§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether the Swansea local education authority have declined and still decline to accord equal treatment to the teachers in the non-provided and provided schools there; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take to put an end to a situation which the Board of Education declared in July last to be unjust to the teachers and to be gravely imperilling the efficiency of the schools.
§ Notice had also been given of the following Question:—
§ LORD R. CECIL
To ask the President of the Board of Education whether, in the numerous disputes that have taken place between the local education authority in Swansea and the 1246 managers of the National Parochial and York Place non-provided schools there, the Board of Education, when referred to, has invariably decided in favour of the managers; and whether he will lay upon the Table the correspondence that has passed between the Board of Education, the managers of the schools, and the local education authority on the subject of these disputes.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I think it will be for the convenience of the House that I should answer at one and the same time both the -Questions of the noble Lord. Considerable misunderstanding seems to prevail as to the nature of the matters now in dispute between the Swansea local education authority and the managers of certain voluntary schools. Article 15 of the Code requires that there shall be signed agreements for teachers employed in public elementary schools. The Board of Education found that this condition was not fulfilled in the case of certain voluntary schools in Swansea, and on seeking an explanation of this the Board of Education were informed that the managers declined to sign such agreements without the counter signature, or some other form of assent, of the local authority; and that the local authority declined to have anything to say to agreements between the managers of voluntary schools and the teachers who were appointed by those managers. The local authority stated that in their view it was the manager's business to make their own bargains and agreements with their teachers, and that the authority had no responsibility for such agreements and would not undertake any. Subsequent discussion elicited at last that this refusal by the local education authority was in part due to their view that they were not bound by the Education Acts to state beforehand what salaries they would pay in respect of the teachers in a voluntary school. On this, which was a point that had never before arisen under the Act, the Board of Education felt bound to ascertain authoritatively whether this contention of the local authority is consistent with the Act of 1902 or not; and I am taking the opinion of the law officers thereon. Until this has been done and this question has been decided, there are no steps that I can possibly take to settle this dispute; and in the meantime the local authority is 1247 maintaining the schools in question as heretofore. As a matter of fact, the local authority have hitherto paid, and are still paying, the teachers in these schools their regular salaries. But as the teachers consider these salaries to be insufficient, having regard to the scale prevailing in the council schools in the town, the teachers have declined to sign agreements containing these salaries. It is obvious that this further question of differentiation between the salaries of teachers in these schools and teachers in the council schools cannot possibly be considered until the other question that I have named, which is essentially a preliminary to it, has been disposed of. As the main basis of dispute between the authority and the managers is thus still under consideration, and cannot be settled for a little while, I think it would be highly misleading to publish officially the correspondence asked for in the Question, since it could not but give a misleading, because incomplete, presentment of the case.
§ LORD R. CECIL
Is not the substantial cause of dispute the refusal of the local education authority to pay their teachers the same salaries as are paid to council school teachers?
§ MR. BIRRELL
I do not think it has assumed that form at present. The difficulty arises from the local authority saying that they are not bound to pay any salaries at all. The other question may ultimately arise.
§ MR. BIRRELL
There have been a large number, and a good many, though not all, have been decided in favour of the voluntary managers.