HC Deb 01 March 1928 vol 214 cc604-5
Mr. FENBY (by Private Notice)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he can state what provision is being made for the education of 10,000 children in Abertillery, in view of the fact that the Abertillery Education Authority dismissed all their teachers on Wednesday, 29th February?


I apologise to the House for the length of the answer to this question. I understand that the notices given to the teaching staff in Abertillery have been suspended. It is, of course, particularly important at this time of the year that no interruption should take place in the normal work of the schools, in view of the approach of the examinations for entry into secondary schools. The present trouble has arisen from the desire of the urban district council, which deserves every sympathy, to effect economies to the rates, but, apart from the question of the obligations of the authority under the Burnham Award, it does not appear that any substantial economy to the rates can be effected by a reduction of teachers' salaries. In Abertillery, as in other necessitous areas, owing to the operation of the Board's necessitous area grant, about 80 per cent. of the cost of teachers' salaries above a certain limit is borne by the Exchequer. A saving of 10 per cent. in teachers' salaries in Abertillery, which would amount to about £5,000, would, therefore, mean a saving to the rates of no more than £1,000, or the equivalent of about a rate of twopence in the pound. It would appear that, in the particular circumstances of this case, the only way of effecting a substantial saving to the rates would be to transfer the education powers of the urban district council to the county council. By this means it would be possible to make a saving of at least 1s. 10d. in the existing rates of Abertillery, and I have expressed my willingness in principle to make financial arrangements to facilitate such a transfer, if the two councils so desire.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

What does the Noble Lord propose to do about the 10,000 children?


The notices have been suspended.


Has the Noble Lord any information as to whether negotiations are now going on between the authority and the teachers' organisation?


I have not had detailed information as to what took place last night, but I understand that the education committee decided to suspend the notices, and I believe that there was some talk of further negotiations in the future. I have not yet, however, any accurate information.


Does the Noble Lord approve of this method of getting inside the Burnham Award?


This deals with a local authority, and they have their own powers.