HL Deb 02 December 1997 vol 583 cc164-5WA
The Earl of Longford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the impact of proposed cuts in Essential User Car Allowances and other assistance given by several counties on the efficiency, morale and incomes of serving probation officers and their ability to perform their statutory duties.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn)

The conditions of service for probation officers, which are determined by the Home Secretary in the light of negotiations in the national negotiating body for probation staff, provide for probation committees to pay car allowances at prescribed rates to staff required to use cars on official duties. There are different rates of allowance for essential and casual users. No proposals for reductions in either rate have been put forward for discussion in the negotiating body. However, the current definitions of entitlement are subject to negotiation at the instance of either side of the body.

A number of committees have decided that in certain cases members of staff who have previously received the essential rate should receive the casual rate, or are considering doing so. It is for individual committees to make these decisions in the light of the circumstances that apply in their areas. The Government have no evidence that these decisions have adversely affected overall performance, but they will wish to keep the position under review in the light of reports from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation, which has not yet inspected a service where any adverse effects have been drawn to its attention.