asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for implementing the proposed fresh start package in the light of the Prison Officers' Association ballot; and if he will make a statement.
I welcome the result of the recent Prison Officers' Association ballot on fresh start. In view of the overwhelming support which prison officers and prison governors have expressed by their votes, I believe that fresh start should be implemented as soon as possible. I have in mind a staged process of implementation over the next six months, starting in June with the introduction of the pay structures for the new grades I to V of the service. This would be followed by the implementation of monthly pay for prison officers in early July. Subject to local agreement the new working arrangements would be introduced in establishments from early July for those prisons where the process of reviewing structure had been completed, and therafter in individual establishments as and when the process was completed. The aim would be to complete implementation by October. The new rates of pay for grades VI to VIII would apply in an establishment on the date it converted to fresh start working. We shall in the usual way consult the prison service unions on the entire programme of implementation as it proceeds.I hope that the introduction of this package of reforms will produce an atmosphere in which a closer and more constructive relationship between prison service management and the Prison Officers' Association can be built up so that the full benefits of what has been agreed can be obtained.