§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [18th July,] "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day three months."
Unfortunately, from many points of view, the discussion on this Bill must be regarded as a continuation of the discussion in which the House has just been engaged. I hope to give sufficient reasons why we are entitled to distinguish between the position of Scotland and that of England in respect of teachers' superannuation. I think I express the regret of a considerable number of Scottish Members when I say at once that we recognise that we are bound hand and foot in this discussion by the fact that decisions have been reached in connection with the English Bill which will make it very difficult indeed for us to secure any modification of the Scottish Measure. From our point of view that is a singularly unhappy state of affairs. It is worth while to point out at once certain respects in which this Bill differs materially from the English Bill. We had a strong discussion this afternoon as to whether the deductions from teachers' salaries in England should go back to 1st June or to 1st July. The House altered the decision of the Standing Committee and inserted 1st June. In the case of the Scottish Bill it will be observed in the first Clause that the date is 1st April, 1922. So that, if there is any retrospective element to be considered at all, it is plain that we have at the outset a considerable difference between the treatment of the English teacher and that of the Scottish teacher. After the pressure which was exerted in the earlier discussion on the English Bill, the Minister of Education agreed to limit that Bill to a period of two years. There is no such limit in the Scottish Measure. Clause I lays down the date as from the first day of April, 1922, and then goes on to say, "and until Parliament otherwise determines."
2173 I hope Scottish teachers will recognise that while in later parts of the Bill a scheme is forecasted, there is no time limit similar to the two years' time limit which is incorporated in the English Measure. It will be necessary for us in Committee to try to secure Amendments on these points. Clause 2 provides for the framing of the scheme and for the return of the contributions of teachers. Many Scottish teachers have drawn my attention to the fact that, while these contributions may be taken from them, and while afterwards it may be discovered that, strictly speaking, contributions were not required, there is no provision for allowing the teachers any interest on the money of the use of which they have been deprived. I know-that that was proposed in connection with the English Bill, and was resisted. But it seems to me an eminently fair proposal that if you draw cash from individuals for a period, and deprive them of its use, you should at least make them some allowance in respect of the loss they have incurred. Those are the preliminary considerations in connection with this Bill. There are, of course, far more important points where Scottish teachers' superannuation is concerned.
Superannuation for teachers in Scotland within recent times falls into three stages—the Act of 1898, the Act of 1908, and then the legislation of 1918. The periods are very easily remembered because they are ten years apart. I do not propose to deal with the legislation of 1898, except to say this: that Scottish teachers were dragged into it at the eleventh hour, partly against their will, and when they did not have an opportunity of understanding all that was involved. For our purpose now we come to the legislation of 1908, which set up a scheme on a contributory basis—a scheme of which, from many points of view, the Scottish teachers were justly proud. That legislation continued in force until the Act of 1918, and I think I express the views of the overwhelming majority of Scottish teachers when I say that they were satisfied with it, and that they parted from the contributory principle with very great regret. The change was introduced in 1918. It is fair to keep in mind that while the legislation of 1918 introduced a non-contributory principle in the case of Scottish teachers, similar to the principle which was introduced in the case of England, that Bill of 1918 carried 2174 with it certain disadvantages which can be set alongside of or against the absence of contributions which henceforward Scottish teachers were to enjoy. Let us remember clearly that under the legislation of 1908 Scottish teachers were not called upon for a contribution of 5 per cent., such as this Bill proposes. The contribution was only 4 per cent., and there was a contribution by local authorities and by the State. That was a perfectly sound scheme in the case of Scotland. It was torn up by the roots in the legislation of 1918. Scottish teachers were placed on a non-contributory basis and English conditions were once again applied to Scotland.
Is this Bill just to Scottish teachers? We are bound to ask whether there is any case for the bargain which was discussed by a Committee upstairs and how that bargain stands. There is no doubt whatever that if we cast our minds back to that representative meeting which was held in Edinburgh in August, 1919, there was a clear understanding on the part of large numbers of education authorities, and, I think, on the part of the great majority of teachers, that this non-contributory element in the new- legislation would be taken into account where salaries were fixed in future and where new scales were enforced. I know that argument is open to question from some points of view, and that different opinions are held in different quarters. Even if I were not able to establish the contention that at that date, namely, August, 1919, that consideration was very clearly in the minds of the education authorities and the teachers, I think I should be able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, that subsequent action in the matter of the fixing of the teachers' salaries in Scotland showed quite clearly that the new scales were being adjusted, with the knowledge and the very clear memory on the part of these people, that there was now a non-contributory superannuation scheme in existence. As regards the subsequent fixing of the salaries in Scotland, that is, the application of these new scales, my submission is that the non-contributory element was taken into account and was present in the minds of these people, and to that extent the Scottish teachers in now being asked for a contribution of 5 per cent. are placed at a clear and obvious disadvantage. There is, I submit, this understanding in Scot- 2175 land, and I think we are bound to keep that in mind when we pass to the further consideration of the exact proposals of the Bill.
I may recall what I said in introduction. There is no time limit in the case of Scotland. There is a longer period of retrospection as compared with the English Measure and this is a request for a 5 per cent. contribution until this new superannuation scheme is set up. The Chancellor of the Exchequer unguardedly used a phrase this afternoon which supports, from every point of view, the case which we on these benches have made. He described the 5 per cent, contribution as a tax, and when we look at this matter from the point of view of the plain principles of superannuation, it will be seen that both in the Scottish Bill as it stands and in the English legislation which has just left this House for another place, there is really no superannuation scheme at all. There is merely an undertaking that the Government will continue its contributions and there is a call for a certain contribution of 5 per cent. to yield a certain aggregate sum, from the teachers themselves. But we find here no superannuation scheme, as we properly understand that phrase. By superannuation scheme I mean a scheme which has been actuarially worked out, a scheme to which certain people contribute, which takes account of the probable life of the members of the fund, and the probable call upon the fund, and then fixes the contribution of the respective parties on the actuarial basis which is thus established. I want to be perfectly fair to the Secretary for Scotland, as we nearly all try to be in these matters. The second part of the Bill provides for the establishment of this superannuation scheme, and it also provides for the return of contributions which may prove on later investigation not to have been required. But is it unfair to suggest that we are probably going to ask from the Scottish teachers on this 5 per cent. basis something in excess of what the State strictly requires for this purpose at the present time?
My solution of the problem would not be to rush in at the present stage with a contribution which is merely a tax, and alongside which we are entitled to set these disadvantages in the legislation of 1918, but to proceed without delay to 2176 frame a proper superannuation scheme for Scottish teachers. If the country decides upon a contributory principle, I am not here to say that I have very strong objections, but I would, indeed, from many points of view, offer support. On the contributory principle we have to keep this in mind, that if contributions are exacted from teachers in the future to a superannuation scheme, as I presume they will be, then there is only one large class in the community, namely, civil servants, who are on a non-contributory basis as regards superannuation. All superannuation henceforward, all the teachers' superannuation, all other classes of superannuation in the community, with the exception of civil servants, will be on the contributory principle. If it is accepted in the case of the teachers, if the teachers agree, and a scheme is framed, I am not disposed to make any very lengthy comment on that point, for this reason, that I do not think it worth while discussing at length the mere question of a contributory or a non-contributory scheme. My experience, fortified by the reports of actuaries who deal with superannuation, is that where a non-contributory scheme—or, rather, a scheme which is generous, since we cannot find a non-contributory scheme—that where a generous scheme is in force it influences salaries, and is taken into account when scales of salaries are fixed.
If a contributory scheme is introduced, I have no doubt whatever the contributions will be borne in mind in future, and what the teachers can obtain will depend on the strength of their organisation, the state of national and local finances, and the disposition of the community to treat them fairly and justly in their profession. I do not need to enter into any long argument on the mere question of the contribution, but I do say that this is very likely to prove in practice an unfair imposition. With the best will in the world, we are not making a contribution to any definite scheme We are only asking the Scottish teachers for a percentage not hitherto paid by them, which is going into the education fund of the Government, and is to be set against the cost of superannuation as a whole. From that point of view this is a bad Bill, and I think it is unjust to the teachers, as compared with the terms of the English Measure. Personally, I am satisfied that it is possible to 2177 embark without delay upon the preparation of a proper Scottish superannuation scheme, but I am not satisfied that this Bill is strictly necessary at all.
I recognise, of course, that the Secretary for Scotland has an obvious reply. If my contentions were carried out, which it not very likely as this House is constituted, it would amount to this, that the percentage contribution for the period of two years had been introduced in the case of England, whereas in Scotland we traded on, without any contribution, until we definitely established our scheme. I do not know that that would be a bad result at all, but the Secretary for Scotland will at once say that would involve a difference between English and Scottish treatment such as the Government could not for one moment tolerate. I urge these objections to the Bill at this preliminary stage because I think it is important to put them before the House now. Because I think there has been a certain breach of faith with the Scottish teachers; because I think this Bill is unjust from many points of view, and because it can be objected to on the pure ground of superannuation—for these and other reasons, I think I am justified at this stage in moving its rejection.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
I beg to second the Amendment.
I have no desire to repeat the arguments presented to the House already this afternoon with regard to the parent Measure. I regard the Scottish Bill as something more than a financial Measure. For some reason, which I do not understand, it is called the Education (Scotland) (Superannuation) Bill. Up to the present moment I fail to see what the Bill has to do with education. It is more than a mere financial Measure. It is more than a Measure merely providing machinery to give effect to decisions already reached in connection with the English Bill. As it stands, it is, in my judgment, a distinct breach of an honourable understanding, and the issues involved are more far-reaching than the educational field. The history of this controversy over teachers' superannuation has witnessed what I think the Secretary for Scotland regrets as much as any other Scottish Member, namely, the dragging of Scottish educational interests behind English interests. They are being treated as matters of 2178 secondary importance. Scottish interests, particularly in regard to education—not only the interests of the teachers, but the interests of the whole Scottish educational system—are of sufficient importance to warrant consideration in this House on a more generous basis.
I think the object of this Measure might have been reached without a disturbance of the whole field of teaching either in England or Scotland. The real object aimed at in the Bill is to extend the application of the findings of the Geddes Committee to the salaries of the teaching profession. A Bill introduced to attain that end should properly be entitled "a Bill for the Reduction of Teachers' Salaries," and not an Education Bill, and that object should have been reached by an amicable arrangement between the Treasury, the local education authorities and the teaching profession. Looking at the Bill as a Scottish Measure, what do we find? We find that right through the period 1912–18 Scottish teachers had their contributory scheme in operation. We find that the English principle of a non-contributory scheme was applied to Scotland against the wishes of the vast majority of the Scottish teachers, and right down to the present moment the whole tendency has been to treat the Scottish interests as of secondary importance. The Scottish contributory Measure was wrecked, and athough the Secretary for Scotland in introducing this Measure described the Bill as an agreed one, I fail to see on what ground he could possibly hope that the House could accept it on that basis. Where is there agreement in regard to this Measure?
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
All I said was that I hoped the Bill would be regarded as an agreed Measure in this House. Apparently, I was wrong.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
Most distinctly so, because certainly outside there is nothing that can possibly be called agreement in regard to it. I think I know the state of mind of the teaching profession in Scotland in regard to this Measure, and I say, without any hesitation at all, that where there is agreement as to its provisions it is agreement that has been reached practically at the point of the bayonet. Indeed, I suppose that the teachers in Scotland feel, 2179 as we feel here to-night, that the end of this Debate is a foregone conclusion, that nothing we can say from this point onward till the Bill becomes an Act will alter the Government's policy, and that what happens in regard to the English Measure will be translated into the Scottish Measure. All I want to say is this, that while there has been Debate in regard to the implied obligation of the Government towards the teaching profession in England, the implied obligation so far as Scotland is concerned, is, in my judgment, ten times stronger. What did happen when the existing scale of salaries in Scotland was fixed? In August, 1919, months after the terms of the English non-contributory Measure were known, at a conference in Edinburgh representative of the Department, of the teaching profession, and of the local authorities, certain scales were fixed. It is beyond question that Government responsibility entered into the fixing of those scales, and it is an admitted fact that the Secretary for Scotland, as head of the Scottish Education Department, approved of those scales of salaries. Departmental approval of those scales meant Government approval, and it is certain that those scales were settled after certain advantages that were to accrue from the acceptance of the non-contributory superannuation scheme had been laid before the teachers.
In the face of that, I think I am entitled to repeat that this Bill is a breach of an honourable understanding, and that it is quite an unnecessary Measure, so far as Scotland is concerned, and I suggest to the hon. Member who has moved the rejection of the Bill that he should persist in his Amendment until we are satisfied with a plain, unqualified statement from the Secretary for Scotland, not only that the date fixed in Clause 1 of the Bill, the 1st April, will not be adhered to in Committee, but that the House will get assurances in regard to the date at which the Bill will expire, so that at the end of the two years we may be free to reconsider the whole issue and to put the whole matter of the superannuation of the teaching profession on a sounder basis than this Bill will place it.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I have listened to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the rejection of the Bill with 2180 that respect which we all love to give to well-argued and well-stated reasons. The Seconder has introduced some rather violent language and some rather controversial words which were absent from the speech of the Mover of the rejection. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) has always accustomed us to his invariable habit of looking at things in a fair and moderate spirit, and it is curious that while he began by moving the rejection of the Bill, I found myself in almost constant agreement with practically the great majority of the propositions which he put forward in his speech. There is no one who would be more unwilling than I that we should be led in Scotland merely by precedents created for the convenience of England. I have opposed that over and over again, and I am ready to oppose it hereafter. We shall have in Committee to correct and adjust certain points in this Bill, not only to meet the financial balance that must be kept with England, but also, I hope, quite freely and unreservedly, Scottish Members will all join together in amending the Bill in Committee in such a way as will make it, whatever be the case in England, suitable for Scotland, and I am sure we can rely upon the cooperation both of the Mover and Seconder of the rejection in that matter. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh referred to the previous history of this question of contributions to pensions. Will he allow me to say that I want, if possible, to separate two questions which I think are far too much involved one with another, namely, the question of the terms upon which the pensions are granted, and the question of the terms upon which salaries are paid. It is a false idea altogether to try to mix them up too much one with another.
As regards contributory pensions, I am glad to welcome this Bill, because it gives me some hope of coming back to what I think the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh, and I think also the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Kennedy), would agree is a fair system, namely, a contributory system with a superannuation fund created. I am quite in favour of that, and I thoroughly supported the scheme put forward in the Act of 1908. That Act was thoroughly approved in Scotland. It was accepted warmly by the teaching profession in Scotland, and all who looked for the 2181 good of that profession felt sure that it was really for its advantage, and not only that, but when the whole of this scheme was upset, it raised a very great storm of opposition from the teaching profession in Scotland, with which I, for one, cordially sympathised. I fought that Bill of 1918 when it was brought forward as hard as I could. I thought it was dangerous in the long run to the teaching profession. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh stated that he was rather in favour of a contributory system, but he said the only non-contributory system of pensions left will be that of the Civil Service. That is perfectly right, but we have established for the Civil Service non-contributory pensions, not in the interests or for the advantage of the civil servant, but because, after careful consideration, it was found to be best in the interests of the State. Do hon. Members not see the difficulties that might easily arise if you had not a system of pensions for the civil servants which were non-contributory, although, of course, they are contributory in the sense that they lower the salaries paid? It should be remembered that a civil servant cannot claim any repayment if he retires, and therefore, by means of your non-contributory pensions scheme, you have a tremendous hold on him. Do hon. Members not realise that most men who advance to a considerable position in the Civil Service have more than one opportunity of changing to something better paid? What prevents them from taking such a step and leaving the Civil Service? It is that they are not prepared to surrender the considerable part of their pension which they have already earned. Over and over again, civil servants are prevented from bettering their position because you have them tied by the tether of their pension. It is really for the advantage of the State, but remember this, that it keeps the civil servant under a very severe discipline, and the civil servant cannot afford to put himself in a wrong position.
I am not prepared to see the teaching profession reduced to terms of the same discipline as are necessary for the Civil Service. I am certain that if you do that you will lower the teaching profession, and I think you will be selling the valuable elements of independence, and freedom, and power of readily changing your 2182 employment, if you like, and thus getting free of an annual contribution towards your pension, which, if you chance to leave your profession, is paid back to you when you leave. I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will look at this Bill, so far as it establishes a contributory system, as one that really brings something that is of advantage to the profession and that maintains the freedom and the independence of the profession far higher than it is possible in the case of the Civil Service, which must be under a very severe discipline. Far be it from me to say that these pensions ought to be strictly limited to the product of the teachers' contributions. That would be ungenerous and unjust. There are three authorities which ought to contribute to the pensions —the teachers themselves, in order to keep up their independence and be able to hold up their heads amongst their fellow men; secondly, the local authorities, because they get the service; and, thirdly, the central Department, because it presides over the whole of education and is indebted to the teachers for carrying out that service. I trust that, so far as this establishes a contributory system, it will be realised as something that, in the long run, is for the advantage of the teachers, that it is getting back one step towards the establishment of a superannuation fund, of which their contributions will form one part, that it will maintain their independence, and that it will recognise their position as an independent profession, quite different from a profession entirely in the service of the State and regulated by the strict conditions that must attach to a State service. Hon. Members also have to consider this Bill in a wider aspect. I now come to the other great side of it—the salaries of teachers, which I consider to be of ten times the importance of this bagatelle of a contribution towards a pension. For years and years, while I was head of the Education Department in Scotland, so far as I could take part, and ever since I have been in this House, I have striven all I could to bring home to those I addressed the crime that was committed by the insufficient payment of teachers, the folly that was done to the interests of the country by this traditional habit which existed through generations. I had the honour of sitting as Chairman of the first of these 2183 Commissions which dealt with teachers' salaries two years before the Burnham Report, and I was glad to have, as my colleague, my loyal colleague in the representation of the Scottish universities (Mr. Cowan). Our object there was not to establish a sort of trade union scale. What we sought to establish was a minimum below which no teacher should be-paid, and below which it should not only be a matter of shame for local authorities to pay, but which, if they attempted to go below it, would involve them in great pecuniary loss. I would far rather leave the raising of the salaries above that minimum scale to the generosity of local authorities. I do not think it is a good thing in a great profession like that of the teachers—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
How does the right hon. Member connect these rather large arguments with the very limited title of this Bill?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
It has always been argued that these two points are closely connected. It has been said that this contribution towards pension is practically a reduction of salaries, and a breaking of the bargain made with regard to salaries by enforcing this contribution. That is the connection which through all the discussions has been recognised. I say that we ought to deal with this question of teachers' salaries on a free basis. I do not like to fix too uniform a scale, and I appeal to the teaching profession themselves to say that they are not quite satisfied with these uniform scales of payment extended over various schools of a completely different character, because they have given rise to a good deal of injustice and a good deal of overpayment in some cases, and perhaps of underpayment in others. I am for laying down absolutely and enforcing a minimum below which payment ought not to be made, but I am in favour of going up in proportion to the responsibilities you lay upon a man, and in proportion to the estimate you form of his capacity, ability and energy in the discharge of his responsibilities. I think that is a far more wholesome method.
I ask the House to agree to this Bill as a first step towards what, I trust, will be eventually a restoration of an efficacious superannuation scheme, and I do that because, looking forward, I think that 2184 will be an immense lever to the teaching profession when we come to consider the question of salaries. The right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) seemed to me to speak far too much of the possibility of salaries being reduced. That may be. I trust it; will not be. I certainly shall not look upon the general reduction of salaries with any favour. I think it may come to be necessary, but salaries had to be increased, and they have been increased. I trust local authorities will not be too quick in jumping to the conclusion that we shall save a little money by reducing salaries, but I do ask the teaching profession and all those Members in this House who have the interests of the teaching profession at heart to be prepared to accept this first step in the certain knowledge that it will put them in a sound and wholesome position with regard to their fellow-citizens, and that it will be a strong weapon in their hands, when we and they come to fight against what I think would be an ill-omened and pernicious tendency suddenly and quickly to lower salaries. Let us look ahead and see what will be the effect of the acceptance of this contribution. I think it will be all for the good, and I do trust that we shall have a fight against any sudden tendency—because we know that tendencies come and go—against any sudden reaction towards a reduction of salaries. I trust that this Bill will be passed, but I hope we shall all co- operate in Committee upstairs to try to make it as suitable in all particulars for our country as we can make it.
§ Colonel Sir ALEXANDER SPROT
I wish to say a few words in support of this Bill. I was one of those who, on a previous occasion, when a similar Bill for England was under consideration, voted for the Adjournment, in order that the question might be referred to a Committee of Members before a decision was come to. It appeared to me, having listened to that Debate, that the matter was doubtful. I could not see clearly whether or not it had been established that there was no implied pledge, in the case of English teachers, that their salaries and emoluments generally should not be interfered with until 1923 or 1925. The House came to that conclusion, and the Government was beaten by a majority of three. The Committee assembled, and gave its decision. After that, the road 2185 was clear. Parliament had done its duty. It had hesitated to take this step until it had satisfied itself by every means in its power that there was no breach of faith involved in the case of the English teachers. I was able, therefore, to vote for the passing of the Bill. So much for the English question. The Scottish question must necessarily follow upon the English question. The grants for education in Scotland are, I understand, dependent upon what is given to England. Hence a similar Bill for Scotland must follow from the circumstances.
What is the condition of the Scottish teachers in this matter? I understand that they have a much weaker case than had the English teachers. I disagree upon this point from my hon. Friend above the Gangway. In the case of the Scottish teachers there was no mention of ending in a particular year, 1923 or 1925, or any other period during which their salary or emoluments generally were not to be interfered with. I am informed that the teachers are in reality the employés of the county education authorities, and they, or most of them, are under short notice of dismissal; their salaries or conditions of service can be changed under short notice. That being so, it appears to me that Parliament, having satisfied itself upon the English question, which was somewhat obscure, there was no reason in the world why we should not in this matter proceed in the same way and take the same steps in regard to the Scottish teacher. That is my opinion after the most careful and most conscientious consideration of the matter, and after consultation with some of the teachers in my constituency. I think the teachers would be well advised not to press too strongly any supposed grievance in this connection. There is a great demand for economy at the present time. All along the way the ratepayers have in their minds that the teachers have recently had a large addition to their salaries—there are some who consider that the addition is too large—the larger number of people consider that some economy in this particular matter is absolutely necessary, and they look to the teachers not to press any fancied grievance that they may have in their minds, or any claim, but to fall in with the general progress of that economy recommended by the Geddes Committee. For 2186 that reason I see my way clear to support this Bill.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I also support this Bill because I think it is inevitable under all the circumstances. I hope we will agree to letting it go through without a Division. I think it unwise in the interests of the teachers themselves to throw about any charges of breach of faith in regard to Scotland, and I would implore my Scottish colleagues to beware of putting forward such charges. At the same time, while I support the Bill, I strongly resent the position in which we are placed in Scotland. The teaching profession, the educational world, and the people of Scotland have a decided grievance as to the state they find themselves in. We had in Scotland a good working contributory scheme. In 1898 a Bill was brought forward setting up a superannuation scheme, but the scheme outlined in that Bill was not congenial to the Scottish people, and it was only the passage of the Act of 1908 that enabled the authorities in Scotland to set up a proper superannuation scheme. From the establishment of that scheme in 1912 down to its being scrapped it gave every satisfaction to the teaching profession and the education authorities in Scotland generally. That scheme was founded on a very sound principle. The teachers themselves contributed 4 per cent. The local education authorities subscribed 2 per cent. The State gave something under 4 per cent. The superannuation fund was, therefore, founded upon a contribution of nearly 10 per cent.
At the time that scheme was abandoned there were indications that out of the fund thereby started, and under the scheme, greater benefits might have been given to the profession. The scheme was on the highway to establishing itself on a sound and satisfactory footing. During the seven years it was in operation it had given every satisfaction to the teaching profession. What happened? Here in England, in 1918, a superannuation scheme of the most extraordinary kind was established, in the high tide of profligate expenditure, when millions were being squandered, and the result was that the teaching profession in England were given a non-contributory scheme, and that, notwithstanding that the passing of this non-contributory scheme for the English teachers, would imperil the well-established scheme we had in Scotland.
2187 It must be borne in mind that an organised educational system had been established in Scotland centuries almost before it was established in England. The people of Scotland have worked out a sound educational system that compares most favourably with the educational system here. When the Treasury and the Educational Department in England were faced with the problem of providing a superannuation scheme for the English teachers they ought to have taken into consideration the existing scheme in Scotland, and—if I may say with all respect to the English Members—if there are any in the House—
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
—the proper and wise thing for the Government to have done would have been to have established a superannuation scheme on the lines of the Scottish scheme which had been tried and tested, and was working well. Teachers in Scotland have said to me that because that scheme was scrapped they had got their premiums back. Teachers have said to me that they were ashamed to take back that money. They considered that being connected with the non-contributory scheme was sufficient without having handed back the money they had paid to the contributory scheme. There was no greedy desire on the part of the Scottish teachers to get those funds handed back. What is done under the English scheme? They not only got a non-contributory system of superannuation, but when a teacher retires under that scheme they get a lump sum. The Scottish teachers never desired that lump sum. It was a piece of gratutious expenditure. I had a letter the other day from an old Scottish teacher who had been in charge of a higher-grade school in Scotland, with a staff of 45 teachers, and pupils numbering from 2,300 to 2,500. When he retired, after serving a long time in the profession, and having reached the age limit, his salary was £375. We are all agreed that the teaching profession was miserably starved in the way of salaries. There was no inducement for the best men and women to go into the profession. I agree with my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik) that it would be a mistaken course, and against all sound educational policy to reduce the salaries of the teachers. I think good salaries are absolutely neces- 2188 sary if we are to attract the best of our men and women in order that the plastic minds of the children under their charge may be fully developed. In the case of the schoolmaster I have just mentioned the salary was £375 per annum and he received a pension of £150 a year, and that was supplemented by bonus from Government resources making it about £180 a year with the prospect that it might ultimately reach £-200. This schoolmaster's successor started in his old school at no less than £800 a year, and if he had given the same service as the old teacher, he would have got a pension of £400 a year and a lump sum of £1,200. That is the new scheme which this country has embarked upon. It may be argued that it was necessary to put superannuation on a good working footing, but I think this reflects very little credit upon the Government that sanctioned the extravagant scheme of 1918.
The reason why I welcome this Bill is that there are indications that it will bring back the old Scottish superannuation scheme under which the teachers have that sense of independence which their contributions give them, and they will have this when the scheme has been brought forward to its full completion. There will also be opportunities afforded the teachers of having a say in the moulding of the scheme, which I hope will approximate to the old one which worked so well for all the interests concerned in Scotland. I hope that my colleagues in the House will agree that under all the circumstances of the case and in view of all the complications that have arisen we may get back to the system established for so many years in Scotland. If we take all these facts into consideration, I think my colleagues will agree to give this Bill a safe passage, and in Committee upstairs we may be able to improve the Measure, while still retaining the principle. I hope that a very short time will see our old Scottish superannuation scheme flourishing and doing well for the teachers.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. C. D. Murray)
The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), who moved the rejection of this Bill, will pardon me for saying that I thought he did so not only in a very moderate way, but with some timidity. I do not think I shall be doing him any injustice if I 2189 say that he is also sensible that they are rather fighting this Measure with their hands tied behind their backs. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, when he introduced this Measure, said that he had hoped that there might be a large measure of agreement in regard to it amongst Scottish Members. I am sanguine enough to hope that still we may get the Second Heading without pursuing the matter to a Division.
But for one matter I should have felt almost inclined not to have intervened in this Debate at all. When the Second Reading was moved, the Secretary for Scotland, I am sure, with the sympathy and assent of the House, associated himself with the President of the Board of Education in England in regretting that this Measure should have been introduced, and that what was in a sense a gift made comparatively recently to the teaching profession seemed now to have been taken away. The Secretary for Scotland expressed that regret on his own behalf, but I am certain that I interpret the keynote of the discussion to-night correctly if I say there is another reason which bulks much more largely in the hearts of the Scottish Members, namely, that in regard to he Scottish system which prevailed after the establishment of the scheme in 1908, the hand of Scotland was forced, and all our Scottish Members have to-night expressed the regret that it should have been found necessary to alter in 1919 the system of the contributory scheme which from 1911, 1912, and up to 1919 was in operation in Scotland, and was established and maintained with the complete assent and concurrence of Scotland and the teaching profession. Nobody can maintain that the alteration was not essential or that it could have been avoided.
Let us remember what the position was. Parliament in 1918 determined upon the adoption of a non-contributory scheme under the English Act of 1918. Nobody can pretend that in those circumstances or even to-day it is possible to make any material differentiation between the status of the teaching profession in England and the teaching profession of Scotland. Therefore, as a loyal and patriotic Scotsman, one may deplore the death of that scheme. The position to-day is almost identical with that which was advanced in 1918, and it recognises that there can 2190 be no substantial differentiation between the profession in England and in Scotland, for, after all, you may call it an Imperial service in that sense. One word more. Not only, I think, do I correctly interpret the feeling of Scottish Members as one of regret, but also it may be one of aspiration that out of what my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Graham) called a bad Bill—I think perhaps less measured terms might have been used—there might be a return to former conditions. Reference has been made to the fact that a Departmental Committee is going to sit immediately upon the question and to report as to the position of the superannuation scheme. It would be premature, before the report of that Committee, to speculate what line it may take, but I recognise that so far as many Scottish Members are concerned, they hope it may take a form which has worked well and is familiar to Scotland. I do not propose to say much about the details of the Bill. I think I may, on behalf of the Secretary for Scotland, give an assurance that any suggestions which have been made will be carefully considered and discussed between us in Committee in so far as they are really Committee points.
There is one matter on which I must say a word. Not a charge but a suggestion has been made that in some way in Scotland there was some bargain between the educational authorities and the Government. My right hon. Friend stated that in his opinion, and I think we may take it he was well informed on this matter, in Scotland our hands were perfectly free so far as any contract or bargain was concerned. I want to be as generous to those who suggest otherwise as they have been to me. Let me state what I believe to be the actual facts on the information before me. We on this side cannot be any party to the idea there is in the presentation of this Bill any room for a charge of a want of good faith on the part of the Education Department. Let me put it as shortly as I can. The position was that in 1918 the English Bill was passed. At a conference in August, 1919, by which time I agree the English non-contributory scheme was a matter of fact, there was a conference at which there were represented the teachers on the one hand and the education authorities on the other, together 2191 with representatives of the Scottish Education Department. I know that at a Committee meeting prior to that conference some reference was made to the total benefits which would accrue to the teaching profession, not only in respect of salaries, but in respect also of a non-contributory scheme. That is perfectly correct. I think I am right in saying also that at what I may call the main conference in August, 1918, no explicit reference to the benefits which the teachers would derive from a non-contributory scheme was made by anyone. But if you ask me if I think that fact may not have been present to the minds of the teachers, I should reply frankly that I think it must have been. Still no explicit reference was made to the point.
What happened was this, and I ask the House to note it. A certain minimum scale was put forward for the acceptance of the profession by the education authorities with the approval of the Department. The scale proposed on the one side was not accepted by the teachers and, in its place, a considerably higher scale was propounded, and, after a good deal of discussion, it was presumed to be a standard scale and was accepted by the conference. It now appears as the minimum scale under the Act of 1918. But what I want to bring out is this, it will not be disputed that, at the time, at was regarded more or less as a standard and not a minimum scale. It will not be disputed that, although this non-contributory scheme may have been present to the minds of the teachers and, therefore, in a sense, there may have been an implied understanding, there was an express understanding in regard to a very cogent matter at that conference, and it was this: Having in view the character of the scale that was adopted, there was before that conference a figure which represented the salaries of the teachers on an enhanced scale. The actual figure is well known to all of us. Therefore, if there was any implied understanding, there was also an express understanding that the scale which was adopted was conditioned by the view that the salaries in Scotland were represented by £x.
What happened? The standard that was adopted became in law the minimum scale, and, as was perfectly in accordance with 2192 human nature, that scale was not adhered to, but pressure was brought to bear by the teachers on the education authorities, and the result was that, so far from that scale representing a standard, it is common ground that, on the; average, the scale that was fixed in August, 1919, has been very largely exceeded, and to-day the average of the teachers, by agreement no doubt with their local authorities, has been advanced to the extent of something between 30 and 40 per cent. over the standard scale of 1919. Accordingly, the figure which was the basis of the whole discussion, representing the salary bill for Scotland in August, 1919, has been vastly exceeded, the result being that, even if we grant that 5 per cent. is to be regarded properly—though personally I rather agree with the view presented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik)—as a deduction from the salary, it would be a deduction from a salary very much in excess of that contemplated by the parties at the time when this implied understanding was come to.
That is my information with regard to what took place, and, if I am properly informed with regard to the matter, I think it is idle to maintain that there is any breach of faith. There may have been an understanding in the minds of the teachers, but if so, the whole thing is conditioned by the fact that that arrangement was come to upon the express footing that you were dealing with a known figure as representing the salary bill for Scotland, and those conditions do not exist to-day. That is all that I desire to say with regard to, I think, the only new point which was raised. With regard to the minor matters, I give my right hon. Friend the assurance that they will be carefully considered, and I think I may add for all of us that we hope on both sides that the apprehension of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) will be proved in Committee to be ill-founded, for I think I can assure him, as I know he can assure me, that we Scottish Members will be anxious and willing to co-operate with each other lest in any way—and now I use his phrase—it be found that the English members of the teaching profession should be in any respect treated upon more generous or more just terms than the teaching profession in Scotland. I 2193 hope that the hint with which I opened may bear some fruit, and that the hon. Member may see his way not to press his Amendment.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. D. M. COWAN
When the Secretary for Scotland introduced this Bill last Thursday evening, he not only gave us, as he always does with regard to any Bill with which he deals, a very lucid explanation of the provisions of the Bill, but he gave us also the expression of his regret that he had to introduce such a Bill at all. We can well believe that such was his opinion, because, while he may not have had very keen regret in 1919, when the old superannuation scheme passed away, his regret must have come into being very strongly when he found that the scheme which had replaced the former scheme had now to be, to a large extent, scrapped. If I might be allowed just a sentence of autobiography, I would say that I do not consider that any person in Scotland, not even the Secretary for Scotland himself, would see the passing of the 1912 scheme with greater regret than I did, for the reason that, during the formation of that scheme, it was my privilege to meet in almost constant conference the representatives of the Scottish Education Department, while among my most treasured possessions there is to-day an album with a very flattering testimonial as regards the work I did, and, more important than that, or at least more interesting, it contains over 12,000 autograph signatures of teachers in Scotland. That does argue a fairly close association with the scheme, and, therefore, it was with feelings of very great regret that I saw it depart; and I can say honestly that I was never very much convinced as to the soundness of the scheme which replaced it. On the present occasion, however, I feel not so much inclined to question what is being done by the Scottish Office or by the Government in introducing this Bill, as to make a protest against the manner in which Scotland is being dragged at the chariot wheels of England. I took the occasion, perhaps wisely, of speaking in the Debate on the English Bill, and I did so because I was perfectly sure that if I did not take it I should never have another on which to put the case of Scotland with anything like a chance of its being listened to or accepted. I could not conceal my astonish- 2194 ment when I found from the OFFICIAL REPORT next day that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Renfrewshire (Sir J. Greig) had rather taken me to task for intervening. I think that, if it would not trouble the House too much, it would be interesting to them to know the grounds on which the hon. and gallant Gentleman, to whom we always listen with particular interest, dealt with my intervention in that Debate. There are two rather interesting sentences in his speech. He said:I would not have intervened in the Debate but for some remarks which fell from the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities"—that is myself. He went on:Unfortunately, he dragged in the question of the teachers in Scotland. We in Scotland are only indirectly interested in this question, and the statement made by the hon. Member was not as full as it might have been.Speaking with regard to Scottish teachers in the Debate on an English Bill, I can assure the House that I was expecting every minute to be told by the occupant of the Chair that I was out of order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman continued:I shall not now give the details. I wish merely to point out one matter which differentiates the Scottish case which may have to be argued here sooner or later. I want to enter a caveat against that case being gone into on the English case.Now what does the hon. and gallant Gentleman say as to the statement made by the Leader of the House to-day? He-has been waiting for something like 10 days for this Bill to come on at a reasonable hour. As the Paper stood yesterday, it was the first Order to-day, but we found this morning that it had been pushed back in order, as the Leader of the House said, that the main fight should take place on the English Bill. I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will come in and undertake at least a good rearguard action with regard to Scotland. He said that this only indirectly affects Scotland, but it affects Scotland financially, and nothing that is financial can be indirect so far as Scot land is concerned. He added at the end of his speech:It is rather a pity that the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities tried to jump the claim on this matter, which has an entirely different bearing, and must be 2195 argued on a different series of facts."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1922; cols. 91–92, Vol. 156.]The last thing that was in my mind was jumping anyone's claim. What I was trying to do, perhaps not very forcibly, but still with good intent, was to strike a blow for the independence of Scotland. To consider that Scotland is to follow England educationally would be greeted by our old friend Baillie Nicol Jarvie with his favourite exclamation "Ma conscience !"—and it is enough to make us wonder whether there really ever was such a thing as the Battle of Bannock-burn or whether such a person as John Knox ever lived. I must not traverse again the case for Scottish teachers, as I understand it, which I put before the House on the last occasion. I had an opportunity also of giving evidence before the Acland Committee, and as I put the case there it was accepted generally by the Scottish Education Department, and I have to thank the Secretary for Scotland for the very generous recognition which he made of the manner in which I gave that evidence. I hope he appreciated the spirit thereof. The Lord Advocate referred to this question of breach of faith. It has not been brought forward directly in any quarter, but there is a suspicion in some quarters that things have not just been carried out according to rule. Into all the details of mutual understandings it is impossible practically for anyone outside the negotiating parties to go, and at any rate it is too late for anything in the nature of recrimination. What we have to do now is to make the best we can of the position as we find it. There are one or two points in connection with the Bill which it might be well to mention now, though they might be more properly dealt with in Committee. I take it for granted that such points as the date on which the Act comes into force, and the duration of the Act, will be accepted for the Scottish Bill as well as for the English. I think the Secretary for Scotland gave some assurance about that. But in the English Bill, as it now stands, provision has been made for a deduction in the case of certain classes of teachers. They are not to be called upon to make the full 5 per cent. contribution. As the Scottish Bill stands at present, it empowers the authorities to make a 2196 deduction of 5 per cent., and if it were put through in that form there would be no option left to the Department but to exact the full amount, I daresay that matter will be raised and dealt with in Committee. It applies almost equally to Scotland as to England. The Lord Advocate has given us some figures which I am not in a position to accept or to reject. He has spoken of the national minimum scale being largely exceeded— I think he meant in the gross by 30 or 40 per cent. That figure is rather larger than I had expected, but I accept it as correct. There are thousands of teachers in Scotland who are not receiving a penny more than the minimum scale, so that their case, it may be, will require something in the way of a concession. Again, this is rather an enabling Bill than a Bill with definite provisions. It gives the Department power to make certain alterations in the scheme, and I hope advantage will be taken of this opportunity to make some changes which will be fairer to the teachers. May I take this opportunity of pointing out a very important difference between the English and the Scottish schemes? On several occasions I have thought to have had an opportunity of putting it before the House, as I have several times put it before the Education Department, and I daresay the Secretary for Scotland will recognise it for an old friend when I state it. There is in the Scottish scheme what I think is a very distinct hardship for teachers. The cases, to put them in parallel columns, are something like this. Under the English Superannuation Act a teacher who has given 30 years of service can retire with pension rights at the age of 60. That is to say, a teacher having given 30 years' service could, at the age of 55, retire without a pension but with pension rights at the age of 60. In Scotland the case is different. The condition there is that a teacher having given 10 years' service, and being in service on his or her 60th birthday, qualifies for an allowance, while a teacher who has given 35 or 38 years of service and has the misfortune not to be teaching on his or her 60th birthday or thereafter, for any reason whatever, has to retire without a single penny of pension or anything else. While that is not a matter for discussion on the Second Reading, it is a matter which will appeal to the Secretary for Scotland when he 2197 is making changes in the scheme to remove a very flagrant injustice. I need not say I hope, because I am certain, the Secretary for Scotland and those associated with him will in Committee do all they can to make this Bill a success. It is too late now to think about the money part of it, but it is for each and all of us to forget whatever little grievance or soreness we have had in the past with regard to it and with regard to the manner in which it has been introduced, and to see that we try to make a scheme which will reflect the spirit which I am glad to say has inspired everyone who has spoken in this Debate.
§ Major GLYN
I should like to draw attention, as I did before, to the end of Clause 3, because I think if one matter stands out more than anything else as the result of this Debate, hon. Members opposite and we on this side are all hopeful of seeing from this Bill re-emerge something framed on the lines of the old superannuation fund. Everyone who has spoken has praised the management of that fund and the method by which it was conducted, and if it is really the intention of the Government to treat this as a temporary Measure and to give the Departmental Committee which is to consider the whole matter a perfectly free hand, I think we ought to be quite clear that the framing of this Bill will not tie the hands of that Departmental Committee. The point to which I wish to draw attention is that at the end of Clause 3 it is stated that the money is to be paid into the Exchequer. In the 1911 scheme, on which the old superannuation scheme was based, it was the National Debt Commissioners who had charge of that fund. In the scheme of 1911 it is set out that all moneys of the fund shall be paid by the Department to the National Debt Commissioners, and shall be invested by the Commissioners in any security in which money held by the Commissioners on account of savings banks may be invested, etc. I believe it is fundamentally bad to have a scheme and call it a superannuation scheme which is not quite distinct from the Exchequer, and I ask the Secretary for Scotland to draw the attention of the Departmental Committee to the difference as to the manner in which this money is to be safeguarded on behalf of the teachers. The only other point is that I am quite sure, 2198 from the point of view of economy, if local authorities are called upon to pay there will be a further drain upon the demand made for carrying out full economy. At the same time, the full superannuation scheme should be put into force, and the three parties to that scheme should each contribute, namely the teacher, the local authority and the central authority. What I am anxious about is that the form in which this Bill has been drafted will not prevent the Departmental Committee when the proper time comes from re-establishing in full, for the benefit of all concerned, the superannuation scheme on the lines of that which previously existed in Scotland.
§ Mr. MURRAY McDONALD
I have received a telegram from the Secretary of the Education Authority in my constituency which raises a point to which I should like to direct the attention of the Secretary for Scotland. Clause 2 of the Scottish Bill imposes upon educational authorities in Scotland the duty of paying back to the teachers certain moneys that they have not budgeted for. I have been looking over the English Bill, and I can see no Clause corresponding to the Scottish Clause, and no obligation imposed on the education authority that in any way corresponds to the obligation that is imposed by that Clause on the Scottish authorities. I should like to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether that Clause does really impose such an obligation on these authorities, and, if so, whether he will sympathetically consider the question when we come to Committee.
§ Mr. MUNRO
With regard to the question raised by my right hon. Friend, I willingly give him the undertaking for which he has asked, but I would point out that in the English Bill, Clause 2, specific oases are dealt with, which are more generally dealt with in Clause 2 of the Scottish Bill. Clause 2 of the Scottish Bill deals with cases of death or retirement of teachers, and I fail to see how one can accurately budget in all cases in order to deal with such unexpected happenings as are comprised in the category to which I have referred. If there is any real grievance I shall be very happy to look into it; but Clause 2 is essential, as a matter of justice, to teachers. It is recognised in the Eng- 2199 lish Bill, and some corresponding provision must be made in the Scottish Bill. The point raised by the hon. Member for Clackmannan and Eastern (Major Glyn) is also a Committee point. If he desires to amend the Clause in any way, I shall be happy to consider any Amendment which he puts down, but I would remind him that the provision in Clause 3 is of very simple origin. It is provided that money shall be paid into the Exchequer, and we are here dealing, not with a permanent arrangement, but with a temporary Measure. Having had a full and interesting discussion, I now appeal to the House to let us have a Second Beading of this Bill, particularly having regard to the fact that there is another Scottish Bill on the Paper.