HC Deb 08 November 1921 vol 148 cc204-5

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the education authority for Scotland has in two of the cases after-mentioned refused, and in the other two cases has indicated that they are about to refuse, to pay the lump sum payable under their superannuation scheme of 1919 to retiring schoolmasters, to Duncan McNaught, J.P., LL.D., Kilmaurs Parish, Ayrshire, Thomas G. Meldrum, Kilmuir Easter, Ross-shire, John Thomson, New Spynie, Elgin, and Thomas Wilson, Roberton, Roxburgh; that these four are the four surviving parochial schoolmasters appointed, ad vitam aut culpam, prior to the Education Act of 1872, who, in the case of Mr. McNaught and Mr. Wilson recently retired, and in the other two cases are on the point of retiring, having fulfilled the duties of their offices till about the ages of 77, 76, 76, and 75 years respectively; that the ground of the said refusal is that they did not ask for leave to teach after reaching the age of 65; that in respect of their life appointments no such leave was necessary or, if necessary, they could not be expected to know of the need of such leave, it not being brought to their notice in connection with a superannuation scheme instituted many years after they each had reached the prescribed age of 65; and whether he will recall the decision or cause the education authority to recall their decision above stated?


The facts are substantially as stated in my hon. Friend's question. The refusal, however, in the two cases to which reference is made was not based solely on the ground that is indicated, but took cognisance also of the discretionary powers vested in the Department by Article 20 of the Superannuation Scheme. It did not appear to the Department to be either necessary or expedient to award benefits under that scheme to teachers who, after enjoying their full emoluments for some ten years beyond the normal limit, are now drawing from public funds superannuation allowances equal in amount to two-thirds of their full salary at retirement. I can therefore only reply to the last part of my hon. Friend's question in the negative.


Does not the hon. Gentleman see that these men saved the ratepayers' and taxpayers' money by serving until they were 75 or 77 years of age, and that he is actually penalising them for doing their duty by giving them less than other teachers who retired at 65 years of age?


Make them Cabinet Ministers.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Duncan McNaught is the greatest living authority on the important subject of the life of Robert Burns, and was it not greatly to the public advantage in Scotland that he should have gone on for this extra number of years teaching the children of Scotland? Why is he penalised?


I am fully aware that Mr. Duncan McNaught is one of the greatest authorities on Burns in Scotland.


The greatest.


I have no doubt that was in the mind of the Department when this was refused.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these four teachers are survivors of the old Scottish system of education, which gained for Scotland a reputation in educational matters that even all subsequent legislation on education has not been able to destroy?