HC Deb 19 July 1898 vol 62 cc416-20

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R.,. Thirsk), DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, in the Chair], and the following Resolution was brought up— Resolved: That it is expedient to provide for Superannuation and other Annuities and Allowances to Elementary School Teachers certificated by the Education Department, and to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of Superannuation and other Allowances in certain cases."—(Sir J. Gorst.)

MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

With regard to this matter, I think it is desirable that we should have some explanation from the Vice-President of the Council on the Resolution.

SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)

Of course, a matter of this kind requires some explanation, and I thought the best course would be that the Bill should be brought in, so that honourable Members might see its details. I may say generally it is in accordance with the Reports of the Select Committee of this House, and of the Departmental Committee appointed to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee. On the Committee to which the Bill was committed for the purpose of forming a definite scheme, both the Education Department and the Treasury were represented. Both the Report of the Select Committee and the Report of the Departmental Committee were issued with the Parliamentary Papers, and a study and perusal of these Reports will show the general character of the scheme. If the Committee would like, before voting this formal Resolution, which is necessary before the Bill can be brought in, to know in a few words what the scheme is, I will explain it. It is a plan for making provision for pensioning elementary school teachers on attaining the age of 65, pensioning them partly by their own contributions, and partly by a grant from the Imperial Treasury. The contributions to be paid by the teachers themselves are £3 per annum for a man and £2 per annum for a woman, to be paid during the time they are employed in pensionable service in the elementary schools. The grant from the Treasury is to be calculated at the rate of 10s. for every year service which has been rendered, and the pension will be payable at 65 years of age. Teachers may remain, if they are competent and fit, in the service after 65, but service after 65 will not count; they will make no further contributions to the pension fund, and will have no higher pensions in consideration of the further service. Pensionable service will cease at 65. The Bill also contains provision for teachers who, before they have arrived at a time when they can claim a pension under the provisions of the Bill, break down from ill-health or incapacity, and are unable to teach any longer, but those pensions are payable out of the Consolidated Fund. I think that is as much of the Bill as I can conveniently explain to the Committee without going into full details.


Will the right honourable Gentleman say what exactly is the amount of money mentioned in the Resolution?


There is no amount mentioned in the Resolution. The question of how much it will cost is to be found in the Reports of those Committees. There was an estimate made by the Departmental Committee, assisted by actuaries, but it will be necessary to make fresh calculations.


Is joining to be optional or compulsory?


Joining is to be compulsory for all future teachers. With regard to those now in the service, they will have the option of joining or not.


Does it apply equally to teachers in Voluntary schools as well as Board schools, and to secondary teachers?


It does not apply to secondary teachers, but to all teachers who have certificates from the Education Department.


Supposing teachers who hold certificates from the Department were to be teaching in secondary schools, having previously been elementary school teachers, would teachers in such cases cease to pay the contributions to the pension fund when employed in secondary schools, or would they continue to pay to the pension fund and receive pensions?


That would depend on the rules that are to be made after the Bill is passed.


I think this is eminently a case in which we ought to have the Resolution printed on the Paper before the House is asked to adopt it. We do not quite, know how far the adoption of such a Resolution carries us, and, although the right honourable Gentleman in the explanation he has given has told us all that he can about the Resolution, still I am sure the impression left on the Committee is that it is a very important matter, and that the right honourable Gentleman himself is not quite, clear as to details. First he appeared to think that it would not apply to Scotland, and then that it did apply to Scotland, and now it appears that it does not apply to Scotland.


No, it does apply to Scotland. I was asked a number of questions as to the contents of the Bill. Unfortunately, I had no idea that this Motion was coming on so suddenly.


I think the right honourable Gentleman appears to be in entire agreement with me. He did not expect the Resolution to come on. It is a matter of great importance, and I think it is a Resolution which ought to be printed on the Paper before we adopt it. I always feel that important Resolutions, which are the foundation of Bills of great interest in this House, ought to be examined by us before we pass them, for we are carried a good deal further after we adopt them than sometimes we realise. A question might also be asked about Ireland. I hardly see any Member from Ireland here to put the question. I daresay the same uncertainty arises in regard to that country as with regard to Scotland. I do not know, but it seems to me the most convenient course to adopt would be for the matter to be postponed at this stage in order that the Resolution may appear on the Paper, and the Committee have a proper opportunity of discussing it.


I very much hope the Government will not postpone this Resolution. I think Committees on the bringing in of money Bills are very great anachronisms, and ought to be abolished. What we desire is to see the provisions of the Bill. No explanation of the right honourable Gentleman is so satisfactory as seeing the Bill, and I hope the honourable Member will not use his influence in the House to press for any postponement of that consummation. The only question I am inclined to ask the right honourable Gentleman is, when does he intend to take this Bill? That is really the important matter, the Bill itself. As to this perfunctory Resolution, the sooner it is passed the better, so that we can see the Bill in print and consider it.

MR.J.G.TALBOT (Oxford University)

I should like to say generally, as an answer to what has been said by the honourable Gentleman opposite, that I think the House is altogether agreed on the whole subject. We all want to see a superannuation scheme for elementary schools. It is really scandalous that this matter has not been dealt with before now. As to the terms of the Resolution, I think that is unimportant. We are all of one mind—that some public money should be granted; therefore we may as well pass this Resolution to that effect. As to the details of the Bill, those, of course, are of supreme importance. I take it for granted this Bill is to make no distinction between Voluntary and Board school teachers.

MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)

I do think this is a very good illustration of what I consider to be a fundamental vice in our Parliamentary practice. These financial Resolutions are never printed. We never have any notice whatever of them. I am not speaking in any way in a party sense, but I do think it would be a very great improvement in our procedure if they could be put down on the Paper. When there is a most ordinary Resolution to appoint a Select Committee, instead of our being left entirely in the dark, we have full notice, and a Minister rises to explain what the nature of the Resolution is. I am not in any way proposing to delay this particular matter. On the contrary, I think it is very urgent; but I do wish that the Government would consider the possibility in future of changing our procedure in this respect, and have these Resolutions, which are constantly cropping up, always printed on the Paper, so that the House may understand what they are going to do.


While I quite agree with what the light honourable Gentleman has said, and do not desire to obstruct the passing of the Resolution, I think we might have one word on this point. Is the Bill to be passed through this Session? How far are we to get through with it? Is there any serious intention to go on with the Bill? We have heard a good deal about the Bill. Perhaps the right honourable Gentleman will tell us if the Government intends to get it through all its stages and pass it this Session.


The Bill, I hope, will become law if the honourable Member does not obstruct it.

The Resolution was reported to the House.