HC Deb 29 October 1918 vol 110 cc1390-401

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act (including any rules made thereunder), the Board of Education (in this Act referred to as "the Board") may grant such superannuation allowances as are hereinafter mentioned in this Section to any teacher who—

  1. (a) has attained the age of sixty years, and has either—
    1. (i) been employed—
      1. (A) for not less than thirty years in recognised or qualifying service; and
      2. (B) for not less than ten years, or, if he was employed in recognised service at the commencement of this Act, for not less than the prescribed number of years, in a Grant-aided school or in service which has been recorded by the Board before the commencement or this Act under the Act of 1898; and
      3. (C) for not less than the prescribed period after the commencement of this Act in recognised service; or
    2. (ii) being a teacher to whom the Act of 1898 applied at the commencement of this Act, been employed in recognised service for a period equal in the aggregate to not less than half the number of years between the date on which he became a certificated teacher and the date on which he attained or will attain the age of sixty-five years; or
  2. (b) having completed ten years of recognised service and been employed in recognised service within the prescribed period before the date on which he applies for a superannuation allowance under this Section, has, in the opinion of the Board, become permanently incapable through infirmity of mind or body of serving efficiently as a teacher in recognised service.

(2) The superannuation allowances which may be granted under this Section are—

  1. (a) an annual superannuation allowance of an amount not exceeding one-eightieth of the average salary of the teacher in respect of each completed year of recognised service, or one-half of the average salary, whichever is the less; and
  2. (b) by way of additional allowance a lump sum not exceeding one-thirtieth of the average salary of the teacher in respect of each completed year of recognised service, or one-and-a-half times the average salary, whichever is the less.

(3) In the case of a woman teacher, who after ceasing in consequence of marriage to be employed in recognised service has subsequently returned to recognised service and satisfies the prescribed conditions, twenty years shall be substituted for thirty years as the qualifying period of service.


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert or (c) has been a certificated teacher whose certificate had expired before the commencement of this Act, provided that in such case any condition with respect to employment after the commencement of this Act shall not apply. Provided that notwithstanding anything contained in this Act certificated teachers who were at the commencement of this Act in receipt of any superannuation or disablement allowance under the Act of 1908 shall cease to be entitled to such allowance, and in lieu thereof shall be entitled to all the benefits under this Act.

I should like to call the attention of the Committee exactly to what point it was upon which we were engaged last night. I was drawing attention to the case of the teachers who would normally retire before 1st April, 1919, which is the "appointed day" for this Bill to come into operation. I desire to know from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education whether he will be prepared to extend the certificates of those teachers so as to bring them within the operation of the Bill? The London County Council are making an application to that effect, and I understand that in the case of some other local educational authorities the same application is being made. What I am anxious to get from the right hon. Gentleman—

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher)

Is this germane to the Amendment?


Is not that rather a matter for the Chairman, who has not ruled me out of order? It arises because these teachers will have retired, and the object of my Amendment is to bring within the operation of the Bill those teachers who will have retired before the Bill comes into operation. Therefore, I should like to repeat, that I should be glad to know from the President whether he will be prepared to take that step, which certainly some local education authorities are pressing upon him. I want to come to some actual facts, which will exemplify the very disadvantageous position occupied by teachers who have retired as compared with those teachers whose certificates will, happily for them, not expire until after 1st April, 1019. It will be found that the teacher who takes his pension on 1st April, 1919, is eligible for four times the amount of pension of the man or woman who retires, say, on 1st January, 1919. If I may take the case that was put by the right hon. Gentleman himself in the Debate on the Second Reading, the teacher with a salary of £400 a year, who retires from service under the London County Council under present conditions, has a pension of, roughly, £50 per year. If he remains in the service until the Act comes into operation his pension would be at the rate of £200 per annum, with a lump sum, by way of gratuity, of £533 13s. 4d. It is hardly necessary to point out the enormous difference apparent in the two cases. The two teachers would practically have paid as much towards their pensions. Future teachers will pay much less. New teachers will pay next to nothing. The teachers already pensioned have also been receiving far smaller salaries than the teachers who will come into the service in the future. In the amount of interest the sum invested for annuities has been calculated at, roughly, 2 per cent. per annum. With the increased value of money it might have been expected that the pensions would have been increased from this fund. As I understand it, however, the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take over the principal sum that has accumulated, and the result seems to be that you are going to take away from the man who has nothing the very little that he has.

Wages have greatly increased during the War. At the same time the purchasing power of the sovereign has greatly declined, so we see in all directions war bonuses given to the workers. How can existing pensioners possibly live on their small pensions? As I was explaining last night, eases have been brought to my notice in which teachers outside London have been retiring on pensions of £27, £32, and £41 per year. These are pensions which you would hardly like to offer to a crossing sweeper on his retirement from professional life. Why not increase the pensions of these pensioners? After all, they are men and women who have done good, strenuous work in the past, and the cost of remedying the injustice—and it is an injustice—would not be very great. The age of retirement has been sixty-five. In future it is to be sixty. The expectation of life at sixty-five cannot be more than nine years; and when it is borne in mind that the ages of pensioned teachers vary from sixty-five to eighty, the average expectation of life can hardly be more than four years, so that the cost of doing justice to teachers who are already on the pension list would be comparatively small. I want to put it as strongly as I can that the retired teachers have a substantial claim to be included in the benefits of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, in the Debate on the Second Reading, said he desired that this concession or boon to the teachers should be given in a large-handed way. I can hardly think that his expectation will be satisfied if the class of retired teachers is ruled out. Their exclusion is bound to create a feeling of injustice and of irritation, especially amongst those who by the accident of a few months are excluded from the benefits of what admittedly to those who will be brought within its operations is a very generous Bill.


The effect of this Amendment is to provide that teachers? who have already received superannuation allowances and disablement allowances under the Act of 1898 should have those allowances increased up to the scale contemplated in this Bill as from the commencement of the Bill. The broad principle of the Bill is that it is an attempt to make the condition of the teaching profession attractive, and to bring into the profession more teachers in the future. The Bill is founded on broad considerations of public policy, and it has for its purpose the securing of a certain definite public advantage. It is not designed to give benefit to individuals unaccompanied by service of public advantage. Consequently this Bill is not concerned with those who have already left the service in Grant-aided schools, and who will never return to the service, cither because they have migrated to other occupations or because they have retired from active work. The hon. Member invites us to depart from that broad principle. He invites us, in fact, to convert a Teachers Superannuation Bill, framed upon considerations of educational policy, into a Public Assistance Bill, and he invites us to do this by drawing attention to what no doubt is a very lamentable fact, the fact that a number of ex-teachers, most deserving men, men deserving of great consideration, are at the present moment in very depressed financial circumstances. The hon. Member has alluded to the bonuses which have been given as a result of the War crisis to persons who are suffering from the effects of the War. But that involves an altogether different set of considerations, and if we are once to go outside the general principles on which the Bill is framed, if we are to consider granting eleemosynary aid to individuals, then we are departing very widely from the sound principle of this Bill. If we are to do that, I submit that the hon. Member's Amendment is not the best way of doing it.

After all, what does the hon. Member propose? He proposes to come to the assistance of the class of teachers who least need that assistance and to withhold it from those who most need it. Certificated teachers under the Act of 1898 at any rate have their superannuation and disablement allowances, inadequate or insufficient as they may be. But the Amendment does not apply to those who have neither superannuation nor disablement allowances, and it does nothing for the teachers of our secondary and technical schools, although their needs are far greater than the needs of the certificated teacher, because during their lives they were not in a position to make provision for old age and no provision was made by the State. The question whether the pension should be increased at the cost of the State in order to cover the increased cost of living, is one which affects other Civil servants and other classes of pensioners, and it will not be claimed, I take it, that the certificated teacher should receive preferential treatment as compared with other pensioners simply owing to the accident that a Bill giving greater pensions to future teachers happens to be introduced at the present moment. The hon. Member said that hardship was inflicted on the teachers who retired before the date at which the Bill comes into operation. It is certainly true that the position of such teachers does compare unfavourably with the condition of teachers who will receive the benefits of the Bill, but after all, the benefits must be given as from a certain date and wherever you place that date, there will be a difference between the teachers who come under the benefits of the Bill and those who stand outside. For these reasons the Government feel itself unable to accept the hon. Member's Amendment.

9.0 P.M.


I gather from the speech of the President of the Board of Education that he considers the case of teachers who are retired deserves consideration, but that it ought not to come under this Bill, but rather under some general law which will take into consideration all the pensions which affect them. I want to bring before the right hon. Gentleman the case of those teachers still in service and whose service expires before the Bill becomes law. I am afraid that in a good many cases there may be a differentiation between one teacher and another under the different authorities. Some authorities may be very kind to their teachers, and extend their certificates beyond the 1st April. If they extended them to the 1st April would be sufficient, I think, to bring them under the Bill. There may be, however, other education authorities who would think that was not playing the game, and would not extend the period. That would create a difference between teachers at present teaching and other teachers. Let me bring one case to the notice of the President of the Board of Education. I got a letter a day or two ago from a teacher, who writes: I was due to retire in May, 1917, but at the request of the local authority I continued head teacher, and my certificate has been extended to the 31st December. If the Bill passes in its present form and my certificate expires on the 31st December next, I would receive a pension of £67 7s. 6d. per annum, after forty-six years' service, of which forty-three have been spent as head teacher; but, if I come under the benefits of the present Bill, I would have a lump sum of £390, and an annual pension of about £140. If we could get from the President a promise that teachers who are now teaching could have their certificates extended for a month or two only, so that they might come under the Bill, it would remove all sense of bitterness. These men who are to-day teaching see this Bill before them which gives the teachers which come under it nearly three times the pension at present given, I certainly think that the right hon. Gentleman should give instructions, or, if he cannot do that, should give an assurance, that he will not look unfavourably upon the extension of certificates till the 1st April. That would ease the minds of the teachers very considerably.


May I draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman to Clause 13, Section 2, which says: Notwithstanding anything in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (2) of Section one of Act of 1898 (which relates to teachers' certificates), the Board may in any case in which they think proper so to do, continue in force until the commencement of this Act, any certificate which would otherwise expire in the period between the passing and the commencement of this Act. or I think those words meet the hon. Gentleman's point.


I am very much obliged.


I should be extremely glad if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to accept this Amendment, or offer something in the place of it. Under the Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament, teachers who are retired before it comes into operation, and who have contributed to the superannuation scheme of 1898, would only get about half as much, under that scheme, as the teachers will receive who are retired under the new Act, when it comes into operation. I think there should be some recognition of the services rendered by these teachers who have contributed to the superannuation scheme. I am given to understand that many of the teachers who will benefit by this Bill have not contributed to that scheme of 1898, and yet they are going to be far better off under this Bill than the men who have contributed to the fund. I suggest that the least the Government can do is to take over the whole of the funds that have been raised and put the teachers who have been retired under the superannuation scheme of the Act of 1898 on the same footing in regard to pensions as those who will come under the operation of the new measure. In my own neighbourhood I know of three teachers who have been retired one after forty-one years' service, another after forty-two years, and another after forty-three years' service. They rightly complain bitterly that in spite of what they have done to help the superannuation fund, they are going to be worse treated by the Government than the men who have subscribed nothing whatever to that fund. I am fully aware that wherever the line is drawn there will be cases of hardship, but it has struck me, as it has struck other people, that a great number of teachers, getting on for sixty-five years of age, have been retired very recently, and it makes one rather suspect that somebody had got some information of what the contents of this Bill were going to be. We are told that there is a great dearth of teachers, yet, in spite of that, these men, though still fit, have been retired, so that they will not come under this Bill. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give some consideration to the suggestion I have made, that those teachers who have retired after long service, and who have paid to the superannuation fund, should come under the provisions of the Bill. Surely men of over forty years' service, and with an extremely good record, might have the period of their certificates extended for a year or even for four years, so that they might enjoy some of the benefits which is to be given under this measure. I submit that the Government should give further consideration to this matter, or if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to accept that upon his own responsibility, perhaps he will leave it to the decision of the House of Commons.


I am not prepared to make the concession which is asked for, and I think my hon. Friend labours under a misapprehension, as to what the facts are. Let me remind him that during the War there has been a quite abnormal amount of extension of teachers' certificates. A great number of teachers who would have been retired have been kept on, and had their certificates extended, and consequently the grievance, if grievance there be, is very much less at the present moment than if this Bill had Teen introduced at any previous time.


That makes the thing worse, for certain individuals have had their certificates extended, while others, compulsorily retired, will be deprived of the whole benefit of the measure.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the words, Provided that an annual superannuation allowance under paragraph (a) of this Sub-section shall not in any case be less than fifty-two pounds. The object is to provide that no superannuation allowance shall fall below the sum of £52, and thus to make it clear that poorly-paid teachers shall receive, at any rate, some sort of adequate pension. I have some cases here which I select out of a good many. The first is from Essex, and is the case of a certificated teacher with about thirty-eight years of service to her credit. She is paid according to the scale of supplementary teachers, and her average salary is about £51. Therefore unless the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment her pension will be about half that sum, or even less. An obvious comment arises here with regard to the injustice of paying certificated teachers as if they were supplementary, but I do not dwell on that point now. Although the teachers in the better paid areas will undoubtedly benefit considerably by this Bill, yet it will do very little materially to improve the case of the poorly-paid teachers in rural areas. This Bill is rightly acclaimed, and I do not dispute the fact, as a very large-minded and generous Bill, but the prospect of a teacher retiring on a pension of £26 or £27 per year does not sound particularly attractive. The second case is also from Essex, and is that of a school with 110 children, in which the head master has taught for thirty years. He has not been allowed by the local education committee to have a certificated teacher in addition to himself. His wife, although she is a trained and certificated teacher, has been teaching in that school as an uncertificated teacher. Her pension will be somthing like £36 per year, with a lump sum of about £90, and her husband will have just about double, so that the two together will have to exist on less than £110 per annum. It is to obviate such cases as that that I have ventured to propose my Amendment, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman at any rate to be a little yielding and to accept it.


I am afraid that here again I must show myself hard-hearted. What does the hon. Member suggest? His proposal is that the superannuation allowance, whether on attaining the age of sixty years or on the ground of permanent incapacity should not be less than £52. I quite agree with him when he says that £52 is not an excessive pension, and that a pension less than that for the full period of service is undesirably low. But the hon. Member has not, apparently, observed the scheme of the Bill. A superannuation allowance is earned by ten years' service in a Grant-aided school, and if we were to accept his Amendment it would be quite competent for a young man who entered the elementary school service at twenty to remain there until the age of thirty and retire, and claim a pension at the age of sixty. Under the Amendment his pension would be £52 instead of the pension of about £15 which he would receive under the provisions of the Bill. In other words, he proposes that if a young man has spent ten years in a Grant-aided school that he is to receive three times the sum he would be entitled to when he comes to the age of sixty. The effect of that on those ten years in the service would be to induce them to go to some other occupation, and I think it would be very foolish to accept such a proposal, and, therefore, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.


I was very much interested in the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, and to my mind the arguments used by him are not reasons for rejecting the Amendment but for mending it. The object of the Amendment is perfectly clear, however difficult it may be to express it in correct drafting form. The object, as I understand it, is to get rid of the scandal of the teacher who has served the full period of, say, thirty years and often more, and who has then retired on a pension which may be only something between £30 and £40 per year. I rise to support the Amendment, because I have had submitted to me very serious cases showing how the Bill will work unless such an Amendment is accepted. I have had placed before me case after case of underpaid women teachers in rural districts. The point we are now discussing is one which is continually connected with underpaid women teachers. As the Committee well knows, there is a sex discrimination in the salaries of teachers, and a woman doing the same work as a man gets a smaller salary. It is in the interests of underpaid women teachers that an Amendment like this is necessary. I suggest to the President, who expressed a certain degree of sympathy with the object aimed at, that he could very readily alter the wording of the Amendment, so as to make it certain that the minimum pension of £52 will only apply to those teachers who have served the full term, or practically the full term of service. A compromise like that will, I hope, be accepted by the President. The Bill offers a very strange anomaly. On the one hand, an appeal is being made to the President to include teachers in wealthy private schools which neither receive nor require any State Grant. Under the Amendment which the President himself proposes to make we shall be giving pensions to masters and headmasters who may be getting as much as £5,000 a year. That is one side of the question. On the other, the Committee has before it what I cannot describe as otherwise than this scandal of women teachers retiring after a lifetime devoted to the cause of education on a miserable pension of £30 a year. We ask that where the full term of service has been given, which practically means the lifetime of the teacher, the minimum pension should be £52. I earnestly hope the President may see his way to accept the spirit of the Amendment in the revised form that I have indicated.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."


I understood that the President was going to say a word in reply, and perhaps he might find the question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," a fitting opportunity on which to do so.


I need hardly say that I sympathise with the fate of the underpaid women teachers, and it is because I have so much sympathy with their position that the Board did quite recently fix a minimum salary, both for the certificated and for the Uncertificated women teachers—£90 for the certificated and £65 for the Uncertificated women teachers—and I believe that at the present moment no salaries below that minimum are being paid. But I would like to point out another factor in the situation. Under the new scheme of elementary school finance the local education authority has a direct incentive to be generous in its salaries, because it receives 60 per cent. from the State. The scheme of this Bill is that the pensions are adjusted to the average salary of the last five years of service, and I believe that the best way of attaining the object of my hon. Friends is to begin at the salary end, and that, on the other hand, if you start by fixing a minimum pension of £52, you will tend to keep the salaries lower. I believe it is very much better for the Board to exercise continuous pressure in the direction of raising the salaries, in which case the pensions will follow after, than to begin by fixing a minimum pension.

Question put, and agreed to.

CLAUSES 2 (Gratuities in cases of short service) and 3 (Death gratuities to legal representatives of deceased teachers) ordered to stand part of the Bill.