HC Deb 11 July 1907 vol 178 cc124-40

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."

MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)

moved that the Bill be. further considered on that day three months. His reason for doing so was that the Bill had been very largely altered since the original measure was introduced A number of clauses dealing with very important sanitary improvements had been struck out. Clause 85, a most reasonable and fair clause, had disappeared altogether. The effect of the clause was that no premises within the county of London should be deemed to be exempt from the Common Lodging Houses Acts, as amended by the London County Council (Powers) Act of 1902 and in other ways, because the people lodging in them were not harboured for hire or lodged for a period exceeding a week at a time. That clause simply gave power to the London County Council to inspect lodging-houses for sanitary purposes. It was a power enjoyed by and wisely conferred on every large corporation in the country in order that they might deal with the lodging-houses in the area under their control. He thought the House might well ask why had that clause been struck out when similar clauses reasonable in themselves and necessary for the health of London had been granted to other municipalities.

LORD R, CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

asked Mr. Speaker whether his hon. friend was in order in moving the rejection of the Bill on the ground that it did not contain a particular clause.


said he thought the hon. Member was entitled to do so.


continuing,said the reason why this clause did not appear in the Bill as it came down from upstairs was because the Roman Catholic Church party went to the London County Council and said that if the clause were not omitted from the Bill they would block the Measure, which contained various other provisions which were a necessary part of the work of the London County Council, at every stage in the House of Commons. He was not going to say a word against the Roman Catholic Church or their attitude, because the help of that and of all Churches was wanted in dealing with the problem of the poor, but he would ask why this constant policy against inspection was pursued. It seemed to him to be the gravest indictment that could be brought against the Roman Catholic Church, and while he could understand some feeling being aroused about religious institutions and the inspection of convents and monasteries, lie could not understand why there should be any feeling against the inspection of lodging-houses. It came to this: the Roman Catholic Church and High Church institutions happened to own a number of lodging-houses in London, but for reasons known to themselves, and known to themselves alone, they objected to any inspection whatever of those places, and said that at whatever risk to the health of London they must go uninspected. The claims of the Roman Catholic Church and of their ritualistic allies were always high, but when they were going to paralyse the work of the London County Council in carrying out a plain sanitary duty, not only were they high but they became intolerable. It was on that ground that he brought forward this Motion for rejection. He begged to move.

MR. G. A. HARDY, (Suffolk, Stowmarket)

in seconding the Motion, said he felt that this was a very grave matter and that it was a question which ought to be brought before the House. For a great body like the London County Council in its work of the inspection of lodging-houses to be set aside from that purpose because a particular denomination said that they would block a particular Bill at every stage was bringing c Mercian to bear upon the House, and it was far that reason and that reason alone that he was prepared to second the Motion. They knew very well that unless lodging-houses were inspected there was liability to grave misuse of the privileges they had, and he hoped in the interest of London the power of the London County Council, a great and upright institution, might be upheld against the high-handed actions of a particular Church in regard to this measure.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—[Mr. T. L. Corbett.]

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' sand part of the Question."

*MR. CLELAND (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

hoped that the proposal which had been put forward would not commend itself to the House, because if the Bill were rejected it would mean administrative chaos in the county of London. The provision to which the hon. Member had alluded was debated in the House on his own Motion on the Second Reading of the Bill, and he could not help regretting that the hon. Member had thought fit to bring it up again on the Report stage. The Bill had bean subjected to careful criticism and had been improved upstairs, and he hoped the Amendment would not be carried, because if it were a measure which was very valuable, having regard to the good government of London, would be absolutely destroyed. The Bill was vital for the good government of London and would carry out many needed improvements connected with the meat supply, the purity of milk, the cleansing of wells and sewers, the prevention of floods, and the main drainage of London. All these important and non-controversial improvements would have to stand over if this Bill were defeated. The measure also contained certain necessary powers to enable local authorities to purchase land for open spaces, and these, with the other subjects he had mentioned, would be postponed for at least twelve months and would involve these local bodies in serious difficulties in regard to the health of London. He therefore hoped that the hon. Member, having again made his protest, would allow this measure, nine-tenths of which was non-controversial and almost all of which was agreed upon by all the parties concerned, and by members of both parties in the County Council, to proceed.

MR. LAYLAND-BARRATT (Devonshire, Torquay)

as Chairman of the Committee which considered the Bill, asked the House to reject the Amendment. The Bill had been carefully considered by the Committee upstairs, and what the hon. Gentleman had said in regard to this particular clause never came before them, and he could endorse everything that had been said as to the value of the other clauses which appeared in the Bill. It would be a serious thing for London if the Bill was not passed into law.

*MR. RADFORD (Islington, E.)

did not think the provision in regard to the inspection of lodging-houses had been dropped out for any religious reason, but because the promoters of charity in London wanted to do charity on the cheap, and he thought the time had come when those who wanted to do charity on the cheap should provide shelters on terms satisfactory to the sanitary authorities, or else they would have to go out of the business. Lodging-houses ran for charitable purposes probably had some ulterior religious purpose into which they need not inquire, but he agreed with the Chairman of the Committee and the hon. Member for Glasgow that there was a great amount of good stuff in the Bill which they could not afford to lose, and he hoped his hon. friend, after his protest would withdraw the Amendment.


felt it impossible not to respond to the appeal which had been made to him on the ground that if the Bill did not pass the work of the London County Council would be interfered with. He hoped, however, those in charge of the Bill would convey to their colleagues on the London County Council the opinion that there were other parties who had to be considered.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill, as amended, considered.


in moving the omission of Clause 55, said the clause, though it was in a private Bill, was one of far-reaching and national importance, for it would enable the council to set up a supplementary scheme of pensions for any persons now or hereafter in the employ of the council who would be or would become entitled to any pension or superannuation allowance from any source other than the ordinary pension fund of the council. The effect of the clause was to enable the council to set up a supplementary pension scheme for teachers in provided schools. The clause was not in the Bill when it was read a second time in the House. The House had no cognisance of it, and he knew of no precedent for adding a clause of this far-reaching import in Committee. The proposal in the clause was novel, and though that was no condemnation in his eyes he thought its utility ought to be proved. But they had had no word of justification, and before the House voted he hoped to show that the proposal of the clause was unsound financially, and from an educational point of view must lead to disastrous results. In the first place it provided for the possibility of pensions for teachers in provided schools and not in unprovided schools, which was a most undesirable distinction to draw. If teachers in the provided Schools were to have pensions, the teachers in the unprovided schools, who belonged to the same class, should also have them. The pensions should extend to both. But if the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone was accepted, the position would be that the London County Council would be authorised to set up a pension scheme subsidised out of the London rates for people who were not in the employ of the ratepayers, and a principle more unsound financially could not be imagined. He disclaimed at once any hostility to the teachers in this matter, but the teachers were not wholly without pensions. There was already a national scheme to which the teachers contributed, and to which a large subsidy was paid out of the taxes, and teachers of all schools in all parts of the country could acquire pensions under that scheme, although he agreed that the scale of pensions was wholly inadequate. This was a national duty and not a local duty, and he would gladly assist hon. friends in the House to put the teachers on the same footing as other officials of the State. If it was to be done it should be done out of the taxes, and not out of the rates, which were already too heavily burdened. This scheme was likely to add £30,000 or £40,000 to the rates of London, and he could not think that this was the time, when all opinion was moving in the direction of reducing the burden of the rates, to bring in such a scheme. One objection to the scheme of the Bill passed with this clause in it, and if it became a precedent, was that they would have the country divided up into pension and no pension, or good pension and bad pension, areas, which would only enhance the difficulties which local authorities now found in obtaining suitable teachers. Directly a teacher came into a particular area he would be tied to it, because if he left he would lose all the benefit derived under the scheme If they allowed local authorities to set up schemes of this character they would expose them also to great pressure at the hands of the organised teachers of the country. Such pressure might be overwhelming, because the teachers were well organised—they were the friends of the parents of the children in the district in which they taught, and could wield immense influence with those who were the voters. It was not wise to delegate to a local authority a power which the House should keep to itself. The power given under this clause was vague and undefined, and it was undesirable that a scheme for pensigns which should be national and not local should be undertaken by a local authority. He begged to move.

*MR. WOOD (Glasgow, St. Rollox),

in seconding the Amendment, said he did so not as a member of the County Council nor as representing any section of its members, but he believed he would have the sympathy of the Fnance Committee of the Council for the course he was taking, and probably of the Parliamentary Committee also. He seconded the Amendment as a Scottish Member, because he believed that this question would come before the House in the same form under a scheme for Scotland. He submitted that it was a very undesirable form of procedure which would prejudice the national question by inserting a clause in Committee in a private Bill. It affected not only England but Scotland. England had provided and non-provided teachers and Scotland had the teachers of the voluntary schools and the teachers of the board schools, and a difficulty arose, when they made a complementary scheme for the board school teachers, with regard to the position of the voluntary school teachers, because it was difficult to see how the boards were to deal with a class of teachers who were not their servants. He himself thought that those who were doing similar service, should not be treated differently; he had never been one of those who believed in making teachers suffer at all because of political matters, and he had always as a member of the London County Council desired to see equal treatment of both classes of teachers. He was prepared to admit that if the clause were passed it would be very difficult to resist the Amendments of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He thought the clause very unfortunate altogether, and he seconded the Amendment not only in the interests of the local authorities but in the, interests of the teachers themselves, and he believed that some distinguished representatives of the teachers shared his views. This proposal might be of advantage to teachers in London, but it would not be of advantage to the general body of teachers. It placed the teacher in London in an altogether different position, If the clause were passed, undoubtedly the London County Council would have to spend every shilling of the £33.000 which it reckoned it would cost. For many reasons this was unsatisfactory, even in the interests of teachers. He agreed that the present system of superannuation was inadequate, but the real remedy was to make it adequate not only for teachers in London but for teachers throughout the length and breadth of the land. That was the thing at which the teachers should aim, and not a piecemeal advantage which differentiated between teachers and caused great inequalities between those in one locality and those in another. Though teachers were under local management they were really national servants, as was shown by the fact of the State's having set up a national system of superannuation. He could imagine nothing more unsound or undesirable than having a national system and a supplementary local system. It tended to injustice and inequality. He also supported the Amendment in the interest of the non-provided teacher. They could imagine the case of two localities where one had the disposition and ample means to make a complementary scheme and the other had not, so that one set of teachers would receive much better treatment than another of equal merit. As a result they would have localisation of teachers, which was a bad thing. They wanted country teachers to come to London and London teachers to go to the country. But if they had a scheme such as this clause proposed they would keep the teachers in London for the whole of their career. He did not; believe in the system of London for the Londoners, or Manchester people for Manchester, in the case of teachers. He wanted to see the service a national service in which there was a constant interchange between one locality and another. The matter was of such general interest that he could not help thinking that they might have had some declaration from the Government on the subject. He did not think it ought to be dealt with in a private Bill and by a special clause put in with very short notice to the House, because it involved interests which affected every district of the country and should be decided on national considerations.

Amendment proposed to the Bill.—

"In page 37, line 1, to leave out Clause 55." —(Mr. Leif Jones.)

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the second word 'the,' in page 37, line 7, stand part of the Bill."


said the case of the. teachers was so strong that the Committee had inserted the clause although it had failed to pass the County Council His hon. friend the Member for Apple-by had said that the teachers had very great power and influence, but half the teachers were women and had no votes and therefore could not exercise influence on that House or on local authorities. The result was that they could not bring to bear on the Treasury or on local authorities influences, occult, abstract, or practical, which his hon. friend appeared to fear. They had sought a locus standi before the Committee of that House, and the Committee had decided, in order to do justice to their case, on an Amendment of the Bill. It was rather unfair fighting on the part of his hon. friend afterwards to say that influence had been brought to bear of an improper nature.


said he had never made any suggestion as to the exercise of improper influence; at any rate, he had not intended to do so, and if he had said anything which bore that construction he at once withdrew it.


said that had been the impression left on his mind by what the hon. Member had said, but he accepted the explanation of the hon. Gentleman that he did not make any charge of that kind and withdrew it if he did. The London County Council approached the House with a private Bill in order, among other things, to obtain powers to extend the system of superannuation of officers, which went as far back as 1891. In that year the teachers were under the School Board; by the Act of 1902 they came under the County Council. It was unfair to draw a distinction between one officer and another, and teachers were officers of the London County Council. But this Bill made a distinction, and a clerk in the service of the London County Council with a salary of £160 a year was entitled to retire at the age of sixty-five on a pension of £120 a year; whereas a teacher of the same age and with the same amount of salary would only receive a national pension of £60 a year. He said nothing against clerks at all; their work was most important; but he did not think it was quite so arduous or skilled as that of the teacher, and he was quite sure that at sixty-five the earnest teacher would be mote worn out than would the clerk at that age. Teachers were officers of the London County Council, and as officers they ought to participate in the superannuation scheme. The hon. Member's argument about localising teachers had considerable weight. But this was not a precedent. There was a local pension scheme in Manchester, in Newcastle, and at Croydon, and, in all these places, why should they be allowed under private Acts to have local pension schemes, while the London County Council was not to be allowed to have one? The House had been told that teachers were "not wholly without pensions." No, they were not. The teacher employed by the London County Council became a pupil teacher at fourteen years of age, and, with the exception of two years at the training college, from that age up to sixty-five was employed in teaching. At present under the national scheme on retiring there was the magnificent provision of £66 a year for the man and £44 for the woman, two-thirds of the amount, and, in some instances, more than two-thirds, arising from the annuity which was purchased with the contributions of the teachers during all those years. His hon. friend the Member for the St. Rollox division was willing to reward the services of the clerk at sixty-five with a pension of £120, but he would not, for general and national reasons, allow the teacher under the London County Council to retire on a similar pension. Many hon. Members of the House knew the conditions of things with regard to the national pension fund, and how could they expect that in years to come they would so improve that fund as to provide the same pensionable benefits as this Bill would give? That was a simile matter of justice. The Bill itself did not give any pensions; it was simply an enabling Bill. Clause 55, which it was proposed to omit, enabled the London County Council, if they so I desired, to get over a technical difficulty arising out of the existence of the I National Pension Fund. All it provided was that if and when the County Council pleased they might so arrange the complementary scheme that the income of the teacher at sixty-five years of age should, from the complementary and the national pension schemes together, amount to as large a superannuation allowance as he would have had if he had been a clerk or other servant of the council during that period. The clause was not mandatory. When the London County Council pleaded the existence of the national pension scheme, and that I the Board of Education would have a right to say something in this matter and might bring in a veto, the Committee went into the matter with great care I with the representatives of the Treasury and the Board of Education. There were 11,000 or 12,000 certificated teachers in the London area, and therefore there were plenty of opportunities for changing schools. After full investigation the Treasury and the Board of Education said they took no exception to this proposal, and it was willingly adopted by the Committee. The proposal, which was passed unanimously by the Committee, merely enabled the County Council to do an act of justice. He did not think the House had any right to exclude, for the abstract reasons which had been put forward, the teachers from receiving the same benefits as were given to clerks and others in the employ of the London County Council. They heard a good deal about good-will toward teachers and a high appreciation of their work. When one reflected upon how they were paid and superannuated, one did not wonder that there was a shortage of teachers for public elementary schools. Money was being spent upon bursaries and scholarships in order to try to remedy this state of things, but those efforts would be futile because they were artificial, and the way to remedy the evil was to improve the position of the teacher in regard to pay and pensions. It would pay the London County Council and the nation in the end to adopt this Bill foe London, and he hoped the House would refuse to adopt the Amendment.

*MR. CLELAND (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

said it was perfectly true that this clause was not in the Bill when it passed its Second Reading, but when the question of superannuation was being discussed upstairs the claim put forward on behalf of the teachers so impressed the representatives of the London County Council that this clause was brought up as an agreed clause between the representatives of the Council and the teachers. Consequently this was not a case of a Committee having put something upon unwilling promoters. He had very little doubt or hesitation in prophesying that if this Bill were passed it would be put into effect in the London district. Not merely the pressure of the teachers, but the pressure of popular opinion would be brought to bear upon the Council in regard to the unfairness with which the teachers were being treated as compared with the clerks in the service of the Council. The hon. Member for the St. Rollox division had stated that the teachers were not the servants of the Council. He did not know whether the hon. Member's law was right or wrong, but he knew that the London County Council were held responsible under the Workmen's Compensation Act for anything that might happen to the teachers, and although they might not technically be servants of the Council they were in this respect in the same position as the clerks employed by the London County Council. The hon. Member for the Appleby division had stated that the rich districts would bring forward a proper scheme of superannuation and the poor districts would not be able to do so. He did not see why that should be a reason for handicapping a district which was prepared to put its hand in its pocket and pay for education the need of which was so evident. Be that as it might, by omitting this clause they would not prevent a district which was not willing to contribute to these pensions from attracting the best of the teaching profession. The hon. Member for Nottingham had told the House something in regard to the position of these teachers. He would take one case to show the exact position in which the teachers were placed at the present moment. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1898 called the Elementary Schools Instruction Superannuation Act, under which male teachers contributed £3 5s. per annum to a fund and women teachers £2 4s. per annum. If they took it that a man started paying into this fund at the age of twenty-three and a woman at the same age, when they retired after more than forty years arduous service the male teacher would be entitled to a pension of £37 8s. per annum out of this fund and a woman teacher to £19 4s. 4d. The Treasury had recognised the inadequacy of this fund and they were now supplementing it by an allowance of 10s. per annum of recorded service, and so the maximum sum after more than forty years service would be a little under £60 for a male teacher and £40 for a female teacher. The hon. Member had pleaded for delay and had asked that this question should be brought forward by the Government and dealt with as a national question. He had a good deal of sympathy with that point of view, but as a Scottish Member he could not help recollecting that for the last five years they had had successive Education Bills for Scotland brought forward and this year they had got another, and there did not seem to be any great prospect of its being passed into law. In the interests of education he hoped the House would not delete this clause. He favoured the acceptance of an Amendment which stood on the Paper in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone because he believed that if this clause was carried even as it stood, and more especially if carried as it was proposed to amend it, it would place an opportunity within the power of the rich districts to make the teaching service a thoroughly well-remunerated one and of attracting to the metropolis the best available teachers.

SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

said he was prepared cordially to support this clause. He did not, however, think that the inconvenience was quite got over by the argument which had been used by last speaker. It was one thing to pay a larger salary for a particular locality, but it should not be forgotten that if they organised the teachers in this way under a superannuation system there would be a danger that they might prevent them from having that free movement over the country which was for the advantage of the teaching profession and the country generally. So strongly did he feel the need of some improvement in the superannuation system that he should vote wholeheartedly for this clause. In so doing he wished to point out that he would be returning a good action for a very bad one. When the Superannuation Act of 1898 was passed, acting in accordance with the wishes of Scotland, he was extremely anxious that the Scottish school boards should retain their power of adding to the superannuation grant out of their own funds. That power vested in the school boards of Scotland under the Act of 1872, but it was subsequently repealed. He thought Scotland was treated unfairly in the matter. He asked lion. Members to remember that the Government of the day acted under pressure brought by the National Union of Teachers in England; he stood up for the Union of Elementary Teachers in Scotland as long as he could. He would support the clause on the distinct understanding that there were to be no invidious distinctions, and that what was proposed would be extended to all classes of teachers.

*MR. RADFORD (Islington, E.)

said his experience as a member of the Education Committee of the London County Council did not enable him to admit the claim as to the modesty of teachers in advancing their demands. On the contrary, he should like to say that, next to the clergy, teachers appeared to be the most sturdy and clamorous beggars to be found in the country. In regard to Private Bill legislation and other matters the organised teachers were very well able to look after themselves. His objection to this clause was that it was an enabling clause. It was being forced upon the County Council by the teachers. He wanted to know what was the scheme with respect to which the London County Council and the organised teachers had conic to an agreement. He thought it was proper that the House should have an opportunity of considering that pension scheme. There was no such scheme before the House; they were asked to give the London County Council and the teachers a blank cheque.


protested against the view that apparently existed among hon. Members as to the kind of procedure that took place before a Private Bill Committee. The hon. Member for the Appleby division did not make any charge against the impartiality of the Committee, but he appeared to think that the Committee had been influenced by considerations other than those represented to them in the speeches of counsel.


What I intended to say was that after this Bill left the House influences were brought to bear on the London County Council, and that an "agreed clause" was presented to the Committee upstairs.


said he understood now what the hon. Member meant. He did not wish to let it go abroad that a Private Bill Committee were subject to any influences except the arguments which were presented to them. The hon. Member for East Islington had suggested that the House should have the details of the superannuation scheme before it passed the clause. Surely the hon. Gentleman could scarcely be serious in saying that the House should enter on the details of the scheme. That might be a proper matter for the Committee upstairs, but it would be impossible for the House to arrive at a fair judgment as to whether the scheme was a proper one or not. The London County Council had already a pension scheme for their other employees, and he could not conceive why teachers should be less entitled to pensions than the other officers. That appeared to be the whole case for the clause. The hon. Member for the St. Rollox division had argued that it was improper that the London County Council should be allowed to set a precedent in this matter for the rest of the country. He himself hesitated to accept the view that the greatest education authority in the country should be debarred from doing what was now proposed. Whether a superannuation scheme would or would not be right for the whole country was a question which the House was not at present considering. Almost everything the hon. Member had said as to the disadvantages of variations in pensions in different places applied also to salaries. He had always thought that there was a good deal to be said for throwing the expense of teachers upon a central fund and not upon the rates.

MR. LAYLAND-BARRATT (Devonshire, Torquay)

said that as Chairman of the Committee who considered the Bill he would like to make a brief statement as to the reasons which actuated them in coming to their decision. The Amendment which his hon. friend had moved was not put on the Paper, and he was therefore in the awkward position of not having had an opportunity of consulting the other Members of the Committee except one. The decision of the Committee was absolutely unanimous in regard to the insertion of this clause. He therefore supported the retention of the clause in the Bill. There was no scheme in the Bill because this was only an enabling clause giving the County Council power to deal with a particular situation when it arose. The Committee after carefully considering the clause came to the conclusion that they were justified in allowing it to be inserted in the Bill. It was an "agreed clause," but he hoped the House would not think that it did not receive the careful consideration of the Committee. The noble Lord opposite, who had practised before Private Bill Committees, would support him when he said that Committees were always more careful about agreed clauses than about others.


moved an Amendment placing teachers in non-provided schools on the same footing as those in provided schools under Clause 55 of the Bill. The non - provided school teachers were paid by the county councils, and it seemed to him that if the provided school teachers might have a pension, there could be no other than a technical reason why non-provided teachers should not receive a pension. They ought to stand on the same footing, and he, therefore, trusted the House would accept the Amendment which stood in his name.

SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)


Amendment proposed to the Bill—

"In page 37, line 7, after the word 'of,' to insert the words 'or employed in institutions maintained by."—(Lord R. Cecil.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*MR. CLELAND (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

declared that he was authorised to say on behalf of the promoters of the Bill— although they had not yet as a body had an opportunity of coming to a decision on it—that the two most important Committees concerned in the matter agreed with the effect of the Amendment. He thought, therefore, he was justified, both as representing the promoters there, and, also from his own point of view, in stating that whatever might be their views with regard to the educational policy and the Education Act passed by the late Government, and, however much they might desire to see that amended at the earliest possible moment, it could not be just or fair to penalise the teachers of the non-provided schools who had no responsibility in regard to the passing of the Act.

Bill to be read the third time.