticipate that more than a minority of officers would be appointed before five years' service. That is not the same as the noble Lord's, "Everybody on to B scale after three years." The Report went on: We would not, however, wish any restriction to be placed on the number in B grade. Suitability and the minimum of three years' service would be the only criteria. Those were the only criteria laid down in the Report. I am afraid they have had to be elaborated, and one needs to look at the history of what happened then before one judges finally on this matter.

The joint negotiating committee considered the Report. Certainly it was clear fairly early on that the two scales were controversial. Initially, the Staff Side from the National Association of Probation Officers were reluctant to accept the idea: they thought, like the right reverend Prelate and his advisers, that it was divisive; and they also thought that it did not follow logically from the Butterworth Report. But eventually the Staff Side accepted the principle of two main grades, and they agreed on the salary scales. It is this agreement that the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell—and I am sorry that this should have occurred—says is intolerable.

Both sides of the Committee—that is to say, the employers, who are primarily the probation committee, not the Home Office, and the Staff Side—agreed that part of the B scale should be in expectation of an officer who has all-round competence over the full range of work, or who is a specialist and exercising a high level of individual responsibility. So, at any rate in the theory of the thing, there is no suggestion that it should be two people doing exactly the same job, with exactly the same experience and the same responsibility, one of whom is on A and one on B. The noble Lord gave the impression that there were sheep and goats—in fact he said so. I suppose the only reason for a man's being a temporary goat under the original proposals was that at that particular moment he had not the specialised knowledge or experience and had to wait for the next annual review. This is the idea that underlay it, and this is the idea that was accepted by the N.A.P.O. and the Staff Side at that time.


My Lords, there is one point arising out of what the noble Viscount has said. Although he has given us a criterion which is reasonable so far as promotion from one grade to the other is concerned, paragraph 222 of the Report states that the recommendation will create an improved salary ceiling for competent and dedicated main grade officers". This would appear to divide people into those who are dedicated and competent and those who are incompetent and not dedicated.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord has probably missed the point. Some of the probation officers, very senior and experienced, wanted to get ahead on the pay scale without surrendering their case work responsibility. They wanted to get on to the senior level, as it were, without being bogged down in the office with paper and "admin". They were fascinated by and skilled in the case work side, and they found that in that area their level of promotion was blocked, because if they wanted promotion inevitably it meant taking on a great deal of paper work and office work. I think that is what this paragraph is about rather than the connotation put upon it by the noble Lord.

That is what the Committee side said in their Report. But of course the detailed criteria always envisaged something as having to be drawn up based on professional assessments, and it was here in the negotiations that the Home Office Inspectorate was brought in to give professional advice. A selection procedure was drawn up for the initial phase covering the selection of officers eligible with effect from last July, and under this procedure decisions as to whether a particular officer should be on A or on B scale were left for the local probation after-care committees. I am sorry to tell the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, that I cannot give him a full picture of the proportions, because this process is still being carried out; it is not yet completed. Although some areas have come to an agreement on this matter, there are others where it is still under negotiation, and I cannot give the noble Lord a country-wide picture of the results at this moment.


My Lords, can the noble Viscount say whether there is any intention of laying down anything in the way of a proportion in the ratio of A to B in any given office or district?


No; I do not think it will be worked in terms of proportion. But I think somebody who promoted the entire Probation Service, lock, stock and barrel, would be going against the spirit of the agreement which had been reached. I should expect to find repercussions, if somebody tried to do that. No fixed proportion, as such, has been laid down. I think one should try to take the spirit of the matter as it has been set out.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount this question. If the National Association of Probation Officers have accepted this situation and it is to be left to the probation and after-care committees to make the final decision as to whether or not the person is going on the B scale, will the Home Office accept the decision of the probation and after-care committee, or do they reserve the right through their inspectors to veto any such decision?


My Lords, I do not think it is in terms of veto. I think I said a little earlier in my speech that one wishes to try to get uniformity across the country. Supposing one had a situation where in one area the probation and after-care committee had recommended X per cent. of their staff to go on to the B scale, and in another area the committee had represented 2X per cent., then I think at that stage the Inspectorate would intervene, not to veto, but to suggest to those concerned that there may be inconsistencies as between one area and another which the committee themselves would like to look at again. I do not think it turns up in terms in the form of a veto; it turns up in the form of advice in the way that I have just been saying. That is the monitoring role that the Home Office Inspectorate have been trying to carry out.

The Report was published on August 10, and I seem to remember saying something in the House at about that time. The joint negotiating committee began to consider its recommendations at once. It worked very hard, and agreement was reached on September 19 on both sides, the Staff Side and the Probation Committee side. That was broadcast a few days later. The Government are in a position whereby the Home Secretary prescribes the pay arrangements: and we had been pressed by the National Association beforehand, as the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said, to give an assurance that we would accept what Butterworth said. I do not think we could have said in advance at that stage that we would definitely accept it. But after the Report was published the Government announced, on August 18—that is, 10 days after the Report was published—that we accepted in principle what Butterworth said, and a large increase in pay was indeed involved.

There were of course the subsequent negotiations on detail. My right honourable friend has kept in touch with this matter as it has gone along, and when the agreement was reached in September he was able to accept it: and that is why he made these statutory rules which gave effect to the agreement on November 1. They are only rules—they can be altered—but they have been made as a result of that agreement. Meanwhile, there has been trouble in the Probation Service. I will not go into the details of it; it is probably well known to those Members of the House who have been following this matter. It was not until December 13 that the representatives of the National Executive Committee of N.A.P.O. came to my right honourable friend and made known to him officially the facts of the votes, the special meeting and all these events of the last two or three weeks. Of course, one does not quite know whether the vote taken at the meeting at which the "no confidence" motion was passed was entirely representative, in view of the numbers of people eligible to come and those who were there.

I note that in the terms of his Question the noble Lord. Lord Wells-Pestell, says that there is "deep resentment". That may or may not be so, but he is closer to the matter, perhaps, than I shall ever be. If it is the case, I shall certainly take note of what he says about this being the attitude of the whole Service—not only in London but elsewhere. I hope the position is not quite so black as it has been painted, but I will take note of what the noble Lord says about this "deep resentment".

What nobody has asked to-day is what action the Government will take specifically about this dissatisfaction. I must comment that if that question had been asked I should have been bound to say that officially we have been aware of this dissatisfaction, contrary to the previous agreement, for only about a week. There has been the suggestion that I should say to-night what we are going to do about the "disastrous A Scale" as it has been called—that is, the suggestion that one has to wait three years before automatically getting on to B. But, my Lords, I really think that in view of the pressure by the Staff Side to accept Butterworth, the acceptance of Butterworth by the Government very soon after it was announced, the agreement between the Staff Side and the Probation Committee Side when this matter was negotiated, not only in principle but also on the subsequent details, for me to come forward now, within a week, and say what is to be done about it is a little ambitious, even for those who have been kind enough to be as flattering to me as they have been this evening. But if one wants quick reverses in these matters one has to bear in mind that in pay matters the findings of an independent inquiry such as this not infrequently leave some of those affected by them dissatisfied, as also do the settlements negotiated on behalf of employers and employees by their elected representatives in other fields as well.

If it were a habit of Governments lightly to set aside the recommendations of an independent inquiry such as this, or to tear up a settlement which has been responsibly negotiated by representatives of the National Association of Probation Officers and the employing Probation Committee, then I think we should be in deep trouble. What I can do is to pass on to my right honourable friend, and indeed also to my honourable friends who are concerned in the day-to-day workings of this Service, what has been said here to-night. I think we are aware of the disquiet. The noble Lord has asked a very moderate Question: he has asked whether we are aware of the "deep resentment", and although I would not have got away with it at the beginning, I think at the end I can simply answer, "Yes".


My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down—I realise I have no right of reply so perhaps I might use that phrase in order to say that, although there are wide differences between us, I am extremely grateful to him for his very full reply and for his courteous and understanding way of handling this matter.