HC Deb 03 August 1898 vol 63 cc1078-89

"Page 1, line 12, after 'age,' insert 'if the teacher is a woman of sixty years, and if the teacher is a man.'"

* MR. LOYD (Berks, Abingdon)

In moving to reduce the age for the retirement and pension of female teachers from 65 years to 60, I need hardly say, Sir, that I am not actuated by any hostility to this valuable and important Bill. But, owing to the late period of the Session, the House has granted to the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President a dispensation from making any such explanatory statement as, I believe, is usual at the Second Reading stage of a Bill of this complexity. That, Sir, is my excuse for occupying but a very few minutes of the time of the Committee in calling attention to this matter, which is one of very great interest to the parties immediately concerned, the female teachers throughout the country, and also of very great interest to those who believe that the efficiency of voluntary education is the primary object of this Bill. Now, Sir, it is obvious that the effect of a system of pensions is twofold. In the first place, it has the effect of eliminating and withdrawing from tuition those who have reached the prescribed age. In this respect the Bill will have valuable results, as it stands. But, on the other hand, a pension scheme has the effect of retaining in the ranks of the profession the teachers who have not reached that age. Now, what would direct the attention of the Vice-President to is this: is it desirable to hold out a strong motive to the women teachers, in the hope of getting their full pension, to hold on until they reach so advanced an age as 65 years? I am aware that there are disablement and breakdown clauses in this Bill, beginning at clause 2, which are very beneficial to a certain extent, but these breakdown clauses can only be put in force at the instance of the teachers themselves, and the female teacher in that case would have to "satisfy the Treasury" that she had become permanently incapable, owing to infirmity of mind or body, of being an efficient teacher. Well, Sir, that would not reach the case of a plucky but incompetent woman holding on for her full pension long after the time when, in the interests of education, it was desirable that she should retire. I hope, having compressed my remarks into the narrowest limits, I have left time for the Vice-President, if there are insuperable objections to this Amendment, to give us something more than a mere negative reply to my suggestion. I am sure any remarks or explanation he thinks fit to vouchsafe to us on this very important question will be received with very great interest, and I believe any such explanation when understood will add to and promote the satisfaction with which the Bill has been received throughout the country.

SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)

I think it would be impossible to introduce at this stage so far-reaching an Amendment as that proposed by my honourable Friend. No doubt the question of the age at which it is desirable to allow of retirement on superannuation is one that is open to consideration, and that has been fully discussed. A further alteration would upset all the calculations and arrangements which have been made, and the Bill would have to undergo great changes. I therefore hope my honourable Friend, who wishes well to the Bill, will not press his Amendment I would remind the honourable Member that the Bill contains a breakdown clause under which a teacher per- manently incapacitated would receive generous treatment.


I think there is a great deal in the criticiem of my honourable Friend, for the limit of 65 will be found in a great number of cases to be unnecessary.


I hope the House will allow me to repeat the regret which I expressed on the Second Reading that the age has been raised to 65 years. The Committee carefully considered these cases, and as this is not a time of the Session for the reconsideration of financial proposals, I hope my honourable Friend will be content with simply making his Motion.

Amendment withdrawn.


I beg to move as an Amendment the omission of subjection 3, namely— If the Education Department find that the average emoluments of the certificated teachers of either sex calculated in the prescribed manner exceed by 10 per cent, the average amount of those emoluments as stated in the Report of the Education Department made in 1892, they shall certify accordingly to the Treasury, and the Treasury may by warrant increase the rate of contribution of the teachers of that sex to the deferred annuity fund under this Act by an amount not exceeding 5s. a year for each full 10 per cent, of the excess. At this late period of the Session I quite recognise the inconvenience of raising a Debate that may occupy a considerable amount of time, but it is, I think, a matter of great importance to ascertain at this stage what is the real meaning and object of the Bill; and, therefore, I have put down this Amendment with the object of asking my right honourable Friend what is the meaning of the Bill. It is extremely difficult for an ordinary Member to find out what it means. I have done my best, with the assistance of some of my honourable Friends, to understand the meaning of this sub-section of which I move the omission. In the first place I should like to warn honourable Members that the "average emoluments" of teachers referred to in the first line of the sub-section does not refer to the average paid to any particular teacher, as anybody might imagine, but to the average emoluments of teachers as a whole. It is suggested by this subsection that where the average emolument of the teachers as a whole has increased since the year 1892, a larger contribution shall be exacted from the teacher, if the Treasury so orders, than was prescribed by the Bill. The first question that occurs is why the year 1892 is taken. The only reason, we can think of is that it was the year of the Report of the Select Committee. That does not appear to have anything to do with this provision, as certain Acts of Parliament passed since 1892 have modified or increased the emoluments of teachers, and therefore I do not understand why the year 1892 was taken. I should like to point out with regard to this clause that it gives an option to the Treasury to increase the amount of contribution by the teachers whenever it is found that their average emolument has been increased. Why is that proposal made? I confess I have great difficulty in understanding it. It might be argued that the Voluntary Schools Act has increased the emoluments of teachers, but that is no reason for increasing the contribution of teachers to the superannuation fund. I must point out that this Bill practically leaves it in the hands of school boards to raise the contribution of every teacher throughout the country. Why should that be so? Why, for instance should we allow the London School Board, if it chooses, to increase the amount of its teachers' salaries, with the result that every teacher throughout the country will be obliged to make a larger contribution to the superannuation fund than if the London School Board had no done so? That appears to me to be an absolutely indefensible proposition, and I shall be very glad if the right honourable Gentleman will do me the favour of explaining why the Government have made it.


I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Council whether, in calculating the average of the emoluments of the teachers, he has included the salaries paid to the teachers in the higher-grade schools, part of which is paid out of the rates and part, by the Science and Art Department. I maintain that that should not be done under this Bill, and if those salaries are included an injustice must be done to teachers in the country Board schools, as they will be required to contribute a higher rate than they should properly be called upon to pay.


In reply to the honourable Member, who asks whether, in calculating the average of the emoluments, we included the salaries paid to the teachers partly by the Science and Art Department, I have to say that, in fixing the contributions which teachers will pay to the superannuation fund, the salaries of certified teachers in respect of their services in public elementary schools will be distinguished from the salaries received from the Science and Art Department by teachers in higher-grade schools. The noble Lord asks why the year 1892 was taken. It was taken because that was the date to which all the Departmental calculations related, and the teachers' contributions towards the superannuation fund will be one-fortieth of the average salaries received by them at that date. Well, now, I do not think the noble Lord need be alarmed by the possibility of the great school boards materially increasing the average salaries of their teachers. Even if the London School Board were to do so, the clause to which he objects would not have any practical operation until the average salary was raised 10 per cent., and no single school board not even that of London—could effect a rise of so much. What is much more likely to cause a rise in the average emoluments of the teachers is putting a stop to the small salaries of £30 and £35, and so on, received by many teachers in country districts. I think the Voluntary Schools Act will put an end to them, but the contribution of the teachers has been fixed at such an amount as teachers can be fairly expected in all ranks of the profession to pay. Of course, if the average salary of the teachers is increased it would be only fair that their contribution to the superannuation fund should be increased, so that they should get a larger pension, not out of the consolidated fund, but out of the result of the own contributions and thrift.


May I ask the right honourable Gentleman whether this Bill contemplates a general rise in teachers' salaries throughout the rural districts? Because, if so, I fear there would be an alarming increase in the expenditure, as there is great difficulty in getting teachers for rural districts on any terms.


I think the honourabl and gallant Member will see that the calculation does not involve an increase of the salaries of teachers, rural or otherwise, and the only thing the Bill provides is that if by extraneous means their salaries should be increased, their contribution to the superannuation fund should be raised. I do not think it is fair to ask me on the spur of the moment to explain the mode in which the Department will discriminate between the salaries of elementary school teachers and teachers in higher-grade schools.


I really must say that the right honourable Gentleman, having brought this Bill before the House, ought to be prepared to explain its details.


I bound to say that I think my honourable and gallant Friend has a right to receive an explanation of the rules which the Education Department and the Treasury will frame to carry out the Bill, which is a Supplementary Education Bill. I would remind my right honourable Friend that it has been usual that the machinery rules under a Bill of this kind should be laid upon the Table of the House for a certain number of days, and it seems to me that that course should have been followed in this instance. I do not desire to move an Amendment in this respect, but that makes it all the more reasonable that my honourable and gallant Friend should obtain an explanation from the right honourable Gentleman as to the principle upon which a distinction will be made between higher-grade and public elementary schools.


I thought I had stated very clearly the principle on which the rules will be made. There are some schools in this country which are clearly elementary schools, and the whole salary of teachers in those schools will be taken into consideration. But there are other schools which are partly elementary and partly higher-grade, and in those cases only the portion of the salary due for his services as an elementary school teacher will be taken into consideration, and what he receives as an art or science teacher will not be taken into account.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move the Amendment which I have put on the Paper— Page 3, line 4, after 'ninety-two,' insert 'printed in the schedule,' for the purpose or providing that the Report of the Education Department for 1892 with reference to the average emoluments of certificated teachers should be included in the Bill, in order to avoid the inconvenience, which is such a blot on our legislative system, of having to refer to one or more Acts of Parliament to make another clear. The document is one of great length, and it would, I think, be a great hardship to managers and teachers to be compelled to refer to it elsewhere, and therefore I propose that this document, which is referred to in the Bill, should be printed in the schedule.

MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)

I only rise to make one observation—I refer to the teachers' difficulty in getting access to the document. My right honourable Friend has said they are always accessible; they are costly and troublesome, and I think it is most desirable that the effect of the clause should be made clear without reference to documents, which might not be easily procurable.


I should like to support the appeal to my right honourable friend who has charge of the Bill, to try o make it a Measure complete in itself.

MR. CRIPPS (Gloucestershire)

Supposing you get an ascertained figure, surely that ascertained figure ought to be inserted without reference to a Report. It may be true that the teachers may very carefully ascertain what the average amount is, but there are a very large number of people, managers, and others connected with these school questions, who do not know the amount, and they will have difficulty in ascertaining it. I support my honourable Friend, and I hope that if he goes to a Division upon it the Bill will be made complete in itself. We ought to be able to ascertain from the face of the Bill what the figure really is.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

This legislation, by reference to a previous Act, makes it no Act at all. In the law courts it is always done by reference to another Act which can be construed by the court. The only other case I know is where you have appointed a Commission. It was done in the Scotch Education Commission, and the Cambridge and the London Commissions; you referred them to a Report, which they could see, to ascertain the general lines taken. I hope the honourable Baronet will press the Amendment, and let us know what we are doing.


I hope the Amendment will not be pressed. We shall undertake, as far as we can, that certain definite words shall be inserted in another place to show precisely what is meant by the words of the clause.


After the strong assurance I have now received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I feel justified in withdrawing the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question put— That the clause be added to the Bill.

Agreed to.


Before the clause is added, I should like to say one or two words upon it. In passing a clause of this kind no guarantee is to be taken as against the concessions made to teachers, either as regards their salaries or as regards their efficiency. The right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President stated that the Bill was founded on the Report of Sir Richard Temple's Commission of 1892, and also upon the Departmental Report of 1894. I should like to point out that the weighty recommendations issued have been overlooked altogether. It is stated that you should see what conditions were to be imposed upon teachers, such as the question of salary and the question of efficiency. It is surely a great omission, when, for the first time, you recognise the claim of the teachers to be paid by the Treasury, that we have no safeguards in clause 1 of the Bill. Here you are for the first time acknowledging that the teachers are to become pensioners of the State. The State ought to have taken some precaution as regards the salaries to be paid. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than what exists at the present time. You have these salaries raised, and settled by a lot of different bodies—sometimes school managers and sometimes school boards. Consider what the teachers have done. I do not think it is right to put their own representatives on these school boards, which have to deal with the question of teachers' salaries. I refer more particularly to the School Board of London. Of course, it is popular enough to propose to pay teachers larger salaries than at the present time. You have on the London School Board two parties about equally balanced in educational matters, and you have as representatives of the teachers those who are always giving their votes on the side of the increase. Take the salaries at the present time. In London I think they are high enough. We do not want to increase the salaries, we want to increase the efficiency. We pay too much attention to the question of the increase of salaries. I think it is a great blot on our system that the teachers of our National schools are not better equipped for their work. It is not what we ought to have in our educational system. I think it is a great mistake to have lost this opportunity—this great opportunity, to my mind—of putting this question of teachers' salaries and teachers' efficiency on an altogether higher and more desirable basis. In my opinion something of this kind ought to be done. First of all, you are here for the first time recognising a principle which I have always advocated, as regards our educational system—the principle of the payment of teachers by the State. You are making your first great step in bringing them within the ranks of our great Civil Service. If you do that the Treasury ought to have some control over the scale of salaries. You ought to have regularly graded salaries, not depending upon the caprice of any particular district, but graded in accordance with rules laid down by the State and applicable to the whole country. One would thus avoid the scandal of representatives of teachers being elected on school boards in order that they may bring forward this question of the increase of salaries. It would be of advantage to the teachers themselves if they paid attention to the interests of education rather than of salaries. I hope they will turn their attention away from this question of salaries. We are here giving £600,000 a year in pensions to the teachers of this country, excluding Scotland. When we are giving that amount you ought also to have an increased guarantee as regards efficiency. So far as this Bill is concerned, the only test is what is called physical efficiency. That ought not to be the only test. Just as we have registered teachers entitled to various scales of pay, you ought to have a system of registered teachers in which the Education Department ought to have more stringent rules as regards tests of efficiency. I should like both these matters carefully considered, both a general scale of salaries, and also, as near as possible, a general scale of efficiency. I think, if these two guarantees had been introduced this Bill would have been an enormous step in advance as regards our whole educational system. We are throwing away the opportunity. You are giving with the one hand, and having no guarantee of efficiency on the other. I am afraid it is too late to discuss so important a point, that goes to the whole basis of our educational system in the future. I wish to joint out ray view, that, at any rate, this Bill might have been made the occasion of settling two of the great difficulties of our educational system.

MR. YOXALL (Nottingham)

I will point out to the Committee that at the present moment the Education Depart- ment has the teachers, their qualifications, their examinations, and their whole professional career from boyhood or girlhood always entirely in its own hands. All that the honourable Member wishes in regard to the efficiency of teachers can be done at present by the Department apart from legislation.


The honourable Member seems to think that the Education Department has power to limit the salaries of teachers in Board schools.


I referred to their qualifications.


That was not the point. The point was that there ought to be some power given in return for the large sum of money the country is granting to the teachers. I do not desire to say one word against the teachers. I do not say they are overpaid according to their ability. The question is whether they are not of too high a class for the elementary work which they have to do. Of course, they think they are entitled to be paid for the very great ability which they display. Having gone through an expensive training, they naturally looked for the highest salaries they could obtain.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

Many of us would regard it as one of the greatest misfortunes that could happen if anything were done to limit the power of school boards to reward the excellent services on the part of the teachers. I protest against the theory the noble Lord seems to hold that anybody is good enough to be an elementary teacher.


I never said any such thing.


Then I am very glad the noble Lord did not. Very high qualities are required to teach elementary subjects. It is more difficult to teach children who come from homes where there is no intellectual atmosphere than it is to teach children in secondary schools. It would be the greatest mistake if the Committee proceeded on the assumption that in elementary schools it is work for which good pay ought not to be given.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I heartily agree that the Government are losing an opportunity, by passing the Bill in the state in which it is now brought in, of putting the salaries and status of teachers on a more satisfactory basis. There is no doubt whatever that this Bill is a new departure in the status of the elementary school teacher. It is giving them, public pensions, and it is, practically speaking making them public servants. Inasmuch as that is being done, it is reasonable that opportunities should be taken for doing away with some of those anomalies which my honourable Friend referred to. As it is, the school board teachers have the casting vote practically on their own salaries. That cannot be a right state of affairs in the interests of the teachers or in the interests of education. I regret extremely that the Measure has been brought in at the end of the Session, when it is impossible to amend it, and when it cannot be properly considered, and when this opportunity is lost of putting the teacher on a more satisfactory basis.

Question put— That this clause stand part of the Bill.

Agreed to.

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