HC Deb 06 February 1945 vol 407 cc1963-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)

I want to appeal to my right hon. Friend on behalf of a very limited class of teachers. In the course of his Second Reading speech, he expressed his regret that it was not possible to go further to meet the difficulty of those old teachers, who would have to make back payments. In many cases it will be very hard. It is admitted, in some cases, that they might not be able to do it at once, and for two years they might make the back payments without interest. After that, however, interest will be charged. I think that the Minister felt great sympathy for these teachers, and I want to ask whether it will be possible for him under the regulations to extend the period, in which they make make these back payments without interest. These teachers have been terribly underpaid in the past, and it is just these underpaid elderly women who will have the greatest difficulty in making back payments.

I hope, therefore, that the Minister in framing the Regulations will give favourable consideration to their case and will use all the power that he has to give them favourable terms. The Minister said in introducing his Bill that it was a measure of simple justice. It is a measure of tardy justice, and I think that it needed all his imagination to say that it was simple justice. It will be difficult for these people to understand unless they have a simple White Paper explaining what the alternatives are before them. I beg the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, to undertake to see that a White Paper which even an elderly supplementary teacher can understand is issued.

Mr. Butler

I will certainly do my best to meet the hon. Gentleman's second request and will see that the same clear conception of the Bill which is shared by His Majesty's Ministers is shared by those who will profit by it. We shall do our best to make clear the benefits that are likely to accrue to supplementary teachers under this small act of simple justice. In regard to his first point, he will remember that in my Second Reading speech I said that rules would be made under the Act by the Department and that, if payment was made within the two years, no interest would be charged. Let us examine the case of a supplementary teacher who suddenly learns that by the payment of a considerable amount of past contributions without interest she may be entitled to a pension, a thing she had never looked for before. It would be difficult to make much more generous terms; there is a two-year period in which we do not demand interest. Therefore, I cannot hold out any great hope that we can give better terms. All I can say is that this matter is not actually settled by the terms of the Bill. It will be laid down in rules, and in view of the hon. Gentleman's interest I will examine his proposal, provided that he and the Committee do not take it from me that it is likely the Government will depart from the arrangements I have suggested.

Mr. Cove

I would like to support my hon. Friend in his plea. This is an act of tardy justice to these people, who are not a great number. I have not been into the details of the finance, but I imagine that it will be difficult for them to pay out any money at all. It is notorious that they have had very low salaries and, after all, the State has tolerated them in the schools. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman in bringing them into this scheme. It will relieve a large number of the women of great difficulties, and if it is possible to make even more generous concessions to allow these people to enter the scheme, I and many Members of the House would be more than grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.