§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [16th May], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Stephen Walsh.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word now stand part of the Question."
I should like to speak for a few moments as having been Chairman of the Select Committee which the House appointed to investigate, and, if possible, elucidate the question of whether an undertaking was given or implied by the Government or Parliament that the provisions of the Superannuation Act, 1918, should not be modified so long as the Burnham scale of salaries remained in force. The Committee, under considerable pressure as to time, did investigate the question, but as to whether or not we elucidated it, it is not for me to judge. We all agreed in regard to certain matters, and that to a very considerable Extent. We agreed that Parliament did neither give nor imply any pledge of the character suggested; and we further agreed that the Government had actually given no undertaking that they would not modify the provisions of the Act so long as the Burnham scales were in force. We differed as to whether the Government had implied any undertaking. Five of us held that there was such an undertaking and five that there was not. The question as to whether an undertaking can be said to be implied must always be a rather narrow one, and from its very nature one on which reasonable people may take a different line. Upon this the Committee did differ, as was said by one hon. Member, only in opinion! We were united in the way we approached it, and—if I may respectfully say so of my colleagues—we all tried to approach it with an open mind, and tried to give the fairest consideration we could to the arguments on both sides. Although the majority of the Committee took the 60 view that personally I did not take, I have no sort of complaint at the way the decision went, for it might have gone the other way because of its difficulties and complexities.
The arguments which most influenced us, if I may very briefly summarise them, and on which the question turned for the minority of the Committee, including myself, was that the Government were admittedly pledged as long as the Burnham scales remained in force not to reduce the proportion of their contribution to the salary expenditure of the local authorities, whereas in effect this Bill, if passed, will, as it seemed to us, simply reduce the State contribution from 60 per cent. to 55 per cent., and will in effect bring about a simple reduction of 8i per cent. in the estimate of the amount to be paid on account of salaries. That will take place without any real relation to pensions at ail and without in any way establishing a contributory pension fund. In fact., it was simply a cut into the salaries, which was the very thing the Government had pledged themselves not to do.
On the other hand, the majority of the Committee held that the question of salaries and pensions had been all along the line kept distinct by Ministers speaking on behalf of the Government, and if the moving cause for the action of the Government was that the burden of pensions had become much greater than was anticipated, then they could not be debarred from asking for a contribution towards those pensions from the salaries, even if they pledged themselves that they would not vary the actual contribution towards salaries from State funds. On the financial aspect of the matter with regard to the burden which was likely to fall on State funds on account of pensions, the Government seemed to me to have been very badly advised. They might have known long before what the burden would be, and they must have known what the salaries were bound to go up to and therefore it was only a simple calculation as to what the burden of the salaries would be. That, however, is not material for the moment. Having tried to indicate the line of thought that is the last word I wish to say as to our disagreement. The Report of a Select Committee is always recommended as one Report. If the division of opinion on the Committee had 61 been five to four in the teachers' favour they would rightly have claimed that the Government were not justified in proceeding with the Bill, but the balance of opinion was the other way, and no good House of Commons man can dispute that fact, and therefore the Government are entitled to proceed, as they are now proceeding, with the further stages of this Bill.
It is more as to the spirit and not as to the letter of this controversy that I venture to offer a few observations. I would like to say with real seriousness that the longer this dispute goes on the worse it is for education all over the country. While people are disputing as to these things they are not thinking about the question of how to do better for the children, which, after all, is their main business. I feel, and I think most other hon. Members will feel, that in many of our educational offices at the present time the atmosphere is not as fully educational as it ought to be just now, and even in the Board of Education itself I have a feeling that there might usefully be more time given to education and less to educational controversy, which are by no means the same thing. Certainly in conferences in other places teachers are tending to talk more of their own injustices than the welfare of the children. That is all to the bad, and we ought to get beyond the field of controversy as soon as we can, and emerge into an atmosphere of trying to do the best we can for the children on the reduced amount available for the State and local authorities. The teachers are, after all, a very important part of the community, and they ought to be a very honoured part, and unless they are generally regarded as doing the fair thing by the community it will be all the worse for them in the long run and certainly the worse for the children, for whom, in a great majority of cases, they care very intensely, and they put the interests of the children first in their thoughts. Nothing could be worse than that the education of the children in this country should suffer because the community have a feeling of friction with regard to the action of the teachers, and even if the teachers were on this Bill or elsewhere to gain a temporary victory for them- 62 selves, if education suffers, then the teachers themselves will also suffer in the long run.
I think there is a danger in the present position that if the teachers fight too vigorously, even for what they believe to be only justice and fair play to which they are entitled, they may put themselves against the whole spirit and feeling of the community, and I suggest in the long run that even if they were to gain a temporary advantage that would react adversely against themselves and their cause. May I say how very unfortunate for the teachers, from their own point of view, is the position in which in a great many cases they find themselves? The rate payer finds the position to be this: He finds that the salary of the teacher has not begun to go down, and that in many cases it is still rising because of the carrying over of the old scale to the better scale, and he further says, "How intolerable it is that whereas salaries and profits in almost every other walk of life have begun to go down, that there should be this class of public servants whose salaries are still stationary, and in some cases actually going up." He forgets how long it took in the case of the teachers before there was any increase in their salaries at all.
For example, he forgets that the engineer, the miner, the farmer and the business man were all getting increases in pay or profits, whereas the teacher during the War and in many cases after the War got no increase at all, or at any rate a very small sum to compensate him for the very greatly increased burden of the cost of living. Many thousands of people all over the country were extraordinarily hard put to it in order to get along at all during the years which were so exceptionally lean, whereas for other people at any rate there was some sort of compensation given for increased prices. That is what is generally forgotten. That is the present position in regard to the teachers and the ratepayer and the taxpayer, and friction undoubtedly results. From that point of view I think the teachers will take the wisest line. If they are now so statesmanlike as to modify the claim they have on consistent grounds of justice in order to show a real spirit of good citizenship in the interests of the country at a whole.
63 4.0 p.m.
That being so, what about the attitude which we might take up towards this Debate? Can those who sympathise with the teachers' position and who speak on their behalf rightly withdraw their opposition to this Bill? I think they and their friends would be well advised to look towards some amendment of the Bill rather than to its rejection. I am not an advocate of the teachers, I am not even in their counsels, and I do not know the exact line of modification they may feel they ought to have in the Bill, but one or two things obviously occur to anyone who has tried to look at this question as a member of the Select Committee, and I will try and indicate them. First, the Bill ought not to be a permanent one. What will happen with this 5 per cent. cut in the contribution of the State towards the local authorities will be that when it comes to the time for the local authorities to review their salaries, which will be next year in the case of London, and 1925 in the case of the rest of the country, they will be inclined to say, if this Bill becomes the law of the land, "Now then, how does this matter affect us? Whereas before the Bill was passed we used to get 60 per cent. of our expenditure on salaries provided from State funds, we now only get 55 per cent., and we have to bear 45 per cent. of the cost instead of 40 per cent. as we used to do, and consequently we must make a reduction in our scale of salaries commensurate with the decreased cost of living. We will do that, but we will also make another cut in salaries to compensate us for the fact that we are getting a less proportion provided from central funds than we were promised we should go on getting when the scales were agreed to." You cannot help it with regard to London. If we pass the Bill now, nobody proposes that it should not be the law of the land next year when the London scales come up for revision. But it is reasonable, I think, that the teachers should ask that the Government should be prepared either with a real contributory scheme of pensions or, at any rate, some other solution of the question before 1925, when the scales of salaries under all authorities, except London, come up for revision. The second point was one to which my right 64 hon. Friend gave very favourable consideration. When he was bring examined before the Committee he promised that great care should be given to cases in which people are able to allege that the effect of the Bill will be to put them in a worse position than they would have been in if the schemes in force at the time the Act of 1918 was passed had been continued. That is under Clause 3 of the Bill. My right hon. Friend knows the point. He went a long way in saying he would go carefully into those cases. It is right and just that we should know that when the Bill finally passes nothing has been done to put a teacher in a worse position than he would have been if the Act of 1918 had not been passed.
There ought also to be special consideration for teachers employed by local authorities who have not yet occupied the position on the Burnham scales that was indicated to them they should occupy. What will be the actual effect of the Bill if it passes? Parliament will practically be saying to the teachers: "You have a good salary. You have a good pension guaranteed to you by the State. The necessities of the country at the present time are very great. Therefore the State is going to ask you to make a contribution to those necessities and forego 5 per cent. of this salary of yours on the Burnham scale, which seems to us to be a good one." That argument may have some sort of justice in the case of the teachers who are on the Burnham scale, which it is right that their authority should adopt, but it has little application to the teachers who are not working under an authority which has come into its indicated place on the scale. I have a letter from the head teacher of a secondary school in Cornwall explaining to me, perfectly rightly, that he is now £130 below the salary which would have been his if the local education authority had adopted the Burnham scale. It is rather hard to make the same cut in his salary as if he were in his proper place in the scale and was getting a salary £130 higher. Although I know it is difficult, I think it is just that an attempt should be made by the Government to see whether they cannot deal specially with the teachers in those areas who have not come into their proper indicated place in the scale. I believe that this Debate can be shortened, and it ought not to be controversial, but I think it is on those lines I have ventured 65 as quickly as I can to suggest that we should now face this adjourned Debate with the best hopes of making real progress in the interests of the education of the children.
Very seldom have I had to face a more difficult problem than than which confronts me at the moment. I dislike intensely the principle underlying this Bill. I have never wavered in my dislike. At the same time, I am conscious of other considerations deep and abiding in importance, which must not be excluded in determining the issue now before the House. Teachers regard this as an unjust imposition, but I have to recollect that in the strict course of justice none of us shall find salvation, and I have to realise that we have to seek something more in regard to popular education than even the strict letter of justice between the State and a great public service. There are the two positions, and I am bound to say it is more than a little difficult to reconcile them. May I just say a word or two about the Hill itself, and about the principles to which I have expressed my strong objection. It is called the School Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. It might just as well have been called a "School Teachers (Super-tax) Bill," or a "School Teachers (Income Tax) Bill." In my thirty years of Parliamentary life, it is the first Measure of its kind. It is a special Measure imposing an Income Tax of 5 per cent. on a special class of the community. It is not a Measure to place special contributions to the benefit of a superannuation fund, because no such fund exists. It is a Measure to hand the receipts over to the Board of Education for general education purposes, or, as it expressly states in the Bill, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not know any one of the taxes upon which we have been engaged during the last few days which have not had the same object in view. We have taken money from various sections of the community and handed it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the general expenses of the State. But they have all found their places in various Clauses of the Finance Bill. Here in this particular Measure we have an express and separate provision for imposing a 5 per cent. Income 66 Tax upon a certain class of the community. The money is to be used for national purposes. That may be justified—I will deal with that point in a moment—but do not let us camouflage it by calling it a superannuation contribution. As the Select Committee said in their findings, there is no superannuation fund in existence, and this is no contribution to that fund. It is not contemplated at present to establish any such fund. Indeed, the money which will be gathered by this 5 per cent. tax is mentioned in the Education Estimate for this year as an Appropriation-in-Aid. It has diminished the amount which the taxpayer otherwise would have to provide for the ordinary purposes of education.
There is another fact of significance. The amount which will be received under the 5 per cent, contribution is in excess of the total demand made upon the State on account of the superannuation of teachers. For superannuation £1,880,000 will be required. This Bill will secure for the Treasury £2,300,000. There is an addition, therefore, during the present year of about £500,000. I call it a special tax. I am not quite sure it would not be more appropriate to call it a special levy. I have been rather interested in the attitude of my Labour Friends opposite. I was intensely interested in noticing that they moved the rejection of the Bill. I would have thought that, instead of moving its rejection, they would have moved a resolution of thanks to the Government for providing them with a precedent which they could use to great advantage in the years to come. If to-day yon may make a levy on the teachers to meet the necessities of the State, why not a levy on other classes of the community if the necessities of the State become sufficiently urgent? Why not ultimately reach their great goal, and have a special levy on capital to liquidate the National Debt? The same principle is involved; it is merely a question of degree. Then, I am told: "Ah! but one reason for singling out teachers is that a few years ago they were granted a scheme of pension to which they did not contribute, and, therefore, we are now justified in coming upon them for a substantial contribution in order that that particular burden may be lightened." But there are other classes of the community enjoying a non-contributory scheme of 67 pension. What about the civil servants'; Are they going to be raided next? It would be interesting to know whether those who drafted this Bill, all of whom are enjoying pensions to which they do not contribute, will be called upon to pay 5 per cent. The teachers all over the country are asking: "Why should we be singled out for this special treatment? Why should not the officials of the Board of Education, also on a non-contributory scheme, be called upon to pay towards the national charge which is involved?"
I suppose it is somewhat due to my old Tory up-bringing, but I do not like singling out a special class of the community and raiding their property to meet national emergencies. If we are to be raided, let us be raided all round. Let the House just picture what the results will be. The Finance Bill passes, and a large majority of the community will be relieved of Income Tax to the extent of 1s. in the £1. Immediately 5 per cent. is deducted from the teacher's salary to meet the demands under this Bill. What relief is he getting? It is worse in the case of the man who has never earned enough to be liable for Income Tax. He will be called upon under this special levy to pay 5 per cent. They feel that very strongly, and I do not think anybody can blame them. They have also felt, and I think quite rightly, that the questions of salaries and superannuation were tied up together. They constituted the emoluments for service. They were their reward for services rendered. In a great measure the pensions were nothing but deferred pay. They were taken in consideration in determining their salary. Fortunately, I am absolved from saying much about the proceedings of the Select Committee, because my right hon. Friend has already dealt with them. But I would like to remind the House that during the earlier stages of the Second Reading debate, the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) used these words: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-contri- 68 butory 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 pennons, 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 non-contributory pension scheme was an important consideration when they accepted the Burnham scale."—[OFFICIAL RRPOHT, 16th May, 1922; col. 305, Vol. 154.]I said at the time that the teachers were prepared to prove up to the hilt the truth of that statement, and that they could go beyond it. We have heard to-day from the Chairman of the Select Committee that that statement was abundantly proved. Whether or not it constituted an implied undertaking was a matter, of course, for the Committee. On the facts, there is now no doubt. It is said that the majority which the Government secured, five to four, was but slender. I believe the four who voted against the Report, were present during the whole time. I am not quite sure about the five who voted for it. Still, the Government technically had a majority. I cannot dispute that, but it does not remove my initial objection to the principle of this Bill. I put it with all sincerity to the House—Why are the teachers specially selected for this tax, and why are not the proceeds of this arbitrary tax to be set aside specifically for superannuation purposes? Why are they to go into the coffers of the State for general purposes?
May I deal with the Bill for a moment apart from its underlying principle? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Camborne Division has drawn attention to the desirability of its provisions being restricted to a period of two years. I gather from the President of the Board of Education that he is prepared to adhere to the undertaking which he gave in the early part of the Second Reading Debate, that he would accept an Amendment to that effect. The Bill proposes to take 5 per cent. from the salaries not only of the teachers who are receiving the Burnham Award but also from those who do not receive it. I cannot believe the House of Commons will ever sanction an arrangement of that kind. The whole plea of my right hon. Friend when he submitted this Bill was this. Since we introduced a non-contributory system of salaries the salaries have been substantially improved. The right hon. Gentleman quoted averages which are 69 always misleading, and he said that because the salaries had been largely raised, therefore it was fair now to ask for the contribution. That may be, but what about the individuals, the thousands in areas where the salaries have not been improved? Are they to contribute also? I gathered that the Leader of the House, when he spoke briefly on the short Debate we had on the establishment of the Select Committee, intimated that the cases of these people would be sympathetically considered. I am going to press my right hon. Friend this afternoon to give an assurance that they will be; that he will give something more than a mere anæsthetic reply for the purposes of facilitating the passage of the Bill, and that he will give a firm offer to the effect that there shall be special treatment for the people who are not drawing salaries which justify these contributions being made, and also that there will be special treatment for the comparatively few men, mostly ex-service men, who by the nature of their war service, are not able to reap the benefits which the superannuation scheme provides. Some of them have come back damaged from the War, and will never be able to reap the full benefits. There is no reference to them in the Bill, and they are to be called upon to pay their 5 per cent. It may be that death at an early date through sickness or wounds contracted during the War will mean that everything is lost to them, including their contributions. Such cases the House will, I am sure, desire to meet.
There is also the provision that a woman, on marriage, if she makes a declaration that she does not propose to return to the profession, shall receive back what she has contributed and shall henceforth have no interest in the fund. I would beg for a, revision of that. Many a young woman, when everything seems bright and rosy, may be quite prepared to make the declaration that she has no intention of returning to the service. But she may be left a widow in a few years. She may have children dependent on her, and she may find that the teaching service affords her the only means of supporting her family and herself. Her needs become greater than ever. Her responsibilities are increased, and I think some arrangement should be made whereby, either on repayment to the fund of what she has taken out of it, 70 or by a diminished benefit, she may be able to re-enter the fund and receive something of its advantages. The fact that she got married, wisely or unwisely, and under the excitement of the event gave her declaration that she would not return to the profession, should not shut her out for all time from the benefits of the fund, and I urge this not merely in the woman's interests and in the interests of the children, but because such women make most admirable teachers, particularly in the infants' department, and it is most desirable that they should come back to the service. Then there are those who are worse off by virtue of the operation of this Bill than if there had been no alteration in the scheme of 1918. I refer to teachers who, like those in London, were receiving the benefits of the London superannuation scheme. They threw them up in order to come under this non-contributory scheme, and they now find themselves worse off by virtue of this 5 per cent. contribution. I hope all these cases will be dealt with generously and justly by the Board of Education if this Bill passes, as I presume it will.
I have said that I am conscious of interest wider, deeper and more enduring than those which are represented by a mere deduction of 5 per cent. from the salaries of the teachers. The teachers are accused of being an unpatriotic body of people. In 1914 their salaries were miserably inadequate. That was a time when they were seeking improvement and when conflicts were in force between groups of teachers and local authorities. But the period of national trouble came and they dropped their fight. Was that unpatriotic? When the national call came, there was no section of the community that rallied more readily to the Colours than the young men in our schools, and the fact that teachers had gone led many a young lad to follow his example. Was that unpatriotic? Women readily filled the places vacated by the men and discharged duties for which they were not trained. Was that unpatriotic? Every hour of their spare time was occupied on national duty. Ask the Food Controllers. Ask those who had to do with national registration, and they will tell you that these women worked readily and without thought of reward. Surely that was not unpatriotic. Those who accuse a quarter of a million 71 of men and women, for that is roughly the number involved in this matter, of a lack of patriotism have very, very short memories indeed. I make of that no virtue. They looked upon it as their duty. I found nothing on it. Thousands did the same. I only use it to resent the charge of unpatriotism which I do not think can with justice be hurled against these public servants.
There is something else. I know there has grown up an uncomfortable feeling between the teachers and the ratepaying parents which is not to the advantage of one party or the other, and is a distinct disadvantage to the schools. I know that the wisest among our teachers realise that. We know that the full progress of the schools cannot be achieved unless there be the most friendly co-operation between the parents and the teachers with regard to the care of the children, and if there be this friction to which my right hon. Friend opposite referred, if it be said, "Other salaries are falling, why should not those of the teachers also fall?" then I have to say to my teacher friends, let us look ahead. There are other troubles in store for us during the next few years. I am sorry to say my right hon. Friend the President of the Board has not yet taken from the bag all the troubles that were handed over to him by the Geddes Committee, and it may be that the teachers and the ratepayers will have to co-operate in tightening the strings of that bag, so that he shall not let them loose on the public to the injury of the common weal. There are other educational problems which we have to face. There are special professional problems which will have to be faced.
I urge this in conclusion. If the Government will help us over our dislike of this Measure, if it is ready to go fully into the question of Amendments so as to make that dislike of the Measure to some extent tolerable, then we shall be wise in withdrawing our opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill. I know there are many who will prefer to maintain hostilities to the very last. There are always the die-hards. There are always those who shout for fighting to the very last ditch, but when you come to the last ditch those people are generally to be found among the baggage. Their dupes may have come to grief by the way, but they generally take care of themselves. 72 I am one of those who prefer to make terms with mine enemy while in the way with him rather than leave it until it be so late that I am hauled before the judge who may east me into prison, and verily I shall not come out until I have paid the uttermost farthing. The only statesmanlike course, regarding the Bill not merely from a professional position, but looking on it from the point of view of the people as a whole, is to try to take the broadest educational view one can, looking forward to the future of our schools, and I think I should be justified in asking the House to press His Majesty's Government for a sympathetic answer with regard to Amendments to the Measure, and, if we get that, then we can allow it to take its Second Reading. I said at first that I was faced with a difficult task, and wherever I found that the interests of the public conflicted with the interests of the teachers, I have always set before my mind one single test —what is the course which will, in the long run, tend to the greatest good of the children? They have to be our largest care, and I am confident that, in the course which I am now recommending to the House, the interests of the child will ultimately predominate; and, as the interests of the children are safeguarded, the interests of the teachers will naturally follow.
The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher)
I can only speak again with the leave of the House, but, after the two speeches to which we have listened from my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) and the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Gray) it may, I think, abridge our discussion— which, in any case, will, I hope, not be greatly prolonged—if I intervene at this juncture to explain very briefly the attitude which His Majesty's Government are disposed to adopt towards the Bill. May I, however, in the first instance, dispel a misconception that exists with respect to the procedure which the Government has adopted in the handling of this acutely difficult matter. The Government has been criticised in many quarters for not having taken the teachers into counsel, and for not having attempted to arrive at agreement with the teachers before this Bill was introduced into the House. 73 That charge rests upon a misconception as to the facts. There was an interview between the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself, and the leading representatives of the teachers before this Bill was introduced —before it was drafted. It was a meeting held in the early part of February, and we did ask the teachers whether they would be prepared to make any suggestion with a view to the reduction of teaching cost. The meeting was confidential, and I should not allude to it now were it not for the fact that it has been mentioned in the course of the proceedings of the Select Committee over which my right hon. Friend presided with such ability, and the letter of the teachers in reply to the overtures of the Government has been printed on page 95 of the Select Committee's Report. If hon. Members care to look at that letter they will see that the teachers did not find it possible or practicable, at any rate at that stage of the proceedings, to offer any suggestion which might help the Government in its difficulty. I do do not complain of that; I merely mention it in order to explain to the House that we were very anxious all along to carry the opinion of the teachers with us if possible.
I am delighted to gather from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and from the speech— the admirable speech, if he will allow me to say so—of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington, that at present there is a feeling abroad to the effect that we should conduct this matter, if possible, in a spirit of amity and conciliation. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington that on the part of His Majesty's Government there will be every desire to look with sympathy and consideration into the various points which he has mentioned. Let me take the first point, mentioned, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne as well as by my hon. and gallant Friend, namely, the question of the limitation of the period during which this Bill is to run. I gave an undertaking, during the earlier part of the Second Reading Debate, that the Government would be prepared to introduce an Amendment, or to consent to an Amendment, limiting the currency of this Bill to a period of two years, and that 74 undertaking we are prepared to implement. Therefore there will be no difficulty on that point.
Then I come to the second question which has been raised, that is the question of the teachers who are not receiving the salaries allocated to them by the Burnham Committee. That, of course, raises a point which may be one of considerable administrative difficulty; but, speaking for the Government, I may say that we are very anxious to meet the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member. We shall be very glad to consider proposals, not too costly and not involving the Government in too great administrative difficulties. Of course, when we are considering a Bill that is only going to run for two years, we do not wish to impose an intolerable burden of administrative difficulty on the shoulders either of the Board of Education or of the local authorities, but if we can have proposals put before us of reasonable simplicity and not too costly, we shall look at them with sympathy; and, so far as I see, I do not think it ought to be difficult to find a proposal which will meet those two tests.
I must, however, point out that although there is a considerable number of authorities who are not paying their teachers upon the scale of salaries recommended by the Burnham Committee, all the authorities are at least paying salaries on the provisional minimum scale, and the provisional minimum scale does represent a very considerable advance, not only on pre-War salaries—that, of course, is natural and quite right-—but also upon the pre-]919 salaries. If, for instance, one takes 39 areas, employing 14,000 teachers, in which salaries are paid upon that scale, one finds that in those areas there is an increase in the salaries of pensionable teachers amounting to 144 per cent. over the salaries paid in 1913–14, and amounting to 101 per cent. over the salaries paid in 1917–19. It must not, therefore, be thought that there has not been a very considerable advance in salaries in the areas which are only paying on the provisional minimum scale. Still, I realise that there is considerable force and weight in the considerations which have been urged by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington, and I hope we shall be able to satisfy him and his friends on this matter. Then 75 my hon. and gallant Friend raised a further point with respect to women teachers who go out of the profession on marriage, whose contributions are consequently returned to them, and who then change their minds—perhaps they lose their husbands and find themselves in great pecuniary difficulties—and wish to revert to the school. If that is the case, I think it is worth looking into; but the hardship in those cases would not arise immediately, and I would suggest for consideration that that is a point which might very well be referred to the Departmental Committee which will be set up to consider the whole question with respect to the permanent settlement of pensions.
I doubt whether it is. Then there is a further question which my hon. and gallant Friend raised, namely, the question of teachers who, by reason of disability suffered during the War, would be unlikely to earn their full pay. That, again, is obviously a point which the Government would be prepared to go into. Finally, my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne very properly raised a question as to the adequacy of Clause 3 as an instrument for conserving to teachers, who had abandoned their old pension scheme in order to come in under the Act of 1918, the full measure of the benefit which they had abandoned. I have already pointed out that, if Clause 3 be not sufficient to secure to them an adequate measure of compensation in these cases, we shall be prepared to consider Amendments to fortify the Clause. My own view is that the Clause is adequate to its purpose, but we shall, as I have said, be very glad to improve upon it if improvement is possible.
I hope that with these observations I have given my hon. and gallant Friend and those whom he represents a sufficient indication of the spirit in which we shall meet Amendments when this Bill goes to Committee, and there, I think, I may conclude. Let me only say how very heartily I re-echo the desire expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and by the hon. and gallant 76 Member for Accrington, that these disputes with respect to salaries and pensions should be terminated as soon as possible. They inflict unspeakable injury upon the cause of education. They divert the minds of teachers from their proper task, and they injure the reputation of the education profession in the minds of people who have no personal acquaintance with it. In the interests of the teaching profession itself, I earnestly hope that this Measure may pass without further opposition. Of course, I must not be understood to assent to all the propositions with respect to the general principles of the Measure which were enunciated by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington, but I have expressed my own view with respect to the Measure so fully in an earlier stage of this Debate, and the House has listened to me with so much patience and has been so indulgent as to give me the opportunity of expressing myself once more, that I think I ought not to inflict myself longer on the House, and I content myself, therefore, with the observations which I have made.
Mr. L. MALONE
I want to raise one question with regard to this Bill before it passes its Second Reading. I do not know whether the House is entirely satisfied with the statement of the President of the Board of Education in regard to those teachers who are not yet up to the Burnham scale. I feel that, before the Second Reading is passed, we ought to get a more definite assurance that something definite will be put before Parliament with regard to them, either before the Report stage or before the Bill comes up for Third Reading. In order to illustrate what I mean, I should like to lay before the right hon. Gentleman an example of the peculiar anomalies with which certain sections of the teaching profession are faced to-day. In the administrative County of Essex at the present time, we find that, while the assistants in the secondary schools have-the provincial Burnham scale, and while all the elementary teachers in the administrative County of Essex are on the agreed Burnham scale, most of the heads of secondary schools have no scale at all, either Burnham, agreed, or otherwise. In my constituency of Leyton, which is a section of the County of Essex, headmasters to-day are in two cases being paid at £50 below the minimum Burnham 77 scale, which amounts to £600, and recently another vacancy has been advertised at £550, that is to say, £50 below the Burnham minimum. In this anomalous County of Essex the average of secondary school headmasters is £608, while the average salary of headmasters in the other home counties, i.e., Bucks, Kent, Middlesex, and Surrey, is £808, or over £200 more than that which secondary school headmasters are receiving in Essex. I believe, if I were to compare these with secondary school headmasters in London, I should find that they were receiving something like £300 more than they are in Essex, or £900. This levy of 5 per cent. on this class of teachers is an anomaly which penalises them out of all proportion. The Board of Education might take powers to compel these laggard authorities either to pay the 5 per cent. or to raise the salaries up to a reasonable level. These people are suffering unduly, and I think we might get an assurance that something definite and specific will be brought before the House before either Report or Third Reading.
§ Captain BOWYER
I want to bring to the right hon. Gentleman's attention a point about which I asked a question, and he referred me to this Debate. Under Clause 2, as far as I understand it, there are four classes of people who, under certain circumstances, may have the contributions that they have paid towards superannuation returned to them in a lump sum. There is, first, the class of men who are too old when they get to 65 to qualify. There is the class of secondary teacher who is not a British subject. Thirdly, there is the class of women teacher who definitely decides to retire from the profession within one year of marriage, and lastly, there is the teacher who reaches 65 without having qualified. I submit that there is a final class who deserve serious consideration, and that is the class of teacher who, after a loyal service of 10 or 15 years, has paid contributions during the whole of that time but has not qualified for a pension. If owing to illness, either of the teacher or of someone who is dependent upon him, the teacher is forced to give up teaching, can it be said to be fair that all the contributions which he has paid towards superannuation, which he is never going to enjoy, should not also be returned to him, or a portion of them, 78 in a lump sum'? If the right hon. Gentleman cannot make a general rule in that respect, at least he might make some arrangement whereby after a definite period of service those who do not qualify for superannuation should have the contributions which they have paid returned in a lump sum. I wish to draw attention to the pathetic position of those teachers who do not now come under this Act and who retired before the 1918 Act. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to pass this Bill without dealing in any way with their position? Does he realise that there are very many cases of men, who have been the backbone of the teaching of this country, who are now trying to subsist on an annual sum of something like £40 a year, which, until about two years ago, was to a large extent a sum of £30 a year? I do not know whether I am in order in mentioning this subject, but I want to do so in order to ask whether in Committee the right hon. Gentleman, if it is at all possible, will listen to Amendments on their behalf?
§ Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS
On behalf of the Labour party I want to move that the Bill be read a Second time upon this day three months.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That Amendment was moved on the last occasion, and that is the Question now before the House.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
That answers my purpose. I have listened to the discussion, and I listened to the Debate the other day, and I find that the objection we took then has not been removed in any sense-that is the question of breaking faith with the teachers. We are opposed to breaking faith with anyone. We have on several occasions, during the last year or two especially, condemned the Government for breaking faith in more than one case. In the case of the miners we condemned them, and we say the troubles that are upon that industry to-day came about because the Government broke faith with them. The same thing applies to the agricultural labourer. We opposed the Government at that time, and condemned them for breaking faith. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, when this was discussed before, talked a lot about breaking faith, but on looking up the Divisions that took place in other cases I find that he was always in the Lobby against us, so that he supported the Government in 79 breaking faith with other sections of the community, but believes it should not be broken with the teachers. We agree with him to this extent, that faith ought to be kept with everyone. If anyone should keep their agreements it is the Government. I suppose there are thousands of agreements entered into every day, and if we get into the way of looking lightly upon agreements entered into, where should we finish up? The hon. and gallant Gentleman has been telling us, the Labour party, that we ought to be thanking the Government for bringing in this Bill. I do not know what we have to thank them for It is not a question of superannuation. If it was a question of superannuation we should be supporting them, because I am living in hopes that some time superannuation will be brought in for every person who works in the State. I was talking to a man a week or two ago who had worked underground for sixty-two years, and he told me he was finishing in a week or two, and he was going to live with the children and live upon his old age pension the best way he could. It never ought to be like that. There ought to be, long before that time, a sufficient pension to enable a man at least to finish his days in comfort. But that is not what is before the House. It is not a question of superannuation at all but whether a deduction is to be made from the teachers' salaries, and we contend that as long as the Burnham scale is in force the position ought to be left exactly as it is to-day. If it had been a contributory scheme there would have been a difference in the rates of pay which were agreed upon. There was a lot of difficulty in getting many of the teachers to accept those rates, knowing that it was a non-contributory scheme under which they worked. However, they were finally accepted, and we say the term of that scale ought to be allowed to run out. It would then become an open question, and the Government, or anyone else dealing with the school teachers, would be at liberty to talk about a contributory or a non-contributory scheme. I am passing no opinion as to which it ought to be. I should welcome a superannuation scheme for all classes, whether it was contributory or not. However, we feel that faith ought to be kept with this section of the community, and that 80 the scale ought to be allowed to run its proper term, and let it then become an open question, and on those grounds we shall divide the House, as we have divided before on the question of keeping faith, and I think we are in a very strong position on that, because, more than everyone else in the world, the Government ought to do that.
I wish to ask the Minister if it will be possible in Committee to deal with a number of anomalies which have arisen, particularly in relation to secondary teachers—the headmasters and assistant masters and mistresses in our secondary schools. Whilst a certain number of difficulties and anomalies have arisen as far as elementary teachers are concerned, the greatest possible disaffection exists amongst the secondary masters and mistresses, and assistant masters and mistresses because of the unfair way in which they have been treated. I am not attributing unfairness to the Minister or to his Department, but the Bill was so drawn, and the Regulations under it have been so drawn, that considerable hardship has been inflicted upon a large number of these mistresses and masters, and I am wondering if it is possible that these difficulties can be considered in Committee. I think hon. Members would be rather disturbed to know how many men and women who are working in secondary schools are struck out of what this Measure intended, because of the interpretation of the Act. I have had a number of instances put into my hand only to-day which have been surprising to me. It bears mainly upon the two Clauses as to recognised service and qualifying service. In order to be eligible for a pension, a teacher must have served at least 10 years in a grant-earning school, and that is called recognised service, and a total of 30 years of either recognised or qualifying service. It is in the interpretation of qualifying service that so many difficulties have arisen. One of the Sections of the main Act of 1918, for instance, excluded all schools which were run for profit. I should like the House to see how that applies. Some of the best schools in the country have been established and run by limited liability companies, the money having been put into the concern by the people of the locality, with no interest of their own to serve, but simply to run an educational 81 establishment in their locality. It may be that during the course of years a small dividend has sometimes been paid, perhaps not more than 3 per cent., once or twice in the course of 20 years. That dividend has been carried into the school. No penny of it has gone into the pockets of those who promoted the undertaking. Because of that it is looked upon as a school run for profit, and a teacher in a school where that small profit arises is deprived of the advantages which are secured by a teacher working in another school in the same town. That will apply to such a school, for instance, as Queen's at Taunton or Tettenhall at Birmingham, a well known school in which really the principle of private profit has not entered at all, and to schools which have been maintained and established by those who have been anxious to secure only educational interests in their own localities.
The difficulty that occurs to me in looking at this subject is that a great many of these secondary mistresses and masters will be asked for a contribution of 5 per cent. upon their salaries, when they will not know whether they are pensionable or not. There are a large number of masters and mistresses in secondary schools who could not tell you whether they will receive a pension or not at the end of their service. I believe when the master or mistress comes to the time when his or her pension accrues, all these questions are gone into, and it may be that he may not be able to satisfy the authorities, when he reaches 60 or 65 years of age, that he is entitled to a pension. So far as I can see, it is proposed in this Bill to come down upon these people and to make a deduction of 5 per cent. from their salaries, when they cannot be sure that at the end of their period of service they will or will not receive a pension. These difficulties arise a great deal more so far as secondary teachers are concerned than in the case of elementary teachers. The teachers in secondary schools are anxious that their colleagues in the elementary schools should not be deprived of any advantage, but they do regard the original Act, in its working, as being very unjust, and they say that that injustice has been intensified and exacerbated by the proposals in this more recent Bill.
Is the hon. Member aware that, before the Act of 1918 was passed, secondary teachers had no pension whatever, and that the Act of 1918 gave the secondary teachers a most generous system of pension, without adding to their responsibilities?
When I said that the Act of 1918 was unjust, I did not mean in its introduction, but in its working. I think the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to admit that there are a number of incidents arising in the interpretation of that Act which shut out certain of the teachers in secondary schools who have in their record of service just as good a claim as those who are working side by side with them. One condition of which they complain is that it makes it essential for them to prove that they have been working in an efficient school. That proof is very often most difficult to bring forward. I know from the representations made to me, and the representation made to-day by the responsible society representing many thousands of secondary schoolmasters and mistresses, that the secondary teachers look upon this general levy of 5 per cent., having regard to the anomalies which have arisen under the 1918 Act, as being an unfair levy upon them. It ought to be possible for Amendments to be considered in Committee sympathetically, so that as far as possible these injustices may be remedied. It will be recognised that if a man is receiving his salary at the present time he ought not to have that salary so substantially reduced, unless he can have a reasonable assurance that later on he will participate in the pensions that others are to enjoy. If he is not to participate, then a reduction of his salary by 5 per cent. is a gross injustice, and he is entitled to complain. I do not think that I shall vote against the Second Beading of the Bill, but I should be glad to have some assurance that there will be opportunity in Committee for this matter to be cleared up, affecting as it does so many people, and that there may be brought about that amity and conciliation which the right hon. Gentleman desires.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I regret that I had not the advantage of listening to the statement of the President of the Board of Education. I had the honour of sitting on the Select Committee which reported on the question whether the Government had given a pledge to the teachers. I do 83 not know what may have transpired since this House declined to proceed with the first Measure, but it appears to me rather strange that the teaching profession, having made such an attack on the Government at that time, should now, apparently, through their representatives in this House, have climbed down from their original position. I would like to know from the Minister what has actually transpired in the meantime, because the Bill now presented is almost exactly in the same form as the Bill which was presented to the House a short time ago. I was rather astonished at the evidence brought before the Committee, and I was convinced that the Government had broken faith with the teachers. The Burnham scale of wages are implicated in this Measure, and I am surprised that the Bill is again brought before the House apparently without any explanation as to any new negotiation between the Government and the teachers.
There are three parties to a Bill like this, Parliament, the teachers, and the local authorities. The negotiations which may have taken place in the meantime have been exclusively between the Government and the teachers. The local authorities ought to be consulted, because this Bill means that in future it will be more difficult for local authorities to secure the requisite supply of teachers, and the standard of the teaching profession will be reduced. The right hon. Gentleman will have learned already that local authorities are finding that the number of young men and young women entering the teaching profession is growing less every year. I know of one large local authority where prior to the War the number applying for teacher ships each year was, approximately, 350. Last year it was only about 90. Out of 368 applications for teacher-ships in that same city this year only 24 of them were boys. It will be a bad day for this country when the teaching profession becomes exclusively a feminine profession. This Bill makes an attack directly on the scales of wages laid down by the Burnham Committee, by a deduction from salary. It is another way of reducing salaries, and I have been wondering whether the right hon. Gentleman, in his negotiation with the teachers, has made a bargain, which is said has been 84 proposed to him, that the teachers would agree to this Measure, provided the Board of Education would layit down that all local authorities in the country are to be compelled to pay the Burnham scale of wages. There are about 17 per cent. of the local authorities who have declined to adopt these scales.
There is another point: that weighs with me, and I hope that we shall divide the House on the Measure. Both the local authorities and teachers are concerned in this Bill, and this House, when the Government has made an agreement in connection with the Burnham scale of wages, ought to stand firm for its own honour. It has been hinted that the Government have broken faith with other sections of the community, and I am surprised that the teachers are ready to accept this Bill, with some slight Amendments in Committee. I fail to understand why the Board of Education distinguishes between teachers contributing to a superannuation scheme and civil servants. The right hon. Gentleman will find that very few civil servants make any contribution to their superannuation fund. I do not criticise that. If I had my way, every man and woman who has done useful service to the community would be in receipt of a superannuation allowance at a given age. Every man and woman, whatever their social position, ought to be entitled to superannuation at a given age, provided they have done useful service, and I do not like the distinction between teachers and members of the civil service. Neither do I like the distinction that is made between scores of municipal employés and the teachers employed by the same local authorities.
I want to deny the right of the Minister to proceed with a Bill of this kind without regard to the opinions of the local authorities. There have been consultations between himself and the teaching profession, but not with the local authorities. The Board of Education pays 50 per cent. of the cost of education, and the local authorities pay the other 50 per cent. Surely on that basis the local authorities ought to be consulted.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Irrespective of what the local authorities pay with regard to superannuation, they arts the employers of the people with whom we are dealing 85 in this Bill. The Board of Education do not employ the teachers; the local authorities engage them, and are responsible for finding the requisite number of teachers each year, and I do think that, whatever may be the proportion of payment by the local authorities to any superannuation scheme, the local authorities ought to have a say in this matter. The Government, whenever they launch a scheme of superannuation should call in a Government actuary to give them a statement as to the soundness or otherwise of the scheme; here is a scheme based upon something that is totally unknown. I am not aware that the Government actuary has been consulted in this matter. Whenever the Minister of Health proceeds with any scheme to extend health insurance benefits he consults the Government actuary. I have not seen a report of any kind in regard to the scheme in this Bill, although it must be easier to deal with actuarial calculations in respect to the superannuation of teachers than of any other section of the community. I am surprised that the Government propose to call for 5 per cent. from the salaries of the teachers, when it is quite possible that 3 per cent. or even 2 per cent. may be sufficient for the purpose. The right hon. Gentleman ought to give us some idea of the financial basis of this Bill, because he will probably find in 12 months' time that he has either got too much or too little money. I believe I am speaking the mind of everybody connected with schemes of this kind when I say that it is unfair to call for a levy from salaries of teachers and to expect them to pay 5 per cent. for, say, five years, when 3 per cent. might have been sufficient, with the result that teachers employed 10 or 15 years hence will benefit by the payments of teachers now employed. Having sat on the Select Committee, having heard the evidence from men of repute engaged in this business, and having voted as I did on the Select Committee I shall go to a Division against this Bill.
§ Mr. D. M. COWAN
Although this Bill is devoted to England and Wales it does, in a sense, affect Scotland. We have been told that a Scottish Bill is to be introduced, making it necessary that there shall be a levy of 5 per cent. on teachers' salaries with a view to helping to provide for the superannuation benefits at present enjoyed. I was interested to hear the 86 President of the Board of Education say that there had been a preliminary conference between himself, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the representatives of the teachers before any proposal of this sort was put forward. It is one of the grievances we suffer from in Scotland, that there was no such conference with the Scottish teachers. Otherwise I am sure that they would have taken a reasonable view of what might be expected of them at this time.
It is worth noting what has been the position in Scotland in regard to superannuation. Scotland came under the Act of 1898, just as England and Wales did. Scotland objected to that Act from the beginning and was successful in having it repealed so far as Scotland was concerned in 1912. In that year Scotland set up on its own account a contributory superannuation scheme. It was an excellent scheme. There were three contributories. The teachers gave 4 per cent. of their salaries, the education authorities 2 per cent., and the Scottish Education Department approximately 4 per cent., besides undertaking liabilities to meet the case of the older teachers. That scheme continued for seven years. So far as I know, and I think that I was in a position to hear, there was no complaint against it from any of the contributing bodies. But in 1918 the English superannuation scheme was passed on a non-contributory basis. That made it necessary to alter the Scottish scheme. It was with great regret that the Scottish teachers parted from their contributory scheme, because it gave them a say in what should be the benefit under that scheme. Their scheme disappeared and a non-contributory scheme took its place. There might be no objection to a non-contributory scheme but here we have such a scheme, well thought out presumably on the part of those who introduced it, which is now being practically scrapped.
It is said that this Measure is only a temporary Measure, but it cuts at the essentials of the non-contributory scheme. It is said that the teachers should not object to making some contribution to the needs of the nation at the present time. They do not object, but they have a right to ask that understandings should be kept and a right to know exactly where they stand. At present Scottish teachers are squeezed at both ends. On 87 the Government side they are to be subjected to a levy of 5 per cent. They have only a minimum scale of salaries to start with, which is not sufficient for the country as a whole, with the result that the authorities have gone a bit beyond that minimum national scale. Now they are cutting off 5 per cent. here, and 10 per cent. there, with the result that the cut in the teachers' salary is going to be something like from one-eighth to one-sixth. I am not sure to what extent this Bill will be amended in Committee, but I would like to make clear that the salaries scales were drawn up in Scotland after this non-contributory scheme had been in operation for several months, and this non-contributory scheme was taken into account when the terms of those national scales were laid down. That was openly admitted. Through the courtesy of the Committee which investigated the subject of an undertaking on the part of the Government I was able to make a short statement with regard to the Scottish case, and I produced a statement from the Scottish Education Department that the superannuation benefits which come to Scottish teachers under the Act of 1919 were taken fully into consideration when the terms of the scales were laid down.
That involved a direct understanding between the teachers and the authorities and the Education Department that until some other conference was called to deal with the matter the position as it then was should stand. I agree that superannuation schemes, like everything else, are subject to change according to changing conditions, but I do not think that things in this case are being done in the best way, or the way that would lead to the least friction. It would have been not only more businesslike but also consulting the feelings of the parties if the Government had waited until they had the Report of the Departmental Committee, which it is proposed to set up. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer requires all the money that he can get, but he might have found some other way that would not have been felt so much as this. Be that as it may, I take this opportunity of stating the Scottish case. Scotland will have a separate Bill dealing with the same matter, but England, as the bigger country, always has the first consideration, and 88 when we come to have Scotland's case considered we are told "You cannot have this done. It is not in the English Bill. "Scottish teachers are willing to take their share in helping the nation in its present need, but they say that there has been a distinct breach of an honourable understanding in this case, and that is not only their opinion, but it is the opinion of one of the most important organs of the Scottish Press. The "Glasgow Herald," which says the Scottish teachers' understanding was that the superannuation scheme was taker into account when the salaries scales were fixed, and that it is very unwise that the matter should be re-opened now. I hope to discuss this question more fully on the Scottish Bill.
Like the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Gray), I have the honour of being a member of the London Education Committee, and I have there seen the hon. and gallant Gentleman put up a strong case against this proposed change on behalf of the teachers, as also in this House, and I was more than astonished when I heard him give some intimation of a change in position, and that he was going to support the Government on the Second Reading of this Bill. It would be interesting to know what transpired in the interval to bring about that change of opinion. So far as I am concerned, I intend to go to a Division in this matter. It is true that the hon. and gallant Gentleman does represent one section of the teachers' organisations, but the information that has come to me through different organisations, and especially during the last week when I was addressing a meeting of head teachers in London, was that they hoped that we would do all we could to oppose this attack on their salaries under the guise of a new Superannuation Act. The Minister of Education, said that there had been some sort of conference between himself, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the authorities on this matter, but we know what those conferences are. There was no conference in the real sense. There really is no conference if you go in and talk with people who have already laid down the terms from which they will not depart. All that the Minister of Education and those that represented the Government went there to do was to find some alternative way, perhaps, but still they intended to get the money somehow or other out of the teachers.
89 The hon. and gallant Member said something about people who fought to the last ditch and then were found with the baggage. He is very much with the baggage this afternoon. He has been putting up a fight to the last ditch, and now he has fallen back with the baggage. It would be our duty to keep him to those principles which he professed hitherto, and that he should demonstrate to those for whom he is concerned how far he is prepared to go. To all intents and purposes, there is no alteration in this Bill as compared with the Bill that was brought in some time ago. That makes it all the more indispensable that those who have talked so loudly about supporting the teachers should now establish the position. This special tax of 5 per cent. is being imposed upon teachers to relieve the Exchequer of certain payments, which it is bound under honourable obligation to make as part of the scheme of the Burnham Committee, from which it is now seeking to run away. It does not stop there. All over the country education authorities are cutting down salaries. In some cases they are dismissing their teaching staffs and re-engaging them at lower salaries. There is the disgraceful position at Southampton, where for many weeks all the elementary schools have been closed, and no teaching has been going on, owing to the local authorities acting in this high-handed manner, backed, no doubt, by the inspiration of the Board of Education.
There is no more pitiable spectacle among the public men of the country than the Minister of Education, who made such great professions with regard to education, and never had the courage to stand up against the Government in support of those professions, but clung to office when the principles for which he stood were being attacked. One is sorry for that sort of thing. Many of us who have made this fight on behalf of the teachers have been urged by them, and by many of their organisations who still stand where they were, to continue this fight. This cut in their salaries, with the additional reductions, is making it more difficult to recruit the profession than it was before. For some time there did seem to be a hope of rehabilitating the teaching profession and attracting the best sort of people to it. I hope that when we come 90 to a Division those who have hitherto expressed their objection to the tax upon the teachers will vote against the Second Beading of this Bill. If they had reason to go against the Bill some weeks ago, that reason still remains, unless there has been some underhanded negotiation between certain people and the Minister. One would like to know what is the price that has been paid by reason of which the teachers are going to be let down. I hope that we shall carry with us the majority of the House, who will show that they have some regard to a bargain when it is made, and some regard to the obligations of honour which we owe to the teaching profession, and will defeat this proposal of the Government.
Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I agree with the hon. Member that there has been a distinct broach of faith. As a member of a very large education authority, I entirely agree with him, and I also agree as a member of the Education Association Committee, with which I have been connected now for some years. They were represented on the Committee which set up the Burnham scale, and they know that in what the Government now propose there is a distinct breach of faith with the teachers, because the benefits of the non-contributory pensions scheme were fully placed before the Committee when the scales were being set up, and were always in their minds when fixing these scales. Breach of faith is made more distinct when you take into consideration that 5 per cent. of the teachers' salaries is not in any way required for a superannuation scheme such as that which the Government propose. Actuarial figures have been obtained by the teachers, and they show that any insurance company of standing in this country would be only too glad to give to every teacher insured under such a scheme, with 5 per cent. of their salaries deducted, no less than £700 down, with an annuity of something like £270. That being the case, I unhesitatingly say that this is a backdoor way of securing a reduction of the teachers' salaries.
We have heard from practically all parts of the House that before 1914 the teachers of this country were a miserably paid class. After leaving college, and having spent all their lives in fitting themselves for teaching, they were, before the War, paid about £90 a year. To-day that £90 is £182 10s. We have to take 91 into account that the increased cost of living is something like 80 per cent., and remember that teachers were miserably paid before the War. With those facts in mind, can any hon. Member assert that what teachers are to receive in future is anything like adequate for the services they render? We are not dealing honestly by the teachers. It would have been far better to have gone to the teachers and to have said, "We made a mistake in fixing the Burnham Scale so high, and we ask you to accept a reduction of salary, and we shall leave this superannuation business severely alone." As the Minister well knows, before 1914 the applications for teacher ships were declining steadily, and it was impossible to get the number of candidates required. The Minister himself described the state of things as alarming, and said that there were entering the profession only about one-third of the teachers that would be necessary to meet the requirements of the 1918 Act. I believe that the action of the Government in bringing in this Bill will re-establish that condition in the near future.
Let the Minister examine the statistics relating to those who now seek to enter the teaching profession. Ho will find that, on the male side, the numbers are steadily declining. It is true that on the female side there is some improvement. I see no change whatever in the position to-day compared with the position as it was when this Bill was last left in abeyance. I wish to ask the Minister a question. There are people whom the local authorities have found to be good men amongst the teachers. They have been promoted to directorships of education or to local school inspectorships. Will they be allowed to come under the provisions of this Bill? I hope the Minister will reconsider the whole position, and that if this Bill becomes an Act there will be no deduction for superannuation. I know only too well that it is not the Minister who is behind this Bill, but the Department over which the Chancellor of the Exchequer presides. If necessary, let the Minister get again into conference with the teachers and see what they have to say. Surely they have a right to a voice in the matter as well as other people.
Colonel Sir J. GREIG
I would not have intervened in the Debate but for 92 some remarks which fell from the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. D. M. Cowan). Unfortunately, he dragged in the question of the teachers in Scotland. We in Scotland are only indirectly interested in this question, and the statement made by the hon. Member was not as full as it might have been. I shall not now give the details. I wish merely to point out one matter which differentiates the Scottish case which may have to be argued here sooner or later. I want to enter a caveat against that case being gone into on the English case. The way that we in Scotland are interested in this Bill is this: Of course, if the amount of money that will go to the education authorities from the English Exchequer is reduced, there will naturally be a reduction in the amount going to Scotland. Our Scottish Superannuation Act was quite a different Act from the English Act. In Scotland the scales which were fixed were not the Burnham scales, but what is known as the Craik scale. The scale is final only in the sense that until the Scottish Education Department sees fit to alter it no authority can pay less. It is not final in the sense that either authorities or teachers have agreed to abide by it. To show that that is so, the teachers, through their central body, have applied to the Association of Education Authorities to re-open the scale. That differentiates the whole case, and when we come to argue it, as we may have to do, we shall go into that matter in detail. It is rather a pity that the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities tried to jump the claim on this matter, which has an entirely different bearing, and must be argued on a different series of facts.
I greatly regret the findings of the Select Committee on the question whether teachers' pensions had been taken into consideration when the Burnham scale was settled. That Report, with its findings, having been issued, the Government feel, naturally, that this Bill must be continued. If the Government insist on the Bill, I hope they will allow several Amendments in order to make the Bill as good as possible. If a contribution be necessary—I think there is a good deal to be said for a contribution—5 per cent. is too much. A teacher with a salary of £550 will pay a contribution of £27 10s. a year. That would be considered heavy by any insurance com- 93 pany. Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 of the Bill apparently leaves it to the Board of Education and the Treasury to decide what deduction is to be made by the local education authority. Sub-section (3) is very vague. It will mean that all the recognised service of teachers begins from 1st April, 1922, the date of the Act. I do not think it is intended to do that. At any rate, it is necessary to make it clear that recognised service before the passing of the Act continues to count as such. Otherwise many would be pensionless. The 1918 Act allows only the service in recognised schools to count for pensions. This Bill does exactly the same. Secondary education has been a public business only since 1902, the date of the Balfour Act. If a school is recognised now, this past service counts, and not otherwise. There are many hard cases of masters, and particularly of mistresses, who have taught in schools not recognised, and yet they were some of the best teachers in the country. Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 suggests that the marriage of a woman teacher should not be the only recognised cause of retirement. Any teacher who leaves the profession should have his contributions repaid. They are his property and that is the essential characteristic of any contributory pension scheme. In Clause 4 the calculation of salaries is taken into account. This affords an opportunity of raising the question of a statutory salary, not subject to the variations of local authorities. The object of the Burnham scale was to avoid these local variations. The intention was to make a flat rate of salary throughout the country. Instead of lowering the contributions to those authorities which do not pay the Burn-ham scale, I hope every inducement will be given to the authorities to bring their salaries up to the Burnham scale, so that there will be a flat rate throughout the country, and contribution towards pensions would in that way become a flat rate also.
§ Member for Accrington (Major Gray). Every argument adduced is an additional argument for rejecting this Bill. Yet it appears that some arrangement has been come to with the Minister of Education, or the Government Department responsible, behind the backs of the teachers, who, I know perfectly well, were, on Saturday last, just as strongly opposed to this scheme as they have been at any time since this Bill was introduced. I want to know for whom the hon. and gallant Member speaks, when he comes to an arrangement like this. Some arrangement evidently has been come to, for the Minister at the conclusion of the hon. and gallant Member's speech immediately got up and agreed to the suggestions made. I do not know what power the hon. and gallant Member had to consent. What is the value of the promises given by the Minister 1 We know what Government promises are worth. They are honoured in the breach more than in the observance, in almost every case: and so it will be in this case. We know that the Committee reached its findings by a majority of one on the merely technical ground that no agreement was come to or implied. It was quite understood by the teachers, and is understood to-day, that the pension scheme was to be a non-contributory scheme, and the scale of salaries was passed on that understanding. I do not know what the party to which I belong is going to do with regard to the Second Beading of this Measure. Whatever they do, I am going into the Lobby against it. I did so before, and every Member who voted for the Adjournment some weeks ago ought to go into the Lobby this afternoon to oppose the Second Heading of a Bill which should never be allowed to go to a Committee, but should be rejected with contumely by this House.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 210; Noes, 54.95
|Division No. 201.]||AYES.||[5.47 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardnar, Sir James Tynte||Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Barnett, Major Richard W.||Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Barnston, Major Harry||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Birchall, J. Dearman|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Blair, Sir Reginald|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon, Stanley||Beckett, Hon. Sir Gervase||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Berwick, Major G. O.|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bowles, Colonel H. F.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Haslam, Lewis||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Pinkham, Lieut. -Colonel Charles|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pratt, John William|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hills, Major John Waller||Purchase, H. G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Cilfton (Newbury)||Hinds, John||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Reid, D. D.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Remnant, Sir James|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hopkins, John W. W.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir p. (Chertsey)|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Sir Alan Hughes||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Casey, T. W.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lort-Williams, J.||Simm, M. T.|
|Cope, Major William||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoin)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C, (Penrith)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Stewart, Gershom|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Ednam, Viscount||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Evans, Ernest||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Macquisten, F. A.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Faile, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Vickers, Douglas|
|Fiannery, Sir James Fortescue||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wallace, J.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Morris, Richard||Waring, Major Walter|
|Gardiner, James||Murchison, C. K.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Neal, Arthur||Wilson, Capt. A S. (Holderness)|
|Glyn, Major Raiph||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Winterton, Earl|
|Grenfell, Edward Charles||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Wise, Frederick|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parker, James||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Hall, Captain Sir Douglas Bernard||Pearce, Sir William||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hamilton, Sir George C.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Younger, Sir George|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perring, William George|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Halls, Walter||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Br[...]ant, Frank||Hirst, G. H.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Bromfield, William||Hogge, James Myles||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lawson, John James||Waterson, A. E.|
|Clynes, Rt- Hon. John R.||Lunn, William||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wignall, James|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Naytor, Thomas Ellis||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Foot, Isaac||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Rendall, Athelstan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gillis, William||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.