HC Deb 03 August 1898 vol 63 cc1093-103

I should like to ask the Lord Advocate how this clause will affect parochial school teachers and the teachers appointed under the Act of 1872.


This Bill proposes to treat parochial school teachers, and the teachers appointed under the Act of 1872, in precisely the same way. In this Bill they will have the option of coming under the Act, and thus losing the rights they may at present possess, or, they can keep their rights and not come under the Act. The clause provides that nothing in this Act shall prevent school boards giving superannuation allowances to teachers, except in cases where they choose to come under the provisions of the Act.

Amendment proposed— Page 8, line 13, leave out 'management' to end of clause."—(Mr. Crombie.)


In moving the Amendment which stands in my name, I wish at the outset to distinctly say that the Amendment in no way alters the financial machinery of the Bill, or asks for any new legislative privileges. All that is asked is that certain privileges we have in Scotland by the existing legislation should be left to us, and not taken away by this Bill. Scotland differs from England in this respect, that under the Education Act of 1872 school boards in Scotland have the right to give pensions to teachers. This right has been largely used, and the present state of matters in Scotland is exceedingly satisfactory. In the towns these pensions are large, though in the country they are sometimes small. In the towns many of the teachers would be actually better off under the prevailing system than they would be under the pension scheme of this Bill. I know it may be said that it is optional to teachers whether they accept the Bill or remain as they are, but there is a certain fallacy under that argument. I cannot help thinking that this Bill will have a certain moral effect on school boards, who may say the Government had offered teachers a certain pension, and, if the teachers refused to accept it, may then decline to grant a higher allowance than that fixed by this Measure. In this way existing teachers will be very likely to suffer rather than to benefit by the passing of this Bill. If the Government left to the school boards power to supplement the pensions given by the Government, the teachers and education itself will benefit. Now, Sir, I ask the Government to strike out these words. It will not only remove existing grievances, but it will enable school boards, if they choose, out of their own pockets, to supplement the pensions of teachers. I hope the right honourable Gentleman will reconsider the Amendment, which I do not think will interfere with the school boards.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

I think the Committee forget that the teachers in Scotland have nothing whatever to complain of in regard to the provisions of this Bill. The teachers of Scotland at the present moment have an opportunity of obtaining pensions from the school board out of the local rates. The Bill says to them that though they may retain their present right, which they are entitled to under the Act of 1872, the provisions of this Bill are more favourable, and they might come under it. What the Bill says is this, "You cannot have both." What has taken place in Scotland? They wished to have both; they sent down a deputation here, and tried to induce the House to give pensions, both out of the local rates and from the State. Then arguments were used in this House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was told that he had no interest in the matter, for it was not money that was coming out of the Imperial purse, and the House was told that he might allow this to be done. Of course, if the local ratepayer of Scotland is saddled with a burden he is quite willing to pay, and if the teacher in Scotland has the same, right us the teacher in Great Britain all over to a pension out of the Imperial funds, there is no reason why the school board should be asked to supplement that pension. I am very glad that this Bill gives the right to a pension to the voluntary school teacher, and that there is no question of any preference between one teacher and another. It is a fundamental principle that there is no kind of influence to be brought to bear upon members of school boards to get one teacher or other a big pension out of the local rates. It is another thing to go away and say the one section of teachers might have a pension out of the local rates and the other out of the State. The voluntary school teacher would say that the board school teacher, in addition to the right to a pension under this Bill, is also to have another pension by the generosity of the school board. The voluntary school teacher will have no claim to a pension of this kind. That is an injustice, and an Act of Parliament does not maker less an injustice. These denominational schools say they pay rates. The Roman Catholics of Scotland are payers of rates the same as any one else, and why should they be saddled with, pensions to teachers of another class, when their own teachers get nothing out of this Bill. This Amendment will serve the very opposite purpose than that intended by the Bill, which is hat every teacher, no matter what his alary may be, no matter whether he is to voluntary school teacher or a board school teacher, should be treated exactly alike I hope the Government will not introduce an Amendment that will have different effect. Let me call the attention of the Lord Advocate to what we have already passed. You have already decided, by sub-section 4, that the local teacher appointed before 1872 is not to have it. Here would be an anomaly. If you pass this Amendment you would practically leave the teacher appointed prior to 1872 in a very much worse position. The best teachers would be left in a worse position than some of the existing teachers. We would have this state of matters carried on in Scotland for a period of 40 years, because 40 years would have elapsed before the existing teachers all died off.


My honourable Friend below me has entirely missed the situation. He assumes that Scotland should retain the right to have a school board pension would conflict with the right of having a pension under this Bill. So far as the school board pension is concerned, nothing here has anything to do with it. The school board pensions are left to the discretion of the school boards. If the local ratepayers are dissatisfied with what the school board does, they, as the constituents of the school board, can turn them out and get them replaced. What I would put before the Government is this. You are introducing this system of pensions in England and Scotland, and surely it is fair to ask them to take into consideration the state of public opinion in Scotland. Scottish school boards have been in the habit of giving pensions largely in excess of the pensions under this Bill. In the discussion on this Bill it has been admitted that these pensions are calculated on the basis of being applicable to all teachers. In Scotland there is this difference, that many of the schools under the school board teach much more advanced classes. As the right honourable Gentleman knows, the range of education, therefore the range of teaching, is wider than in England, and the qualification of the teacher is higher. These things have been taken into consideration. We did not ask for a penny more under this Bill. There is no doubt that the allowance proposed to be taken under this Bill will be taken into consideration by the school board. This responsibility should be left to the school boards of Scotland. You should trust those local authorities in this matter, and there is no special reason now for withdrawing the confidence reposed in them by Parliment up till now. They should be allowed to retain the power at their discretion to supplement, pensions under this Bill. After all, this Bill is conceived in the interests of the teacher. It is conceived primarily in the interests of education generally. There are many provisions I should like to have had occasion to suggest to the Committee. In the school boards in the rural districts it would be a very slight extra burden to supplement the pensions under this Bill by £5 or £10. It might make all the difference between the supercession and the retirement of the teacher. It might be great boon that retirement under other circumstances should be facilitated. But in the interests of education, and having regard to the state of public opinion in Scotland, I would ask the Government to consider this question further.


The Member for Lanark said that the scheme of the Bill is to have one system of payment which shall not alter according to the salary of the person who got it, and which shall be met partly by his own contributions and partly by the contributions of the State. That scheme would scarcely work well alongside a scheme which gives an optional pension to be paid out of the rates At the same time we felt that it might be said to be hard on the existing teachers, that it actually took away from them such rights as they had under the law as it stands. Accordingly the Bill provides for an option, being left in ever case, but that option must be exercised in one direction or the other. They have a year to think about it, and during that time they must make up their minds either to stand upon their legal rights as they exist now, in which case they were not damnified, or to come under this Act, in which case they must give up their legal rights, which they had under the general universal system which obtained. Therefore I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment of the honourable Gentleman.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I regret the statement of the Lord Advocate, and I cannot help hoping that he will give some further re-consideration before matters reach a final stage. I do not think he has appreciated the point put by my honourable Friend, who pointed out that the teachers might be damnified if they did not accept. It was just because of the fear that he might fare worse that my right honourable Friend brought forward that Amendment. I say again that this Amendment does not propose to impose a penny of an additional charge upon the national Treasury—there is not the slightest intention of that. It is simply proposing that the school board shall retain the power they have now of marking their sense of good service by giving a liberal pension. I cannot see why the Lord Advocate should refuse that.

MR. SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)

I sympathise with all teachers, and especially with Scotch teachers. If anything, I consider it reasonable; but I do not think that two pensions are reasonable for any teacher to accept. I believe the Scotch school boards will take precisely that view, because Scotch teachers will be quite pleased to be put in the matter of pensions on an absolute parity with English teachers, and they must choose, whether they like it or not, between a pension given by local authorities under the existing Act, and a pension under this Bill. For my part, I think that the pension under this Bill will be very much to their advantage. It will be best for them as individuals. It would prevent all the anxiety which many of them feel with regard to the future, for at present, under the existing Acts, though it is sometimes a hand- some one, it always depends upon the good will of the local authority. It was with reference to that, so far as concerned Members of Parliament, that mention was made of "lobbying." It is a very unsatisfactory position to be dependent upon the good will of "lobbiers," I think it would be very much better for the teaching profession that there should be absolute uniformity in the matter of pensions. I know something about the Civil Service, and the pensions are framed on the same principle as this. Everybody there, whether his career has been a humble one, or whether he has been a lieutenant-governor, is rewarded with a pension calculated on the same lines. It is perfectly true that some teachers in the cities have large salaries, and, of course, these are the ones who expect large pensions. But they are not the ones who in reality ought to have large pensions; it is the humble teacher who has had to confine his work to districts where he would not be capable of supplementing his pension. Pensions are either sufficient or insufficient. If sufficient, the teachers ought to be satisfied; if insufficient, they should be raised, and a general system would work better in the long run. If there is a Division, I shall certainly vote for the Bill.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

When I look at the Conservative Party in this House I remember that one of their cherished doctrines is that vested interests should be respected—that if you made any change, you should respect the vested interests of those who had acquired certain rights. I do not see why existing rights should be taken away from Scotch teachers. My honourable Friend who has spoken is wrong so far as the Indian Civil Service is concerned, because it is according to the number of years, and you give large pensions to those who have large salaries and small pensions to those who have small salaries. So far as Scotland is concerned we occupy a different position. I daresay the scale you get from England is as much as you could get from England. If this Bill stands, all you have done will only be to have lifted up the English and Irish standard. You have pensions in Ireland and as far as male teachers are con- cerned this new scheme for England will be equivalent to Ireland. It will not be so for females. So that, after all, you lift up England to the level of Ireland. How do we stand otherwise? In Scotland we have had for 300 years a national system of education. In 1872 we made two changes. You made the teacher the servant of the school board, and his right to a pension was to be at the discretion of the school board. That has acted very badly, because the members of the school board have not acted wisely. They have kept inefficient teachers, because they were not prepared to give a pension. I cannot understand why the Imperial Parliament should abolish these vested rights. If the present teachers in Scotland prefer to have the optional clause of the Act of 1872, under which the school board may give them a pension of a better character, they should be allowed to have that option. Less will be given from the Imperial Exchequer than in England. You respect the vested interests of the present men appointed since 1872; you leave them as they are. They were appointed at a certain salary, and the school board had the option of giving a pension. Why do you now take that away from them? Anything they get will only be from the local rates of the board, and the Government cannot be affected financially. Why should you practically repeal that permissive clause of the Scotch Act? I hope the honourable Gentleman will take a Division upon this.


I am sorry the Government do not see their way to accept this; but I think there is room for expressing an opinion on the matter. My honourable Friend talks about two pensions. I should like to point out that in this respect more money is necessary, because, under the clause, while it forced existing teachers to an option, it leaves the school board free, in regard to future teachers to give them any pension they liked in addition.


I rather agree with my honourable Friend that the words will require some alteration, and I will see that the alteration is inserted in another place. Even then the Bill will provide that, so far as existing teachers are concerned, they will have the option to take one or the other, but not both. So far as future teachers are concerned, they will come under the Act whether they like it or not.


I assume that is the intention of the Government, and that the right honourable Gentleman will consider it. It would be more satisfactory if we had that correction before us now. I think this Scotch clause has been drawn out rather hurriedly. I am in favour of the Scotch teachers being dealt with in the same Bill, but there are other points in the Scotch clause which ought to be considered. For example, I might draw the right honourable Gentleman's attention to the fact that there are no public elementary schools in Scotland, and that the whole recorded service of teachers under this Act is the service of public elementary

schools. Seeing that there are no public elementary schools, that reduces the number of teachers.


I take it that you intend to repeal that clause of the Act of 1872?


I do not suppose that we shall do it by any repealing clause.


I think, as the Government have promised to re-consider the wording of this clause, it would be worth while to emphasise what was said by my honourable Friend that this Scotch clause, if it stood alone, would apply to all the teachers of the school boards. I know that is not the intention of the Government.

Question put— That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 108; Noes 47.—(Division List No. 274.)

Arrol, Sir William Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Nicol, Donald Ninian
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.
Bagot, Capt. J. F. Fisher, William Hayes O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)
Balcarres, Lord Fletcher, Sir Henry Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Baldwin, Alfred Fry, Lewis Pierpoint, Robert
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Garfit, William Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Banes, Major George Edward Gedge, Sydney Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Godson, Sir A. Frederick Purvis, Robert
Barton Dunbar Plunket Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E. Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Beach,Rt.Hn.SirM.H.(Brist'l) Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.
Bethell, Commander Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Bill, Charles Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. Savory, Sir Joseph
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. Sharpe, William Edward T.
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Haslett, Sir James Horner Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Butcher, John George Heath, James Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)
Caldwell, James Howard, Joseph Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs) Johnston, William (Belfast) Souttar, Robinson
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex) Stanley, Lord (Lancs)
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Kenyon, James Strauss, Arthur
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Laurie, Lieut.-General Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Charrington, Spencer Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans'a) Verney, Hon. Richard G.
Chelsea, Viscount Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Warkworth, Lord
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Loder, G. W. E. Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l) Webster, Sir R. E. (I of W.)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Loyd, Archie Kirkman Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Colomb, Sir J. C. Ready Macartney, W. G. Ellison Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Colville, John McArthur, C. (Liverpool) Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)
Compton, Lord Alwyne McKillop, James Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)
Courtney, Rt Hon. L. H. Maclure, Sir John William Wodehouse,Rt.Hn.E.R. (Bath)
Cranborne, Viscount Malcolm, Ian Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. S.
Cripps, Charles Alfred Milton, Viscount Wyndham, George
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Monk, Charles James Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) More, Robert Jasper
Denny, Colonel Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Murray. Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Drucker, A. Myers, William Henry
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Newdigate, Francis Alexander
Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward Nicholson, William Graham
Asquith, Rt. Hn. H. H. Hozier, Hon. James H. C. Roberts, John B. (Eifion)
Atherley-Jones, L. Joicey, Sir James Roche, Hon James (E. Kerry))
Billson, Alfred Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Smith, J. P. (Lanark)
Birrell, Augustine Lambert, George Spicer, Albert
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Brigg, John Lloyd-George, David Tanner, Charles Kearns
Broadhurst, Henry Lough, Thomas Ure, Alexander
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Macaleese, Daniel Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Clark, Dr.G.B. (Caithness-sh.) M'Ghee, Richard Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Cozens-Hardy, Herbert H. Maddison, Fred. Wedderburn, Sir William
Crilly, Daniel Maden, John Henry Williams, John C. (Notts)
Doogan, P. C. Moss, Samuel Woodhouse,SirJT(Hudd'rsf'ld)
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Nussey, Thomas Willans Yoxall, James Henry
Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale- Perks Robert William
Healy, T. M. (N. Louth) Pickersgill, Edward Hare TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.Crombie and Captain Sinclair.
Hogan, James Francis Pirie, Duncan V.
Horniman, Frederick John Randell, David

Resolutions agreed to.

The clause was then added to the Bill, and the remaining clauses having been agreed to, were also added, and the Bill was reported, without Amendments, to the House.