HC Deb 06 April 1944 vol 398 cc2154-6
13. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has given consideration to the hardship involved in the difference of treatment by local education authorities of their power to make up the payment of teachers serving in the forces to an amount equivalent to their previous salaries; and whether he has taken or will take steps to induce those local education authorities who make no such payment, or only payments on a smaller scale, to adopt the same standards as the principal authorities.

The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Butler)

The position of teachers in this matter is governed by the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939, which empowers local authorities to make up the civil remuneration of their employees who are engaged on war service. Parliament has left this matter to the discretion of the local authorities concerned, and I could not undertake to secure uniformity of practice throughout the country.

Mr. Harvey

Although the right hon. Gentleman is not able to produce power in the matter can he not use his influence and good offices with these local authorities that fail to come up to the standard set by so many authorities in this respect.

Mr. Butler

I do not think that I can add to my reply.

Mr. Thorne

Change the composition of those local authorities.

14. Mr. Sorensen

asked the President of the Board of Education if he is aware of the increasing difficulty of securing qualified teachers for elementary and secondary schools; and whether, in view of the seriousness of the situation in the immediate future, he will take steps to obtain the immediate release of teachers who are of low medical category now serving in His Majesty's Forces.

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. But any general release of teachers and other men of low medical category would mean that men fit for active service would have to be diverted to essential non-combatant duties which would not be in the national interest at the present stage of the war. Already there is in operation an arrangement whereby my Department can apply for the release from the Forces of individual teachers, within the age limits qualifying for deferment, who are urgently needed for vacant posts in schools.

Mr. Sorensen

Could not the right hon. Gentleman further consult the Minister of Labour or the various Services to see whether those who are of low medical category and are doing relatively unimportant work cannot be transferred to schools.

Mr. Butler

As the hon. Member will see from the latter part of my answer, we do our best in this matter, and I can assure him that I am a constant nuisance to my colleagues.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the position is becoming grave.

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, I know.