§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
A few weeks ago I happened to be reading in the pages of a contemporary newspaper an article on the subject of educational economy and it was pointed out that while we had been careful to economise to the disadvantage of the children we had been sedulous in avoiding the electoral difficulties which are supposed to attach to any controversy with the teaching body. That criticism is based upon a complete inversion of the true facts of the case. If anyone will turn to the Estimates of the Board of Education this year he will find that the net expenditure of the local education authorities on education this year is estimated at £75,450,000 against an estimate of £76,472,000 for last year. That is a figure which is certainly calculated to reassure the champions of the children, and the proceedings this afternoon will I hope finally dispose of the other portion of the indictment.
This Bill has been introduced to give effect, and to give literal effect, to a particular recommendation in the Report of the Committee on National Expenditure, commonly known as the Geddes Committee. There was a mythical sovereign in ancient times of whom it was said that everything which he touched turned to gold. Sir Eric Geddes is, in this regard, less fortunate than King Midas. He proposed an economy of no less than £18,000,000 in the field of education, and the Government have not seen fit to adopt. economies to a greater extent than £6,000,000, of which £3,000,000 had already been realised before the Geddes Committee was set up, and £2,300,000 will be realised if the House accept the present proposal of the Government. In other words, this Bill will give effect to one of the recommendations made by the Geddes Committee in the sphere of education. The Geddes Committee propose that there should be an inquiry into 264 the whole subject of teachers' superannuation, and that, pending the results of that inquiry, the teachers should be asked to contribute 5 per cent. of their salaries in respect of their pensions.
It may be urged that, if a Committee be set up to inquire into the subject of teachers' superannuation, it will be right for the Government to await the result of the Report of that Committee before proceeding to ask teachers to make a contribution. That is a very obvious criticism. But we have had Departmental Committees upon the subject of teachers' superannuation, and the last Departmental Committee which dealt with the subject occupied 18 months with its inquiries. It is not in the interest of the public, and still less is it in the interests of the teachers, that an inquiry into this difficult and complicated subject should be stamped or hastened, and, for myself, I can conceive that my own attitude towards the Report of the Committee upon Teachers' Superannuation might he largely affected by the findings of the Committee which is about to examine the whole question of the percentage grants, for, pensions depending on salaries and salaries to a large extent being conditioned by the formula of the Board's grants, I can well imagine that these two inquiries are properly interdependent. The question therefore which the House has got to decide is whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to realise the economy of £2,300,000 and is to receive this contribution in the current year. Hon. Members will realise that that economy figured in the Board's estimate, and that in accepting the Board's estimate they have allowed for this Appropriation-in-aid. In other words we are this afternoon debating not an educational question. but a financial question.
Assuming that a sum of £2,300,000 is required in relief of the demand on the Treasury, there are, I submit, strong educational reasons for thinking that the economy can be best realised by the method proposed in this Bill, and cannot be so well realised by any other method. Let us assume that £2,300,000 has been taken off the sum available for the school medical service. A grave injury to the health of the children would inevitably result. Then assume that this sum is taken from the grants available for aid to students or for maintenance allowances 265 or for scholarships. What would be the result? A large number of promising boys and girls who would be looking forward to the advantages of secondary education, or even university education, would find the avenue into those fields abruptly, and even painfully cut short. Suppose, again, that we required to take this sum from the grants available for school building or for structural repairs in the schools, then the long black list of schools the conditions of which are unsatisfactory and even insanitary—a matter which formed the theme of a most admirable speech by the hon. Member for Accrington (Major Gray) when the Estimates were presented—would be greatly lengthened. I am often told that there is considerable ground for economy in the direction of reducing the Board's inspectorate. Let us assume that the whole of the Board's inspectorate were abolished to-morrow, and that nothing were put in its place. The saving would only represent a small fraction of the economy which the Bill endeavours to secure.
§ Mr. FISHER
Yes, I am. There is another aspect in which I would invite hon. Members to view this proposal. It is altogether right and proper that teachers should have adequate pensions. The Government has no intention of going back to the unsatisfactory and, indeed, discreditable conditions which prevailed before the year 1918. But if the dead weight of non-effective expenditure reaches or threatens to reach a very high figure in respect of any public servants, it at once becomes a matter of financial importance to the Treasury either to limit the number of entrants into the pensionable body or to reduce the benefits under the pensions system, or to require a contribution towards the cost. Of these alternatives, the first would, in my opinion, be easily the worse. Speaking broadly, the nation wants not fewer teachers, but more teachers, and as the public system of education expands the number which it will require must necessarily increase. And if a constant supply of highly qualified teachers is to be obtained for the schools, their pension benefits must not be niggardly. Admitting all this, it may be said that it is still 266 doubtful whether it would be equitable to review the Superannuation Act which was passed in 1918.
I fully agree that a Measure of this kind, upon which a large fabric of legitimate expectation is naturally and rapidly raised, must be touched with great caution and only after careful consideration. But on this I would remark, first, that the conditions have changed so greatly since I introduced the Bill in 1918 that Parliament is entitled to review the situation. As everyone knows, that Act was passed upon a non-contributory basis and it was made non-contributory, partly because it was felt that a contributory system involved great labour and expense in administration, partly because the prevalent salaries of teachers were then extremely low, and partly because under a contributory system it was felt that you must either have a fund which would be subject to periodical revaluation or else that the State must resort to one or more insurance companies, a procedure which was liable to another class of objection. Whatever value may be attached to these arguments, Parliament made the Act non-contributory. It is sometimes alleged that in doing so this House was not furnished with an adequate estimate of the cost. That is not so. The whole question of superannuation had been present to the minds of the Board of Education for several years. A number of distinguished actuaries had been consulted before the post of Government actuary had been established, and we were able to form an estimate, which I have no reason to think to be incorrect, upon the basis of the number of teachers then in the teaching service and upon the salaries which they received. Speaking on the Financial Resolution I explained that I did not intend to forecast what might be the increase in the number of teachers in this country due to the extension of our educational system. I added:As that grows, so must also the expenditure grow, both on salaries and on pensions. To carry the forecast beyond 10 years would involve too many problematical results.I concluded:On the whole the best indication I can give of the expected cost of the present Measure is to say that at the present moment the salaries of teachers in grant-aided schools amount to something over £20,000,000 a year, and on those teachers and those salaries we expect the pension system 10 years from now to cost something 267 like £2,500,000 per annum, of which £2,000,000 will be new money and the remainder is what the present system would cost if left unaltered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th October, 1918; col. 76, Vol. 110.]I have no reason to think that those figures were incorrect, given the assumptions upon which they were based. But one of those assumptions has been greatly changed by circumstances which have occurred since 1918. At that date, when the Superannuation Bill was first introduced, the average salary of the elementary teacher was £104. It is now about £250, and next year, when the Burnham Scales will exercise their full effect, it will rise to £261. The average salary of the secondary teacher in 1913–14 was £173. In 1920—I am sorry I have not the figures for 1918—it had risen to £267, largely owing to the change of the grant system, and when the secondary teacher has reached his correct position in the Burnham Scale his average salary will be £400.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. FISHER
Male and female. It is the average. There has been, thus, an average, rise of about 150 per cent. in salary expenditure, and since the pension is assessed on the average salary of the last five years of service the dead-weight pension expenditure has greatly increased since Parliament passed the Act of 1918. The Government Actuary estimates that in 1929–30 the cost of the Superannuation Act, upon the basis of the universal adoption and permanent retention of the Burnham Scale, will amount to £4,400,000, and ultimately, on the same basis, to £9,500,000. It is quite true that some increase of salaries was expected in 1918. I hoped for it; I expected it; and I warned the House that it was likely to occur. It was, however, quite uncertain at that date bow far local authorities would be inclined to go in meeting the demands of the teachers. Not even the most sanguine apostle of the teachers anticipated that the salaries would rise either so far or so fast as, under the stress of the rapidly-increasing depreciation of money, they eventually did rise. Consequently, I suggest that it is not inequitable that Parliament should review the provision that was made in 1918 for teachers' pensions in the light of the 268 great changes in the salary position that have occurred since, and, more especially, in view of the grave financial situation with which the country is faced. I think I may legitimately add this further consideration, that, when I was pressing upon the House the necessity of providing an exceptionally liberal pension scheme for teachers, I urged that one of the arguments for the adoption of that scheme was the very moderate rate of salaries which then prevailed. Indeed, at that time it seemed that the only way in which the Government could really help effectually to raise the position of the teacher was by offering him a liberal pension, since it was quite uncertain how far local education authorities would be inclined to meet the teachers' demands in respect of salaries. Let us suppose this proposition is granted. Let us suppose that there is a general feeling in the House that, in view of all these circumstances, Parliament is entitled to review the provision which was made in 1918. It may still be urged that it is unfair to single out the teachers in our grant-aided schools for adverse treatment. I have great sympathy with the view of the teachers that they should not be so singled out. The teaching profession in this country has been so long underpaid and under-estimated that they have a right to be suspicious of any Measure which seems to imply adverse discrimination against them. It would clearly be wrong to select one profession, and impose upon it a levy from which other comparable members of the community were exempt. But I do not think, if we review the history of events during the last five and a half years, that this objection can be substantiated.
Let me, first of all, remind the House that the provision made in 1918 was exceptionally generous, and a great advance upon the benefits which teachers had received under the older Superannuation Acts. Before the Act of 1918 the teachers in secondary and technical schools drew no State pensions at all, and they had no reason to suppose that they would be given State pensions. Then they found themselves presented unexpectedly with the benefits of a liberal pension scheme, not only in respect of future service, but in respect of back service as well. The elementary teachers were not beneficiaries to the same extent, seeing that they were 269 already in a pension scheme. But the benefits derived from the Superannuation Act previous to that of 1918 were of a very meagre character, and, in my opinion, not only insufficient but even discreditable to the State. A certificated teacher retiring at the age of 65, after 43 years' service, would, in general, have received a State pension of £40—£1 for each year of service—and might have received a State pension rising to £55. In addition, he received a small annuity derived from his own contributions.
Contrast with this wholly insufficient scheme the benefits obtainable under the Act of 1918, and, in order to bring the contrast more clearly before the mind of the House, I will take two illustrations. I will take two awards recently made under the Act of 1918, and I will contrast the benefits which have been paid to those two teachers under that Act with the benefits that they would have received if the Act had not been passed. The first is the case of a male certificated teacher who retired recently after 43 years' service. If the Act of 1918 had not been passed he would have received a State pension of £53 15s., and an annuity derived from his own contributions of £13 5s. 4d., or a total of £67 0s. 4d. In effect, he received under the Act of 1918 an annual pension of £161 16s. 10d., a lump sum of £463 19s., and, in addition, an annuity of £12 3s. 8d. derived from his own contributions under previous Acts. Roughly speaking, we may say that his pension benefits have been trebled. The second case is that of a woman who retired last year after 42 years' service. Under the previous Act she would have received a State pension of £47 3s., and an annuity derived from her own contributions of £7 10s. 8d., or a total of £54 13s. 8d, Under the Act of 1918 she did, in effect, receive a pension of £126 6s. 4d., a lump sum of £353 13s. 8d., and an annuity derived from her own contributions under previous Acts of £6 17s. 4d., so her benefit also has been more than trebled. These great additional benefits were conferred upon the teachers in our grant-aided secondary and elementary schools. They were not conferred upon the professors and lecturers at Oxford and Cambridge, where, as the Royal Commission has reminded us, there is no pension scheme, nor were they conferred upon the seven 270 Universities which I have the honour to represent in this House. The teachers in those Universities for the most part belong to the Federated Universities System, and pay a contribution normally of 5 per cent. towards their pensions. Moreover, they are not in enjoyment of equivalent benefits in respect of back service. In the few public schools which are rich enough to afford a pension system, contributions are, I think, generally required. The teachers in private venture schools are, of course, unpensioned from public funds. In contradistinction to other members of the teaching body, the teachers in our grant-aided schools have received a benefit of a non-contributory and most generous pension scheme, and discrimination, therefore, has not been against them, but in their favour.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
Could my right hon. Friend tell us how the lump sum paid is arrived at?
§ Mr. FISHER
I am coming to that question in a moment. The same conclusion is forced upon us if we regard the teachers in our grant-aided schools, not as members of the teaching profession, but as being what, in effect, they are, the employés of local authorities, managers, or governing bodies of schools. Here, again, they alone receive the benefits of a non-contributory State pension. Directors of secondary education and inspectors employed by local education authorities receive no State pension at all, and discrimination in this respect, again, is not against teachers in graint-aided schools, but in their favour. I see it urged that because the teacher is given pension advantages upon the same basis as the advantages which are conceded to the Civil Service, he should be treated as a civil servant. But the teacher is not a civil servant. The teacher is not employed by the Government; he is employed by local authorities, managers, or governing bodies. Moreover, he enjoys privileges which are denied to the civil servant. The teacher can leave the teaching service, take up another calling, return to the school, and reckon all his teaching years for pension. A number of them do this. They go out of the school and get married and bring up a family and then return to the school as married women—for I think it is desirable that there should be married women teaching in our schools 271 —but that is obviously a very great advantage to them. It is not shared by civil servants. Their service, if it is to pensionable, must be continuous. The civil servant is debarred from political activities. The teacher is not so debarred. I submit, if this question be looked at dispassionately, it is clear that there has been no adverse discrimination against the teachers in our grant-aided schools. What the Bill in fact seeks to affirm is that salaries arranged by agreement between the local education authority and the teacher having risen very much further than it was ever expected they would rise when the Act was passed, and the Estimates on the faith of which this House was invited to pass that Act standing in need of a corresponding Measure of correction, it is legitimate for Parliament to review the whole situation. Even when the 5 per cent. contribution is made, the teacher upon the new salary scale will still be a good deal better off than he had any reason to expect when the original Act of 1918 was passed.
There remain three other objections to be considered. The first, put forward on behalf of the teachers' representatives, is that if they had been aware of this proposed contribution to pension a further increase of salary would have been demanded by the teachers' panel on the Burnham Committee. It is quite true that when these discussions in the Burnham Committee were proceeding it had not been suggested that the basis of the Act of 1918 should be altered. I do not imagine that in the discussions at the Burnham Committee salary scales were in any way specifically adjusted to pensions benefits, for the local authorities, not having to pay these, had very little interest in the matter. I quite concede to the teachers' representatives the point that they would probably have put forward demands for increased salaries had they been informed that any alteration was contemplated in the scale of pensions. On the other hand, the salaries of teachers were not left, and could not be left, to the representatives of the teachers and the representatives of the local authorities alone to settle. There was a third party to the transaction, and that third party was the Government, and the Government could not possibly have accepted any higher scales of salaries than those which were in fact 272 proposed. Had further increases been insisted upon, all the arrangements contemplated by the Burnham Committee would, I am afraid, have fallen to the ground. I do not think, therefore, there is any substance in the contention that there is any breach of faith in asking Parliament to review the Pensions Act of 1918.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Were any representations made to the teachers to the effect that they ought to accept the Burnham scale, even though it did not go as far as they wished, because they were receiving non-contributory pensions?
§ Mr. FISHER
Does the Noble Lord mean by the local authorities? I was not present at the discussion in the Burnham Committee. It consisted of representatives of the local authorities and representatives of the teachers. It is true some of my officials were present in order to supply facts and figures, but they were expressly instructed that they were not to commit the Board. The Board was to be left perfectly free to consider the recommendations of the Committee in the light of the financial situation of the country. In conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer I considered the recommendations when the Burnham Report was made, and I can say with confidence, the Government would not have been in a position to have accepted any scales higher than those actually proposed. Then again it has been pointed out that the sum of £2,300,000 which the Government expect to realise from this contribution during the financial year, exceeds the expenditure to be incurred this year in respect of teachers' pensions. That is quite true, but there is really no substance in the objection, for is it not always a feature of every contributory scheme, in its initial stages, that more is paid in than is paid out? The real point to be considered is whether or no the benefits which the teachers are to receive from their contributions will be adequate? Is the State likely to bear, is it going to bear, its fair share of the cost of the scheme? According to the calculations submitted to me, which I have already communicated to the House, the 273 ultimate cost of the scheme is reckoned at £9,500,000 annually, and consequently the annual contribution of £2,300,000 does not cover the annual cost of the scheme to the State. But this contribution of five per cent. is intended by the Board, as it was intended by the Geddes Committee, to be a purely provisional arrangement. It stands to reason that a flat rate contribution of 5 per cent. to a pensions scheme does not operate evenly as between different age groups. It may well be that the Departmental Committee which is to examine the whole subject of teachers' superannuation will find it necessary to make corrections in the light of that point.
This, however, I do say, that the older teachers who are nearing the time of retirement, and indeed all teachers in middle life, will receive benefits far in excess of their contributions under this Bill. According to the figures supplied to me by the Government actuary, a male teacher aged 50 years for his 5 per cent contribution will receive a 45 per cent. benefit; a male teacher of the age of 40 will receive an 18 per cent. benefit, and of the age of 30 a 10 per cent. benefit. The benefits of teachers under 30 will be under 10 per cent., but still in excess of their contribution. I quite admit that a flat rate contribution of 5 per cent. is a very rough and ready expedient. It will necessitate correction, but although it is true that while that contribution is being levied—I hope it may only be levied for one year—the young teacher will pay rather more than he ought to pay on a strictly actuarial calculation of the incidence of the burden as between different age groups, is it really an inequitable arrangement, regard being had to its temporary character, and when we remember that the younger teacher is now enjoying, and expects to enjoy, a very much higher salary than was enjoyed by the older teacher during the earlier years of his service? I do not think there is really any great injustice in this temporary proposal, and I hope it will commend itself to the judgment and the equity of the House.
§ Mr. BETTERTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the terms of reference of the Departmental Committee?
§ Mr. FISHER
I think I have already read the terms of reference to the House, but I very gladly do so again. They are as follow: 274To inquire what modifications are desirable in the system of superannuation established by the School Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1918, regard being had both to the economy of public funds and to the provision of adequate and suitable benefits for members of the teaching profession, as well as to the effect which such modifications are calculated to have on the scheme framed under the terms of the Education (Scotland) (Superannuation) Act, 1919.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
Do I understand my right hon. Friend to refer to it as a Departmental Committee? Has it been settled that the Committee is to be a Departmental Committee?
§ Mr. FISHER
Yes, it has been settled that it is to be a Departmental Committee, and I hope that the names of the Committee will be announced very shortly. We have not yet received all the acceptances.
§ Mr. FISHER
It is very difficult to say. It is a very complicated inquiry and, in my judgment, an inquiry which bears a very distinct relation to another inquiry—that is the inquiry into the percentage grants. I now come to an objection to which very wide and vocal expression has been given. It is urged in many quarters that this is a proposal for a cut upon teachers' salaries and that a cut upon teachers' salaries is a breach of faith. If this were in truth a cut upon salaries, it would be a forced contribution levied from all teachers, whether they were eligible for pensions or not, but this Bill levies no such contribution. Under the provisions of this Measure the contribution will only be levied upon teachers who will become entitled to pension benefits under the Act of 1918. It is not required from supplementary teachers under the Act of 1918, and if any teacher satisfies the Board that he cannot complete the years of recognised or qualifying service necessary to qualify him at the age of 65 years for a superannuation allowance, he shall, as from the date on which he so satisfies the Board, cease to be a person in respect of whom contributions are payable under this Act, and any contributions already paid by him will be returned.
This provision meets an apprehension, and a very legitimate apprehension, which has been very widely felt among teachers, especially in our secondary schools. In our secondary schools there are many 275 teachers who cannot put in the 30 years of qualifying service which are requisite to entitle them to pensions, and they very reasonably and pertinently ask whether they are to pay this contribution. The answer is that they are not to pay it, that the contribution will be immediately returned. Further, if any woman teacher leaves the teaching service on marriage and satisfies the Board that she does not intend to be again employed as a teacher, she shall be entitled to a repayment of a sum equal to the aggregate amount of her contributions; and if, at the end of his time of active service, a teacher finds that, whether by accident or by the exercise of his discretion to interrupt his service, he is not qualified for a pension, he also will receive back the aggregate amount of his contributions.
This Bill, then, in a most literal and exact sense of the term, is a Bill for a contribution in respect of pensions. It is not, as the House will see, a long Bill. It contains five Clauses only and does not attempt to deal with the many intricate questions which a scheme of superannuation allowances naturally raises. These are left for inquiry. We do not attempt to settle them in this Bill; we merely lay down here that, pending further consideration, a 5 per cent. contribution should be levied, and we propose to leave to the Board of Education, with the consent of the Treasury, the power of making rules prescribing the manner in which contributions under this scheme are to be collected. We also provide that if any teacher who, before he became subject to the principal Act, was in any other pension scheme proves to the satisfaction of the Board, acting on the advice of the Government actuary, that he is in a worse position by reason of our proposals in this Bill than that in which he would have been under the superannuation scheme previously in force, the Board should award him such compensation as, in their opinion, should be sufficient to compensate him for the difference in his position. I think we may fairly ask both the public and the teachers to take a broad view of the situation. In the last three years the economic position of the country, as everyone knows, has sensibly deteriorated. There have been a great falling off in our foreign trade, a great loss of wealth due to industrial disturbances, and a shrinking of revenue. It is quite true that my right hon. Friend 276 the Chancellor of the Exchequer has this year been able to promise a slight and refreshing alleviation of the burden of taxation, but the forecasts for next year are not particularly roseate, though it is possible that they may be less dark than some Members anticipate. In these circumstances, is it too much to ask of the teachers who have so largely profited by the Government policy during the last five years to make a contribution in respect of their pensions? I believe that on a long-sighted view it is to their interest to make this contribution, and that if this contribution were not forthcoming—if no contribution were forthcoming from the teachers—prejudice would be excited in many parts of the community, aggravated by the fact that whereas the wages of most people are going down, the salaries of teachers are rising.
So far as I have been able to examine the objections that have been put forward to the Government proposals, they appear to have been based either upon misconceptions as to what the Bill actually contains or upon fears that no Committee will be appointed and that the levy will be permanent and irrevocable, or upon a general apprehension that the teaching profession is being subjected to adverse discrimination. I do not blame the executive of the National Union of Teachers if they view this proposal from a strictly professional standpoint. It is, I take it, their duty to their constituents to watch with initial suspicion any Measure which is likely to inure to the material disadvantage of the profession, but I believe that in the form in which the Bill is now presented it effectually meets some objections, while others are founded upon misconceptions of the Bill's provisions, and that, on broad grounds of equity and public policy, it is amply justified quite apart from the fact that in no other way—and on this point I lay great stress—can an equivalent economy be realised without serious injury to educational interests. I therefore have no hesitation in saying, though I am sure that everybody will realise that I am not lacking in sympathy with the teachers, that I think these proposals are, in all the circumstances, just, while at the same time I should not be honest if I did not say that I move them with regret, partly because I think it unfortunate that a feeling of unsettlement should be created among the teachers, and partly 277 because I should have been glad if the revision of the Teachers' Superannuation Act, which I think is necessary, could have been postponed for a little while. Nevertheless, although I move these proposals with regret, I move them with confidence in their justice, and I think that the first question which this House has got to consider is this: Is it, or is it not, desirable or necessary that the economy of £2,300,000 foreshadowed in the Board s Estimates and representing, as it does, the only substantial recommendation made by the Geddes Committee for educational economy which the Government is able to accept, should be realised? If the House is willing to assist the Government to secure that economy, then it will vote for a Second Heading of this Bill, and the question which I put to the teachers and the representatives of the teachers is this: Is it, on the whole, broadly speaking, to the higher interests of education in this country, taking the long view and starting with the consideration, that the teaching body, which has benefited so greatly by the Government policy in the last five years, which has had its average salaries raised by 150 per cent. and its pension benefits trebled—and this in spite of the fact that the country has been going through a period of great strain and stress—should at this moment of great financial urgency and stress oppose a temporary contribution of 5 per cent. in respect of their pensions, pending a full consideration of the Teachers' Superannuation Act? The teachers are a very patriotic body. They served the country finely during the War, and I cannot believe that on mature and serious consideration they will maintain their opposition to these proposals.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
In rising to move this Amendment, I sincerely regret having to base my indictment of the Government's action upon the point to which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education seems most sensitive, namely, that the action taken by the Government is a breach of faith with this House and with the teaching profession. That is the essence of the indictment which we make from this side. The first point to con- 278 sider is not whether the teachers ought, in all the circumstances, to make a contribution; the first point is not whether, in view of their past loyalty and in view of the 150 per cent. increase which they are said to have received upon their salaries, they should not make this comparatively small contribution; the first question and the fundamental question is whether this House is, or is not, in accordance with the policy of the Government, going to commit a breach of faith with the nation itself. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question, when ho speaks of the very great increases that have accrued upon the teachers' salaries during the last five years, whether really he was the author of the official letter of the 8th July, 1919—a good deal less than five years ago—when he spoke of the miserable remuneration that the teaching profession had had in the past, and when he stated that it had always been his desire to raise that remuneration to a more satisfactory level, and that he hoped be able to do so in the very near future. First of he will not deny the authorship of the letter. Secondly, he will not deny that in the concluding days of 1919, through his initiative, that particular Committee was formed, with representatives thereon of the local authorities, the teachers and, of course, the Board of Education. When he speaks of the five years, he lays great stress upon the point that during those five years the teachers have been in receipt of a very considerable accession—
§ Mr. FISHER
I think it is a misstatement to say that I had any representatives on the Burnham Committee. I had no representatives on the Burnham Committee. I made it perfectly clear that the officials of the Board who were there were not to take part in any discussion. They were merely there for purposes of giving information on facts and figures. The Board had complete freedom to consider the scale and the allocation of the scale. That, I think, was understood by the Burnham Committee itself.
§ Mr. WALSH
I do not want to press that particular point too much, but I do want to direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the whole proceedings of the Burnham Committee received his own approval and the approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, that every person occupying office at the Board of Education or the 279 Treasury stated that he was in entire agreement with the conclusions of the Burnham Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman himself complimented the Committee upon the success of their labours. Then is it not rather futile to say, "We were not represented as such, although it was upon my initiative, as the result of my invitation as President of the Board of Education, that the Committee was established. It was with my complete knowledge and my approval." It is equally true that on the 25th November, 1919, he complimented the Committee upon the work they had done, and invited them to continue. Surely under those circumstances it is playing with words—it is playing, at least, with facts—to say the Board was not represented. The Board was cognisant of all that was going on. The Board said, "Yes, we will accept those scales," and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "We will accept those scales."
§ Mr. WALSH
The Act of 1918 was only the culmination of a great many attempts to deal with the question of teachers' superannuation. For 20 years the whole matter had been under discussion. There had been an Act passed in 1898 on a contributory basis. It caused great irritation. It did not deal at all with the real problems of the poor teacher reaching the end of a period of service and finding himself absolutely stranded. That went on for 14 years, until 1912, and then we tried to tinker with it. Twenty years' tinkering with this subject taught us that the contributory basis was not a successful means of dealing with this problem, and it was the right hon. Gentleman's own Department that had to admit, in 1917: "We cannot go on any longer like this. We really must deal with it in such a way as to prevent the terrible waste of teachers in the profession—the alarming shortage of teachers. The schools are being sadly under- 280 staffed. We must do something to make the profession a little more attractive." It was on these grounds, the right hon. Gentleman admits, that the non-contributory basis of the Act of 1918 came into operation. He was the very first Minister to recognise in any broad sense how miserably underpaid the teachers had been, and how sadly understaffed the schools were, because the profession was not made in any sense attractive. It was the right hon. Gentleman who drew attention to the very low remuneration, not five years ago, but in July, 1919. I do not hold a brief for the teachers, but I do hold a brief, and I hope I shall ever hold a brief, for the honour of this House. Whether it be the highest in the land with whom we have entered into contractual obligations, whether it be civil servants, miners or teachers, I say that the one thing to which this House should give its most careful consideration is that they shall not be guilty of a breach of faith. Only a few weeks ago I read out the special paragraph in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Education accepted, on behalf of this House, and on behalf of the nation, the conclusions of the Burnham Committee. Those conclusions were to operate, where the local education authorities had accepted a scale, until 1925, and they were, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admits, based upon a non-contributory basis. That is a statement of actual fact, and I say that, on those grounds, this House ought not to give on this occasion a Second Reading to this Bill.
The President of the Board of Education admits that the whole question of superannuation for teachers is seriously complicated. It is. You have the young people entering the profession at 18, 19 or 20 years of age, and you have at the same time, in the same profession, people of between 50, 60 and 65. You have a thousand and one different conditions. You have the person who is unable to continue because of a breakdown of health. A thousand and one things come into the matter, and, surely, under those circumstances, it is right to ask the right hon. Gentleman why cannot he postpone the Second Reading of this Bill until the Committee that he himself is about to set up has reported upon all the conditions. I have always tried—I hope I am 281 not using any undue flattery to myself—to see what is the fair course to pursue. It is true that the nation needs the money, but is the nation, after all, in such a state that the million, or, if you like, couple of millions, derived from the teachers' salaries necessary to prevent financial collapse? The right hon. Gentleman based himself, to some degree, on the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. They recommended, really, that a total of £18,000,000 should be saved. They said:The Estimates for the Board of Education should be reduced from £50,600,000 to £34,500,000, a reduction of £16,100,000 which, with the automatic reductions in Scotland, will yield 18,000,000.I could quite understand if, with a nation really in financial need, the Minister had taken his courage in both hands and said, "Instead of tinkering with the problem, I will act boldly. The nation is in great financial stress. We have the Report of three very eminent men on which to found ourselves, and we shall save during the ensuing year £18,000,000." I could have understood that. It would have been courageous; it would have been more logical. But no, the teachers are to make a contribution, and the term "contribution" has a very pleasant sound. I should call it a deduction from wages. The contributions of the faithful are thankfully accepted. Yes, but the faithful can please themselves. Theirs is a voluntary act of good will—a thank-offering, showing that they desire to help the cause for which that offertory stands. But a contribution from wages, by way of forced deduction, is simply juggling with words. You first of all take the money from the person whom you have not consulted, whose good will has never been obtained, whose consent has never been asked—you take it from him, in defiance of all the obligations that have gone before, and then you term it a contribution, and not until later, when you have set up your inquiry, when the facts are fully elicited, and you find it is not at all fair to make the deduction, is the contribution to be returned. I detest this playing with words. It is a deduction, and not a contribution, and I think it would be a very good thing if we could eliminate some of the legal jargon in Bills presented to this House, as well as in speeches delivered by right hon. Gentlemen. It 282 is not a contribution at all, and no person knows it better than the right hon. Gentleman himself. You do not ask the people to pay, but you simply say, "We will pass an Act of Parliament, and you must pay. Later, if we find you ought not to pay, we will return you the money when all the facts are known."
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WALSH
I know a great deal more about that than does the hon. and learned Member, but I do not propose to be drawn by that observation. There is no hon. Member in this House who knows better than he the essential difference between a deduction from wages or salary about which you are not consulted and a contribution about which you are consulted. Judging from what the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education stated, it does seem to me a work of supererogation to ask him, if the House gives him the Second Reading, not to carry the Bill through its further stages until the Committee has reported. There is no one who recognises more sympathetically, I trust, than I myself the great services that the right hon. Gentleman has rendered to education. I say that without wishing it to be in the slightest degree a platitude. I know how he stands with the teaching profession. There are few in that profession, men or women, with whom I have come in contact, but who speak of him in the highest terms. Because of that it is to me one of the greatest possible surprises that he should act in this way. If he gets the Second Reading, that will go very far to establish the principle for which he is contending, and I would suggest that the Bill should not be carried any further while the Committee set up is going fully into the whole matter. That Committee will give the teachers of the land an assurance that they are being treated in the way that the meanest subject of His. Majesty has a right to look forward to, namely, that they shall have their case properly heard, that they themselves shall be able to put forward a case, and that the Committee will go fully into the case that they have presented. Is it too much to ask that the Bill shall not be pressed through its further stages until that Committee has reported? Is it not 283 fair to ask what principle is at stake by some delay? The most serious issue of all, as I believe, and as I am convinced the teachers believe, is that there is about to take place a great breach of faith with the teachers.
Breaches of faith have taken place very often in the past, and many of us have regretted it in our inmost hearts—I have regretted it—that faith in Parliament, that ought to be an invaluable commodity in the life of this nation, has been treated by many as a thing of little worth. I will not detail cases, but I am as sure as I am of my own existence that the record in black and white of what has taken place since 1919, by the establishment of the Burnham Committee and conclusions arrived at—and accepted—go to prove that if this policy is proceeded with, a flagrant breach of faith with the teaching profession will have been committed. Not only that, but in the teaching profession it is bringing the honour and good name of Parliament into contempt, and few people are likely in the future to pay the same attention to the honour of this House as they have done in the past. After all the honour of Parliament has stood high: the sanctity of contract has been, on the whole, well-maintained. This is a contract with workpeople, a contract on the Burnham scale entered into—
§ Mr. FISHER
The hon. Gentleman seems to be unaware that the Government has honoured the Burnham scale—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—by a grant upon the Burnham salaries.
§ Mr. WALSH
With every desire to be fair, I would not have thought that casuistry could go so far. Let me put it this way: I am in the employ of the local education authority, which says to me, as a consequence of the conditions of employment which has been agreed to by the Government, you shall have your scale of salary higher, also your service shall be pensionable, after a particular term of years, on a noncontributory basis. That condition of employment has been sanctioned by the Government itself. There are two concurrent conditions, One is payment for service rendered; the other a pension at the end of a particular term of years, conditional upon a particular record of 284 service. That the Government has accepted. Now they have come in on one of the conditions, and say, "Off your wages shall be taken 5 per cent. to satisfy this particular condition." Is not that a breach of contract? If not, I do not know the meaning of the English language. I have been engaged for 40 years in negotiating trade union conditions. I have yet. to find an employer who, I think, would be inclined to boggle over such a breach of contract. I do, indeed, remember going into a colliery on one occasion, and a particular manager said to me, "Mr. Walsh, we are going to take off 6d. a ton." I replied, "Indeed." "Yes," he answered. "But surely," I said, "we have a conciliation board, and private reductions are not allowable." "Oh," he said, "this is not a private reduction, it is simply an equalisation of rates." That is what this manager called it—an equalisation of rates, to take 6d. per ton from a particular body of men to bring them down to the same level as another body. I wonder what particular term the right hon. Gentleman would apply? Is it again "a contribution"?
§ Mr. FISHER
I would ask my hon. Friend one question. If it is a breach of contract for Parliament to revise the conditions of an Act passed in 1918, why does it cease to be a breach of contract for Parliament to revise conditions after the Committee has reported? The Committee cannot sanctify a breach of contract. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman would debar the House from ever revising the terms of an agreement.
§ Mr. WALSH
Here, again, I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that we not only passed an Act of Parliament in 1918, making this a non-contributory basis, but since then the Burnham Committee has arrived at the conclusion that a certain scale of salaries should operate until 1925 on a non-contributory basis. That non-contributory basis of the pension was the basic fact that entered into the discussion. That particular condition cannot be denied: That the scale of salaries were to continue on the noncontributory basis until 1925. If you introduce now a new condition it means that you are breaking contractual obligations entered into at the time.
§ Mr. FISHER
There has been no contract between the Government and the 285 teachers, none whatever. The Government is not the employer of the teachers. The Government does not appoint or dismiss teachers. I have no power over the teachers. The contract is between the local education authority on the one side and the teachers on the other. When the Geddes Committee proposed that a saving of £8,000,000 might be effected by a drastic revision of salaries, or alternatively the dismissal of between. 30,000 and 40,000 teachers, the Government declined to accept either of these proposals. They declined the first because they remembered the local engagements entered into on the faith of an undertaking by the Board of Education, and they declined to accede to the second, which they could have accepted without any breach of contract whatever, because it would have been injurious to the education of the country, and very cruel to the teachers.
§ Mr. WALSH
It is utterly impossible to comprehend the right hon. Gentleman, for every time he gets up he makes another speech. He does not get up and amplify the point put, or give a clear explanation. As a matter of fact, the non-contributory basis of the pensions scheme was a concurrent factor in a settlement of the Burnham scale of wages. It is not the local education authority which proposes to alter the con-contributory basis of the pension. It is the Government that propose to alter it. It is no good trying to saddle in an indirect way the responsibility for all this on the local education authority. It is the Government themselves, by their own direct initiative, that are proposing to destroy one side of the concurrent conditions into which the teachers have entered. That really is the whole case. Even the right hon. Gentleman himself does not deny that the scales were to operate—having regard to the miserable remuneration of the teachers in the past—for a sufficient period to give the people some recompense, however inadequate, for the small wages they had received during a very long period of the War. As a matter of fact, the vast mass of teachers had received no increase at all up to 1917. I want really to correct the arithmetic of the right hon. Gentleman. July, 1919, to May, 1922, is not quite five years. As a matter of fact it is very little over two years. The right hon. Gentleman does possess accurate information, but it is no 286 good to say to the House of Commons, "After five years, during which they have enjoyed the great benefits resulting from Government policy." They have not received great benefits from the Government policy. The right hon. Gentleman has just admitted that up to July, 1919, thousands and tens of thousands of these people had received no benefits whatever. What use is it to appeal to the House of Commons on those lines and say that during five years they have received the great advantages which the Government offered? Is it true? I am not going into the thousand and one small minutæ of the superannuation scheme or the conditions laid down in the Act of 1018, but it is quite clear that any committee will have a very big job to tackle. I myself fail to see either in policy or in honour that the Government should proceed beyond the Second Reading for the time being. In honour, indeed, I do not think they ought to have introduced this Bill. In policy, I do not see where they can lose if, having received a Second Beading, they proceed to appoint their Departmental Committee to inquire fully into the situation. This—and these are my last few words—is a great body of men and women engaged in a very honorable yet arduous profession, who for a long number of years have been known as amongst the most steady, I might almost say the most conservative people in the country—I am not using the term "conservative" in the political sense—for they have always been a steadying force, they are engaged in the most, I will not say anxious calling, but in a great calling, and upon the education they give and upon the efficacy of their work depends to a very large degree the real progress of this nation. They mould the mind of the child, they impart sentiments and ideas which are calculated to do great good in the future, and I say that these people are entitled to honourable recognition by the State and to fair remuneration. Above all things they are entitled, as is every British citizen, to have their contracts honoured.
If we can imbue this great body of public servants—I do not say they are civil servants, but they are public servants carrying on a noble work and engaged in a high profession—with the idea that Parliament is going to treat them fairly, that it is not going to be guilty of a breach of faith, that it is not 287 going to be unmindful of the obligations it entered into with them, if we make them perceive that they will have a fair, honest, and open hearing of their case, that they will be allowed to present it as fully as possible, and that full consideration will be given to their presentment of it, then I am sure we shall relieve the teaching profession of a great anxiety. I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that, after the passing of the Second Reading of this Measure, he will Lot press it through any further stage, until his Departmental Committee has reported. If we get that assurance I am sure it will give satisfaction to the teachers and to this House as well.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
We all have learned to recognise the forcefulness of the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh), and we know that behind that forcefulness there is sincerity. When I attempt to interfere in this discussion I feel I am walking upon ashes under which lies fire. There are many difficulties surrounding me on entering on the Debate. I may remind the hon. Member that I have the good fortune amongst my constituents to have a larger number of school teachers than any other Member of this House. But I am convinced of this, for I know my constituents well enough to be able to say it—that they expect me to act according to my conscience in the votes which I give here, and they would not respect me if I gave obsequious subservience to any proposal which was opposed to my own convictions. For the greater part of a long life my closest associates and friends have been teachers. They have have looked on me, I think, as their friend, and while it may be that in the words I use to-night I may give rise to misunderstanding and perhaps misapprehension on their part, nevertheless, I hope to be able to show clearly the reasons why I am acting as I do now. For many years—and no one spoke more strongly during a period of a quarter of a century on that topic that I did—it was a disgrace to this country that we paid such miserable salaries to the teachers. That was the universal opinion of all men who for a moment thought upon what the real good of the country depended, and 288 who realised that we were allowing narrowness of means to eat like a canker into the hearts of those whose duty it was to inspire and encourage the enthusiasm of the youth of this nation. We were proceeding thereby on a course of absolutely blind miserliness which was injurious to ourselves.
The first move to deal with the question was made in my own country—Scotland—perhaps because we were peculiarly advanced, or perhaps, on the other hand, because we were thought a fit body on which to experiment. Unfortunately for myself, I was asked by the Government, and was, indeed, pressed very hard, to take the chairmanship of the first Commission that was appointed. I knew how that would place me, and I repeatedly refused the request until I was absolutely forced to accept by the action of the then Secretary for Scotland, a very disagreeable and hazardous position. I saw the serious difficulty in which the Commission would be placed. It represented different interests. We all saw, and I will ask the teachers now to see, that the only way of reaching a satisfactory settlement on this difficult question was by compromise. I did not hope at first to get a unanimous report. But I relied on the public spirit and determination of my colleagues to make their partisan interests yield to the public good, and that enabled the Commission to reach what I never expected it to reach, a unanimous decision. It was vital that we should do so. If we had not done it, the differences in the Commission would have been reflected outside, hut when its conclusion was unanimous no Government, and, at any rate, not the Government that appointed it, could possibly resist its conclusions. Accordingly, those conclusions were put into force. It was by compromise, by give and take on both sides, and not by insisting, as the hon. Member for Ince has put it, on cutting off the pound of flesh, that that unanimity was arrived at.
Nothing up to that time had been done in England with regard to sweeping away this blot on the nation, this blot of insufficient salaries. But we had done it in Scotland. Then came the right hon. Gentleman with his Bill of 1918. I am not going to revive an old topic. I am going to support him in this Bill, although he knows quite well that I fought him on the Bill of 1918 as hard as I could. I thought 289 it embodied a thoroughly mistaken and wrong policy from beginning to end. It lowered the profession of the teachers by changing them essentially into a body of controlled civil servants. It was lowering to a great profession to take upon yourselves as a Central Department the pensioning of teachers whom you did not appoint, whom you had no power of promoting or dismissing, whose salaries you did not fix, and whose work you did not prescribe. It was absurd to bind yourselves to pay a certain proportion out of the Treasury to the pensions of teachers whose salaries you did not fix, and whom you could neither appoint nor dismiss.
§ Mr. FISHER
But the Board of Education only pays on approved salary expenditure and in a number of cases has refused approval.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I think that one of the policies which the right hon. Gentleman pursued to far too great an extent was the attempt to approve by a Central Department of what was done by local authorities. It would. have been far better to leave these local authorities free to make their own bargain. It would have been better for the teachers, for the school and for the local authority. The right hon. Gentleman has shown a mania for spreading the hand of bureaucratic authority over the local authorities, and of interfering with the contracts they make with their own teachers. I say the Board of Education has no such responsibility for the teachers as to make it right for it to take upon itself as a Central Department the whole burden of superannuation. It converted thereby a great profession into servants of the State. I am perfectly certain that if hon. Members will consult their own constituents they will find ample confirmation of what I say. The new arrangement puts into a very much lower and disadvantageous position an enormous number of the teachers who were employed otherwise than in State and rate-supported schools. It lowered the position and impoverished many teachers in endowed schools and in the great educational institutions supported by such companies as the great Livery Companies in London and by the great Merchants Company in Edinburgh.
290 When the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his Bill in 1918 I had scores of protests from teachers in relation to it. It was not liked in Scotland, and I do not think I am betraying any confidence when I say the right hon. Gentleman failed to carry with him the sympathy of the Scottish Education Department which opposed it as contrary to the best interests of the schools and of teachers alike. Still, that Bill was passed. Then came the revision of salaries as an afterthought to the lavish, uneconomical and ruinous superannuation scheme, and you took up what we had done two years before in Scotland, the revision of salaries on the Burnham scales. I think that in this you went too far. We know that these salaries represented an increase in many cases of 150 per cent. and in other cases of nearly 200 per cent. on former salaries. Is it too much to ask the teachers, when a scheme of this sort was adopted, a noncontributory superannuation scheme, which fundamentally, in my opinion, and I am certain in the opinion of members of the teaching profession, has undermined their position, when they have got a superannuation scheme which has enormous advantages, altogether apart from the non-contributory basis, and which has for the first time brought in the State Exchequer as a source of the pensions —is it too much to lay down that after an enormous increase of salaries they should make that contribution which every citizen is now called upon to make. to meet the impoverished state of the country? If we are to have economy at all, we cannot allow people to say, "We will have it when it comes from other people's pockets, but not when it comes from our own." We have economised in the case of the Navy, the Army, and Agriculture and the Schools, and we must all join hands in doing something to meet the stupendous difficulties of the country, for without these efforts, economy cannot be achieved.
Suppose this contribution is made: what you are asking for now is a contribution that will to a small extent meet the cost of the superannuation scheme which you are establishing. Do hon. Members know that it is a rather exaggerated estimate to say that the contribution asked for, if you put it as high as you possibly can, will only bring in about 25 per cent, of the 291 cost of establishing the superannuation scheme. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Walsh) has quite rightly put his finger on the difficult spot. It is perhaps too severe to use the words breach of faith, breach of contract, or breach of bargain, but I admit the position is very difficult when a certain financial arrangement has been made to go back upon it. You may induce a certain number of people to enter a profession, bile up a certain course of action, and enter into certain contracts, and you cannot then turn round upon them and say you are not going to do what you promised.
I would like to ask how many of the teachers in the teaching profession have joined that profession since the establishment of this scheme? If there are young men who did enter and who now say, "We would never have entered since 1918 if we had known we were to pay 5 per cent. towards our pensions," by all means pay what they require to recoup themselves, and let them go. But what is the ease with the vast number of teachers, and with 98 per cent. of those who belong to the teaching profession now? They never thought until the year 1918 that they were to have any pension from the State at all: they never entered the teaching profession with that idea; and they paid contributions to a very hazardous and miserable scheme of pensions, which they had to be content with. In 1918 a totally new scene was opened to them. The State opened its purse, and I think very foolishly and rashly said: "We shall require no contribution at all from you, and we shall put you in an invidious position, as compared with the teachers in outside schools." I know the teachers in those outside schools felt very bitterly the position in which they were placed.
Therefore, these harsh words about breaking faith only apply when a man with whom you have contracted has been led to do something which is against his interests. Not a single soul, except those few teachers who joined since 1918, have ever done anything in consequence of that bargain which they would not have done without it. I think I can appeal to those old friends of mine on this point. I know that at this moment slight indications have reached me from my own country on this matter, but I have had 292 no representations from any of the men who lead the profession, and who would be the first to have communicated with me if they had any objection of that sort. I am convinced that when they consider the whole thing, they will see that the wisest thing to do will be to shake off this rather doubtful and hampering noncontributory scheme, and to raise themselves to a position in which they will be independent and say, "We expect the State to give the lion's share of the pension, but we are very ready to give a certain aid, because we shall obtain our independence, and a little contribution is not a bad thing in order to secure independence." The salaries are not open to revision now, and I should be the last to advise that because it would be a breach of faith and a very serious breach of faith. If a man gets £200 over what he got before he enters into new undertakings anti responsibilities, and if you alter his salary you sometimes put him in a very serious position. That, however, is not the case with a small contribution of five per cent. There is no doubt that within two or three years at the most these salaries will have to be revised.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
It is no breach at all. That is the way you invent and utter charges of breach of faith, but there will be no breach of faith here. It might be wrong or unwise to do this, and I hope it will not be done, but the pledge is only given up to 1925. Therefore, I would ask whether it would not be wise to take this very small, easily borne, and slight contribution to their own pension—
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Well, I will say deduction from their salaries. Let the teaching profession look at two things: Firstly, its independence and, secondly, it will be a contribution which will shake off what I am convinced is the stigma of being an organised civil servant, by which they lose a great deal of influence and respect in which they are held in the country. Let them gain a greater respect by saying that they will share with their fellow-citizens in bearing some of the heavy burdens which look like crushing this country to the ground.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
If in this Debate there be anyone who appears to be more sincere than the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh), then it is the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is as sincere as any others in the speech which he has just delivered, but it is a speech really dealing with a former Bill. I should like to make a remark in regard to what the right hon. Gentleman stated in the latter part of his speech. He told us that the pledge had only been given to the teachers up to the year 1925. He also told us that a man getting an extra £200 a year made his arrangements accordingly, and that it would be a breach of faith to alter his salary. Surely, it is equally a breach of faith if you reduce salaries by five per cent.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
What I said was, that to cut off an enormous increase of 150 per cent. might involve a man in a very serious position, but I do not think that a man will be placed in very great difficulties by having to contribute five per cent.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
That seems to me to mean that a big cut is a breach of faith, but a little cut is not, or, at any rate, it is only a little breach of faith. I cannot understand the position which has been taken up in regard to this question by the President of the Board of Education. I do not know whether anyone has referred to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made when the Bill of 1018 was brought in, because then he told all the teachers of the country that they were going to have non-contributory pensions. I am not a teachers' man, neither for nor against, but I am trying to find out what is the right thing to do. The Government bring in a Bill and, at any rate, one of its chickens has come home to roost. In 1918 they brought in a slap-dash Measure for giving noncontributory pensions, and the speech which the President of the Board of Education then made was addressed to the whole teaching profession, and he made the bold statement that they were going to have non-contributory pensions, because they were right and desirable. If anyone will read the speech of the President of the Board of Education, they will see that he answered the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir H. Craik), and bowled him over. The 294 President of the Board of Education made a long speech setting out one after the other all the objections raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and bowling them all over, and anyone who reads that speech will find that the teachers were told from the Treasury Bench that a contributory scheme was not desirable; that there were many objections to it; and that the Government intended to bring in a non-contributory scheme. It may be said that that was not a bargain. I agree. I agree that it was, if you like, a most improvident act on the part of the Government. I quite agree that it was giving the teachers a great deal more than they were entitled to, and a great deal more, perhaps, than would have satisfied them. But the Government did it.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I quite agree, but the Government did it. What is the question that I have to consider, as a Member of the House of Commons who did not, at all events, vote against that Bill? It was passed almost unanimously through the House.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
It was passed with a flourish of trumpets, as a gracious act to the teachers. How are we to go back upon it? It may not have been a contract, but it was what we lawyers call a holding out of an offer to the teachers, and not only to those new ones who came in after 1918, but to those who were in and who might have gone out and accepted some other position—who might have become university teachers, if you like—or who might have gone into business or into some other profession. They remained in because the Government had said to them, "You are going to have a non-contributory pension scheme; all the contributory schemes have so many objections that we are not going to carry them out." I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities spoke of a few hundred men having come in, 295 but I believe 18,000 teachers, men and women, have come in since 1918, and my right hon. Friend will agree, at all events, that those teachers have a bargain. They came in on the basis of the Act of 1918, and it is idle to tell them to get out and go into another profession or go into business—to turn out 18,000 people because the Government has changed its mind as to the value of non-contributory pensions. You cannot ask the teachers to go out in that manner, and you cannot ask the House of Commons to turn out 18,000 new people who have come into the teaching profession on the faith of this Act of 1918. The only other point on which I have been trying to find out how I ought to vote is in regard to the negotiations leading up to the Burnham scale. The President of the Board of Education says that the Government were not paying the salaries. I quite agree, but Lord Burnham's inquiry was a public inquiry, and I am not sure that the Government did not ask Lord Burnham to preside over the discussions and negotiations. It was an official inquiry, or, at all events, the negotiations were official. I am not justifying the increases. I am not a teachers' man in that respect. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities that in 1925 the teachers' salaries will most likely be reduced in accordance with the fall in the cost of living.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I hope the hon. Baronet will not represent me. I expressly said that I hoped they would not be, and I should be very sorry to say now that they should be.
Sir W. JOYSON-HICKS
At all events, my right hon. Friend admitted that they would be open to revision, and it would be no breach of faith or breach of contract of any kind if they were revised in a downward direction. I think that those who represent the teachers in this House must be prepared to admit that if, owing to the fall in the cost of living or to other causes, it is desirable to reduce them, those salaries are perfectly open to revision in 1925. The question then arises whether, at the time of the Burnham negotiations, it was present in the minds of those who were negotiating on the one side and on the other that the whole thing was subject to the Act of 1918—that the proposals for the revised salaries were to 296 be revised, and to enure until 1925 on the basis of the Act of 1918. In order to get to the fountain-head on the matter, some friends of mine in the House and myself thought that it would not be a bad plan to ask Lord Burnham himself. We were in grave difficulties. On the one side, the teachers said there was a definite understanding in the negotiations, while on the other we were told that there was nothing of the kind; so I took my courage in both hands, and wrote to Lord Burnham, and he has written me a letter which he gives me permission to make public. I think it more or less exposes the position. It is as follows:
§ "28th April, 1922.
§ My DEAR JOYNSON-HICK:—1 am mast willing to do anything I can to help you and my Parliamentary colleagues to arrive at a decision in regard to the matter of educational salaries. Curiously enough, the same question was put to me by Sir James Yoxall, the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, on their behalf, and I think the best thing I can do is to enclose you a copy of my reply to him."
I will not read that reply, because it is rather long, but Lord Burnham goes on to say:
There is nothing on the face of the negotiations, either expressed or implied, to show that the non-contributory scheme of pensions determined the scales of salaries recommended by the three Committees on elementary, secondary and technical schools. On the other hand"—
and I would call the special attention of the House to this—
it was common knowledge in the minds of both panels that the scheme had been sanctioned by Parliament and was in existence. If in politics it is the circumstances which determine whether a Measure is good or bad, according to Burke, we must assume that. the special circumstances of the Pensions Act did have some bearing on the settlement which was made. How much, neither I nor ally of the members of the Committee can possibly tell you. This is all I can say. Of course you are quite free to make what use you like of it.—Yours very truly,—
§ That is a perfectly fair letter from the gentleman who presided over these negotiations. He does not say that the whole question was definitely determined, but that, in the minds of the contracting parties, everyone knew that there was a non-contributory pensions scheme enacted by Parliament in 1918, and I cannot see how any Member of this House can go behind that, at all events till 1925, when the Burnham scheme comes to be revised. 297 In 1925 it will be quite open to negotiation, and the Government can say to the teachers, "If you continue at the present high rate of salaries you must have, as part of the bargain regarding salaries, a contributory scheme of pensions." That would be quite possible, and there would be no breach of faith, or even of understanding. I do not like the term "breach of faith" or "breach of contract," but I want to put it to the House that here is a great profession—one of the greatest in the country, and of which I could not speak more highly than the President of the Board of Education did when he brought in the scheme in 1918—which believes, at all events, that this scheme is binding on the Government, and also that the Burnham scheme is binding until 1925. Although I am just as keenly in favour of economy as anyone on the Government Bench can be, even the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, I suggest that this is an attempt to get something out of the Geddes scheme regarding economy. The Government cannot cut down this, that or the other in education, but they think it is possible to get this £2,000,000 out of the teachers by making a contributory pension scheme. The question is not whether there is a contract; it is not whether there is a breach of faith; it is whether we, as the House of Commons, are to act with the utmost possible honour towards this great profession. If our honour is involved, as I think it is, let the £2,000,000 go. If there is any misunderstanding with the teachers, let it go for this year. The President of the Board of Education admits that he has appointed a Committee which will consider the whole matter. He said, in an interruption during the speech of the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh), "Can a Committee sanction a breach of faith?" I agree that no Committee can sanction a breach of faith, but the Committee could report that they had considered the whole question, and in 1925 this scheme could be grafted on the question of salaries; but, until that date, I submit to the House that we are the custodians on behalf of the people of this country, who depend upon us to see that the fullest justice and honour is done. We passed that Bill through all its stages, and they believe that we should not, by doing this, be acting up to our very high standard of honour towards those who, although not 298 technically servants of the House of Commons, are servants of the public in a great profession, as the teachers are.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for Twiekenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) to this extent, that I think the House as a whole has very grave cause for complaint against His Majesty's Government for their lack of providence in the treatment of the whole of this question. By their improvidence they have placed this House in a position which, as I think everyone will agree, is both perplexing and to some extent humiliating. At any rate, I myself feel perplexed, and I am quite ready, with the rest of the House, to admit that we are humiliated. I am frankly perplexed by the position in which I find myself. On the one hand, as is known to many hon. Members of this House, I have always attempted to be a consistent advocate of the curtailment of Government expenditure. That is the position also of the boa. Baronet, and it is, I think, the position of most of the parties in this House. We do desire to. see a real cutting down of Governmental expenditure, but we are met by the Government. with the taunt, and it is a perfectly fair taunt on their part, that we are always in favour of economy as long as it is in the abstract and in the general, but that we always vote against it when it comes to economy in the particular. That is a taunt which has frequently been levelled at some of us by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I can assure him that it has gone home. But, on the other hand, I do not think that anyone could have listened to the two speeches with which this Debate was opened, without a feeling of great uneasiness as to the issue now before the House, and as to what the hon. Baronet the Member for Twickenham refused, and very properly refused, to call a breach of contract, although he did venture to employ the term "breach of faith." I am perfectly satisfied, from the speech of the President of the Board of Education, that there is no substance whatever in the accusation that this can be regarded as a breach of contract. On that point I am perfectly satisfied by the speech of my right hon. Friend. But what the House is far more concerned with than the question of whether there was or was not a technical breach of contract is whether there was or was not a 299 moral breach of faith. That is the real question which is troubling the conscience of the House. Surely no one who has listened to the speech of the hon. Baronet opposite, or has taken the trouble to investigate the facts for himself, can remain in any doubt that, although there was no legal connection between the scale fixed by the Burnham Committee and the drafting of this non-contributory pension scheme, yet there was a psychological connection between them. It seems to me quite futile, from every point of view, to deny that there was in the mind of those who were negotiating, on the one side and on the other, the knowledge of the fact that the Act of 1918 was on the Statute Book. I say nothing as to the wisdom of that. I think this scheme ought to have been contributory from the first. I think the Government showed a lack of firmness and wisdom in not proposing to the House at that time a contributory scheme. Still, it is only fair to remind the House that if the Government had suggested a contributory scheme in 1918, it is exceedingly doubtful whether it would have been accepted by the House or by the teachers. At any rate, I think there is some doubt on the question. Hon. Members must also remember that if the Government had proposed a contributory scheme in 1918 they would immediately have been met by the very fair retort that they were pro posing a contributory scheme to a profession which at that time was admittedly almost the worst paid profession in the world. They would have been proposing a contributory scheme at the time the teachers were, by general admission. grossly and scandalously underpaid. Undoubtedly it would have been very difficult in 1918 to propose a contributory scheme.
I now want to turn to a question which has been raised in many communications which hon. Members have probably received from outside, whether the Superannuation Act of 1918 placed the teachers, as many of these communications affirm it did, in the same position as civil servants and whether it was intended that they should he put in that position. As to the intention of an Act of Parliament there is always room for very great difference of opinion and I have nothing to say about the intention, but as a fact the Act of 1918 did not place the teaching profession in the position of civil servants. 300 The teachers are not the servants of the State. They are the servants of the local education authorities. It is true that the State has become, under this mischievous system of proportional grants, which has been so rightly condemned, as I think, by the Geddes Committee, under the system of percentage grants, the State is virtually, though very indirectly, responsible for the scale of the teachers' salaries. But now the State, not being the employers of these teachers, being only indirectly and non-legally responsible for their salaries, has assumed a function which is inconsistent with the existing status of the teachers. It has assumed the function of the payment of their pensions. But the State does not appoint the teachers. It cannot dismiss them and it is not directly responsible for their remuneration.
I do not think any hon. Member will question two points which I am going to put. The first is that the scale of increase granted by the Burnham Committee was larger than any increase which was granted to any portion of the Civil Service, and that at the time it was an improvident increase of salary. No one deplores more deeply than I myself do the miserable pay of the teacher before 1918. No one could have deplored more than I did the policy of underpaying the teachers. But the Burnham Committee legislated in a panic, and it granted to the teachers remuneration which was to be of a permanent character. Here again the teachers are differentiated, of course, from members of the Civil Service. Members of the Civil Service have received in a number of cases some permanent increase of salary, but far the larger proportion of the increase they have received has been by way of cost of living bonus. The Burnham Committee ought to have followed the same precedent. They have made a very great mistake in granting a permanent increase and not basing the increase on the cost of living bonus. To-day Civil Service salaries are falling in all directions with considerable rapidity. The wages of railway servants and the remuneration of the employes of local authorities are falling with great rapidity. On all sides you have this fall except on the side of the teachers. They are, at any rate, secure till 1923 or 1925.
I hesitate to refer to it, but of course it is at the back of the mind of half of us 301 that we are in one of the last Sessions of the existing Parliament and most hon. Members will presently have to ask for a renewal of confidence from their constituents. I resent very much indeed any outside pressure at a moment like this, and I say quite frankly and sincerely that if one had considered this Bill simply on its merits I for one should have found it exceedingly difficult to vote for it. Then comes all this outside pressure and compels one in conscience to ask whether one's decision on that point was really uninfluenced by other considerations. If these highly organised associations and unions only knew it they would realise that there are many Members of the House with a public conscience and that the effect of this sort, of electoral pressure is precisely the opposite of what they themselves intended.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I do not think that is a fair observation, but I will let it pass. I agree with the Minister of Education to this extent. I think that he was right and that he was wise to make an appeal to the teachers at this juncture instead of having a sacrifice imposed upon them, to make a sacrifice themselves. He appealed to them on broad grounds of equity. He appealed to them in view of the fact, which we and they cannot ignore, that their salary scale will be revised in London next year, and in other parts of the country in 1925. He appealed to them on the grounds of a broad educational policy. In all these appeals I most heartily concur. I have made them myself here and in other places. Over and over again the Minister of Education referred to his proposals as being temporary proposals. I assume he meant precisely what he said. The Bill itself says, "As from the 1st day of April, 1922, until Parliament otherwise determines," so and so must be done. I am going to suggest that those words should be eliminated and that words should be substituted which would place a strict time limit on the operation of the Bill. Why not place a limit of two years, and instead of saying "until Parliament otherwise determines,"says"until 1st April, 1924"? I admit that by doing that you would not get. over the hon. Baronet's objection to the deflection from the strict moral line. 302 I am proposing a compromise. [Interruption.] The Noble Lord thinks it is a bad compromise, but he thinks all compromise is bad.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
Unless he proposes it himself, of course. It is a compromise with conscience if he likes, but it is a compromise which would do two things. In the first place, it would give very considerable reassurance to the teachers, who at present are gravely concerned, not so much in regard to the present as to the future. It is obvious that Ft, would give ample time for the Departmental Committee to report. I do not suggest that it removes moral scruples, but it contains a very large measure of reassurance to the teachers, and it would give the House an opportunity of having the advantage of the Report of the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to refer the question. In all sincerity, and feeling the strength of both positions on the subject. I commend that suggestion to the House and to the Government.
§ Mr. FISHER
As I have already explained to the House, it has been the intention of the Government from the first that these contributions should be levied only pending the inquiry into the whole subject of superannuation by the Departmental Committee. I am quite ready to fall in with the suggestion of my hon. Friend, if it commends itself to the House, and to insert words limiting the period during which the contribution can be raised to a period of two years
§ Lord R. CECIL
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned"
I have listened to the whole of this Debate, and the conclusion I have arrived at is that the whole question solely depends upon this. Was there or was there not something in the nature of a moral obligation to the teachers to continue this non-contributory scheme? I cannot conceive that the compromise suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott), obviously in-concert with the Government—
§ Lord R. CECIL
I did not say it was suggested by the Government. I said it was proposed in concert with the Government. Does the hon. Member deny that?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I do not know that it is very disreputable for a follower of the Government to do something in concert with the Government. I assure my hon. Friend that I do not mean to make any personal attack. I thought it was a matter which had been proposed in concert with the Government, but if not, I accept my hon. Friend's statement without the slightest qualification, and I withdraw the suggestion that he has acted in concert with the Government. However it arose, it does not appear to me to meet the real strength of the case against the Government proposal. The strength of the case against the Government's proposal is not that it is essentially unjust or improper that a contributory scheme should be imposed upon the teachers. It may be a good plan or it may be a bad plan to have a contributory scheme. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) urged very strongly during the Debate on the Bill of 1918 that it should be a contributory scheme, but that suggestion was rejected by the President of the Board of Education. The point is not whether it is right that there should be a contributory scheme, or whether it is right that there should be a non-contributory scheme. It is not even the question of whether it, is reasonable to ask the teachers to make a contribution of 5 per cent. to meet the financial difficulties of the country. The whole question, the sole question, is this: Have the proceedings of Parliament and have the proceedings outside Parliament with regard to this matter been such as to make it contrary to the best of good faith, I will not put it higher than that, that we should now impose, against the will of the teachers, this contribution? To say that we will do it for two years and no more does not 304 meet the point at all. If it is wrong to do it, if it is against the good faith that Parliament ought to show in these matters, it is just as wrong to do it for two years as for a longer period.
§ Mr. FISHERindicated assent.
§ Lord R. CECIL
My right hon. Friend agrees with that point of view. The two grounds on which the case for the teachers is put are the Act of 1918 and the speech which the President of the Board of Education made in urging the House to accept that Act, and the proceedings at the time the Burnham scale was adopted. I do not attach so much importance to the Act of 1918 or to what my right hon. Friend said. That only helps the teachers' case, but it is not quite sufficient to establish it. It goes near to holding out a set of advantages to the teachers to induce men and women outside the profession to come into it, but I am not sure that it goes quite the full length. Let me read the passage which seems to me most germane to that point. This was at the end of the speech of my right hon. Friend on the Second Reading of the Act of 1918:The Bill will achieve three objects. It will promote the unity of the teaching profession. It will improve the quality of instruction given in the schools, and it will secure"—This seems to me to be the material passage—all the great educational developments which are bound to ensue under the operations of the Education Act `o an army of men and women teachers who will be attracted to that calling not only by the addition-al material benefit which the Bill will give them, but still more by the sense that for the first time the State is giving adequate recognition to the teaching profession.I think that does go rather near to an invitation to men and women outside the teaching profession to enter the profession on the faith of the Bill which my right hon. Friend was recommending to Parliament. Now I come to the second point. What happened at the time of the discussion of the Burnham scale? In regard to that, I only know what certain of my constituents have told me, and what I have heard in this House. I was not present at that Committee. As I understand it, what happened was this: there was a great discussion about that scale, and certain members of the teaching profession did not think it was adequate, and did not wish to accept it. The representatives 305 of the teachers were arguing the case before the Burnham Committee, and I am toll that at a certain stage in the dismission a meeting of teachers was called, and that the representatives of the teachers on the Burnham Committee went to that meeting and urged the acceptance of the Burnham scale, and one of the arguments which was definitely and plainly put forward was that the teachers must recollect that they had a non-contributory pension, in considering the inadequacy of the Burnham scale. I am told that that argument was put forward quite distinctly.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Sir R. Horne)
The hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. JoynsonHicks) referred to a letter from Lord Burnham, part of which he read. On looking at the whole letter I find that reference has been made to the shorthand writer who says that nothing in his notes contains any reference to the non-contributory pension scheme.
§ Sir R. HORNE
If the Noble Lord is right in the reference to which he has drawn attention, then undoubtedly that reference to the non-contributory pension would have got into the shorthand notes.
§ Lord R. CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman does not quite understand what I was trying to say. No doubt it was due to the obscurity with which I spoke. What I say is that a meeting of teachers was called to consider whether they would or would not accept the Burnham scale, that at that meeting the three representatives of the teachers—I think there were three on the Burnham Committee—represented to the teachers at that meeting that in deciding whether or not they would accept the Burnham scale, they must consider the fact that they had a non-contributory scheme of pension. That shows two things. It shows that the body of teachers accepted the Burnham scale on the faith of these non-contributory pensions, and it shows, which is even more important, that in the minds of those who were negotiating on behalf of the teachers, the existence of this noncontributory pension scheme was an important consideration when they accepted the Burnham scale.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I understood from the President of the Board of Edu- 306 cation that the acceptance or non-acceptance by the teachers was really irrelevant. The question was whether the Government would continue it or not.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I do not think that is quite so. We have to consider whether we shall be acting fairly and from the point of view of the best employers towards the teachers in this matter if we go back on what they understood they were to have when they accepted the Burnham scale. If they had not accepted it, the negotiations would have broken down. We cannot go into that, because it is a matter of speculation. The question is. what did they reasonably understand were the terms that were being offered to them when they accepted the Burnham scale? If the hon. and learned Member had been dealing with one of his own employes, the question which he would ask himself would be this: "When I offered him these terms, and when he accepted them, did he or did he not understand that they contained certain conditions?" If he understood that, and understood it reasonably, I am quite sure that my hon. and learned Friend, in dealing in his private capacity, would never go hack on that understanding. The House of Commons ought not to go back on that understanding, if that really was the understanding reasonably arrived at by the teachers when they accepted the Burnham scale.
§ Sir R. HORNE
According to the Noble Lord, I suppose we must continue for ever this non-contributory scheme.
§ Lord R. CECIL
If you decide that you must continue it for ever, you will make a proportionate reduction in the salaries. In 1925 the whole matter will be open for discussion. I do not think my right hon. Friend's intervention is worthy of him in this matter. We are really anxious to find out what we ought to do as good employers. We are not anxious to quarrel across the Floor of the House. This is a case which seems to me in the highest degree difficult for those of us who are convinced that all reasonable economies ought to be made, and who are also convinced that no economy is 307 worth while if it involves a charge of breach of faith against the House of Commons. I am sorry that I am not able to accept the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, but, as I think this is a matter which ought to be investigated, I am going to make a suggestion. We ought to know whether a breach of faith has been committed—whether we are asked to do something which is shabby. That ought to be investigated before we part with this Bill. If it turns out that the account which I have given to the House of the negotiations is not fully accurate, and if it turns out that no such understanding really existed, or was understood reasonably, then I think this Bill ought to go on. So far as I am concerned, none of the other arguments against it are sufficient. We ought really to have this point cleared up. The Government are going to appoint a Committee to go into the whole thing. Why should we not ask them to make a preliminary report on this point as to what was the understanding on which the Burnham scale was accepted?
§ Colonel Sir C. YATE
Was there any question of acceptance of the Burnham scale? Was there any doubt about it?
§ Lord R. CECIL
Certainly. I am only stating what I am told, but I understand that a Considerable section of the teachers were against an acceptance of it. What I suggest is that we should adjourn this Debate. We should not reject the Bill. We should not put an end to it, but we should adjourn the Debate pending a Report from a Committee. Let us ask it to report first as to how we stand on this question in reference to any understanding with the teachers. That appears to me the really important point. It would enable us to be quite sure in our mind upon the point, and it will prevent any charge of breach of faith. It will also completely satisfy those teachers who have spoken to me on the subject. I should think this proposal would meet with the approval of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) and of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott), because it does not actually kill the Bill. I cannot see why the Government should not gladly accept it, and, in order to test the opinion of the House, I beg to move that the Debate be now adjourned.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I may point out that hon. Members must confine themselves to the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understand that we cannot discuss anything except the proposal to adjourn the Debate. I wanted to make a speech on the Bill as an economist and as an enemy of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education, because I have always opposed his Bills on the ground of extravagance, and I am now going to vote against him and in favour of the teachers. I understand my Noble Friend wishes to adjourn this Debate in order that the whole question should be submitted to a Committee. I am opposed to that for the reason that in the Bill itself—
§ Lord R. CECIL
Perhaps the right hon. Baronet did not understand my point. What I feel is that there is a doubt whether we are not being asked to take a course which is a shabby one. If it be a shabby course, I do not think we ought to take it. Under any circumstances, since there is a doubt, and I understand the Minister for Education does not agree with the facts as I have stated them—that doubt ought to be cleared up, and I ask for the adjournment of the Debate, not in order that the Committee may deal with the whole question of superannuation, but in order that it may investigate the point whether or not the course we are asked to take is a shabby course.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I quite understand my Noble Friend. He thinks there is a doubt. and therefore instead of reading the School Teachers Superannuation Act, 1918, Chapter 55, in order to settle the point he wants to put the responsibility upon a Committee. I do not believe in appointing committees and putting responsibility upon them. I may have too great an opinion of myself, but I certainly feel that I am quite as competent as any committee to decide whether or not there is a breach of an Act of Parliament. I do not think the Burnham Committee had anything whatever to do with this matter. The only question is as to what took place under the School Teachers Superannuation Act, 1918. I say it is plain that the teachers who were then in the employment of the State, or who entered into the employ of the State, were to receive certain things which were laid down by this Act. If the Burnham 309 Scheme had been talked about, if my right hon. Friend had suggested that it was the basis of his scheme for a pension there might be reason for inquiry. But he did not do anything of the sort and under these circumstances all we have to do is to read the Act in order to see what bargain we made. Personally I think the teachers are too well paid. There are too many of them and we have wasted too much money on education. I have never broken a bargain in my life and I will not be a party to breaking a bargain with the teachers. If instead of adjourning the Debate we continue it and reject the Bill on a Second Reading and say to the Minister of Education "in 1923 you can reduce the London teachers' salaries and you have just got to do it. In 1925 you can reduce the country teachers' salaries and you have got to do it." They would be breaking no faith then. As to pensions, if it is rejected all he will have to do will be to provide that in case of new teachers coming in after the Bill has become law they shall be put on a different scale and there will he no breach of faith with them. I feel very strongly on this matter, and I did not like to vote without expressing my opinion. I believe I was the. only Member who in 1918 asked the right hon. Gentleman what his Bill was going to cost, and he told me it would be about £3,000,000, instead of which I rather fancy it is costing from £60,000,000 to £70,000,000. We cannot afford it. As I say, we feel very strongly on this question of the waste of money on education—
§ Mr. SPEAKERrose—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I admit I am a little out of order, but I hope that the House will vote against the adjournment of the Debate and also against the. Second Reading of the Bill. Of course it must maintain its bargain.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
The Motion which is before the House is not one on which we can discuss the merits of the Bill. That is clear. But it is one on which we can make an appeal to the Government to see how far they can meet an opinion, I will not call it a. general opinion, but an opinion which is very widely shared in various parts of the House. That is not an unfair way of putting it.. The basis 310 of the appeal which is made is that there is a genuine feeling of uneasiness, and that there is a misunderstanding which could be removed by a reference ad hoc to this specially appointed Committee, and which could not be removed by any Debate in this House. That is the ground on which we base our appeal. It is of the greatest importance that we should act on well ascertained facts, and the only way in which we can get at those facts is by such a reference to a Committee which will not require to range over the very complex question of how a new superannuation scheme is going to be devised, but which will be strictly limited in its terms of reference to ascertaining on what condition the present superannuation scheme was granted. I can quite understand the position of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Education. He says he must have his Bill as otherwise he will have to bring in a Supplementary Estimate to carry out the agreed policy of the Government. I can quite understand that without limitation the Committee's inquiry might run into two months or more and might be another method of killing the Bill.
I think my right hon. Friend is fully entitled to take that view, but that is not what hon. Members have in their mind. They want to clear up the charge, which is made, rightly or wrongly, that. there is a doubt in the minds of a very large number of people as to whether the course proposed would not constitute a breach of faith. That, I say, could be cleared up by reference to a Committee, which could report by the end of the Whitsuntide holidays at latest, and indeed might be in a position to report much earlier. The question is whether the superannuation scheme laid down in the Act of Parliament was by agreement to be non-contributory. We want that point cleared up, and then the House will be in a position to continue the discussion of this Measure. I am not now going into the merits of the Bill, but I may say I shall not feel myself able to support the Motion which has been made from these benches for its rejection. I shall not feel justified in rejecting it, but we do want to have it clear whether we are acting as reasonable and honourable men in regard to the teachers, and I am certain we shall be better able to discharge our duty in regard to the Bill if we first get the point I have mentioned cleared up than we 311 would be if we were forced to a Division on the Motion of the Second Reading tonight.
§ Mr. FISHER
I fully appreciate the anxiety which is evidenced in every part of the House to keep faith with the teachers. Obviously it is most important that we should do so. It is also most important there should not be any suspicion thrown upon any Member of this House. I do not in the least resent the observations which have been made, and made in good faith, by hon. Members opposite to and behind me who feel some scruples on this matter. As to the question itself, the difficulties which have presented themselves are of two kinds. My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London, if he will allow me to call him so—
§ Mr. FISHER
My right hon. Friend feels a difficulty about the Teachers Superannuation Act. As I understand it his view is this: Here is an Act passed by Parliament a few years ago conceding benefits to a particular class of the community, and on the faith of the benefits so conceded it is quite possible that numbers of men were attracted to the teaching profession. The conditions were put before Parliament and are contained within the provisions of the Act and consequently cannot be reviewed. The view is held that it is morally not competent for Parliament to review the provisions of the Superannuation Act, as they apply to existing members of the teaching profession who benefit under the Act. Every member has his own conscience to guide him. I put this consideration to the House: Here is a Measure passed by Parliament which confers benefits, without any countervailing consideration, upon a certain class in the community. Is it not competent at any time for Parliament to review that Act? It is not as if there had been a contributory scheme for teachers' pensions, and Parliament afterwards came forward and said to the contributors, "We are going to alter the scheme to your detriment." In this case no contributions were demanded, and benefits were conferred on the teachers without any consideration. Obviously the case is altogether different. That is the case 312 of the right hon. Member for the City of London.
Let me pass to the case of the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil). As I understood it, his case is this: A Committee was set up at the instance of the Board of Education under the chairmanship of Lord Burnham. That Committee consisted of chosen representatives of the teachers on the one hand and chosen representatives of the local education authorities on the other hand. That Committee was invited to prepare a national scheme of salaries. It was intimated to the Committee by the Board of Education that the scale of salaries, after it had been agreed to by the Burnham Committee, must have the approval of the Government, and that the allocation of the scale to different areas in the country would likewise have to receive the approval of the Government. The Government did not take part in the deliberations of the Committee, but the Government retained in its hands the right of reviewing the recommendations of the Committee and the right of rejecting them or modifying them as it thought fit. The Committee deliberated. There was a process of hard bargaining going on between representatives of the local authorities on the one hand and representatives of the teachers on the other hand. The Noble Lord tells me that at one stage of this bargaining the representatives of the teachers, finding that the scales of salaries then contemplated were likely to be unsatisfactory to a body of teachers outside, met that body of teachers.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I do not wish to be misunderstood. I was repeating what other people have told me. I understand that what happened was that there was this body of teachers outside, Representatives were negotiating for that body. There was a certain section of that body opposed to these scales and in order to convince that section the representatives made these observations among others.
§ Mr. FISHER
That is practically what I understand. Certain representatives of the teachers, who were serving on the Burnham Committee, went outside to a body of teachers outside, and, in order to induce them to accept the Burnham scale, used the argument that, after all, the teachers were very well off, seeing that they had a non-contributory scheme 313 of pensions. In that way that particular section of teachers was appeased. I have no knowledge of those facts, but if the Noble Lord tells me he has been informed by the teachers that that was the case, I implicitly accept his assurance that those were the facts. The teachers are unlikely to misstate them. Assume that that is the case. I agree that representatives of the National Union of Teachers on the Burnham Committee had some little difficulty in moderating the excessive zeal of many of the younger members outside, and that they exercised a wise and moderating influence over those younger teachers. Admitting all those facts, what is the essence of the position? You have the teachers' representatives comprising the most statesmanlike members of the profession. They are negotiating with local authorities on the salaries scales. They know that, if they reach an arrangement on the salaries scales with the local authorities, they will have to meet the Board of Education and the Treasury, and that it is quite possible that the salaries scales will be thrown out. If they are thrown out by the Government, the whole fabric of the salaries scales, which are so advantageous to the teachers, will be lost entirely. The leaders of the teachers, knowing this, employ, as they are entitled to do, the argument that they were living under a non-contributory pensions scheme. I can imagine that the question of pensions did not come up for discussion in the Burnham Committee, because that Committee was discussing the quite different question of salaries.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that Mr. Leslie, the Secretary of the three Burnham Committees, publicly declared, I think in a speech at Northampton, that this discussion was definitely raised in the Burnham Committee? If the right hon. Gentleman cares for it I will give him the quotation.
§ Mr. FISHER
If the hon. Member says that, I entirely accept his statement. I do not in the least deny that when you have salaries discussions going on all over the country and at the same time you have a Teachers' Superannuation Act in force which provides certain benefits, those benefits may form an element in the discussion, not only as that discussion is carried on in the Committee, but as it is 314 carried on with the public education authorities. That is obvious. The point I wish to put is this. When the Burnham scales were agreed to between the representatives of the teachers and the representatives of the local authorities, and when the allocation was agreed to, I had to review both the scales and the allocation in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and we came to the conclusion not only that we could not only not go beyond those scales, hut that we could not go so far, and we insisted upon certain economies being introduced—economies which involved more than £1,000,000 of money. That is a material fact.
§ Mr. FISHER
In any case, we should not have been in a position to grant any advance from the point of view of salary over the advances recommended by the Burnham Committee. That is a perfectly fair statement of the facts from our point of view. The question has been raised whether there has been a breach of contract. The Government has no contract with the teachers, so there can he no question of a breach of contract. The House requires to be satisfied whether we are acting honourably in the matter. I confess that in view of the fact that under our present system of grants the State makes a contribution to teachers' salaries, and also makes a grant of the whole of the pensions, I cannot think that we are acting in any dishonourable way.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Hon. Members who speak must confine themselves to the question whether the Debate be now adjourned.
§ Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
I confess I do not think the Minister of Education has done anything to remove our doubts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech some time ago stated that the Government would set up a Committee with instructions to devise a contributory scheme, and, pending the preparation of that scheme and the passing of it into law, there was to be a levy of 5 per cent. on the salaries of the teachers. But the reference to the Committee is not a reference of that kind at all. The reference to the Committee is, "To consider what modification they could suggest in the 315 7.0 p.m.
existing pensions scheme with a view to securing economy."
Let us assume that the Committee report in favour of a reduction of the scale. In what position would the Government and the House be? I. confess that the whole procedure of the Government on this question rather staggers me. As I read the terms of reference, it is open to the Committee to suggest a reduction of the scale and so to secure economy. What position would the Government and the House be in if it passed this Bill? I cannot believe that the House ought to accept this proposal of the Government. There is one other point—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman is again going into the merits of the Bill. The question at the moment is not whether or not this Bill should be accepted. It is simply whether the Debate should be adjourned, for particular reasons brought forward by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil).
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will do that simply, and without entering into the other schemes that might have been adopted.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
I will put quite simply and briefly what I want to say further in support of the Motion for the Adjournment. It is essential to carry the teachers with us in this proposal. If we proceed with this Bill we shall certainly arouse a very large amount of discontent among them, and we shall prevent them coming willingly into a non-contributory scheme in the future. On that ground I shall support the Motion for the Adjournment.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
It was impossible to gather from the speech of the President of the Board of Education whether or not he is in favour of the Motion that the Debate should be adjourned. I hope very much that he is, because a great many of us are in the perplexity which was put before the House by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil). I certainly feel a great difficulty. I am very anxious 316 to support the Government in any economy, if I honourably can, but the Debate has made it quite clear that there is at least a doubt whether, in supporting this Bill we should not be, as the Noble Lord said, acting in a shabby way, if nothing worse. Therefore, I hope the Government will accept the proposal of the Noble Lord. While I am anxious to support this Bill, until I get some assurance, which we have not had at present, that we are really open to support it, if the Government oppose the Motion, and forces us to a Division, I shall be under the necessity of voting against them.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House)
I am under the disadvantage that I have not been able to be present during the whole of this discussion. Not anticipating its character I had made a series of other engagements involving my attendance, which have kept me out of the Chamber, though I have been in the precincts during the whole time the House has been sitting. I understand that the Adjournment of the Debate has been moved, and that, as Mr. Speaker has pointed out, according to our rules, if such a Motion be made, the area of discussion is strictly limited to the particular purpose for which the Motion for the Adjournment is proposed. The question we have to ask ourselves at this stage is this simple one: Is it desirable to adjourn this Debate or is it not? Into the merits of the Bill I must not go. Into the difficulties of realising economy, as illustrated by this Debate, I must not go. Into the variations of temperature and feeling in the House from week to week and day to day, according as it is voting taxation or trying to secure economy, I must not go. I propose strictly to eschew all those tempting subjects, and to keep closely within the limits which Mr. Speaker has imposed in accordance with the rules of the House.
Keeping within those limits, I am met with two difficulties. I understand that the argument in favour of Adjournment is this, that doubt has arisen, and has been expressed in many quarters of the House, as to whether it is compatible with the traditions of our Government that we should ask these contributions of the teachers: whether the exaction of such a contribution by the Government and the House would be compatible with our good faith, broadly interpreted, and not rigidly 317 examined in the light of any specific pledge. I do not understand that it is said that there was a pledge, but that the circumstances were such as, at any rate, to raise a doubt in the minds of many hon. Members as to whether it would be politic, in the broad sense of the word, or wise for this House to proceed further with the Bill which is under discussion. It is accordingly suggested that the Debate should be adjourned, in order that the question may be cleared up. I wonder whether those who have supported the Motion can help me a little to an appreciation of what they have in their minds? To what Committee would they propose to refer the question whether the honour of this House is pledged? What Committee is going to decide where we, the Members of the House assembled in the House, are unable to come to a decision?
I should be very grateful, because I am really asking for information, but it might more easily meet my difficulties if I might be allowed to finish my speech.
I hope the House will see that I am not in any way pedantic. I see the difficulty of its not being a judge of its own honour and of referring to some Committee the question of what its honour is. I understand that the proposal is that this matter should be referred to a departmental Committee which has been set up for quite another purpose. If it be possible to refer a question of that kind to any Committee, I am quite sure it will be impossible to refer it to a Committee selected merely to say what should be the best way in which the teachers should contribute to the cost of their own superannuation. Let us know two things. What is the Committee that those who ask for a Committee desire; and, in the second place, what is the reference to the Committee which they are going to propose?
318 I think that reference requires some consideration. I do not. know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean)—who, I think, supported the Noble Lord in the Motion for the Adjournment and in the idea of having a Committee on this matter—has got any clear idea of his own as to what the terms of reference should be? Is it to be a Select Committee of the House and are we to refer to them the Measure now before us, and invite them to suggest to the House whether the proposal to levy 5 per cent. on the salaries of the teachers for the purpose of a contribution to the expenses of superannuation pending the exploration by the other Committee of a permanent solution is compatible with the honour of the House or not.? I cannot think that the House seriously proposes to refer that question to the Select Committee. If the House has another proposal in its mind, or if those who have supported the Motion have any proposal in their minds, I beg them, before we are called upon for a decision, to let us know what it is that they want. Is it a Select Committee, or is it some other kind of Committee? What is the reference which they would suggest should be given to it? It would be much more easy to express an opinion if we had a definite answer to that. In the present position of the discussion it is extremely difficult to believe that the House will declare itself incapable of deciding what its honour demands. Perhaps the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks)—
The hon. Gentleman has not exhausted his right to speak, as we are now on the Motion for the Adjournment. If he is in agreement with the present Motion for the Adjournment, would he help us with a clearer explanation of what are the steps to be taken?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I happen to be the unfortunate individual who first, on this side of the House, raised what I may call the conscientious issue in this matter. It is not a question of asking a Committee to deal with the honour of the House. It is a question 319 of appointing a tribunal, a small Committee of this House, to ascertain one definite fact. The fact is, that we have the Act of 1918, which was passed. Then there were negotiations between the teachers and the local authorities, over which Lord Burnham presided, and the teachers say, quite distinctly, that in those negotiations it was in their minds, in their knowledge, and referred to, that all the new scale of salaries until 1925 was based upon a non-contributory pensions basis. That may be an utter untruth; I do not know whether it is or not. That is the statement made to many hon. Members of this House by teachers throughout the country. I took the trouble to read to the House a letter from Lord Burnham on the subject—
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
My right hon. Friend has read Lord Burnham's reply. His reply, which I read to the House, shortly was this, that the circumstances of the case were present undoubtedly in the minds of those who were negotiating in this matter. I think that while my right hon. Friend was out of the House for a few minutes the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather disputed Lord Burnham's view.
§ Sir R. HORNE
No, no. I referred to another part of the letter, that addressed to Sir James Yoxall, in which it was specifically stated that the shorthand notes contained no reference whatever to the broaching of the question of a noncontributory scheme of pensions. I think if the hon. Member will glance down Lord Burnham's letter, he will see that. It is quite right, if I may say so, to suggest that the subject of pensions could not but be present, because it was of so recent occurrence.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
That just shows the grave difficulty which exists. Here is Lord Burnham who presided over this meeting between the teachers and the local authorities writing me a letter expressing the view which I have given to the House. I do not say that view is right, nor do I say it is wrong. I do not say the teachers' view is right or that it is wrong, but if Lord Burnham is right and if the teachers are right, then we are running a grave risk of doing that which, 320 in strict honour, we should not do. It is in order to ascertain the fact—the honour of the House can take care of itself—that I ask the Government to consent to the adjournment of the Debate and the appointment of a small Select Committee to elucidate the one fact whether the negotiations and the decision on a new scale of salary were based, in the minds of the contracting parties, on a non-contributory scheme? That should be answered yea or nay. If the answer to that is yea, the Bill cannot pass. if it is nay, we should know it.
§ Major GRAY
I support the Motion for the adjournment of this Debate. If my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has any difficulty in regard to the appointment of the Committee, I would say at once that many of us—and I am sure the teachers outside—would accept the right hon. Gentleman himself as the Committee. We know that the honour of the House is perfectly safe in his hands. We also know we can prove the case submitted to the House by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) right up to the very hilt, and beyond it. We know the Noble Lord has only stated the minimum of the facts. The case is really stronger than his speech suggests, and stronger than that which has been indicated to the House by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks). We feel absolutely certain that, if the facts were within the cognisance of the Leader of the House, he would not proceed further with the Bill at this juncture. If my right hon. Friend feels he would rather not undertake this responsibility, then I am perfectly certain this one question which has been raised should be inquired into, quite independently of the merits of this particular Bill or of the merits of the contributory system. I want to take a larger view than that of the interests of the teachers. If the teachers feel that Parliament has broken faith with them, what must be the result in the teaching of the children. Willing obedience in a well-ordered community is founded on a sense of perfect justice, and if once that sense of justice he destroyed, the influence will be very widespread indeed. Therefore it is essential this point should be cleared up. Is the honour of Parliament involved or is it not? I believe the teachers can prove that it is involved.
321 Let me put it to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that the fact that this Act was passed by Parliament in 1918 was ever present to the minds of those who were negotiating. On the part of the local authorities anxious to pay as little as the circumstances justified and on the part of the teachers anxious to make good their case, the negotiators on either side were influenced by the fact that, there was then in operation this particular Act. I say without hesitation that those who were negotiating on behalf of the teachers were induced consciously to accept a lower scale of salaries than they would have pressed for had this Act not been in existence. What is worse, the teachers outside were very reluctant indeed to accept the decision of the Burnham Committee, and the teachers' leaders had to go up and down the country and urge them to accept this, and always the argument used was, "You must bear in mind that concurrently with this scale of salaries there is a non-contributory pension scheme." We cannot separate these two things. If now the House decides to demand from the teachers this contribution, it is tantamount to breaking the scale of salaries. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said earlier in the year that the Government would not think of doing that. My contention is, that the teachers can prove to any impartial tribunal that there existed this distinct impression that the salaries and the noncontributory scheme went one with the other, and that that bond must be maintained sacred in London until 1923 and in the country until 1925, and that then all parties were free to enter into new negotiations.
Is it worth while for the Government to do this? They can see the temper of the House in this matter. If we go to a Division, my impression is that we shall carry the adjournment of the Debate, and I very much doubt if they proceed with the Bill, whether or not they can carry it. A strong feeling has been expressed for days past on this subject. Paramount, and above all things, far beyond the question of salaries or of contributory or non contributory schemes—above and beyond all, stands the honour of this House. Let not any act of ours this afternoon enable the public to say that the pledged word of Parliament cannot he trusted; that it can be lightly thrown aside. We have 322 used harsh terms with regard to treaties being regarded as "scraps of paper." I trust no pledge over given by the British Government will ever be treated by the British public as a worthless scrap of paper. Therefore, as there is this doubt, as to whether or not the honour of the House is involved, I feel sure I can speak on behalf of the teachers when I say, they are perfectly willing to submit the question to open examination by any unprejudiced person, and prepared to abide by the results.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I have listened to the special pleading of the last. speaker, and I hold to the view that there is nothing into which to inquire. The facts are perfectly well known. A Superannuation Act was on the Statute Book, and a new Act was passed. We are told about negotiations in the Burnham Committee between the teachers and the local authorities, as if these were negotiations between conquerors and conquered. There were no negotiations. That was a Commission of Inquiry, and the local authorities were not bound to accept any of its decisions. The thing that astonishes me is that with the facts before us, in a country where every one of us has to face thousands of decent unemployed working men, the teachers here should confess—and an inquiry is not needed to disclose the fact—that their salaries have been raised since the conclusion of the War to 2½ times what they were before.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Hon. Members must confine themselves strictly and solely to reasons whether or not the Debate should be adjourned.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I submit there is no reason for adjourning it at all. All the facts are before us. We have heard a statement from Lord Burnham, who was Chairman, and we have heard there was no word about this matter in the shorthand notes. This is a mere red herring drawn across the path. We know the teachers are a very powerful body politically. We know they have been told to bully their Members of Parliament. We have seen that publicly stated, and this is part of the plan—to get the Debate adjourned, and give them time to do so. We can see the effect of the political pro- 323 paganda on hon. Members opposite, and even some on this side. I say the House is now in possession of all the necessary facts to enable it to decide on this Bill.
Perhaps the House will allow me to add a few words to what I have said already on the subject, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington (Major Gray) made something like a direct personal appeal to me, and as I have had the benefit of an explanation of the actual point at issue, which it is proposed to refer to a Committee, given by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks). My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington will not be surprised if I should decline to be the tribunal to which this matter is referred. I am ready to take my share of responsibility for any decision to which the House may come, but I would not undertake to act as sole arbiter in a matter of this kind, nor do I conceive that such a proposal would be satisfactory to the House. Just see what the position is. Is there any fact which is in doubt, and which can be cleared up by inquiry by a Select Committee? May I invite the House to consider that point?
It has been pointed out that a noncontributory Superannuation Act was on the Statute Book. My Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) says he is informed by the teachers that at a certain stage, those teachers who were members of the Burnham Committee, went out and saw a larger body of teachers and as an argument to induce them to support the Burnham scale, said, "You must remember among other things that we have a non-contributory pension scheme." But there is no suggestion that either side in the Burnham Committee based their decision on that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Certainly, it is not suggested in the letter from Lord Burnham. What is the procedure of this suggested Committee to be? Is it suggested that each individual member of the Burnham Committee should have this question put to him: Was your judgment materially affected when you agreed to recommend these scales, by the fact that at that time a non-contributory pension scheme was in existence? It seems to me impossible to proceed in that form, and to ask those gentlemen who sat in this Com- 324 mitten now some time ago, to put themselves back into the exact frame of mind in which they were then when this subject, if it was mentioned, at any rate, was not mentioned with sufficient force r iteration to appear upon the shorthand totes and to say whether it was a material factor in the decision arrived at.
That is not all. What was the function of the Burnham Committee? It was not to decide the salaries. It was make recommendations to the Government, and the Government preserved full liberty to consider, to adopt, to amend, or to reject those recommendations. Is it suggested that at any stage of the handling of the matter by the Government—which was the authority representing the people whose money was being expended, and whose money alone was being expended, because there was no local authorities' money, but only the money of the taxpayer—is it suggested, that at any moment the Government came under any pledge or was asked to come under any pledge that, if a settlement was come to on the basis of this Burnham scale, the pension scheme should be adopted? Such a thing was never suggested. One of the reasons why I would not accept the task which, in terms so honourable to me, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington suggested I should undertake, is that I was Chairman of the Government Committee which considered the Geddes Report, out of which the present Bill arises. Out of an economy of £18,000,000 recommended we turned down £12,000,000 because we thought that the honour of the House or the Government or the local authorities was pledged in respect of that money in so far as that money affected salaries, which was to a very large extent. I think we were scrupulous in observing that. That is the reason why I am not the person to sit as a tribunal in this matter, but I urge that the House has already all the relevant facts in its possession and that on those facts the House can form a judgment and, I think, should form a judgment in favour of the attitude which the Government has taken up.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Does not the whole discussion for the last hour prove the necessity for adjourning the Debate? The right hon. Gentleman has attempted to put the rest of the House in a false position. He is suggesting that the only proposal before the House is the appoint- 325 ment of a Committee to decide as to what the Burnham Committee meant, but that is not the question before the House at all. The whole question really before the House is whether the Government, in view of the position taken up by the House and clearly expressed by every speaker in this Debate, should not take time to think over their position in regard to the whole of this Bill. Some of us have an Amendment on the Paper urging that the whole question should be remitted to a Select Committee. That, would be one way out. The other way out is the suggestion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) that this single point should be remitted to a Committee, but certainly the very attitude of the Government during this last hour's Debate, is the supreme argument in favour of
§ postponing the decision of the Government in this matter. They have not known whether they were for the Adjournment or not till the last speech of the Leader of the House. Now they have come down against the Adjournment, but I beg the House to observe that all the time the Minister of Education was speaking they were undecided as to whether or not to accept the Adjournment Motion. Now the whole question has been left in a state of complete incoherence, and it would be wise to adjourn in order that the Government should reconsider its position as regards the whole of this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 151; Noes, 148.327
|Division No. 106.]||AYES.||[7.35 P.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pearce, Sir William|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Grundy, T. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Banton, George||Hallas, Eldred||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Halls, Walter||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertiilery)||Hancock, John George||Remnant, Sir James|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Barton, sir William (Oldham)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hayward, Evan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bonn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Robertson, John|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Seddon, J. A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hogge, James Myles||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Bromfield, William||Hopkins, John W. W.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Burn, Cot. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jesson, C.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Cairns, John||John, William (Rhondda, West)||spencer, George A.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchln)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kennedy, Thomas||Swan, J. E.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Lawson, John James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Pialstow)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mallaliou, Frederick William||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk. South)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wignall, James|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Martin, A. E.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Finney, Samuel||Mills, John Edmund||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Foot, Isaac||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morris, Richard||Wise, Frederick|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mosley, Oswald||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Gillis, William||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness 4 Ross)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Myers, Thomas||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Sir Wm. Joynson-Hlcks and Major|
|Greene, Lt.-Col Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Gray|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Forestler-Walker, L.||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Forrest, Walter||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Neal, Arthur|
|Balrd, sir John Lawrence||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Flnchley)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gange, E. Stanley||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Gardner, Ernest||Newton, Major Sir Harry K.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel sir John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Barnett, Major Richard w.||Glanville, Harold James||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Parker, James|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Hallwoad, Augustine||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pratt, John William|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Randles, Sir John scurrah|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Brings, Harold||Hood, Sir Joseph||Reld, O. D.|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckn'nn, W.)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Casey, T. W.||Hurd, Percy A.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cautley, Henry S trot her||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Slmm. M. T.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Blrm. W.)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S,||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Blrm., Ladywood)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jephcott, A. R.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Johnstone, Joseph||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (KnutsJord)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cope, Major William||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Kidd, James||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lloyd, George Butler||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Wolmer, viscount|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Ednam, Viscount||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Macquissten, F. A.||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Magnus, Sir Philip||Younger, Sir George|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Manville, Edward|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Middlebrook, Sir William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Mitchell, sir William Lane||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Dudley Ward.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
§ Debate adjourned accordingly; to be resumed To-morrow.