HC Deb 12 May 1924 vol 173 cc1017-20

Not amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[Mr. Trevelyan.]


I have already made two speeches on this Bill, but I wish to add two words, one of explanation and one of protest. The first is that, in opposing this Bill as I did on the Second Reading, and again in suggesting in Committee upstairs that it should be deferred, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will understand that in nothing that I said was meant a reflection on him personally. Without saying anything derogatory to my own side, I have more hope of getting good from the present Government, I am afraid, than I had from the past, because it was the Coalition Government that made the glaring mistake of 1918 that we are seeking to amend. As we are going to give the right hon. Gentleman two years more in which to turn round, I hope he really will go into this matter and try his best this year to get at what, I admit, is a very difficult matter to solve, and that is to attempt to deal with the Emmott Report, which is blessed on every side of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone), who was on the Emmott Committee, was unable to be upstairs in Committee on this Bill, and I know he has very strong views on this point, so that it is not only on this side of the House that we are anxious to get the matter through. If we have an Autumn Session, which we are all hoping to have, I think the right hon. Gentleman may have an opportunity of introducing a Bill, so that we might get well on with what is a matter of vital importance, both to the teachers and to the cause of education generally.


I was not able to be present at the meeting of the Committee upstairs, but I should like to join with others who were there in asking that this Bill should be for only one year. I entirely agree with all the reasons that have been given, and I have my own wish that the funding of the teachers' contribution should be taken in hand as soon as possible. I trust that as the Departmental Report has now been in the hands of the Government the President of the Board of Education may find it possible to bring in a Bill dealing with that matter next year. I venture to press that question because I think it is most important for the teachers themselves and for the best interests of the profession.

8.0 P.M.


I am sure that Members in all parts of the House agree with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson), and with the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Rathbone) with regard to the importance of this matter. I should have been very happy if it had been possible for the President of the Board of Education to be content with an extension of the existing Act for one year only. Although I was unable, like the hon. Member for Wavertree, to be present at the meeting of the Committee, I informed myself of what had passed there, and observed that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, in the course of the Committee discussions, gave a very important and specific undertaking to the Committee, and through the Committee to the House, that he would lose no time in taking the necessary steps to bring in a Bill for a permanent scheme. I am sure hon. Members in all parts of the House were glad to hear that, because the question with which the Emmott Report and this Bill is concerned is one of really very great importance to the whole teaching profession, and to the whole service of education. Hon. Members will recognise that when the Bill is produced, it will inevitably be very technical, very complicated, and difficult. The hon. Member for Wavertree, who speaks with exceptional knowledge of his subject, has, I have no doubt, very clear and decided views with regard to the technical questions of the teachers' contributions and the manner in which they should be dealt with. I do not seek at this stage to anticipate those discussions, but one scarcely needs to be a prophet to realise that when those discussions are drafted into practical form by means of a Parliamentary Bill, they will need very careful examination by this House. There may very well be more than one opinion in regard to many of the provisions that such a Measure will contain.

The House generally will recognise also, that the question which my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Rawlinson) has, perhaps, largely in his mind, and for which in times past he has been able to speak with authority, namely, the position of independent schools in relation to any scheme of this kind, is also one that will claim its full share of attention. None of those matters need be discussed at this stage. I only mention them for the purpose of saying that we cannot fairly grudge the President of the Board of Education reasonable opportunity for informing himself upon and examining into all these questions, with a view to arriving at conclusions which will command general consent. All hon. Members who have concerned themselves with education, and with education where it touches local authorities and teachers in points of administration, are aware of the very intimate connection between salaries and superannuation schemes. I only wish to emphasise once again the extreme desirability of doing everything we can to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding in the minds of the teaching profession as to relation between salaries and superannuation contribution, such as we have known in the last three years. It is, indeed, on the ground that I hope that by the time the right hon. Gentleman brings forward his Bill for superannuation the question of teachers' salaries will have been settled to the mutual satisfaction of the three parties concerned, namely, the State, the authorities and the teachers, that I think the House is wise to accede to his desire for a further opportunity of giving the matter full consideration. I hope he may be able to utilise the intervening time that lies between now and when he brings forward his Bill for the purpose of securing as complete an agreement as may be, and a settlement between all the different interests involved. It will be neither an easy nor an enviable task. Indeed, while I feel disposed, sometimes, to envy the right hon. Gentleman his present office, which is—if I may humbly say so—one of the most interesting and important in the State, that envy is tempered with a certain feeling of relief that I have not the responsibility of dealing I with these technical and difficult problems. I can assure him, on behalf of all those with whom I act, that he has our good wishes in his task of arriving at an agreement between all the interests concerned on a matter that, as has been most truly said, goes very deep in its effect on the efficiency of our national system of education.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Trevelyan)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood) has expressed so well and accurately my position, that it is almost unnecessary for me to say anything; but I think I owe him and the House a repetition of the assurance which I gave to the Committee, that this Bill is not brought forward by me for the purpose of delaying a settlement. It is quite true that, under the Bill as it stands, another period of something like two years might elapse before legislation may be brought in, but it is my genuine hope to be able to bring in the larger Bill long before the conclusion of the two years, and to get a permanent measure in operation. My real object in desiring the lengthened time inserted in this Bill, however, is to make it quite certain that this House next year will not have to repeat a Bill like this, but that I may be able to bring in the larger Measure without any undue hurry, for as my right hon. Friend has just said, whatever its merits may be, it will be a technical and complicated Bill, which this House ought not to hurry over, and should have plenty of time to consider. I hope, therefore, that the House will accept the Third Reading with the assurance that I am not going to delay any longer than is absolutely necessary.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.