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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of
1 Feb 2006 : Column 586W
levels of staff absenteeism in the probation service in each region in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
The need for the NPS to improve its performance on sickness absence is acknowledged and is actively being addressed. The director of probation has asked all areas to produce a performance improvement plan that sets out clear actions to reduce their levels of absence.
|East of England||11.3||10.7||11.6||11.0||11.1|
|Yorks and Humberside||13.7||11.6||11.2||9.7||9.9|
|England and Wales||12.7||11.9||12.3||12.3||12.2|
Fiona Mactaggart: Local probation boards currently have an exclusive statutory duty to make arrangements for the provision of probation services. This enables them to enter into contracts with other organisations to deliver services on their behalf. But legislation is necessary to enable the Secretary of State to contract direct with a range of organisations to deliver probation services.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his proposals for restructuring the Probation Service allow (a) members of the public and (b) local organisations to be informed of applicants for contracts to provide probation services; and what powers there will be to make objections to applicants. 
Fiona Mactaggart: There are no plans to publish the names of those tendering for a contract to provide probation services. Competitions will be organised in full compliance with the revised EU Procurement Directives; an objection to a bidder's participation in the competition would be considered in the light of the Directives which allow for the disqualification of a bidder under specified circumstances such as fraud.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his proposals for restructuring the Probation Service will give offenders rights to object to being supervised by a particular provider of probation services under contract. 
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many responses to the consultation paper Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-offending" were received from individual members of (a) probation staff, (b) probation services and (c) probation boards; and how many were supportive of the proposal;. 
Fiona Mactaggart: Around 750 responses to the consultation paper have been received from a range of individuals and organisations. These are being analysed at the moment. We will publish a summary of them, along with our response to the key issues raised, within three months of the closing date for the consultation (20 December 2005).
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he intends to take with regard to restructuring the Probation Service if employees refuse to accept the transfer of their employment from a probation board to a probation trust or private company. 
Fiona Mactaggart: When probation trusts are established, most staff will transfer from probation boards to the new trusts on the same terms and conditions of employment. If, in due course, work transfers to an alternative provider, staff will generally transfer, with their pay, terms and conditions protected by TUPE and the recent extension of the Two Tier Workforce Agreement. Staff who do not wish to transfer will be free to terminate their contract of employment. The employment status of chief officers will change in the transition from boards to trusts: they will cease to be statutory office holders appointed by the Secretary of State and will instead be appointed and employed by the trust itself. If a chief is not appointed to the trust, he or she will be compensated accordingly.
Fiona Mactaggart: Proposals for the restructuring of the probation service were set out in the Home Office consultation paper, Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-offending", published on 20 October. Legislation will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what methodology was used to determine the extent to which proposals for the future of the Probation Service will reduce the adult reconviction rate as set out in paragraph 31 of the consultation paper, Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-offending; and over what period of time the expected reduction is expected to be achieved. 
The National Offender Management Service has a target to reduce re-offending by 5 per cent. by 2008 and by 10 per cent. by the end of the decade. The restructuring proposals are part of a broader programme of change, including the introduction of end-to-end offender management and improvements in IT systems, which will help to contribute to the achievement of that target. The consultation paper does not seek to quantify the extent to which the restructuring proposals alone will reduce re-offending. But experience elsewhere suggests that the introduction of competition in the delivery of services helps
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to drive up performance. Examples from the custodial sector are given in the partial regulatory impact assessment which was published alongside the consultation paper.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what methodology was used to produce the figures for cost savings contained in the Regulatory Impact Statement for the proposals for restructuring the probation service. 
Fiona Mactaggart: The indicative cost savings contained in the partial Regulatory Impact Statement assumed cost savings within the range of 3 per cent. to 8.5 per cent. through contesting certain activities of the national probation service. This range was based on the experience of the savings delivered through the market and performance testing programme within the Prison Service. The savings profile assumed a 10 year programme of contestability with no more that 12 per cent. by value of probation business being contested in any one year. The projected cash savings were discounted using a standard 25 year discounted cash flow analysis.
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