HC Deb 29 April 1949 vol 464 cc577-99

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Joseph Henderson.]

2.0 p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I desire to raise on the Motion for the Adjournment certain, as it seems to me, glaring anomalies in the system of payment of allowances to teachers working in the London area. It is a question which concerns a substantial number of teachers in a substantial number of schools in the Home counties, and one in which, I think, my own constituency furnished the most glaring of all the anomalies. I believe that in saying that I shall not carry with me the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), who, I think, will, if she has the good fortune to catch Mr. Speaker's eye, desire to put a somewhat different emphasis upon this matter.

The position is clearly highly anomalous in a substantial number of places, and I will put that point of view as briefly as I can to the House. Since 1945, under the Burnham award of that year, the London allowance, which I do not think will be disputed, is an allowance specifically paid to compensate teachers for the higher cost of living in the Metropolitan area, has been paid only in those areas in which the old Scale IV, before the 1944 Act, was paid. That has produced geographical anomalies of a complex and fantastic nature.

For example, so far as the south-western side of the Metropolis is concerned, the London area allowance is paid in Richmond, in Wimbledon and in the whole of the county of Middlesex, but it is not paid in the boroughs of Kingston and Surbiton, which are all but surrounded by the areas in which the allowance is paid. To be precise, these two adjoining boroughs find themselves bounded on the west across the river by the whole county of Middlesex in which the allowance is paid, bounded on the north by Richmond in which it is paid, and bounded on the east by Wimbledon in which it is paid. They are a kind of peninsula of academic poverty in a better remunerated ocean.

The geographical anomalies can be appreciated very easily. If the Parliamentary Secretary were to take from the courtyard of this House the stately limousine which no doubt awaits him, and were to proceed in that impressive vehicle in a south-westerly direction, the hon. Gentleman would find himself proceeding through an area in which this allowance is paid, through Putney and Wimbledon in which it is paid, but he would leave this area as he approached Kingston Vale only to rejoin it on going over Kingston bridge into Middlesex. He would then find himself still in that area as he proceeded to drive further out of London in a westerly direction. I think that illustrates the geographical anomalies which exists at the moment.

In this small area, particularly in Kingston and Surbiton, as the Parliamentary Secretary well knows, there is a substantial number of schools of the highest quality. The Parliamentary Secretary made a most agreeable speech on speech day at one of them some two years ago, and I can assure him that it is still recollected with great appreciation. Those teaching in that area are deprived of the allowance, while it is paid to those teaching in schools which almost surround that area. To make the matter more anomalous, in view of the grave housing difficulty in that area, a number of those who teach in those schools are forced to live in areas in which, if they taught in the schools of those areas, they would themselves get the allowance. As the whole object of this allowance is to counteract the high cost of living in those areas, the position is perfectly ludicrous.

One school, which has communicated direct with the Minister, has pointed out that 35 per cent. of its teaching staff do in fact reside in areas where the schools themselves, if they happen to teach there, command this allowance. That serves to underline the extreme anomaly of the present position. If the anomaly required to be further underlined that could be done by comparing what is happening in other occupations. The House will be familiar with the fact that not only in many Governmental services but also in wage agreements between employers and trade unions specific provision is made for the payment of higher rates in the London area. In point of fact, these London rates operate by agreement in Kingston and Surbiton in so far as the employees of local government are concerned. They also operate for bank officials, for the police, for building workers who are getting London rates, for printers, for firemen, and for engineers. Therefore, it does appear that the Government Departments, the trade unions and the private employers concerned have thought that the undoubtedly high cost of living in the area justifies that area being treated for the purposes of remuneration as being within the London area.

If the anomaly needed to be underlined further, there is the fact that certain people who are actually paid out of educational funds receive London rates. The cleaners in the schools receive London rates, the canteen workers and the administrative staff who are concerned in the operation of these identical schools and who are paid out of educational funds receive the London rate; but the teachers who teach in those schools are denied it. I will give one further example. As a result of the Rushcliffe Report, unqualified teachers teaching in nursery schools receive London rates. Further, if a qualified teacher is allotted to one of these nursery schools, he, or usually she, will find himself working opposite an unqualified colleague who, by virtue of being unqualified, receives the benefit of London rates. That is surely an absurdity which calls for early remedy.

The House will no doubt recollect the story of the proud mother watching her offspring marching with his regiment, who pointed out, with a happy smile, that all his colleagues were out of step except Bill. One may say with respect that the attitude of the Minister of Education seems to be that all his colleagues are out of step except himself. The Home Office, the Ministry of Health, the great trade unions, local government and everyone else adopt a different attitude, and it is only the Ministry of Education who have maintained, with otherwise admirable consistency, their attitude in this matter. It is so obvious an anomaly that most of the people concerned have for years been trying to obtain a remedy.

Before the war, before the change under the Education Act which will always be associated with the name of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), Kingston Borough Council was a Part III education authority, and it raised this matter. In 1942, the Surrey County Council took the same view. In that year, under the standstill agreement through the war, the matter was not further proceeded with. I emphasise that to show that this is not a new matter, but, on the contrary, has been a pressing matter for many years. In 1945, and again in 1948, the Surrey County Council took the same attitude. In this connection I should like to pay tribute to the efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. S. Marshall), who at the material time was chairman of the county council and its education committee. There has been a steady expression of local opinion on the subject. Passing to my own efforts, the House will recollect—and I apologise for it—that I have made myself perhaps infinitely tedious on this subject, both during the time of the much lamented right hon. Lady who formerly occupied the post of Minister of Education and during the tenure of the present Minister. So far we have not been able to obtain any specific action.

I think it would be fair and right—although I do not desire to weary the House with all the occasions upon which this matter has been raised—to invite the attention of the House to what was said by the Minister on the last occasion this subject was raised. It was on the 7th of this month, when the hon. Lady the Member for Epping and I put separate Questions to the Minister. I asked the right hon. Gentleman what action he was taking on representations which he had received from a particular school, and the right hon. Gentleman replied: I have received various representations about the London area allowance, which it is the function of the Burnham Committee to consider in the first instance. The Committee gave it full consideration when preparing the present Report and, as I stated in the House on 20th January last, I do not find sufficient grounds for asking them to reconsider the position at present. I then, in a supplementary question, ventured to invite the right hon. Gentleman's attention to certain anomalies, and he said: I know there are anomalies, but there always will be wherever a line is drawn. These teachers should approach the Burnham Committee through their association. Then the hon. Lady the Member for Epping asked a supplementary question, to which the right hon. Gentleman replied: Whether they are surrounded by other areas or not, a line must be drawn; otherwise they would be included. I am not very clear what that means. He went on: As I have said, representations should be made by the teachers to the Burnham Committee through their association, and not to the Minister. In answer to yet further supplementary questions the right hon. Gentleman repeated that assertion, and said: In my original answer I said that I saw no reason, in what has been put to me, for asking the Committee to consider the matter again at this time. But this does not prevent the teachers' association from making representations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th April, 1949; Vol. 463, c. 2206–7.] I should now like to comment on those answers. In the first instance the right hon. Gentleman says that the teachers concerned should apply through their associations to the Burnham Committee. I wish to make two points on that. First, this is not a matter which is solely the concern of the teachers. It is a matter affecting the parents of all children in the areas, if it adversely affects, as I shall seek in a moment to show, education in those areas. It is not a matter solely of the interests of the teachers, but is one—and I shall venture to quote expressions of non-teacher opinion on the matter—for people other than the teachers.

Secondly, there are in fact certain difficulties in the teachers pursuing the line which the right hon. Gentleman suggested. The present position, as I know the Parliamentary Secretary will be aware, is that, the two sides having failed to agree in the last negotiations they decided to accept the mediation of Lord Soulbury. That mediation was accepted, and as I understand it the ruling that the noble Lord then gave was that the status quo should be preserved until the Local Government Boundary Commission report had been implemented. I understand that, were the teachers to seek through their associations to raise this matter again they would be informed that they were bound by their acceptance of the Soulbury award, and that the matter could go no further.

A vital matter has, of course, arisen since the Soulbury award, and that is the delay over the Local Government Boundary Commission. It was thought at the time of the Soulbury award that the Local Government Boundary Commission would report quite shortly; but later in the year concerned, last year, it was announced that the Local Government Boundary Commission would not report until the Commission on Local Government had itself reported. It is now clear that the report of the Local Government Boundary Commission will not be implemented for a very substantial time. That was a fact not know at the time of the Soulbury award; and there is no reason to assume that it was known to the noble Lord himself at the time he made the award. That is, of course, a very material factor in the situation.

That, however, does not, as I understand it, affect the teachers' position were they to approach the matter in this way, and it therefore seems to me that this is a matter upon which it is right for this House to press upon the Minister the taking of initiative. There is no doubt—and it is perfectly clear from consideration of Section 89 of the Education Act—that the Minister can, if he so wishes, refer the matter on his own initiative to the Burnham Committee. Indeed, by implication he so admitted in his own answer, which I have already quoted to the House; he said that in this case he did not feel called upon to do so—a very clear indication that in other cases he could. Consequently, I desire to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that this is a matter in which he not only can but should intervene, inasmuch as there now exists, with no prospect of early redress, a fantastic situation which causes great hardship to the teachers concerned, and which, as I shall seek to show in a moment, is already tending to have an adverse effect upon education in the area.

Such a matter is surely one which comes within the overriding responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He is concerned with, and is indeed answerable to this House for, the maintenance of proper standards of education throughout the country, and if there is brought to his attention a matter which clearly affects that responsibility it is, in my respectful submission, undoubtedly his duty to take action. It is noticeable that so far he has not, on any of the numerous occasions upon which this matter has been raised, sought to suggest that the present position is satisfactory. He has merely sought to suggest that other and more dilatory machinery should be used. Now I do stress the point of other and more dilatory machinery, for this reason. The key to the time factor for an amendment, as I am sure the House will appreciate, was, under the Soulbury award, to have been not the report but the implementation of the Local Government Boundary Commissions' recommendations. That has now become a matter which will not arise for a substantial time. In support of that I quote from a leading article in the "The Times" of 30th December, last, which said: Through 1948 the Boundary Commission have had to go on with their preliminary tinkering without taking any decisions about particular areas. Because of that I urge that, whether the Soulbury award was a reasonable or an unreasonable one at the time it was made, the situation is now different, and it is that different situation which imposes upon the right hon. Gentleman the duty to take remedial action.

I did say at an earlier stage that there was strong local feeling on the matter. I am perfectly certain that the files of the Ministry of Education confirm that feeling. I am aware that, not only the teachers themselves in a number of the schools, but the parents' associations of those schools have written personally to the right hon. Gentleman, and in at least one case to the Parliamentary Secretary. I need not, therefore, weary him with them. He may be less aware that other opinion, outside the strictly educational world, has taken the same view. I should like to quote to him an authority which might perhaps appeal to him, and which he will at any rate acquit of acting in close political collaboration with myself, and that is the Kingston and District Trades Council. That body met on 8th April and passed this resolution. This Kingston and District Trades Council have noted with grave concern a decision of the Burnham Committee by which school teachers in the North-Central Division of Surrey, which includes Kingston-upon-Thames, have been refused payment at Metropolitan rates although such rates are general applicable to trades and other employments in the Kingston area. The Council feels that such discrimination against an area, as compared with adjacent parts of Surrey and Middlesex where the teachers receive London rates, must result in grave difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers with adequate abilities and qualifications, and that in consequence school children in the area are receiving less than the fair deal intended by the Education Act of 1944. The Council asks that the decision of the Burnham Committee may receive the closest consideration of the Minister so that obvious social injustice may be remedied without delay. I will also quote a different line of opinion—the leading article from the local newspaper, the "Surrey Comet." One can hardly imagine schoolmasters going on strike: were they to one section of the community at least might not be unhappy. Although such a happening cannot be visualised, those in this part of North-East Surrey have far sounded grounds for such action than the majority of those who currently take it to draw attention to less just demands. No members of a trade union would for so long have as meekly borne such unfair treatment as Kingston schoolmasters over what is technically known as London 'weighting'. Finally, I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the very cogent and powerful letter which was written to him by the headmaster and staff of the Tiffin Boys' School, that very ancient and extremely fine institution. The absence of any allowance to off-set the special difficulties of this area has had and is having a most unsettling effect on the staffs of the schools. Of the staff of our school, numbering 32, only eight of the pre-war members remain, and 21 have been here for less than five years. Men seek employment either where the London scale is paid or in the provinces. The rapid increase of the population of Kingston has very greatly added to the difficulties of what has long been part of the London area by its housing situation, its rates and its shopping prices. Many of us are compelled to live in districts where the London allowance is paid and travel daily to provincial' Kingston, and have been driven to heavy additional evening work to supplement inadequate salaries. I think that that makes clear the extent to which not only the rights of the teachers but the public interest is involved.

The Parliamentary Secretary knows very well that a large number of the younger teachers whom he is now enrolling are married ex-Service men. Such men have great difficulty in managing at all on the present scales of salary, with which I am not at the moment concerning myself. I say that because it means that they cannot afford to live in an area where the cost of living is at the metropolitan rate and they are not receiving the compensating London allowance. Therefore, with the best will in the world, they are compelled to move to areas where the London allowance is paid, or out to the provinces where the cost of living is lower. That is the reason why the different organisations which I have mentioned have all referred to the damage, potential and becoming actual, to education standards in the district.

Teachers are left not only with a justifiable sense of grievance, but teachers are lost to local schools as a result of the operation of this system. I appeal very strongly therefore to the right hon. Gentleman to take the initiative. I hope that we are not going to be met today, as I have been met now for the last three years, simply with reference to alternative and dilatory procedures. I hope that we are not going to be met with administrative obstacles. The Parliamentary Secretary knows that if his right hon. Friend draws this matter to the attention of the Burnham Committee as being a matter calling for urgent solution for the sake not only of the teachers concerned, but of the educational standards in the areas affected, speedy action will be taken.

He also knows perfectly well that unless he takes that action these anomalies will be perpetuated for a substantial time to come. It therefore seems right to appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to take the initiative and set the machinery in motion. There is no reason why he should not do so, and if he does he will not only be properly and effectively discharging his duty as one of the most responsible Ministers of the Crown, but he will also give great satisfaction to a substantial number of people who are doing an extremely good job under conditions of great strain, people who are sometimes living under conditions of inadequate accommodation and are a section of the community to which all Members pay tribute.

It is true, as stated in the leading article from the local paper, it is inconceivable that teachers should go on strike. If they did, I am advised by certain younger members of my family that there might be a section of opinion which would regard that prospect with stoical resignation. It is of course the fact that the very high sense of duty which actuates the teaching profession makes such action quite impossible, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to take advantage of that sense of duty.

2.27 p.m.

Mr. Cove (Aberavon)

I shall detain the House for only a short time, but in that time I hope to put clearly and definitely the view of the National Union of Teachers, the main body represented on the Burnham Committee. Before doing so, I should like to welcome the aid of the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), who has spoken more particularly on behalf of his constituency. There is no doubt whatever that teachers not only in the London area but in the extra-metropolitan area, as well as teachers throughout the provinces, would like to have an increase in their salaries. But that is not the main issue. The main issue is the rights, privileges, freedom and initiative of the Burnham Committee.

The Burnham Committee is one of the finest examples of conciliation that has been set up for settling salaries in this country. It is one of the best embodiments of the policy pursued by one of the right hon. Gentleman's distinguished predecessors—the Whitley form of settling wages and salary disputes. While the National Union of Teachers welcome the aid of public opinion and particularly of Members of Parliament for an increase in salaries, they are quite clear and definite that nothing should he done to impair the prestige of the Burnham Committee.

I was one who had something to do with the framing of the Section dealing with the powers of constitution of the Burnham Committee as embodied in the 1944 Act. The initial Clause gave more powers to the Minister than the teachers desired, and we got it modified in the sense of leaving the initiative and freedom of the Burnham Committee unimpaired. While we welcome any aid for increasing teachers' salaries in any area in the country, we do not desire, even on this specific issue, a directive from the Minister of Education. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will make it quite clear that he will maintain the inviolability of the Burnham Committee.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

By "the inviolability of the Burnham Committee" I take it that the hon. Gentleman does not mean that he can see any objection to the Minister, for good cause, referring a specific matter to that Committee for their consideration and report.

Mr. Cove

I believe that the Minister must be very careful as to what issue he gives a directive about to the Burnham Committee. For instance, if there is a directive on this issue, what would be said if there was a directive about the salaries of infant school teachers? There is a great shortage of infant school teachers, and there are very bad conditions in many infant schools. There can be directives from all sorts of directions, but as a matter of practical politics, and, certainly, of principle, the Minister must be careful as to what directives he gives to the Burnham Committee. I happen to know that the teacher representatives on the Burnham Committee—the National Union of Teachers and the Secondary School Teachers' Association—fought for what the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames desires. They made out a very strong case; indeed a stronger case than the hon. Member has put forward today. But opposition came from those bodies which are employers of the teachers—the local authorities.

I do not wish to go into the private dealings of the Burnham Committee, as I do not believe that would be proper, but the truth is—and it might as well be said now that this matter has been raised on the Floor of the House—that opposition came from provincial authorities against any London addition at all. They took the view, with which the National Union of Teachers and others disagree, that there should be no distinction between the London authorities and others. Their argument, as I understand it, was "A higher rate of pay in London has the effect of attracting teachers there, to the detriment of the provinces. The best teachers will go to London, and we cannot have that." No opposition came from the teachers at all. Indeed, it was the opposite; they pressed this matter, but the local authorities took the other view.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Some of them.

Mr. Cove

The majority. The matter had to go to arbitration. The teachers' side resisted, and the matter went to the Burnham Committee, whose Chairman was Lord Soulbury, who gave their decision.

I can remember 1931, when a directive was issued to cut teachers' salaries by 10 per cent. I am, therefore, very chary of Government interference with a negotiating body which has been set up by Act of Parliament and given freedom and power to initiate. I want that body to remain free to settle these difficulties by conciliation and, if necessary, by arbitration. I hope the Government will today take the view that nothing must be done by them to impair the power, prestige and initiative that lies in the hands of the Burnham Committee.

2.35 p.m.

Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)

I think the House should be grateful to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) for having raised this question today, and having dealt with it so fully and explicitly. As an old member of the Burnham Committee myself, I should not disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) in saying that nothing ought to be done to disturb the rights, privileges and freedoms of that Committee. I do not believe for a moment that the Parliamentary Secretary would make any such suggestion; certainly, the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has said nothing about the Parliamentary Secretary giving a directive to the Burnham Committee. I am sure that that is the last thing that either he or I would suggest. There are, however, ways in which this matter can be publicised and I have reason to know that the National Union of, Teachers is extremely grateful for this publicity. There are ways in which it can be used tactfully at least to get this problem re-examined

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon has said that this is no new problem and, of course, it is not. I do not want to weary the House with the history of this matter, but we should remember that before 1945 there was a London scale and that it was generally acknowledged that teachers living in London itself should receive higher salaries than those in the rest of the country. At that time there was a great deal of bitterness among teachers living in the Metropolitan Police area. They were constantly forcing this issue, and it was not surprising, therefore, that in 1945, when the geographical scales for teachers were abolished, the problem should be raised sharply in the Burnham Committee. The position has greatly deteriorated since that time and particularly during the past year.

The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames mentioned some of the areas in Surrey. For the consideration of the House and the Parliamentary Secretary I want to refer to some areas in Essex. If this were a class, and if I placed the map which I have in my hands before it, there would be no difficulty in seeing that what the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has said is completely true. His constituency is like a peninsula surrounded by an area which has the London allowance; the Chingford area of my constituency is another, and so is that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) who, I am sure, would sympathise with my views today. The map which the Parliamentary Secretary has been kind enough to hand to me, is a complete justification of the statement that there are teachers living and working in those areas who ought to be receiving the London allowance.

Mr. Cove

What will happen to the Burnham Committee if every Member of this House pleads for the salaries of teachers in his or her constituency?

Mrs. Manning

Every Member is not pleading, because it is not every Member who has the justification that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames and I have today. Middlesex alone was successful in putting their case, but Surrey and Essex were not; and, that being, so, we are justified in asking the Parliamentary Secretary today what steps he intends to take in this matter. We do not ask him to give any directives. We do not want the prestige and the freedom of this great negotiating body, of which I was proud to be a member, to be interfered with, but we can see that there are ways in which this matter can be approached with tact.

It is true, as the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames pointed out, that the impasse in 1948 was settled by putting this matter to Lord Soulbury for his award, but he would never have reached the kind of decision he did, if it had been known how long the Boundary Commission was going to take to report. It is because of the dilatory methods of the Boundary Commission that we now find teachers who are living in the Metropolitan Police area of London receiving less salary than every other kind of employee in those areas, including in the cases I have raised, the officials in the Forest Division, responsible for education in these areas who are themselves receiving the London allowance. This is not only an anomaly; it is positively fantastic.

I want to press one point which has hardly been mentioned at all this afternoon, and that is the damage which this state of affairs is doing to the children in the schools. Because of this damage to the education of children, this is a matter which the Minister of Education, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Ministry of Education should take up and should have some share in pushing to a satisfactory conclusion. There is not a parents' association of standing in these two areas I have mentioned, which has not written to me on this subject. I should like to quote from a letter which I received from the Chingford County High School Parents' Association in which they say: The Parents' Association of Chingford County High School is anxious to have your assistance in a matter which is causing its members grave concern. The school is experiencing serious difficulties in respect of teaching staff. Applications for vacancies are extremely limited in number; changes in the personnel are so constant and so frequent as to have a most adverse effect on the education of the pupils. We are convinced that the basic cause of these difficulties is the scale of salaries in operation since teachers in Chingford schools do not qualify for the London allowance. This comes from the parents of boys and girls who are at the high school period of their work. Many of them are preparing for extremely important examinations and are going on to the University. They find themselves faced term after term with a different teacher. How can we expect them to have the same chance in their preparation, as boys and girls in schools which are only two minutes' walk away but where the teachers are content to remain, because they have more satisfactory salaries? The whole position is one which cries aloud for immediate remedy. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will not say that it is a matter for the Burnham Committee alone, but that he will find some way in which Lord Soulbury's award, which was never intended to put this matter off for three years, can be reconsidered and thus help, not only the teachers but the children attending these schools to receive that measure of justice, which today they are denied.

I am very grateful that this matter has been raised in the House. I am sure the National Union of Teachers will be grateful that it has been raised and the parents, teachers and children will have cause to be much obliged to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, if as a result of this short Adjournment Debate, something can be done to press this matter forward without delay.

2.45 p.m.

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

Many of the things that have been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House arouse sympathy at the Ministry of Education. I can understand many of the difficulties which have been pointed out this afternoon—difficulties which affect the prestige and salary of teachers in particular areas, but I should like to spend a few moment in replying to the speeches that have been made and in pointing out the difficulties which face my right hon. Friend in this matter. We would do nothing which even lightly would interfere with the prestige and the independence of the Burnham Committee. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) quite rightly stressed the tremendous importance to the whole educational world of the independence of this Committee. We must do nothing to impair or interfere with its rights and freedom.

I do not intend to go into the history of this matter, but I should like to begin with the main Burnham Report which took effect from 1st April, 1945, and was to run for three years to 1948. In paragraph 8 there is provision for additional payments for teachers in the London area, and as the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has pointed out, this meant a drawing up of a list of areas to which this additional payment would apply. I do not know for certain how this list was compiled except that the general guiding principle was to base it in the main on those areas which in the past had been paid Scale 4 salaries. There followed from that a certain modification in the list because of the grouping of areas in the divisional executives. The list of territories included in the London area in 1945 was to some extent arbitrary, because it depended partly on historical considerations and partly on the administrative layout which followed the passing of the Act of 1944.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has asked us to pay particular attention to the area of Kingston and of Surbiton, and my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), using a map, has asked us to pay particular attention to Chingford, Wanstead and Woodford. It is quite obvious, as has been pointed out, that if we begin to pay particular attention to all areas, in very many of them a similar case could be made. We would be presented with the same old problem of knowing where to draw the line. It is not true that Kingston and Surbiton represent a large isolated area. In fact, they form a divisional executive area with Malden and Coombe on the one side and Esher on the other. May I proceed to the terms of the present Burnham Report, which took effect from the 1st April, 1948?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

To avoid any misunderstanding I should point out that I said that the case of Kingston and Surbiton is an extreme example of absurdity in this matter, but in a lesser degree substantially the same arguments apply to other divisional executive areas.

Mr. Hardman

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that his arguments would apply also to Esher and to Malden and Coombe—

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Up to the Metropolitan Police boundary.

Mr. Hardman

—up to the Metropolitan boundary that is used for educational purposes.

I want to proceed now to the effect of the Burnham Report, which took effect on 1st April, 1948, and goes on for three years to 1951. It has been said by the hon. Member for Aberavon that when this Report was being prepared a great deal of thought and discussion were devoted to the question of the London area from the viewpoint of salaries. I am extremely grateful that the point of view of teachers in the provinces has also been mentioned today. I am not sure myself about the cost-of-living argument. I live some 40 miles from London, in Sussex, and I have lived in London and in one of its outer suburbs. There seems to me no distinction in the cost of living in an area 40 miles from London in my direction from a London suburb not far from the area mentioned by the hon. Lady the Member for Epping. The argument, therefore, is an extremely difficult one to use, and makes this drawing of a line more and more difficult if we are to do so with justice to all concerned, and if it is to be drawn solely with regard to the cost of living. The provincial point of view—which refers to the area outside the Metropolitan Police boundary—has, therefore, an equally good case as far as the cost of living is concerned. I think the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames will agree that this argument is reasonable and that this question raises difficulties for the Burnham Committee, however thorough their discussions may be.

When discussion took place on this question in the producing of the Report of 1948 it was recognised—I am giving no secret away—that the list which then existed was to some extent arbitrary. All parties, I am assured, were anxious that a solution should be found which was defensible upon logical grounds. The attempts to find a logical solution fell into two parts. There was the view that the special allowance to London teachers should be confined to the London area as it exists for educational purposes plus the two adjacent county boroughs. There was also the view that if the London area was to be extended at all it should be extended to the outer boundary of the Metropolitan Police area. It was found impossible to reconcile these two viewpoints and it was decided to continue the London area as it had existed since 1945 until—as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, and as has been emphasised also on this side—the findings of the Boundary Commission regarding the London area had been not only published, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said, but also implemented.

Undoubtedly—and this has happened in other parts of the country also—when the Report of the Boundary Commission was made known, it was expected that implementation would follow pretty quickly. There has, however, been delay in the implementation—or, indeed, in ally thought of an immediate implementation—of the Boundary Commission's Report in this matter. I want to point out that when this matter was referred to Lord Soulbury he did not make an award. He did not, as the hon. Member for Aberavon suggested, make a decision or, as the hon. Member for Epping said, make an award. What he did was to offer a suggestion. It was simply a suggestion that the implementation of the Report of the Boundary Commission should be awaited.

Reference has been made this afternoon to procedure under Section 89 of the Act of 1944 in relation to Burnham Reports. Under that Section the Committee is allowed to make proposals to the Minister on their own motion and the Minister in turn is empowered to require the Committee to submit proposals. The present Burnham Report operates until 1951 and thereafter from year to year, subject to termination on one year's notice by either panel. Thus, either panel can terminate the working of the present Report at the end of three years—in 1951—or give their year's notice and terminate it at the end of that year. Whatever new proposals are made, I am confident that in preparing them the London area allowance will be considered once more. It has been thoroughly considered in the past, but that is no reason at all why it should not be gone into again.

The possibility of the. Minister requiring the Burnham Committee to submit proposals is, however, a very different matter. On two or three occasions, as the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has pointed out, my right hon. Friend, in answering also Questions from the hon. Member for Epping, has said that there are no sufficient grounds for asking the Burnham Committee to consider this matter afresh. His reasons are first, that the whole question was explored 18 months ago and second, it would be a most unusual course to require the Burnham Committee to submit proposals unless there were clear grounds that such proposals could be satisfactorily framed. I think my right hon. Friend can be allowed judgment in this matter when he believes, and expresses the belief, that a satisfactory solution cannot at present be framed.

The two areas in Surrey to which the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has referred are only part of the problem. When we look at the map there are, as has already been pointed out, other areas which have an equally valid case. As my right hon. Friend has said in answer to Questions, whenever the line is drawn anomalies will exist. Until the whole question is examined as a complete problem I do not think that any line drawn arbitrarily to include certain areas would be at all effective. The Burnham Committee can report this matter at any time after suitable notice. It is my view, and also that of my right hon. Friend, that the right course is to leave action in the hands of the panels. When they think the time is appropriate, it is for them to act.

While acknowledging the difficulties and the dilemma of this problem, the line I must take today is that I cannot commit my right hon. Friend to the drastic action on behalf of Kingston and Surbiton which has been suggested by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames. The Report has only recently been received from the Burnham Committee—about 18 months ago a complete examination of the problem took place when the Report was being framed. We must leave it to the democratic initiative of those on the Burnham Committee to take action at what they think is the fit and appropriate time.

2.58 p.m.

Mr. Ralph Morley (Southampton)

I welcome the assurance by the Parliamentary Secretary that it is not the Minister's intention to issue any directive to the Burnham Committee.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am sorry to have to tell the hon. Gentleman that his hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon used the same phrase. I never asked the Minister to issue a directive. I asked him, as he is empowered to do, to refer this matter to the Committee for consideration. There is all the difference in the world between this and a directive, which would, undoubtedly, affect the prestige of the Committee. My suggestion in no way interferes with the prestige of the Committee in asking them to consider a matter in which there is room for consideration.

Mr. Morley

At present either panel of the Burnham Committee has the power to ask for the Burnham Committee to be recalled to consider any salary question. I have no doubt that if either the teachers' panel or the authorities' panel of the Burnham Committee were to ask for a reassembling of the Committee to consider modifications of the scales that that request would be granted by the Burnham Committee and modifications would be considered. It is one matter to give a hint, as I think the Parliamentary Secretary has done this afternoon, to the two panels of the Burnham Committee that it would be well for them to reassemble and to consider this question of the London allowance: it is quite another matter for the Minister to give a directive to the two panels of the Burnham Committee that they must reassemble to consider this question of the allowance.

Mrs. Manning

I think that this is very unfair both to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and to myself. Neither of us used the word "directive." I specifically said that I am sure that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames did not mean a directive and did indeed use almost the same phrase which the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Morley) is now using.

Mr. Morley

If the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) did not mean a directive—

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I never used the word.

Mr. Morley

He did not use the word "directive," but he said that the Minister had the overriding responsibility for the decisions of the Burnham Committee.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman must not misrepresent me. I never said that the Minister had the overriding responsibility for the decisions of the Burnham Committee. I said that the Minister had the overriding responsibility for the efficiency of our-national system of education. That is quite a different matter.

Mr. Morley:

Yes, I know. But I do not think that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames realises the implications of his own argument. He certainly used the words "overriding responsibility." He was talking about the overriding responsibility in respect of the London allowance on teachers' salaries. The undoubted inference which anyone will draw when they read his speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT, the undoubted inference which all teachers will draw, is that he wanted the Minister to ask the the Burnham Committee to reassemble to reconsider the London allowance. He wanted the Minister to take the initiative and to give a directive to the Burnham Committee about what their future decision should be.

The Minister has gone some way along that road. He has been wise. He has merely made a suggestion that it would be well for the Burnham Committee to reassemble to consider the question of the London allowance, whereas if he had given a directive to do so, he would have upset both panels of the Burnham Committee and would have prejudiced subsequent negotiations. Perhaps I might declare my interest if the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has sufficiently recovered from his coma of surprise and disgust to be able to pay some attention to what I am about to say. I was a member of the Burnham Committee during the time which led to the salary settlements of 1945 and that of 1948. The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has made an eloquent and lucid speech in favour of the extension of the area of the London allowance. I agree with all his arguments but I assure him that all of them, and even more besides which were quite as weighty and relevant, were put by the leaders of the teachers' panel on the Burnham Committee, Sir Frederick Mander and Mr. Ronald Gould.

The opposition came from the other side of the panel. First, they wanted to abolish the London allowance altogether. Then they modified their attitude and suggested that the allowance should be confined to the L.C.C. area and to West and East Ham. On the other hand, the teachers' panel put forward the suggestion that the London allowance should be given to all teachers within the Metropolitan Police area. There was a deadlock in the matter and, because there was a deadlock, the question had to be referred to arbitration under the chairmanship of Lord Soulbury. In this country once a matter is referred to arbitration one accepts the arbitrator's award. We on the teachers' side of the Burnham Committee were in honour bound to accept the award of Lord Soulbury. Lord Soulbury made that award thinking, I believe, that the report of the Boundary Commission would be available within a short time.

There is evidence that the report of the Boundary Commission will not be available for some years to come, and that is a good reason why the Burnham Committee should re-assemble. I am quite certain that the hint which has been thrown out by the Parliamentary Secretary will be taken up by the teachers' leaders in this country, who will make an approach to the Burnham Committee so that it might again assemble and consider the question of the London allowance, and in that respect, the hon. Member for Kingston will have done well in bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

In conclusion, I might tell the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames that there are other teachers in the country beside the teachers in the metropolitan and extra-metropolitan areas. They, too, have definite grievances with regard to salaries.

Mrs. Manning

They have not got such good Members as the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames.

Mr. Morley

Not Members who are so consistently vocal, but consistence in speaking is not always a sign of expert Membership. Teachers throughout the country have grievances. There is a feeling among them that, as compared with the salaries now enjoyed by doctors and dentists, their own salaries are not as comparable as they ought to be, in view of the respective importance of the three professions. Teachers also see that the policeman is now going to have a happier lot in future, because he will start on a minimum of £330 a year, whereas the male teacher starts on a minimum of £300 a year. There is also the difficulty of getting infants' teachers and women teachers, because women teachers have not yet obtained equality of pay with men. All these things are very much perturbing the minds of teachers, and I have no doubt that an approach will shortly be made by the teachers' leaders to the Burnham Committee so that all these things may be considered, not merely the question of the London allowance in isolation, but all the grievances of teachers. We believe that a meeting will take place in the near future, and I hope that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames and the teachers of the country will find that a satisfactory result will come from the next meeting of the Committee.

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