New Clause 11 — Restriction on certain arrangements under section 3(2)
Orders of the Day
David Heath (Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Cabinet Office; Somerton and Frome, Liberal Democrat)
The Minister nods, and I am grateful to him for doing so. Such respect was not immediately obvious when the Home Secretary gave his reflection of Johnny Cash at San Quentin when he visited Wormwood Scrubs. The main purport of his comments was to rubbish the probation service, which saddened me. If he felt that to be appropriate background music to the introduction of this Bill, he was much mistaken. This issue is of concern to many Members of this House, who might have wanted to look more positively at his proposals. However, he let the cat out of the bag: he showed that this is essentially a destructive, rather than constructive, measure.
Much has been said at the Dispatch Box about how the Bill will liberate the probation service and enable it to use properly the skills available in the voluntary sector, but I have yet to see any evidence that insuperable barriers exist to doing that at the moment. The Minister talks about a Bill to change the culture—a point that was taken up by Mr. Garnier. Bills do not change culture. Management can change culture. Direction can change culture. The day-to-day operations within the service can change culture, but one cannot change it through legislation. I fear that that is a wholly mistaken view on the Minister's part.