MOJ Staff on Low Pay: Wages and Conditions

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green 12:00 am, 10th July 2018

What steps he is taking to improve wages and conditions for staff of his Department who are on low pay.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the staff of the MOJ on, and thank them for, all the important work they do across a number of spheres. The MOJ continues to pay the statutory national living wage or above to all its staff.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

I thank the Minister for her answer, but will she explain why the same workers are paid the London living wage in the Department for International Development? Does she believe that a cleaner in DFID is worth more than a cleaner in her Department?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Obviously, I cannot comment on DFID, but I can comment on the MOJ. We pay a significant number of our employees the real living wage. As at 1 December last year, only 1,791 of more than 22,000 employees within the MOJ and its agencies, excluding Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, were paid below the real living wage. In HMPPS, only 540 out of more than 47,000 direct employees were paid below the real living wage.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire

No one has to be a public servant, and it is really important that prison officers get up in the morning and enjoy going to work. There were some worrying figures recently showing an increase in the number of prison officers leaving the profession. What more can we do on induction and supervision to keep our excellent prison officers in post, where they are desperately needed?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We are of course recruiting more prison officers. Enjoying one’s work is not just about pay, and the reward strategy in prisons is about officers working closely with their prison governors to ensure that they have an opportunity to develop in work and get the most out of their work.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

I regularly ask parliamentary questions about staffing levels and conditions at the private probation companies. The answers from the Department are shocking. None of the community rehabilitation company contracts specifies that CRCs must maintain staffing numbers at a particular level. When Ministers bailed out the private probation companies last year with another £342 million, they did not bother to make staffing levels a contractual obligation. Why not? Does the Department not care about accountability? Or is it because, in the Secretary of State’s privatised probation service, profits always come first?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We believe it is important that systems work and that outcomes are effective. The contracts focus on ensuring that the right outcomes are achieved, not on the number of people who work under them.