HC Deb 06 February 1945 vol 407 cc1954-62
The Minister of Education (Mr. Butler)

I beg to move, in page 3, line 34, after "shall", insert: if he makes application to the Minister for that purpose within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner. The purpose of inserting these words is to secure that an organiser of the kind to whom this portion of the Sub-section refers shall not be automatically brought within the scope of the teachers Superannuation Act but he is enabled to continue under the terms of the local government Superannuation Act if he so wishes. The Amendment will bring the effect of Sub-section (1) into conformity with the provisions of Section 14 of the principal Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Silkin (Peckham)

I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 38 to 43.

I move this because I feel that there is an anomaly in the Clause as it stands. This is a point which I took up on the Second Reading, and to which the Parliamentary Secretary addressed himself, but I am bound to say he did not deal with the matter in his usual convincing way, and left me quite unrepentant for taking the point. I hope he will not mind if I return to the attack now. The Clause consists of two parts. It deals in both cases with persons whose service to a substantial extent involves the performance of duties of an organising or advisory character in connection with the provision of education or services ancillary to education. In the one case the person is employed by a local authority and in the other he is not. They may for years have been engaged in doing exactly the same type of work, yet in the one case my right hon. Friend demands that he should have had three years' teaching experience before taking up the position and in the other case no such demand is made. I wonder why this requirement is necessary. If it is necessary in the case of a person employed by a local authority, it seems to me equally necessary in the case of a person not employed by a local authority.

I think my right hon. Friend takes the view that a person employed by a local authority is already provided with superannuation under the Local Government Act and therefore presumably his case is not so pressing, but is that really an answer? I assume that, as certain persons are given an option to change over from superannuation under the Local Government Act to the Teachers' Superannuation Act, there must be some advantage in so doing, otherwise he is given an empty option. If this proviso remains, the class of person who would otherwise gain by being allowed to go on to teachers' superannuation loses that gain, although other people not employed by a local authority are allowed to get superannuation under the Teachers' Act. I know that the proviso is conditional. It is in the 1925 Act and my right hon. Friend may feel some difficulty in taking it out of this Bill when it is in Section 14 of the 1925 Act, but I have no doubt that he could meet that difficulty if he desired. If he finds himself unable to deal with it in the manner I propose I ask him to modify the Regulations at present in force. Under them the three years' service has to be full-time service. There is nothing in the 1925 Act and there is nothing in the wording of the proviso that requires full-time service. Nevertheless, full-time teaching service for three years has always been insisted on, with the result that certain persons who ought to have had the benefit of this or the 1925 Act have been deprived of it. Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will not insist on three years' full-time teaching but accept into the scheme persons who may not, for very good reasons, have done the full three years' full-time teaching?

Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)

I feel that unwittingly there is a possibility that an injustice has been done and will be continued unless the Amendment is accepted. This paragraph continues Section 14 of the 1925 Act. A teacher may spend part of his time teaching and, as is later defined, work of some other sort for three years, and he is then covered, but a teacher may spend two years in teaching and then be called into the Services. He may still be considered as being employed as a teacher by the authority and his salary even may be made up, yet, because he has not been in control of a class and has not been defined as a teacher for the full three years, he has suffered. That has happened before and I hope it will not be allowed to happen, as it might, during this war.

1.15 p.m.

There is the possibility that teachers might have two years of teaching, and then go into war service. In consequence of that fact, as they are not actually engaged in teaching, their period will not be counted for superannuation. I do not want to say any more after what has been said by my hon. Friend with regard to the other aspects but this is one thing which should receive special attention. There is no intention, I am sure, that men who have been prepared to do what they can in rendering national service should suffer, as against those who have not been called upon to the service of their country. I have pleasure in supporting the Amendment in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman, if he cannot accept it, will give an assurance that, at any rate, an anomaly which makes this differentiation will not be allowed to continue.

Mr. Cove (Aberavon)

If my memory is correct, I think an Act which was passed at the beginning of the war, safeguards the class of person that my hon. Friend has mentioned. It was at a somewhat hurried moment, at the beginning of the war when legislation went through to make sure that service of the kind referred to was covered and would be treated as contributory service. I want to make one main point and that is that this Bill, or I should say the whole superannuation scheme, is based upon teaching service. It is not a general pension scheme but it is a scheme directed particularly to the service of teaching. As a matter of fact, the basic qualification is that you must have been a teacher and I believe that is fundamentally so.

Mr. Silkin

I should like to question this particular point. Would my hon. Friend look at Clause 2 (2), which says: Where the Minister is satisfied with respect to service of any particular kind that it is not service as a teacher but is service which to a substantial extent involves the performance of duties of an organising or advisory character in connection with the provision of education or of services ancillary to education.

Mr. Cove

I am not at all concerned at the moment with the technical legalities. I am making the main point, and I stick to it, that the basis of the superannuation scheme for teachers is that they are teachers and are in the teaching service. They are contributing to a special scheme which applies to the service of teachers, and I, personally, do not want anything to be done which would weaken that fundamental basis.

Mr. Butler

Various points have been raised by hon. Members opposite but I will deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) before I deal with the substantive point of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin). The position is, that war service counts as a contributory service for the purpose of a pension. That answers that point, which is covered by the Teachers' Superannuation War Service Act, 1939, so that the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) is correct in his assertion.

I will now deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Peckham which certainly needs an answer. The position here is governed by the traditional method of handling the question in the Teachers Superannuation Act. As I understand it, it was agreed at the time of the 1925 Act that this qualification should be included, and there is no reason why we should alter that basis upon which the Teachers Superannuation Act is worked. What we are doing in this Bill is to deal with the position of advisers and organisers. We are not trying to alter the whole basis of the Superannuation Act and, therefore, on that main ground I fear the Amendment will have to be rejected.

Now let us examine the more detailed argument of the hon. Member for Peckham. He claims that it is unfair to have this condition in the first Sub-section of this Clause, and not in the second. If he reads the Clause with his customary legal acumen, he will see that it refers to those who might be employed by a local education authority, a type which I described in my Second Reading speech and he will see that that covers a very large field. The Clause refers to service: which to a substantial extent involves … the performance of duties of an organising or advisory character in connection with the provision of education or of services ancillary to education. The question of employment is not the issue. The question at issue is from whence and how these people are going to get their pensions. If they had three years' service as teachers, then they will come under the Teachers Superannuation Act. If they have done some teaching, but have also done some other work they will then come under the Local Government Superannuation Act and that is what the proviso to the first Sub-section of the Clause is really concerned with. The alternative would be that the large part of the staff of the local authority would come in under the wrong Act and that would upset the whole basis of the Act.

Coming to the second Sub-section, which deals with the voluntary workers, we do not want to restrict the field of employment of voluntary workers. It might be desirable where a person, who had not three years' teacher's experience but was on the staff of a local authority, might have transferred, for some reason or other, to the service of a voluntary organisation. It is for these reasons that we have made the proviso for the first Subsection but not the second, and I hope that this explanation will lead to the hon. Member not insisting on his Amendment.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

I think the Minister is likely to create an anomaly which is not necessary to the working of the scheme. You have for instance physical training and school feeding. There are those who are responsible for the whole system of physical training, or for advising on the correct method of feeding, calories, vitamins, etc. But this does not bring in the cooks who are cooking the food and those who are serving it. If you keep the Clause as it is, the organisers or advisers associated with any of the ancillaries will have had to be teachers. You will have a situation in which advisers or organisers who have had three years or some such period as teachers, come in under the scheme, while other advisers or organisers carrying on exactly the same task, and accepting the same responsibility, will be left outside. That is an undesirable anomaly. As I see it, staff engaged in advisory or organising capacities, whether they have or have not had teaching experience, should be treated alike, and in view of the limited number who would come into these categories, I think the anomaly should be removed.

Professor Gruffyd (University of Wales)

I think the hon. Member is looking at the question from a wrong angle altogether. This is not a scheme applying to those people who have been teachers and who have become advisers. Obviously their position must be regarded, because they have left their first occupation to study teaching, and this Bill covers teachers only. The other advisers will come in under the local government scheme.

Mr. Silkin

I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would deal with the other point I made. If the Amendment cannot be accepted, could he devise a method which could deal with the matter by regulation so as to give the Minister some discretion. As I understand it at present he has no discretion at all. It has to be three years' full-time service. There may be some very hard cases where, perhaps, some will have given three years' service but not all at full time. In such cases the Minister might be prepared to make a concession, but as the law stands at present he could not do so. That is why I ask him if, failing the acceptance of the Amendment, he would include a regulation which will give him the necessary discretionary authority.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Ede)

The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) raises the question of people who have not been teachers and their position in the service of a local education authority. Everybody in the service of the local authority has now to be in the local government officers' superannuation scheme. That is to say everybody in full-time service—a whole-time cook or any other assistant in the meal service—has to be brought into the local government officers' superannuation scheme, which, actuarially, is equally valuable.

1.30 p.m.

No person in the permanent employment of a local authority is outside that scheme unless he is in some other scheme, like teachers' superannuation. Similarly, an adviser in the employment of the local education authority, if he has had three years' teaching experience, can come under the Teachers (Superannuation) Act if he so desires. If he has not had three years' teaching service, he comes automatically under the Local Government Officers Superannuation Act and gets a benefit which is actuarially as valuable, although it is paid in a slightly different way. There is no real differentiation. We have to secure the position of the person who has had three years' teaching experience and then passes over to the administrative side of education. We allow him under this Measure, if he remains in the service of the local education authority, to come into that provided he has had three years' teaching service. That is the minimum service required by the principal Act in order to secure any benefit under that Act. The person who has had three years' teaching experience qualifies for one of the smaller benefits under that Act. That is why three years has been chosen.

My hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), with a perseverance which would be praiseworthy were it in a better cause, has asked my right hon. Friend whether he will not take power under the Regulations to deal with the situation. It would be introducing a new principle into the position of teachers in this service if we were to take anything less than three years' full-time service as the basis of the establishment of a right under the Teachers (Superannuation) Act. This matter was the subject of careful negotiations between bodies that represent organisers, secretaries, chief education officers, directors of education and that class of person, when the Act of 1925 was drafted. My hon. Friend the Member of Aberavon (Mr. Cove) was in the negotiations on one side and I was, I will not say in them, but very near, where I was consulted by some people on both sides. That minimum qualification was included in the Act of 1925 as the result of those negotiations and was welcomed by the directors and secretaries as a recognition of their past teaching service. It would, I am afraid, be too fundamental a departure from the arrangement on which the whole of the teachers' superannuation has been built up since the last war for us to undertake even to take discretionary power to vary that requirement.

Mr. Gallacher

Are we to take it from that reply that someone employed as an adviser, who has had two years and nine months' occupation as a teacher, will get local government superannuation, and that another one, with three years, will get teachers' superannuation, but that there will be no difference in the superannuation?

Mr. Ede

The hon. Member's chronological exercise is worked out quite correctly. A minimum of three years' teaching service is required to establish the right to remain under the Teachers (Superannuation) Act. If he has less than that the organiser or whoever he is comes under the local government Officers Superannuation Act.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Butler

I beg to move, in page 4, line 8, after "shall," insert: if he makes application to the Minister for that purpose within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner. This follows upon the Amendment which I moved previously and meets a point which was raised in the Second Reading Debate. It will secure that no organiser employed by a grant-aided voluntary body, whose service under the second Sub-section of the Clause should be treated as contributory service, will be automatically brought under this Bill. Thus, it will be open for any person working under a voluntary organisation to apply, and he will not be under a compulsion to obtain the benefit of the Act. The Amendment is desired by the voluntary organisations and is an improvement to the Bill.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)

I should be less than grateful if I did not say "Thank you" to the Minister.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.