§ Mr. Chris Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rules exist concerning the use of probation service staff to act as the family court welfare service; what alternative sources of court welfare officers exist; and what guidance exists concerning the way in which such officers operate. 
§ Mr. Sackville
Rule 20 of the Probation Rules 1984— Statutory Instrument 1984 No. 647—as amended, requires probation committees to assign probation officers to act as court welfare officers; and rule 35 sets out the duties which officers so assigned should undertake at the request of a court. Under section 7 of the Children Act 1989, a court may ask either a probation officer or a local authority for a welfare report. Parties to proceedings under the Act may also obtain their own reports. The principal guidance on the probation service's family court welfare work which the Home Office has issued is contained in "National Standards"—a copy of which is in the Library—which was published in 1994 and to which were annexed a number of High court family division practice directions.