The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Adamson)
I beg to moveThat leave be given to introduce a Bill to amend the Education (Scotland) Superannuation Act, 1922.This Bill, which I rise to introduce, proposes to extend until the 31st March, 1926, the operation of the Education (Scotland) Superannuation Act, 1922. The circumstances which have rendered the Bill necessary are already familiar to the House, and there is, therefore, no reason why I should take long to explain them. A very short time will suffice. Between 1912 and 1919 there was in operation in Scotland a superannuation scheme for teachers which required contributions from three sources, namely, the teachers, the education authorities, and the Exchequer. The scheme had worked admirably, and it would, there is no doubt, have been in existence to-day but for the fact that in 1918 the Government then in power, without, I fear, fully counting the cost, instituted a more generous and non-contributory system of pensions for teachers in England and Wales.
What Parliament had done for England and Wales it was bound to do for Scotland, also with the result that the Scottish scheme of 1912 became obsolete, and had to be amended to bring it into line with the new English system. This was in 1918. Three years later the very same Government that had passed the Acts of 1918 and 1919, found that the financial load was growing too heavy. They accordingly decided to reintroduce a contributory principle, and to make it applicable to both countries. The considerations involved, however, were so complex that immediate legislation of a permanent character was impracticable. Two distinct steps, therefore, were taken. In the first place, Acts were passed for each country requiring the general body of teachers to pay a sum equivalent to 5 per cent. of their salaries as a contribution towards their superannuation benefits.
476 In the second place a Departmental Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Lord Emmott to examine the whole problem thoroughly and to make definite recommendations. The duration of the Acts I have mentioned was limited to two years, this being considered a reasonable period to allow for the Committee's labours, and for the establishment of the permanent scheme. The Committee, in point of fact, reported in less than 12 months after their original appointment. They went into the matter very carefully and reached certain important conclusions which were quite definite and also unanimous. In ordinary circumstances the way would have been clear for further action. The change of Government has, however, led to unforeseen and unavoidable delay.
The temporary Acts of 1922 are due to expire on 31st May. The interval is too short to admit of the Committee's proposal being thoroughly discussed by Parliament. A further postponement has thus become inevitable. It will be within the recollection of the House that a Bill extending the operations of the English Act of 1922 has already passed its Second Reading. The Bill which I am asking leave to introduce is a corresponding measure for Scotland. Except in one particular, to which I will refer in detail before I sit down, the two Bills follow identical lines. We propose that the temporary arrangement sanctioned by Parliament in 1922 shall be prolonged to a date not later than 31st March, 1926. In both cases, however, a plain hint is given that it may come to an end at an even earlier date than the one named in the Bill. I should be wanting in frankness if I did not at once admit that, while I regard this Measure as necessary, I regard the necessity for it as regrettable. So far as I understand the feeling of Scottish teachers in this matter—and I think I may claim to know it fairly well—I sympathise with it entirely. They have had experience both of contributory and of a non-contributory system. They are by no means insensible to the attractions which the latter offers. If they were not they would not be Scotsmen; indeed, they would not be human, for after all everyone of us likes to get the best bargain possible. On the other hand, if I interpret their attitude aright, they have taken to heart the lesson of 477 1922. They recognise that, if a non-contributory system has advantages, it has also dangers. So long as the beneficiaries have no vested right, there is no effective guarantee that they will really enjoy the benefits which they have been promised. A properly devised contributory scheme will at least give the teachers the security and stability which they themselves are so anxious to obtain, and which, I feel, every Member of the House would like them to have.
This Bill, then, continues the principle of contributions. That, however, is not in itself enough. It does not continue it in what seems to the Scottish teachers a satisfactory way, and here, again, I may say that they have my personal sympathy. They urge that they are really not getting the security and stability which their contributions ought to give them, and, further, that they will not get them unil a proper pensions scheme has been established and until the money which they are paying is laid aside to meet the liability which it is nominally intended to cover. At present, it is being used as an appropriation-in-aid of current expenditure. That is a plan which I do not think any Government would be likely to propose, or any House of Commons to accept, unless it were merely, as I am seeking now, to bridge over a temporary difficulty. It is my earnest hope, and from the memorandum prefixed to the Bill the House will see that it is the earnest hope of the Government also, that the bridge may be a very short one, and that we may reach solid ground in the very near future.
If Scotland stood alone, we might go further at once. But, for a reason which I will mention in a moment, we must await the permanent Measure for England and Wales. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If hon. Members will keep quiet for a minute, I will explain. I see no reason why that should be unduly delayed. Whatever view may be taken of the Emmott Committee's Report, everyone will admit that it has great merits, it is based on a most painstaking investigation of all the possibilities, and it puts the issue in a perfectly clear-cut form. The problem with which it deals is complicated, but it advances it to a stage when it is ripe for discussion by this House. In view of what my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education has already accomplished, 478 there will be general agreement that he is not the man to be daunted by difficulties, real or supposed. I have every hope that a final settlement may be reached well in advance of the extreme limit indicated in this Bill.
I come back now to the question why Scotland cannot go forward alone, and here I answer my hon. Friends' question. The Scottish teachers are ready, and so are the Scottish Education Authorities, to whose breadth of view on this particular problem I should like to pay a word of tribute. But it would be in the highest degree imprudent to attempt independent legislation. I hope that none of my hon. Friends on either side of the House will be unduly sensitive about the one country being tied to the chariot wheels of the other in this matter. In regard to superannuation, a policy of separation could only be disastrous. The two countries must move together in step. Unless they do that, reciprocity—the free interchange of teachers between the two countries—becomes impossible Not long ago the House had from one of the Members of the Scottish Universities—a Member who speaks with something like unique authority on all matters relating to the superannuation of teachers—a few illustrations of the hardships that exist at present. If Scotland were to venture forward alone now, these hardships would certainly be perpetuated. I will go further and say that they might be very seriously aggravated, a result which I am sure every Member of the House would deeply regret.
I have only one thing to add. The Bill contains a Clause to which there is nothing in the English Bill to correspond. I should like to explain why. As the House is aware, the pensions and allowances of Scottish teachers are met, not by the Exchequer directly, but by the Education (Scotland) Fund. In terms of Section 6 of the Education (Scotland) Superannuation Act, 1919, there is annually paid into this fund—as the Exchequer contribution towards the superannuation of Scottish teachers—a sum equal to 11/80ths of the corresponding expenditure in England. The obvious intention of Parliament was that Scotland should receive actually 11/80ths. But it is fairly certain that during the next two years the produce of the 5 per cent. levy on the salaries of the Scottish teachers 479 would amount to more than ll/80ths of the corresponding sum which is raised in England. As the moneys so obtained are to be used in Appropriations-in-aid—or, in other words, to reduce the gross total of the Votes—the effect would be that, unless there be some adjustment, the net amount that Scotland would receive would fall short of the ll/80ths which was guaranteed to her by the Act of 1919. It is true that the deficiency will not be large, but my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed that, however small it may be, it ought to be made good. Accordingly, the Bill provides that the fund shall receive compensation from the Exchequer for any adverse balance. We estimate that the figure will not be more than £20,000 in either year, and that it may possibly be less.
It may be of interest to the House to know the exact reasons that are responsible for the adverse balance. The average salary of the Scottish certificated teacher is no higher than the average salary of his English colleague. It is, indeed, slightly lower. But, firstly, owing to the more developed state of higher education in Scotland, the proportion of teachers who are doing secondary work and earning corresponding salaries is larger. Secondly, while there are practically no uncertificated teachers in Scotland, a large proportion of the English primary teachers are uncertificated and are therefore not being paid salaries at the full Burnham rate. And, lastly, there are in England 13,000 or 14,000 supplementary teachers who have no counterpart in Scotland and whose qualifications are not such as to entitle them to the benefits of superannuation at all, with the result that they pay no contribution. The House will not fail to note that the same causes which make the proceeds of the Scottish levy proportionally larger are bound also to make the Scottish outlay on pensions proportionally higher. That is all the more reason why the House should be ready to accept Clause 2 and so make certain that the arrangement come to in 1919 is fully implemented. I hope that this Bill will not occupy an undue time of the House, but that my colleagues in all quarters representing Scottish constituencies will give it their support and let us have it in as short a time as possible.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
We might, perhaps, have raised some difficulty upon the way that this Bill is being introduced. We have had references to a certain Memorandum and to certain Clauses of the Bill about which we really know nothing. But I am not going to raise any difficulty, and I am not going to pretend that I do not know what are the proposals of the Bill and what are the real points to which we raise objections. Whether we raise these objections on the First or on the Second Reading is, perhaps, of less importance. I know the difficulties with which the right hon. Gentleman is faced. I know that he must do something in the way of legislation, or the whole of the present system will break down at the end. I think, of this month. Of course, he is in a difficult position, and I am further disarmed by the very frankness with which he has damned his Bill with very faint praise indeed. He has shown us perfectly plainly, with that frankness which we are accustomed to associate with him, the objections to this Bill—that he is trying to build up and continue what he knows to be a thoroughly rotten system, which has created great hardships in Scotland. He lamented the fact that we had to be dragged at the tail of England, and it reminded me of what occurred during the Second Reading of the Bill to which he referred, which was moved by the President of the Board of Education. That Bill had absolutely no support except, I am sorry to say, from ray right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood), who preceded the present President of the Board of Education. I am sorry not to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon in his place, but I am afraid I must say frankly that I think his support was very largely caused by the fact that he had become involved in official prejudice and timidity which he had derived from the Board of Education—a very unsound and unwholesome attitude. I greatly regret that my right hon. Friend should have supported that Bill of the present President of the Board, to which we take very strong objection.
During that debate my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon turned round to me and said that he was very glad that this time England was not to be drawn at the tail of the Scottish chariot. It would have been a great deal better in that and in other things if England had, in 481 education, been drawn at the tail of the Scottish chariot. It was we who first introduced free education, and showed the way in a great many ways in higher education to the more dilatory officials of the English Board of Education. Have we not, long before this, been led into errors and difficulties by this false lead of the Board of Education? It was in 1918, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, that a most extravagant and thoughtless scheme of superannuation was foisted upon the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Herbert Fisher), who was then President of the Board of Education. The House was then in a son; of orgy of spending money. A few of us at that time did our best to point out the great difficulties of that scheme. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson), Sir Philip Magnus, who was then Member for the University of London, and various others, pointed out that we were proceeding on a most dangerous course. The right hon. Gentleman who introduced that extravagant non-contributory superannuation scheme calculated that its cost would be a little over £2,000,000 a year. I told him then that it would be, but a very short time before it reached £9,000,000 or £10,000,000, and, before it had gone on very long, it was perfectly plain that that would be the cost to the Exchequer within a very few years. Then came the Geddes Committee, with its very drastic—as some of us thought, too drastic—schemes for cutting down expenditure, and this superannuation scheme was condemned utterly. What happened to Scotland? Something had to be done to undo the evils that had been done in that scheme, against the advice of those in Scotland and of many Members in this House. I make no bones at all about saying that I know the Scottish Education Department attempted most vehemently to oppose that rash scheme.
What did that scheme do for Scotland? It upset a sound, thoroughly well established, thoroughly well founded and well considered contributory scheme which was already in existence, and which was worked by the National Debt Commissioners for Scotland. The War prevented the taking of the actuarial balance in the year 1919, but the Emmott 482 Report points out what is perfectly true, that, although that balance was not taken, it was a matter of notoriety that the fund was entirely solvent and in a most satisfactory condition. It was completely destroyed by what was done then. The Government found that this rash scheme which they had carried in spite of protests and in spite of opposition from the country and from many in this House, had to be undone, and they produced a timid and temporary Bill establishing a contributory system. Under pressure they decided that it should not be permanent, but only temporary. It left the whole position fluctuating and uncertain, full of hardships upon teachers, full of doubts for the local education authorities, and full of all sorts of financial defects which were apparent to everyone. We tried to check the prolongation, after a certain number of years, of that temporary scheme, but without effect.
Instead of making a permanent system, the Government established this scheme only for a year or two, but they satisfied us by saying that they would appoint a Committee, under the presidency of Lord Emmott, and that a large scheme of satisfactory superannuation for both countries would be evolved. That was done, and I join with every word that the Secretary for Scotland said in praise of that Report. It is very seldom that you can have a Report drafted with such thorough knowledge, and going with such thorough and careful investigation into all the financial and actuarial points. In that Report there was presented a basis for legislation that any Government ought to have been bold enough to face, seeing that it was only by such boldness that they could put an end to very great injuries and hardships to the teachers, and the very grave doubts of the local authorities. That has not been done. I cannot understand why the officials of the Board of Education will not face this difficulty and will not firmly grasp what it is their business to grasp. They talk of great difficulties, great trouble, and vast expenditure, and they repeat this till one is tired. I was a civil servant myself for five-and-thirty years, and I know that, if a civil servant is worth anything, he ought to find his greatest pleasure in trying to solve the difficulties which are placed before him in the course of his work. There is nothing that need 483 try even the brains of the officials of the Board of Education in carrying out thoroughly and promptly the scheme that is foreshadowed in the Emmott Report.
What is the alternative? It is all very well to say that you are only putting it off for a year, but think what you are doing. In the first place, you are leaving, to say no more, a very grave doubt as to whether the idea will be carried out of those—a minority, and I think a minority not worthy of much consideration—who still leave us in no doubt that they are hankering after a non-contributory scheme. That is not represented in Scotland, and I should be very sorry to think that it is represented to any large degree in official or other circles in England. You are also raising very grave difficulties for the teachers themselves. There is no proper reciprocity. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out, perfectly truly, that an attempt to distinguish between the two countries, to establish two different systems, is a fatal one for both. I quite agree with him in that. What is happening now, because the two systems of pensions are not the same in the two countries? Teachers who have served to a certain extent in England and to a certain extent in Scotland find themselves, in respect of their different services, under totally different rules, and the rules of the English Department sometimes tell exceedingly hardly upon Scottish teachers. The rule is that in the case of teachers, male or female, the pension is on the average of the last five years of their service. If the earlier part of the time has been spent in Scotland, the Scottish local authority contributes towards the pension on the basis of the highest payment in the latest year; but if the earlier years have been spent in England, the English local authority allows a pension on the basis of only, perhaps, £120 or £150 a year. A very heavy loss is, therefore, incurred by those who have spent their earliest years of work in Scotland. That is only one instance. There are many others where at present there are discrepancies and want of proper organisation, and the teachers really do not know where they are. The cases of hardship that have been brought to my notice are very considerable indeed.
484 The fatal consequences which the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out of a difference between the systems of the two countries are fully realised in actual fact, and the financial position is much more serious. The right hon. Gentleman says we must continue the contributory system for a year or two longer before we establish a permanent system, but is he really continuing the contributory system? A proper contributory system is one which takes certain payments from the teachers and from the local authorities and contributes them to a central fund. That does not exist now. There is no central fund, and, instead of these payments being really contributions, they are only sinking into the sand of the vast annual education expenditure, never to be identified again. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may think that this is a very small point, but do they know that the total contribution from the teachers over the whole country cannot fall very much short of £3,000,000 a year, and that that is being entirely lost as regards the useful function that it ought to exercise of serving as the foundation for a sound contributory system on a good actuarial basis? That is the wrong that is being done. Not only is the right hon. Gentleman being led, I am certain against his own will and judgment, by the bad example of the English Department, not only is he postponing a satisfactory settlement, but he is allowing the continuance of very great hardships to the teachers, and of a vast loss which is annually accruing to the contributory system.
This is not a small matter at all. People think that pensions are a matter of no interest except to the teachers themselves, but I would point out, in the first place, that we have spent freely and have worked hard to rescue the teaching profession from an unsatisfactory position which was a disgrace to the country, and, having done that, let us see that that work is not done away with by a wrong course of procedure on the part of the officials concerned. There is no more important part of the teacher's conditions than a satisfactory arrangement with regard to his pension. You cannot have such a satisfactory foundation if you leave a man constantly occupied with the sordid care as to how he is to provide for himself at the end of his service. At present he is uncertain and in doubt, and 485 this matter of pensions is, therefore, of the very first importance to the country. Even from the financial point of view, I would ask hon. Members to consider that it is not so small as they may think. When you begin to touch the question of a well-established system of pensions, you must, somehow or other, establish a fund which will in a very few years yield an annual revenue of something like £20,000,000. I do not think you can count on much less—I am speaking of the whole country all round. It is not, therefore, a matter of small importance, or one to which so little regard ought to be paid by this House as was paid to it when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) introduced his very rash and fatal scheme of non-contributory pensions, which has done so much harm to the teaching profession and to education generally. We ought also to remember that we cannot, until we have a thoroughly satisfactory system, of pensions, have a really sound system of administration. There are three people who must contribute to these pensions—the teacher, the local authority and the central authority. If you attempt, as that fatal scheme of 1918 did, to put the whole burden of the pensions on the central authority, which does not appoint the teachers, which has no control over the teachers, which does not dismiss the teachers, and which does not pay the salaries of the teachers, you are following an absolute will-o'-the-wisp, which will lead you into endless difficulty.
I am not going to raise captious difficulties in the way of the right hon. Gentleman in proceeding with a Bill which I know, even apart from his own frankness, that he does not himself like in all respects; but I would urge upon him to do all he can to induce his colleagues to take a bold, prompt and courageous step forward in establishing a sound contributory system, and not to continue the hardships which the present uncertainty is causing, and the interference which is being caused with the whole system of educational administration and organisation. I urge him to be bold, and quickly to establish a real contributory system, under which the teachers will not feel that they are mixed up with all the red tape of the Civil Service, but will feel that they are an independent profession, 486 and will be able to reckon with certainty upon a certain amount of pension—that they will have established by their own contributions, helped by those of the local authorities and of the State, a fund that is really sound actuarily, from which their pensions are to be paid, and for which they have to be grateful to no one but themselves. It will be their right as soon as they can get it established. If the right hon. Gentleman will only urge upon his colleagues to be bold enough, in spite of all official and bureaucratic hindrances that may stand in the way, to establish this system as quickly as possible, he will do a very great deal, not only for Scotland, but for England also, if England will be wise enough again to follow at the chariot wheels of Scotland.
§ Mr. D. M. COWAN
I should like to congratulate the Secretary for Scotland on the admirable fashion in which he has put before us the facts of the case which he wished to present. I congratulate him also on the great skill with which he has avoided many considerations which are very important in discussing this Measure. Obviously he does not like the Bill, but apart from this he has not made a good case for proceeding with it. Had he been on the Opposition Benches, as he was in 1922, the conclusion of his speech would have been very different from what it was. I should think from observation, thought I cannot speak from experience, that the Front Bench affects the mind as well as the bodily attitude of its occupants. I thoroughly agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I agree with much that he said in criticism of the Government's attitude, but I do not agree with him that the Government in 1918 made a fatal blunder in passing a non-contributory scheme. It is not the passing of the non-contributory scheme that we object to. It is the passing of the 1922 Act and its proposed continuation here. The right hon. Gentleman made an apology for the length of the extension which he proposes. He expressed the hope, too, that it would not be necessary for the Bill to run to the extreme limit, but that is a hope which is in all probability most unlikely to be fulfilled. Government Departments are human, and they are likely to avoid trouble so long as they can, and it is heavy odds that by 31st March, 1926, if 487 this Bill goes through, not only will the scheme not have been finally put in form but we shall have a proposal to continue this for a still further period. Although the Government has the good will of every Member of the House, even it may come to a termination long before March, 1926, and its successor will then be in a position to say, "We must continue this because we have not been long enough in office to make any permanent arrangement." I hold, then, that it would be very much wiser if the Government were to put in the date 1925 instead of 1926. Then we should have a sort of earnest of what they meant to do. But this extension for about two years is simply putting off the evil day and leaving it for someone else to deal with when it comes. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the finance of the Bill is entirely bad. Using for current expenditure money which ought to be put aside to meet future liabilities, is the worst form of finance you could possibly have.
The Secretary for Scotland came very near to saying something, but he did not quite say it. He extolled the virtues of a contributory scheme, but he did not tell us whether the Government had resolved, when they make a permanent scheme, to take a contributory or a non-contributory basis. We have a right to ask for a plain statement as to whether or not the Government have decided on a contributory or a non-contributory basis for the permanent scheme which they have in contemplation. That is a straight question, and I hope it will have an equally straight answer. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) has referred to some extreme cases of hardship under the existing schemes both as regards England and Scotland. If this Bill is to go through it means the continuance of these hardships for another two years. For some of them the Act of 1918 is responsible. No fair-minded Member of the House would allow those injustices to continue if he could possibly have a hand in putting them right. I have privately intimated to the Secretary for Scotland that I was going to ask these questions. The Department for which he is responsible must have been aware for years back of the existence of those hardships and injustices with regard to teachers who have transferred 488 from England to Scotland. He spoke of reciprocity. There is no such thing as reciprocity in existence at present. I put this further question to the right hon. Gentleman, hoping for and expecting a perfectly definite and straight answer. In the course of the last three or four years, during which the Scottish Education Department has been made fully aware of the existence of those injustices, has any representative of the Department put the case before the Board of Education or the Treasury or the Cabinet with a view to having it remedied? If the Scottish Education Department has not done that I hold that it has failed very signally in its proper duty.
But there is another side. All the injustice does not arise from the shortcomings of the Act of 1918. The Scottish Education Department and the Government are responsible themselves for many great hardships. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give special attention to this. It is a legacy from the last Government, who were the authors of the 1922 Act. Under the English Act of 1918 a teacher who had given 30 years of service retires from active work with a right to pension when he or she reaches the age of 60. That is quite a wise provision. It takes out of the profession men and women who are done, although they are not sufficiently ill to qualify for a breakdown of health. Under the Scottish scheme a teacher may give 39 years of service, and if he Or she is compelled for any reason other than ill-health—it may be from family corcumstances—to retire the day before he reaches the age of 60 not one single penny allowance of any kind comes to him. For that the Scottish Office is primarily responsible. It might, by laying a Minute on the Table of the House for four weeks, remove that injustice, and if it allows it to continue I hold that it is a sufficient ground for this House to reject the Measure altogether. I ask, then, for a straight answer to this question. Will the Secretary for Scotland, if we allow the Bill to go through, takes measures to put that great injustice right?
I put the question to the late Secretary for Scotland (Mr. Munro) when the Bill of 1922 was in Committee, and he said this certainly was a matter which would be taken up by the Committee which was to be appointed—that is, the Committee 489 which later on became the Emmott Committee. It was taken up by the Emmott Committee, whose conclusion is quite definite. It says a teacher who has given five years of service beyond the age of 50 should then be entitled to retire with pension rights at 60. One of the most distinguished members of the Emmott Committee was the Secretary of the Scottish Education Department. That report was unanimous, and therefore we have the head of the Scottish Education Department saying, as a member of that Committee, that he believes it to be right and just that a teacher who has given five years of service beyond 50—not quite so good terms as under the English Act—should be allowed to retire with pension rights at 60. Does the Scottish Education Department mean to put that in force, as it can quite well, without legislation? The right hon. Gentleman speaks of a contributory scheme. The Emmott Committee Report says 5 per cent. is the maximum contribution to be asked of teachers, I agree that 5 per cent. is far too much, but at present the Government are taking that 5 per cent. and at the same time they are depriving the teachers of Scotland of a benefit which the Emmott Committee Report says they are entitled to. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman is he going to allow that to continue or is he going to bring in a measure as as Amendment of the present Scottish scheme which would remove this rank injustice. I received a letter yesterday which is typical of many. I have received hundreds of them in my time. The number has not been so great of late because they expected this permanent scheme was to be brought in soon and they could remedy all these things. This lady writes:Like many others who have taught for more that 30 years, we have been hoping and praying that a permanent Bill would come into force this month. Not ill enough to get a breakdown pension, yet finding the strain of teaching these days so great, we must either struggle on till we are 60 or give up without any hope of a pension. In our school"—This has a nice bearing upon the return of the size of classes given us the other day—In our school the classes are all large. Mine is 66 on the roll and for a month I had to tackle, with that number, my neighbour's class, too she being ill, and no substitute having been found. Other schools have had the same experience. 490 What a boon that would be, to have the right of retiring at 55, to not a few tired out Scottish teachers.That is what is going on now. That is one of my objections to the continuance of the Bill, that it continues all these injustices. Scottish Members would be failing to do their duty if they did not protest against this state of affairs being allowed to continue when it could quite easily be remedied by a few strokes of the pen by the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers. I mean to test the opinion of the House if we do not get some definite answer to the questions I have put.
Another point I should like to mention is that the right hon. Gentleman says, forgetful of Bannockburn—remembering Flodden, I suppose—that it is impossible for Scotland to go on unless England marches at the same time. When did he discover that?
§ Mr. COWAN
The hon. Member has anticipated what I was going to say. Apart from that, I agree that it is advisable for the two countries to act together if possible, but at the same time if the right hon. Gentleman cannot make such an arrangement with the Board of Education or the Treasury as to remove all those injustices to which I have referred, and if at the same time he does not see his way to alter the existing Scottish scheme, I would beg him to take into careful consideration the question, and get into touch with the Scottish education authority and the Scottish teachers and see, rather than continue this state of affairs, if we cannot get a satisfactory scheme of some kind. I hope, as the questions which are raised here are questions affecting the daily life of men and women who have given long and faithful service to the country, we shall not be put off with a statement that this or something else may happen some day.
The last point to which I would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention is one which I am sure has the sympathy of the whole House. Sympathy has been expressed with it time and again. This also is a matter for which the Scottish Office is wholly responsible. I refer to the condition of the pre-1919 retired teachers. They have put their case before the Scottish Office, before successive Secretaries for Scotland, and before the Education 491 Department, and they have been promised time and time again that it will receive sympathetic consideration. Time and time again they have got nothing. If ever there was an opportunity now is the opportunity. In the second Clause of this Bill we are told provision is made for a certain sum of money, representing the overpayments of Scottish teachers, to come back to Scotland. I suppose in strict justice that money ought to go to the individual teachers who paid it. That may not be possible, but it will be nothing less than a scandal if the pre-1919 teachers have not further provision made for them as soon as possible, either out of this money or out of other moneys which are available. They are dying off fast. Every return we get is showing 50 or 100 less and so on. If the matter is delayed for a year or two more it will be too late to do anything. I do not know that it is necessary to move the rejection of the Bill, but the feeling of the House should be tested unless we get a very straight answer to some of these questions. I move formally that leave be not given.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I did not desire to intervene in the Debate but for the statement of the Secretary for Scotland, that it was not desirable to introduce a superannuation Measure for Scottish teachers until the English Education Department had introduced their Measure. I think I can claim to know something about the feeling in the minds of the education authorities of Scotland, and I am speaking for my colleagues when I say we can, and will, bring in a Superannuation Act dealing with Scottish teachers without any consideration as to what English Measure is to be introduced. I certainly feel that my right hon. Friend has helped our case on Friday when we come to argue for Scottish Home Rule, particularly in relation to educational administration. It is certain that this Measure will have to go through in the interest of the teachers. It is a temporary Measure to extend a temporary Measure. Temporary Measures which will have the effect of being unfair to some sections of those who are affected by temporary Measures, have the unhappy knack of being extended too long as temporary Measures until they become almost 492 permanent. While I agree that the Bill must go through as a temporary Measure, I see no reason why the date should be 1926. We have had two years of the temporary Measure. We have had two years of injustice to Scottish teachers. We have had two years in which, not only have the teachers had to pay the 5 per cent. in connection with superannuation, but the authorities have had to pay 2 pet-cent. The total amount which has been paid in connection with the scheme for Scotland will be approximately £300,000 to £350,000 a year, and despite that enormous payment, it will not be costing any more in connection with superannuation than approximately £100,000 a year. [Interruption.] I may be exaggerating, but it does not matter whether it only cost £100,000 or £200,000. If £350,000 is being paid for a particular scheme, the money ought to be used for that and not for general education purposes, and whether you are stealing £10 or £1,000 does not make the theft any the less so far as morality is concerned. Therefore, I lodge my objection to continuing the scheme longer than there is any need.
I say the date ought to be 1925 believing, as I do, that between now and 1925 we could frame a scheme of superannuation for Scottish teachers, and if it takes England as long to prepare her scheme I am satisfied that we could give them a good lead. If a speedy settlement were come to there would be no delay in getting an arrangement between the Scottish teachers and the Scottish education authorities so far as a contributory scheme is concerned, but if there is to be delay until 1926 both the education authorities and the teachers reserve the right to make a claim for a non-contributory scheme, and possibly to alter our opinions in connection with the-scheme we have in mind at present. I would press upon the Secretary for Scot-laud to agree to 1925 being the date in the Bill instead of 1926, to get a move on so as to avoid the injustices to teachers that are taking place at the present time, and to remove the worries, anxieties and the lack of security as far as pensions are concerned in relation to the teachers in Scotland.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. F. C. THOMSON
I should like to make an appeal on behalf of the pre-1919 teachers. I hope it will be possible at an early date to do something more for 493 them They are a very dwindling band. I suppose that most of us have been interviewed by them in our constituencies during the past few years, and it is absolutely certain that their numbers are decreasing at a very rapid rate. I know that the Scottish education authorities have done considerably more for the pre-1919 teachers than has been done in England, and one must pay tribute to them for that. Notwithstanding, the case of these teachers is very hard, and I desire to reinforce what has been said by other speakers as to the necessity for early legislation on the lines of the Emmott Report.
I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland would like to put the year 1925 into his Bill. He indicated pretty clearly that that was his view, and I should think that he might get reinforcement on this point from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has taken a deep interest in Scottish education. I feel sure that the views of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will coincide with what I believe are the real views of the Secretary for Scotland, and that the right hon. Gentleman will see to it that he gets all the help he can from the Treasury. As the Emmott Report points out, the present position is bad from the point of view of national finance. It may be all right for the immediate future, but taking the long view it is a thoroughly unsound policy. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend to enlist the very hearty co-operation of that important individual in national finance, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in getting this matter settled, making it certain that in the spring of 1925 we shall have a Bill dealing permanently on a contributory basis with this question. I admit that the General Election and the change of Government have made it impossible for the problem to be dealt with. I think it was in October last that the Emmott Committee reported. Obviously, nothing could be done this year, but there is plenty of time to consider the problem and have a scheme ready by next spring. I, therefore, press my right hon. Friend very earnestly to see that the procedure is adopted. He will find that all sections of opinion in Scotland are behind him in pressing for a permanent settlement of this question.
494 As the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), who has had such a long experience of education in Scotland, pointed out, the present system, with its uncertainty, is very bad for all connected with education, and it is our bounden duty, as early as may be, to put an end to it by a permanent settlement of the question. I know that our native country is very far advanced in matters of education compared with England, but in this matter we must have complete reciprocity. It is no good moving in this matter apart from England. If hon. Members look at the Report of the Emmott Committee and see the hard cases that arise owing to the differences of system between one country and the other, they will realise the extreme hardship that is experienced in certain cases and that it is necessary for the two countries to move along on the same lines. These hard cases will be perpetuated unless the two countries in this matter can march along together.
Surely, it is for the benefit of England that enterprising teachers should come south of the Border and, perhaps, at a later period, return to their native country. People who have spent their educational career in that way should not be penalised by any difference of system that may exist. I am quite certain that the Secretary for Scotland has the sympathy of the Treasury in this matter; they must wish to have a final settlement. Keeping that in view, and keeping also in view the fact that he has behind him the support of all his colleagues in Scotland, whatever their political views may he, I hope that he will press most earnestly for a settlement of this question by 1925.
§ Mr. A. YOUNG
I also press upon the Secretary for Scotland the advisability of taking off one of the years and fixing the period as 1925. I speak with some knowledge on this matter. The teachers in Scotland complain of insecurity, and not knowing, as it were, how to lay out their lives, because they do not know what is going to happen. I was in that position, and I retired somewhat earlier from my profession than I ought to have done, simply because I was not sure what was going to happen. There are many other teachers doing the same thing to-day. Therefore, Scotland is losing a number of eminent men from the teaching 495 profession, some of whom are coming into this House, which they find rather quiet after the exciting times they have had in wielding the tawse in Scotland. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the matter.
We all realise how much we owe to our Scottish teachers. It would hardly do for me to flatter my own profession, but we do recognise that it is entirely due to the education we have had in Scotland that Scotland stands where it does to-day We do not want to follow at the heels of our sister country. We would rather show her the way, as we have done for the last two or more centuries. There is one matter in regard to which Scottish teachers seem more sensible than their brothers and sisters south of the Border, and that is that they are willing to pay the 5 per cent., or it may be less, and are willing to have a stake in the business instead of expecting a non-contributory scheme. We, as a profession, preferred the old method, which dated back to 1898, when we were paying 4 per cent. of our salaries into a superannuation scheme, but we did not get much out of it. Now we are agreed as a profession to give the 5 per cent. that is being asked for by the Government. I congratulate the Secretary for Scotland on making such an excellent case of such a bad case. I know that his heart is with the teachers in this matter. I do not want to give numerous illustrations of the poor old teachers who have fallen on evil days, the pre-1919 men and women, although I could give many cases which are heart-breaking. I hope they will be taken into consideration.
§ Mr. F. MARTIN
I want to support the plea on behalf of the pre-1919 teachers. My excuse is that as a member of an education authority I have had a good deal of experience on a sub-committee dealing with these cases. I should like to remind the Secretary for Scotland that time is of the essence of the matter. It may be possible, and it seems inevitable, that we must wait two years for the establishment of a full contributory scheme, but if the pre-1919 teachers are to be neglected for two years they are practically being neglected for all time. The hon. and learned Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. F. C. Thomson) 496 has said that they are a dwindling band. I remember that when these pre-1919 teachers came before the authority of which I am a member, they had as their Spokesman a very eminent schoolmaster from the North of Scotland, and between the time when we received that first deputation and the time when we were able to consider the case presented by him, the leader of the deputation had died.
The authority, of which I am a member, has had great sympathy with these cases, and we have, as far as possible, made up the difference between what they got from the superannuation scheme and what they would be entitled to had they been in receipt of the higher salaries which came into operation in 1919. I understand that has also been done by other authorities, notably in Glasgow. We felt, however, that in doing this we were coming within reasonable distance of incurring the displeasure and disapproval of the auditors, and we have felt it necessary to inquire very closely into the particular financial condition of each pre-1919 teacher who became an applicant for an increase in superannuation. We feel that this is putting these teachers through an ordeal which is extremely unfair. They bore the heat and burden of the day in times when the salaries of teachers in Scotland were disgracefully low. They never had any advantage from the very large increase of salaries which came into operation in 1919, and many of them are suffering extreme hardship. I dare say there are a good many of them who, rather than go through the ordeal of having all their finances gone into, put up with the hardship. If the thing has to be done, it must be done at once. It is five years since the new scale of salaries came into force, and there can be very few of these pre-1919 teachers under 70 years of age now. If it is at all possible to find a way of bringing into operation at once a system of allowances, giving these pre-1919 teachers superannuation on the scale to which they would have been entitled if they had been in active service when the increased salaries came into force, I trust that will be done.
§ Mr. FALCONER
I am not competent to enter into the technical side of this discussion, but I wish to say that this subject-has appealed to me from the point of view of the teachers, especially those who 497 are approaching the stage when they may have to retire. I have unbounded sympathy with the anxiety which fills the mind of such a teacher as to what his future is going to be. I have met many of these teachers, and I have a very high opinion of the work they do and the way in which it is being done, and I agree with what has been said as to the importance of relieving the minds of these teachers from anxiety in regard to being able to meet their obligations, meagre and humble as they are, if we want to get any intelligent work from them. There is no worse economy that could possibly be practised than to put a teacher into a position of that kind.
I cannot help thinking that the Secretary for Scotland, warm-hearted as he is, and humane as we all know him to be, does not realise that there are homes that are anxious, and that the putting off of the Act for two years is going to do a great deal to add to the anxiety which has been possessing the minds of teachers in Scotland during all the years when these negotiations have been going through. I am not satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman has given any reason why the Government should not deal with this matter now. Certainly he has given no reason for putting it off for two years. The views expressed by my hon. Friend behind me are shared by all of us who are given anxious consideration to this matter. We all feel strongly that unless what can be done is done it would be better to see this Bill defeated at the present stage as a protest. One thing which the teachers are entitled to know is what is to be the nature of the scheme to be introduced. The right hon. Gentleman, with all the art that he possesses, led us to believe that it was to be a contributory scheme. The teachers are entitled to know definitely whether it is to be a contributory scheme or not. I was not impressed by the main reason which he gave as to the desirability of securing reciprocity before any scheme is to be put into operation.
I know of no reason why that cannot be done, if the Scottish scheme were carried through. The President of the Board of Education in England is a member of the same Government, and it should be possible for them to settle a scheme of reciprocity which would be fair to teachers on both sides of the border and 498 to the education authorities in the two countries. One would imagine that they were negotiating with some foreign Power, and that the two Departments could not meet to settle such a simple business question as that. Of all the teachers in Scotland, there is not one who could not devise a scheme in a couple of days which would establish reciprocity on reasonable terms between the two countries. I hope that the Secretary for Scotland will take the matter up in a different spirit. I have a great respect for him, and would willingly work with him and give way to any wish of his, but if we mean to help the teachers of Scotland we have got to make ourselves felt, however much we may appreciate the difficulties which surround the right hon. Gentleman, whom we all regard as our friend. The interests of the teachers is by far the biggest consideration, and it requires to be dealt with as quickly as possible. So far as I know, all the Scottish Liberal Members are entirely in accord with the views expressed from every quarter of the House upon this question.
§ Mr. BARCLAY HARVEY
I would like to impress on the Secretary for Scotland the extreme desirability of ante-dating this Bill. All those who have spoken have been unanimous on this point. In no quarter of the House is the date 1926 viewed with any approval. We realise, as has been already said, that the change of Government has made it difficult, and has necessarily put off the introduction of the main Bill, but the main Bill should be proceeded with at the earliest possible opportunity. This Bill should be limited, at most, to one year. While I have the greatest possible sympathy for the point of view of the teacher, which has been so well expressed by the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Falconer), we have also got to look at the question from the point of view of the people who are being taught, and unless the system from which the Scottish teachers are suffering at the moment is brought to an end at an early date, we are not going to get the kind of education which members of all parties representing Scottish constituencies so earnestly desire.
We cannot expect the teacher who has got this uncertainty hanging over his head to be able to put his very best into the work which he is doing. I do not 499 suggest that the teachers are failing in any way in their duty, but I suggest that the Government and the Scottish Board of Education are failing in their duty to the teachers if they do not remove all this sense of insecurity and injustice under which teachers are labouring at the moment, and thereby enable them to concentrate on what is the only thing that matters—that is getting the pupils properly taught. It is no use talking about reducing classes and spending large sums of money unless you can insure that the teacher will be in such a state of mind that he would be able to give his very best when he is teaching. For that reason I protest against any prolongation of the present Bill, further than what is absolutely necessary. Mention was made of financial difficulty. I do not enter into that except to point out the extraordinary disadvantage of leaving the financial question in its present unsatisfactory position. It is not fair from any point of view that you should be collecting money from teachers ostensibly for one purpose and then applying it to something else. Under this Bill you are merely putting off the teachers, and making the difficulties greater when you come to settle the question of proper superannuation. Therefore, I urge the Government to give way to the House in this respect, and to let us have the date altered.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Education is a subject upon which the people of Scotland feel very strongly, and before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I would like to impress on him that the feeling of the House, is that we should have the proposed Bill ante-dated to 1925. The whole policy, particularly on its financial side, of the Board of Education at present is unsound. The so-called contribution scheme is based upon a so-called contribution which is really a tax. The teachers in Scotland are anxious to know what exactly is the permanent scheme to which the Secretary of Scotland has referred. I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) has said, that if you create uncertainty in the minds of the teaching profession you are going to do a great deal of injury to the teacher himself and to his household, and also to the pupils whom he is called upon to teach. 500 In the old days the teacher in Scotland had to be satisfied withpassing rich on forty pounds a year.It was almost impossible for him to give his best teaching to the pupils under his charge, because, if the teacher has got an anxious mind as to domestic supplies at home, naturally he is not in a position to give of his very best. All Scottish Members are glad that under the Act that was passed the salaries of teachers were increased in Scotland. That is all to the good, but salary is not everything. Equally important, in my judgment, is the question of pension, and there ought to be as much certainty with regard to pension as there is with regard to salary. My right hon. Friend has had it made plain to him to-day that this uncertainty for another two years is not beneficial to anybody concerned. The right hon. Gentleman cannot give a guarantee to the House of Commons that we shall not at the end of two years have a Secretary for Scotland coming forward with exactly the same plea as that with which he is coming forward now, and this may go on endlessly. There may be a guarantee that my right hon. Friend will be at that Box in a year's time. If that be so, would it not be much better for him now to buckle to with the Department and prepare a clear, definite scheme and come forward with it to us in April, 1925? That would satisfy the teachers of Scotland and the Members of this House.
While dealing with the pensions of existing teachers I wish to reinforce the appeal made in all parts of this House for better provision for the pre-1919 teacher. There is not a single Scottish Member who does not recall with the greatest affection and regard the old teachers in the country districts of Scotland. They were men who had not much of the world's goods, but what they could give for the advancement of their pupils they gave unstintingly, and it is a crime and a tragedy to feel that these men in their declining years, when they see the present teacher so much better off than they ever were, should be kept in almost abject penury. Therefore I ask my right hon. Friend to re-assure us that something is going to be done for these pre-War pensioners. I would like to associate myself with the two hon. Friends who have spoken from the benches behind. None of us wish, in any way, to handicap my right hon. Friend in his desire to get his 501 Bill, but two or three points are quite clear, and as to these I think I may speak for all my colleagues on this side of the House.
First, it is our desire that this Bill should not be a two years' Bill, but that it should be a one year's Bill. Secondly, we are anxious that everything that can be effected administratively under the Emmott Report shall be effected at once. My right hon. Friend cannot say that he has got to wait for a general scheme to do this, that or the other thing. The most important things which have been advocated in the Emmott Report are things which could be very well done administratively, and we wish an assurance from my right hon. Friend, before we can pledge ourselves to give him his Bill to-day, that he will do his level best to carry into effect all those administrative points contained in the Emmott Committee's Report. I know that he is anxious to help us and I am convinced that if he sot himself to do what is necessary, and to do it now, he would be able to satisfy the teachers and to satisfy the House of Commons. I am convinced that no good is done by continuing this uncertainty. Unless my right hon. Friend guarantees to us now that he will give effect to everything to which he can give effect administratively, we shall feel bound, though we regret it, to oppose the First Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I want only to add my word to what has been said from every quarter of the House in urging the Secretary for Scotland to revise the period of the operation of this temporary Measure, end to make it one year I can recollect from my early boyhood the whole problem of superannuation discussed among Scottish teachers. I can remember the anxiety in my father's home in connection with this subject, as far back as 1896 and 1897, and I have never known a period since, in the history of Scottish education, when the position with reference, to superannuation has been in anything like a settled state. Always there was this feeling of unsettlement. I believe that before my time, before there was public education at all, before there was a public State service, when the parishes were responsible for education, the parish schoolmaster, away back in the dark days, had much more comfortable conditions 502 as regards pension than we have in these enlightened and progressive days.
§ Mr. MAXTON
This is the point that I am making—that the teachers of Scotland have not yet reached the position, so far as superannuation is concerned, that they were in over 60 years ago, which was even before the time of the right hon. Gentleman who has just intervened. I do not want to harass the Secretary for Scotland at all, but I would be indeed proud if I could have the privilege of going back to Scotland and telling the people of Scotland, and particularly the teachers of Scotland, that it had been left to a Labour Secretary for Scotland to put the educational service of Scotland and the teaching profession in the position that his great predecessor, John Knox, intended that it should occupy. It would be a much greater pride to him than anything else that could happen to him in his life, that his name should be coupled in history with the great founder of Scottish Presbyterianism. At the moment, as a small step in the direction of that niche in Scottish history which I am preparing for him, he can get the support of all the Scottish Members of the House by merely altering the date "1926" to "1925." I urge him now to give us that promise, so that there may be no necessity to divide the House on the matter.
I want to thank hon. Members on all sides of the House for the kindly nature of their criticism, and I wish to deal briefly with some of the points which they have raised. The right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) said, as did other speakers, that it was about time we had a proper scheme in operation for Scottish teachers. Like all who have spoken, I regret very much that we have not had a proper scheme in operation before now. I feel just as strongly on that point as do my colleagues from Scotland, and if it is possible for me to do anything to hasten the day when such a scheme will be put into operation, I am ready to do what I can. The right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities put forward very forcibly his ideas as to the scheme. He said that we ought to have a contributory 503 scheme, because he believed that that would give stability to the scheme. I am not sure whether the other hon. Member, who also represents the Scottish Universities (Mr. D. M. Cowan), wanted a contributory or a non-contributory scheme.
I repeat that I am not sure whether my hon. Friend wanted a contributory or a non-contributory scheme. I agree that he put a very pointed question as to the Government's intention. Notwithstanding his pointed question, I do not think that he expects me to be in a position to give him a straight answer. The best indication that I can give at this stage is the fact that we propose to renew the temporary arrangement on the basis of a contributory scheme. I think that is as clear an answer to the question as he can expect.
§ Mr. MAXTON
My right hon. Friend has not made that point quite clear, at least to me. The fact that the temporary scheme was being continued on the basis of the existing arrangements was not so much an indication of what the future arrangements were, far the right hon. Gentleman has told us that the reason for a temporary measure is that he wants to know what is going to happen in England; he wants to wait until the English position is quite clear, so that there may be reciprocity and all the rest of it.
That is just one of the points for consideration and discussion. I have answered as clearly as it is possible for me to answer now. Another point which has been raised related to the difficulties in connection with teachers passing from one country to another. The difficulty is that the English conditions are prescribed by Statute, and nothing but a change in the law can put them right. That is why the Government and myself, in the interests of the teachers, thought that it would be better to have the two schemes running together than to have a Scottish scheme passed now, and possibly a different scheme for England and Wales later.
I do not agree that the difficulty can be so easily straightened out. It happens that for the moment I am responsible for dealing with these difficulties first-hand, and I can assure my hon. Friends in all quarters of the House that in suggesting that we should have the schemes running together I was acting in the interests of the teachers of Scotland and from that point of view alone. I had no other object in view. Another point which has been raised referred to the period of operation of this Measure, whether it should operate till 1926 or only until 1925. That is a point which can be dealt with in Committee.
I would have to discuss it with the members of the Committee, and I will discuss it with them only from the point of view of the interests of the teacher.
I have already assured hon. Members that it is purely from the point of view of the teachers that I discussed that question.
No. A further point related to the condition of the pre-1919 teachers. Everybody sympathises with them. May I suggest that the House is shortly to have before them a Pensions Increase Bill, which may help in dealing with the position of the pre-1919 teachers. I had recently the privilege of discussing their position with their own representatives, and I was very glad to learn from them, that negotiations are in progress with the education authorities which may result in further steps being taken to relieve their hardships. I hope the Bill and the negotiations which are presently going on between their representatives and the representatives of the education authorities, will tend to relieve the hardships 505 suffered by this very deserving body of men. I think I have, to a large extent, covered all the points.
§ Mr. COWAN
The right hon. Gentleman has not replied to one of the most important questions put in the course of this Debate. Is he going to allow conditions to hold whereby teachers in Scotland can give 38 or 39 years' service and then retire without a penny of recognition? Does he not know that in England a teacher can retire after 30 years' service with pension rights at 60 and, further, does he not know that the Emmott Committee Report said 5 per cent. was ample—which 5 per cent. the Government has taken—and that the scheme would give to all teachers pensions at 60 provided they gave five years' service? Does the right hon. Gentleman leally mean that the present iniquitous state of affairs should continue? May I remind him that it can be dealt with administratively?
I am sure that the hon. Member realises, as well as I do, that this is only a Bill dealing with temporary provisions and carrying over this quetion of superannuation.
The Scottish teachers were always paying. But what I want to say is that I am as strongly against the Scottish teachers being placed in an inferior position to the English teachers as it is possible for me to be, and any thing that can be done as far as I am concerned—
Anything that can be done will be done. Now I think I have touched on all the points which have been raised, and I trust hon. Members will give me the opportunity of introducing the Bill.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with interest as one who, though an alien, has the honour of representing a Scottish constituency and who has had the honour of having been returned more than once for that constituency. I admire the geniality of the 506 right hon. Gentleman, but I suggest to him that every single Scottish Member who has spoken in this Debate has asked him to make the date 1925. That request has been made by members of all parties. I presume that on Friday next the right hon. Gentleman, in common with many of us, is going to support a Bill which is to be introduced by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). Why cannot he put into practice two days in advance the principles which he proposes to support on Friday and make this concession which is demanded by members of every party sent here from Scotland. Knowing that there is complete unanimity on the point of this date is it possible that the right hon. Gentleman is going to call up English Members in order to vote down Scottish Members? If he does so does he really consider that he is giving even a measure of support to the cause in which many of us believe, namely, the cause of a greater degree of self-government for the race of which he is an able representative.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I wish to add my words to those of my colleagues upon this matter, and particularly with regard to the pre-1919 teachers. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) has referred to the geniality of the Secretary for Scotland, but in my view the right hon. Gentleman's geniality is somewhat dangerous, and it is difficult to realise how much he does mean by statements and how much he tries to cover by what is not meant. I think we could have had from him a much more definite assurance on the points which have been urged. The men whose cases have been put forward are steadily dropping off, and their situation is such as should make an impression on every receptive heart. Five years have been allowed to elapse and we are still talking about trying to do something. It seems to me that the machinery of Government and administration requires some more stimulation if it is to deal with this matter properly and from the humane point of view and get something done straight away. References have been made to the possibilities of opposition to the Bill, and we can quite understand there is a reluctance to press the matter unduly. Personally, I feel that Scotland does not get a look-in here, but we shall have an opportunity on Friday of expressing our views more 507 emphatically on that subject. The illustration which we have had from the Front Bench to-day, coming as it did from such a sturdy type of Scotsman as the right hon. Gentleman, is not at all encouraging for the movement which we are anxious to further in order to secure an opportunity of pushing on the interests of Scotland. We are quite confident those interests could be looked after if left to the hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Well I think those representing Scottish constituencies here, if they had charge of Scottish affairs, would probably propel matters at a more rapid pace if we were freed from the burden of Empire, and from the slavery of this allegiance to England.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I rise to ask, is the right hon. Gentleman representing the Scottish Office going to press for English support on this Measure, as against the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn), in order to provide my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) on Friday next with an added excuse for putting forward his nationalist and parochial Bill?
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Adamson and Mr. James Stewart.