§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
I think no prolonged explanation is required of this Bill. I believe every Member is desirous of improving the retiring allowance of certificated teachers in our elementary schools. By the Act of 1898 about one hundred thousand certificated teachers were enticed into the pensions scheme under that Act. It is recognised on all hands that the amount of the pension now received by the certificated teacher after many years of service is very low. Under the existing scheme the average pension received by the elementary teacher to-day is £39 3s. 8d. for men and only £29 9s. 2d. for women teachers. The maximum which eventually could be secured under the existing scheme is £68 10s. 0d. for men and £46 4s. 0d. for women. Under the proposals of the Government we will increase from ten shillings to twenty shillings the amount contributed for each year of recorded service so that the maximum ultimately will be increased for men to £92 6s. and for women to £68 14s. I cannot say what the average will be, but the average pension will be considerably less than the maximum. That will absorb the greater portion of the £200,000, which is the amount which the Treasury have placed at the disposal of the Board of Education for this purpose, but I am informed that there may be a balance left over. I have appointed, as many Members are aware, a Departmental Committee to take actuarial expert evidence to ascertain what the balance, if any, will be, and as to the best way in which that balance may be spent. 2008 There are other classes of teachers who are now excluded from the operation of the Bill, and who do not come under the Act of 1898, and many of whom desire to be allowed to come into the scheme. They might possibly participate in this balance, and there are other classes, such as those whom we call the "Old Guard"—men who have retired after long service, who are now living on very scanty incomes. I shall of course weigh very carefully the recommendations of the Committee, and I hope that further assistance may be given to at any rate one or more of these classes. I beg to move.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I quite agree with the whole of this Bill, and my object in rising is to get a pledge from the Government that they will deal with the secondary teachers on an equally liberal basis. I mean by that, that the ratio of the contribution of the State to the contribution of the teacher should be as favourable as that proposed in this Bill. I am speaking solely on my own behalf, and not in any way as representing any particular committee or organisation. Secondary teachers are surely entitled to equal consideration with elementary teachers; in fact, if a comparison were made, they would probably be entitled to an even larger grant, on the ground that they have had to go through a more expensive course of training for their work. The average salary of the secondary teacher is somewhat higher than that of the elementary teacher, and the House will probably agree that the retiring allowance also should be somewhat higher. As I understand, the result of this Bill will be that the elementary teacher who has served the full period of, say, forty years, will get a maximum pension of about £92, of which the State will contribute £40, the teacher's contributions of £3 12s. per annum providing the remaining £52.
The maximum period of service might be forty-five years; therefore the amount provided by the State would be £45 for both men and women. In the case of men, the teacher's contribution would amount on the maximum scale to £47 6s., and in the case of women to £23 14s.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Yes. In the case of women it is slightly different. In Scotland the terms are even more favourable to the teachers. The teacher puts down £4 and gets £6, partly from the State and partly from the rates. What I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman for is a promise that when he comes to deal with the superannuation scheme for secondary teachers he will provide for a similar ratio between the respective contributions of the State and the teachers, that is, practically £1 for £1. Of course, I am aware that secondary teachers numerically are not so important in the matter of votes. The secondary school teachers are, of course, a smaller body than the elementary school teachers. Therefore the concession to be granted to them will cost the State far less than the very desirable concession granted to the elementary school teachers. At the same time the secondary school teachers are an equally deserving class and should have the same ratio applied as the elementary school teachers when we come to deal with their scheme. I am putting forward this caveat now in the interests of the secondary school teachers lest at the end of the year the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education should say he has spent so much on the elementary school teachers that he is unable to deal with the secondary teachers.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I wish to ask the President of the Board a question with regard to Clause 3, which deals, I find, with the Isle of Man. If I understand it aright, the meaning and intention of this Clause are entirely contrary to the answer I got from the Government earlier in the evening. This Clause specifically indicates that nothing in the Bill shall affect teachers serving in the Isle of Man or the Island of Jersey. What I should like to know is, are we to assume that if that was not in the Bill it would apply to the Isle of Man and to Jersey. If so, how does that correspond with the statement that Jersey imposes its own duties and enacts its own laws. I am determined to get to the bottom of the matter, and I attach serious importance to it. Last Session I tried to raise the subject once or twice, but for the convenience of the Government, who wanted to push on with other legislation, I withdrew. This is the fifth Bill we are passing in about an hour, and I think when we are legislating at that speed hon. Members who are not 2010 interested in the Isle of Man should be a little more forbearing. Let us examine this Clause again. Why is the Island of Jersey mentioned and not Guernsey, or Alderney, or Sark? For my own part, however, I am much more concerned with the Isle of Man than with the Channel Islands. It does seem to me that the Bill would apply to the Isle of Man, unless it were specifically excluded, and I should like to know if I am right in that assumption.
Mr. MONTAGUE BARLOW
I do not wish to detain the House for more than a few minutes as the hour is so late. I think that on all sides of the House we welcome the Bill. Though a somewhat delayed measure of justice, still it is a measure of justice to a class of the community which all of us agree deserves very well at the hands of the State for the hard work done not only inside but outside the school in developing the child life of the country. If anything, I should be disposed to say that the measure of the increased allowance is, perhaps, not generous enough. We are perfectly prepared, however, to accept this as a scheme put forward by the Government. Some time ago, when I had the honour of serving on the London County Council, we found how inadequate was the scheme of allowances for teachers—allowances much worse from the point of view of adequacy than those given to the ordinary officials of the London County Council. I was serving on the Education Committee, and I brought forward a proposal that teachers in the London elementary schools should be put on the same terms of treatment as regards superannuation allowance as the ordinary officials of the council. That seems to me to be the kind of standard of just treatment that ought to be aimed at. There is a minor matter of criticism to which I should like the President of the Board of Education to direct his attention. It is this.
The original Act takes two crucial periods as the periods at which the allowance is to accrue, namely, either sixty-five years of age or a later date if the certificate has been extended. This Bill, which is an amending Bill, deals only with the first of those periods, namely, the actual date of sixty-five. It omits the second crucial period—the period when the certificate, if extended, terminates. Section 1, Subsection (2), of the original Act says that in the case of a teacher who becomes a certificated teacher after the commencement of 2011 the Act his certificate shall expire on attaining the age of sixty-five, or, if the Education Department allows his service to extend for a further limited period, then on the expiration of that limited period. Therefore those are the two crucial dates. The Bill itself, in Section 1, Sub-section (2), deals only with the first period, namely, the sixty-five years period. I happen to know of one or more cases of special hardship which will arise under the Bill. Cases have been brought to my personal knowledge of men who will have attained the age of sixty-five before the Bill comes into operation, whose certificates have been extended, and who, if both crucial periods under the original Act were inserted in the Bill, would have the benefit of the provisions of this measure. The certificates will lapse after the date on which the Bill will come into operation, and it seems only reasonable justice that if in the original Act you have two crucial dates, your amending Bill should also contain two crucial dates, so that equal justice should be meted out both to people who come under the original Act and to people who will come under this Bill. I know that a substantial injustice will be done to people in Manchester and Salford unless that small defect is remedied. Therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give the matter his attention.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions. He told us the Government put down £1 for every £1 put down by the teacher. I should like to ask him whether it is not a fact that if a teacher dies before he reaches the age of sixty-five his family receive nothing at all, and the whole of his contribution goes to the general superannuation fund. Therefore it is not correct to say that for very £1 put down by the teacher the Government put down £1. The other question I should like to ask is this. In the Bill it is stated that a teacher is going to receive an increased pension very nearly double the amount of that he receives under the present Act if he attains the age of sixty-five on or after the 1st of April, 1912. I should like to ask the President of the Board of Education whether anything is going to be done for the teacher who arrived at the age of 65 before that date. There is no doubt that at the present time a teacher who retires from the service receives a very small pen- 2012 sion indeed, and it would be very hard that teachers who retired in March, 1912, should receive exactly half the pension that a teacher would receive who retired on 1st April. I do not believe the House is really in a fit condition to discuss Bills of this kind at such a late hour. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] Well, the House at any rate does not seem inclined to discuss the Bill at this late hour, and as the matter is one of great importance I beg leave to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I rise to second the Motion, and in support I would point out that one hon. Member has been reading a novel for some time.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I understand it is distinctly out of order to read a work of that description or any similar work within the chamber. I was not in any way endeavouring to reflect on the hon. Member. All that I was pointing out was that I thought it was time we adjourned this Debate. The speeches made have all been sympathetic to the Bill, but there has been a very considerable amount of unseemly interruption below the Gangway, and particularly from the Front Bench below the Gangway. I, for one, would very much like to see this Bill passed. I regret that it should be necessary the Debate should be adjourned, but I certainly think that when the House has got into the condition in which hon. Members are ready to jeer at anything or nothing, it is time we brought the Debate to a close. It is for that reason I second the Motion that the Debate be now adjourned.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not wonder at all that my hon. Friend should make this Motion. I quite feel with him that it is unfortunate a Bill which is really of serious importance, and which we all desire to pass into law—all of us, that is, who care about the subject at all—should have been treated in the way it has been by certain hon. Gentlemen opposite. No one on this side would desire to delay the measure, but it is necessary for us to offer observations, and I desire to say a word or two about the Bill itself.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
In answer to the appeal of my hon. Friend I shall be pleased to withdraw it.
Motion for Adjournment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
There are only two points I desire to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. I am very glad to hear from him that he contemplates it may be possible, at any rate, to open the door to those teachers who have not yet taken advantage of the superannuation scheme to do so by means of the surplus of the Treasury Grant. That, I know, is a boon which will be felt very much by a good number of members of the teaching staff, and I am sure if the right hon. Gentleman can manage to do that he will greatly satisfy a large body of the most deserving class. The other point is that there is a feeling among certain members of the teaching profession that it would be very desirable indeed if some measure of superannuation could be secured at the age of sixty instead of sixty-five. I quite recognise it is a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, and it may not be possible to do it, but that is the provision in the case of Scotland, and there is a certain justice in the claim that the same measure should be extended to England. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will consider that point, and I desire to join with other hon. Members on this side of the House in thanking him for introducing this Bill.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
There is a very strong feeling among the women teachers in the country that the age of sixty-five is too high an age at which retirement should take place for them to enjoy the pension towards which they contribute. It is no good doubling the pension if as a matter of fact the retiring age is so high that the bulk of the teachers will not be able to enjoy it. The only other alternative is to accept the disablement or breakdown allowance, but, in order to obtain that, the teacher must be absolutely incapacitated from work. Now in the case of a good many of the older female teachers they are not absolutely incapacitated and are therefore not 2014 entitled to the disablement allowance, but they are partially incapacitated, and many of them would be only too glad, if they had the opportunity of exercising an option of retiring before the age of sixty-five, to the very great advantage of the school in which they teach. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote a few words from a letter which I received from one of the most capable teachers in the South of England. She has been a teacher for twenty-four years, and for eighteen years the head teacher of the school in which she now is. She says, quite truly, "No teacher can be more devoted to her school or scholars than I am, but I dread the thought that I must go on for another thirteen years." I venture to think there are a large number of cases of that sort, and it is not out of consideration for the teachers only that I make this suggestion, but also out of consideration for the school in which these teachers are hanging on, a source of detriment to the school. They impair the efficiency of the school, but if they were allowed to retire at the age of sixty and obtain the full benefit towards which they have contributed I think both they and the schools would benefit.
It is only by the courtesy of the House that I can speak again. The question which the hon. Member for Cambridge University raised is really not relevant, because the Bill deals only with elementary school teachers, but I can tell him that I am looking into the whole subject of secondary school teachers. So far as I am advised at present, I do not think that any secondary school teachers can be assisted out of State funds, except those who are employed in the service of Grant-earning schools. In regard to the amount, of course I must await the Reports of my Committee, but the hon. and learned Member knows that we hope to be able to contribute to the secondary teachers, to whom I have already referred, a somewhat equivalent sum to that which is going to be given to the elementary school teachers under the provisions of this Bill. In regard to the question put to me as to the Isle of Man and the Isle of Jersey, they have already adopted the Act of 1898, and it is open to them to extend the operation of that Act so that their new Act may be on all fours with this Act, if it becomes law. Therefore it is necessary to insert this provision so as to enable teachers who go either to the Isle of Man 2015 or to Lancashire or to any other part of the country to be under a similar pension scheme.
As the hon. Member who raised the point knows, the Isle of Man is so adjacent to Lancashire that teachers constantly come from the island to the mainland. It will give them the same opportunity in the Isle of Man as we have in this country. The reason why the Channel Islands are not included as a whole is because the Island of Guernsey has never adopted the Act of 1898. The Island of Jersey has, and therefore we have extended the Act to that island. The hon. Member for Salford raised one or two points which, he admitted, were somewhat small points. They are points I shall be willing to deal with as soon as I know, from the Committee I have set up, what will be the balance of money I will have in my possession. The hon. Member for Suffolk I do not think understood the basis on which the Bill is set up. The contribution from teachers is to an annuity fund, but the contribution from the State is on an 2016 entirely different basis. We are not really comparing like with like. With regard to the questions raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin, he asked me whether it would be possible to include in the scheme those who have not reached the age of sixty-five, and the hon. Member for Wiltshire raised that point also. Again I must say it is a question of finance. If we have a sufficient sum at our disposal to enable a certain extension to be made, especially in the interest of women who are anxious to retire earlier than at sixty-five, that is a question I am willing to consider when I have received the Report of the Committee.
§ And, it being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock upon Tuesday evening, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Three minutes before One o'clock.