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Probation Service

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 13th December 2005.

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Photo of Austin Mitchell Austin Mitchell Labour, Great Grimsby 9:30 am, 13th December 2005

Were it not so tragic, it would be laughable, particularly because it is proposed on an intellectual basis. One cannot build a structure on a foundation as shabby as the thinking in the regulatory impact assessment. No business case has been made, so far as I can see. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister will tell us. Is there a business case for this, or is it all seat of the pants stuff? Admittedly, the seat of the Home Secretary's pants is a capacious area, but if we are flying by it there has to be demonstrable support, and we need demonstrable figures to give us faith in what has been decided. All that we have is the assertion that it will cut the rate of offending by 5 per cent. That is ridiculous. Will it do so? I very much doubt it. What careful research has gone into the assessment? I hope that the Minister will try to justify it.

In conclusion, I urge the Minister not to undermine a service that is doing wonderful work. It is much improved and has adjusted successfully to the reforms imposed on it only four years ago. Its officers are servants of society and of the judicial system; they are working well with the police, the magistrates and the community. She must not put all that at risk by implementing untried, untested theories about commercial motivation, so I urge her to put redemption at the centre, not profit.