§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
On a point of order. May we be told how the debate will proceed? Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to deal with the provisions of the Bill which apply to Scotland? If so, may we be assured that the Minister of Education for England and Wales will deal adequately with Scottish education problems?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that that is a point of order, but I have been told that a Scottish Minister will sum up the debate.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. There is no point of order. The hon. Member must listen to the speech that is about to be delivered. If he has a point about it he can make his speech later.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I think that for their convenience hon. Members on both sides of the House would like to know whether the debate is to be divided into two parts, in view of the fact that the Bill affects Scotland as well as England and Wales. We should also like to know—and, naturally, Mr. Speaker, we cannot interfere with your choice—whether speakers will be chosen in different periods of the debate for Scottish and English affairs.
§ Mr. Speaker
I have no knowledge of any proposed division of the debate. I understand that both England and Scotland are affected by the Bill. I will try to give both parts of the United Kingdom a fair share, but hon. Members must allow the debate to proceed. The Minister knows much more about it than I do.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ Sir D. Eccles
As hon. Members who have raised points of order have said, the Bill is divided into two parts, the 210 first applying to England and Wales and the second to Scotland. I will try to make the general argument affecting teachers North and South, but I think it would be for the convenience of the House, and it would certainly shorten my speech and allow more hon. Members to speak, if the specifically Scottish points were left to my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who is to wind up the debate.
§ Mr. Rankin
Surely the Minister will agree that that is completely wrong. When we deal with a Bill for Scotland it is always the case that the Minister concerned introduces it, but now we are told that he is merely to sum up. Surely that is completely wrong.
§ Sir D. Eccles
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to make my speech he can then see what the situation is.
This promises to be an unusual education debate. Most of our discussions on education are about school buildings, or the size of classes, or the shortage of scientists and technicians, and so on. We very seldom talk about the personal affairs of teachers. I think it is a very good thing that we should.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I hope that what is said in the House today will stir up a little more public interest in the conditions and the prospects of the teaching profession.
When I became Minister of Education I was very soon made aware that all was not well with the 240,000 teachers in the service of the English and Welsh local authorities.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I have no doubt that the same is true in Scotland.
These teachers felt that in recent years their profession had lost ground in public esteem. They had seen the gap narrowing between their salaries and the money taken home by industrial wage earners. Their purchasing power had not kept pace with the rise in prices, but a lot of other people seemed to them to be very much better off.
The teachers make a mistake if they think that they have been singled out for 211 harder times. The fact is that the professions as a whole are worse off than they were before the war, and some of them, like the clergy—
§ Sir D. Eccles
—and Her Majesty's junior Ministers, by comparison with prewar, are even worse off than the teachers.
§ Sir D. Eccles
Nevertheless, it is the anxiety of a large section of the middle class about their standards of life which lies behind the opposition to this Bill.
Professional dignity and an insolvent pensions account go ill together. If one desires, as I hope and believe the whole House does, to reverse the decline in the fortunes of the teachers, then one of the things we must do is to put their superannuation account right. [HON. MEMBERS: "Pay them more."] Since the teachers themselves are feeling the pinch and are depressed about their future, the only Clause in the Bill which holds their attention is Clause 2, under which they are asked to pay 1 per cent. more in contributions.
I do not suppose that any hon. Member in any part of the House is surprised at the hostile reaction to Clause 2. The teachers are too intent on staking a claim for an increase in salary to see whether what they get for the extra 1 per cent. is worth while. That is quite understandable from their point of view, but the House can take a longer view, and I believe that we can show the teachers that what they most desire is likely to be brought nearer by the Bill.
We have to have a new Superannuation Bill because—and now I am speaking for England and Wales—the Act of 1925 is unworkable under present conditions. How full of illusions and untenable positions the world of thirty years ago appears to us now. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) had just put us back on the Gold Standard.
§ Sir D. Eccles
Under that metallic spell, the value of money was expected to remain constant and invulnerable for ever. 212 As for teachers' salaries, to which their retirement benefits are tied, nobody expected them to move one way or the other. For form's sake, a Clause was included in that Act requiring seven-year valuations, but it cannot have been taken seriously, for there was no provision in the Act to deal with any deficiency which might be revealed by such a valuation. In the event, there was already a small deficiency in 1933 and there was a huge deficiency in 1948.
My predecessor, who bore the brunt of explaining what an actuarial deficiency is, and I too, have found this to be a very difficult job, and I acknowledge with gratitude that the National Union of Teachers has now put on record that it does not quarrel with the Government Actuary's arithmetic. But perhaps, for the sake of those who had a classical education at Eton and Winchester, I should have one more try to explain how this yawning deficit has arisen.
If a group of people arranged with an insurance company to pay premiums over a period of forty years in exchange for annuities at the end of that time, and then, during the period, asked for those annuities to be substantially and several times increased, they would expect the insurance company to agree only after negotiating extra premiums. That is what happens with any superannuation account. The teachers, however, have a right to higher pensions every time their salaries are marked up, and, therefore, there can be no negotiations: the payments into the account must be increased from somewhere, or one day that account will not be able to meet its liabilities.
The actuarial deficiency with which this Bill deals is expected by the Government Actuary to be by March next about £290 million for England and Wales, and a further £34 million for Scotland. We need not delve into the mathematical assumptions made by the Actuary, because the Government are now taking over the whole of the deficiency as a charge on the Exchequer alone. That is a concession quite without precedent in size, and it clears the way for us to consider the two issues vital to the future of the Teachers' Superannuation Account. First, what rate of contributions will keep the account solvent as from 31st March next, and, secondly, how will any new deficiency, should one occur, be dealt with?
213 It will be remembered that in the Bill which my right hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh) with great courage introduced, she asked for 12 per cent. contributions, although the Exchequer was then covering only two-thirds of the outstanding deficiency. Why, then, do I now have to ask for the same 12 per cent. when the Exchequer is covering the whole of the outstanding deficiency? Had Parliament enacted the 1954 Bill, the account would now be hopelessly in deficit—by as much as it was thought to be two years ago. For, in the meantime, the Government Actuary has told us that teachers are living longer, and we have introduced equal pay and additional special allowances for posts of responsibility. All these things together greatly increase the total of the benefits which, one day, have to be paid out. Therefore, after 31st March next, the account must be fed by larger contributions.
The Government Actuary gave us two calculations about these future contributions. Taking the rate of interest to be earned by the balance in the account as 3 per cent., he said that we should need at least 13½ per cent. in contributions. Three per cent. is about the average rate of interest applied to the pension schemes in other public services. On the other hand, if the teachers' account continued to earn the exceptionally favourable rate of 3½ per cent., then, according to the Government Actuary, we should need 2 per cent. less in contributions, or at least 11½ per cent., for England and Wales. The figure for Scotland is a quarter of 1 per cent. lower.
You, Mr. Speaker, will not be surprised at that, for the Scots work harder and die sooner than the English. That refers to the Scots who stay in Scotland; we know that those who come South work harder, and we hope that they live longer. As part of the give and take between the Exchequer, the local authorities and the teachers, we have maintained the exceptional interest rate of 3½ per cent., and we have rounded off the new rate of contributions to 12 per cent.
There is very little in this rounding off for the employers. All it does is to give local authorities a faint, slender hope that the new scheme will not, almost from the day it is launched, again be in deficit. The 214 National Union of Teachers does not dispute that the new account should start off with a higher contribution than the old 10 per cent. They do not like the rounding off to 12 per cent., and they say that whatever the new figure may be it should not be divided equally. They want the employers to take the larger share.
If the Government gave way on these two points the Bill would be wrecked because, unless the scheme starts with 12 per cent. equally divided between the teachers and the employers, I cannot maintain Clause 4. This is the most important Clause in the Bill, for it puts upon local authorities the responsibility of meeting, with Exchequer grant, all future deficiencies. Without it the Bill is not worth having.
This is the answer to the teachers, when they say, "Why pick on us to pay 1 per cent. more than we have been paying?" No pension scheme based upon the contributory principle has ever been in such a mess. For fully twenty-five years now the 10 per cent. contributions have been actuarially insufficient to build up a balance to meet the known liabilities. If the teachers say, "No other public employees have ever been treated in this way," they must expect other public employees to take this the other way round, because in the case of other pension schemes, the account was put right eighteen years ago. Local government employees had a new Act in 1937, and for eighteen years every new entrant into local government service has been paying 6 per cent.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Is it not clear that this is the first time any people in a position similar to that of teachers have been required, as existing contributors, to pay the larger amount?
§ Sir D. Eccles
It is clear that this is the first time in history that we have had an estimated deficiency as great as £290 million for England and Wales.
§ Sir D. Eccles
That has no lump sum benefit; it is an entirely different scheme. The right hon. Gentleman should know that, because he was once Home Secretary.
It would be a very great pity if the teachers take as their chief argument what a large body of people other than the 215 teachers consider to be discrimination in favour of the teachers. I desire—as I believe the House does—to improve their position. It does not improve the position of the profession to choose an argument which is not accepted by the rest of the body of public servants.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)
When the Minister quotes other public employees as being somewhat disturbed by what he regards as unfair discrimination in favour of the teachers, is it not reasonable to expect him at least to give the whole story? Is he not aware that, right from the inception of superannuation in local government, it has always been the obligation of local authorities to make good the arrears upon a quinquennial valuation?
§ Sir D. Eccles
From 1937. We are now trying to put the teachers on the same footing as other local government servants. To clear up the past position—which is unique—and to settle the future, is surely worth the 1 per cent. extra contribution. After all, to pay it is not the end of the story. It is immediately open to the teachers to include this extra charge upon their income as an argument in the Burnham Committee. The Minister of Education has nothing to do with the negotiations in the Burnham Committee, but the House is aware, as I am, that such negotiations are actually going on now.
Hon. Members—especially those interested in local government—will also wish to know that the local authorities had no illusions about the importance of Clause 4. They were most reluctant to see it included in the Bill. By "authorities" I mean those with Socialist majorities just as much as those with Conservative majorities. There is no politics in this matter. The local authorities would not look at Clause 4 unless I assured them that I would stand by the 12 per cent. equally divided between the teachers and the employers. As for the teachers, they must have Clause 4. Unless they get it, any rise in their salaries at any time will throw the Superannuation Account into deficit again.
Although Clause 4 is much the most important of the Clauses in the Bill it is by no means the only return which the teachers get for paying 1 per cent. more. Clauses 5 to 16—there are comparable 216 Clauses for Scotland—provide for a number of improvements in benefits or in the methods of calculating benefits which are not now enjoyed and which cannot be enjoyed unless the Bill becomes law.
Clause 5 slightly increases the unit of calculation for lump sum payments on retirement. Instead of one-thirtieth of the average finishing salary it is to be three-eightieths multiplied by the number of years of service. The maximum number of years which can be counted for the annual pension is to be increased from forty to forty-five. The teacher will not be able to count more than forty years served before he is 60, but to enable him to get the maximum pension he may, under Clause 6, go on counting years of service till he is 70 instead of 65 as at present. Under the Bill, his right to retire at 60 on pension remains intact, and the appointing authority keeps full discretion to appoint and retire teachers.
Clause 7 abolishes the existing rule that the maximum salary to be reckoned for superannuation is £3,000. It does two other things of wider importance. First, where a teacher goes on in employment at less than the salary he has been receiving he may, by continuing to contribute his percentage of the higher salary, preserve his right to have that salary taken into account in reckoning his superannuation. Secondly, the salary for this purpose is to be reckoned on the average of his last three years instead of five. This may make a considerable difference to the teacher who has earned his highest salary over only a short period.
Hon. Members will see that when salaries are raised, the teachers coming to the end of their careers get an increase in pension far greater than the extra contribution—whether we reckon it as 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. makes hardly any difference—which they pay during their last few years of service. By this concession we are making this gap still wider, greatly to the benefit of the older teachers. We hope that Clauses 5, 6 and 7 will make it more attractive to teachers to stay longer in service. We need them badly, especially while the bulge is passing through the schools.
Clause 8—the corresponding Clause for Scotland is Clause 28—gives power to establish by Rules schemes to provide pensions for the widows and children and dependants of teachers. The cost of these 217 benefits would be met by a deduction from the teachers' lump sum payment or the death gratuity. I will return to this question in a moment. Clause 10 has been included to allow a teacher, if he so wishes, to surrender the lump sum payable on retirement in return for a higher pension. Clause 11 clarifies the existing law in regard to the additional allowances and short-service gratuities in respect of further periods of service. Clause 12 is of help to incapacitated teachers. I should perhaps illustrate it by an example. A woman teacher with a salary of £600 breaks down at the age of 33, with between eleven and twelve years' service. Under the present law her pension would amount to about £83 a year and her lump sum to about £220. If the new provisions were in force she would receive a pension of £150 and a lump sum of £400. Clause 13 is aimed at anomalies which impede movement between grant-aided and independent schools. Clause 15 is designed to remove a restriction on teachers who take temporary teaching posts abroad, and to allow service up to a maximum of five years to count for pension, even if they have not been in contributory service in this country.
This list of additional benefits, each small in itself, adds up to a really valuable total. We know that they are all wanted by the teachers affected, and they would all be lost if we were unable to get the Bill.
On one outstanding question of interest I have not yet been able to give the teachers a satisfactory answer. I refer to the widespread demand for a widows and orphans scheme over and above the reallocation of existing benefits allowed for in Clause 8. In brief, Clause 8 allows us to do for teachers what has already been done for local Government and other public servants, namely, to accept the surrender of two-thirds of their lump sum benefit in exchange for a widow's pension of one-third of the employee's pension.
§ Sir D. Eccles
This is the benefit which the teachers get under Clause 8. It is a welcome improvement. It puts the teachers on the same footing for the first time as the employees in a number of 218 other schemes, but it does not go as far as the teachers wish. They are thinking of the sort of case where the teacher dies between the ages of 30 and 40, leaving a widow and children. In that case his widow gets a sum of money which is clearly inadequate for her to carry on, and she must find some other source of income. The introduction of equal pay has strengthened the case of the men teachers for something extra by way of widows' and orphans' benefits. In the majority of cases the family responsibilities of the male teacher are greater than those of the woman teacher. I supported equal pay, which I think is just, but I also think that there is something in the argument which is now brought forward by the men.
The kind of scheme which the English and Welsh teachers would like—and I have every reason to think that it is the same sort of scheme that the Scottish teachers would like—would cost new entrants a further 2 per cent. contribution on their salaries. It would cost a great more for the teachers already in service. The teachers would be willing to pay half that contribution themselves. On the other hand, the local authorities, who have to think of the repercussions upon their other pension schemes of making such a contribution, do not feel able to join in this proposal. Here again the House should know that all the English and Welsh authorities stand firmly together in their refusal to make any such contribution. There are no politics in this matter in England and Wales. They all take the same view.
The Government sympathise with the authorities in their objection to making such a serious breach in their present arrangements. My personal view is that a more generous widows and orphans' scheme will have to come. For the moment I cannot see my way to do it. I cannot see how to get it into the Bill, because the Government could not force it down the throats of the local authorities. I undertake to go on looking for a way. My advice to the House is that it would be better to let me negotiate, if I can, on this important point.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves this point, will he say what is the purpose of putting in Clause 11, since it does precisely nothing? Though it may make 219 a woolly promise to teachers, even then it means that the teachers will have to pay the whole lot.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The hon. Lady should not be misled by the use of the word "may." I can assure her that we shall make these regulations, which for the first time will allow teachers to reallocate the lump sum benefits which they get under the Bill. These regulations are being worked out now, and we will bring them forward as soon as we can. This will be a distinct improvement, because teachers do not have that power at present.
The teachers are saying a lot of uncomplimentary things about the Bill. I expected it, and I do not in the least resent their criticism, because I know that we share the same objective. We are after the same thing, which is to improve the position of their profession. The difference between us is that the Government are more optimistic about the teachers' prospects than they are themselves. For them, the 1 per cent. is the last straw; for us, it is a necessary step to better things. [An HON. MEMBER: "What better things?"] Wait and see.
If one asks what it is that makes up the sum total of the attractions of becoming a teacher, one thinks of salary, pension, the school buildings, the size of classes, and I think, above all, the respect in which the general public holds the services rendered by the teachers. On all these aspects of a teacher's life, there are signs of solid gains. A new school is being opened every day; more old schools are being reconditioned and improved; this Bill will greatly improve the teachers' pension scheme; the Government are about to bring forward proposals for raising the pensions of retired teachers; and the Burnham Committee is at this moment considering an increase in the basic scales of teachers' pay.
All this is taking place in an improving climate of opinion. In a way, the teachers are fortunate. Events are on their side. The shortage of scientists, technologists and technicians is providing a very useful lesson to the public in the value of education. My right hon. Friend—the greatest 220 of my right hon. Friends—addressing his constituents at Wood Green—[HON. MEMBERS: "Woodford."] I am referring to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). I think that the place where he spoke was Wood Green. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Never mind. My right hon. Friend drew attention to the need for expansion in our technical education. With powerful support of that kind, there is a great deal we can do.
Those of us who are interested in education can say with complete truth to the general public that we shall get more scientists, technologists and technicians only if education advances over the whole front, from the primary schools to the universities. Here is the teachers' opportunity. If they seize it with energy, they can regain the prestige which the profession feels it has lost. Against that encouraging background, it really is good sense to ask that from March next the Teachers' Superannuation Account should be kept solvent in a manner consistent with the dignity of a great profession. That is the purpose of the Bill, which I now commend to the House.
§ Miss Bacon
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether, if he is invited, he will make the same sort of speech that he has made this afternoon to next year's annual conference of the National Union of Teachers, instead of the electioneering speech which he made at their last conference?
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
The Minister of Education referred, in the concluding parts of his speech, to those lesser Clauses of the Bill which he described as conferring certain benefits on teachers. I think he hoped that they would make them regard the whole Bill as more palatable, but he did not spend a great deal of time on those Clauses. In that respect, I shall follow his example, because we know very well that the heart and centre of this Bill are the Clauses which deal with contributions, actuarial calculations and provisions to meet future deficiencies.
The principles that underlie those parts of the Bill are the same for both the English and Scottish sections of the Bill, 221 except that there is, if anything, a rather stronger ground of objection to be urged against the Minister's proposals on behalf of Scotland than there is on behalf of England and Wales. Having mentioned that, I feel that I can with confidence leave the point to be further developed by some of my hon. Friends, in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who will be winding up the debate for this side of the House.
The Minister was trying to suggest that his proposals are necessary to make the Teachers' Superannuation Account respectable and solvent, and he endeavoured to support that argument by certain comparisons drawn between the provisions for the superannuation of teachers and those for superannuation of various other groups of public workers. Many of us in the House, with this Bill in mind, have recently been studying the details of various superannuation schemes, and it is apparent not only that they differ very widely, but that one must not, without examining the merits or demerits of any particular scheme, make casual comparisons between one feature of a scheme and one feature of some other scheme, but consider each scheme by itself, and—and this is most important—in the light of its history and what were the assumptions on the part of all the parties concerned when the scheme was created.
It is for that reason that I propose to ask the House to devote a short time to considering the history of teachers' superannuation. That is an aspect of the matter which was entirely disregarded by the right hon. Gentleman, and I think I shall make it clear to the House why he disregarded it. In 1918, provision was made for teachers to be granted superannuation benefits on a non-contributory basis, and salary negotiations followed that. It was admitted by the Minister of Education at the time, the late Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, that the salary arrangements then entered into were certainly influenced by the fact that the pensions were to be non-contributory, and that, had they been contributory, the teachers would have asked for, and would have been entitled to receive, higher salaries than they did ask for or receive. That was the position in 1918—a clear understanding all round that the pensions were to be non-contributory.
222 In 1922, the teachers were informed that they must pay 5 per cent. by way of contribution. This was done for one reason only: the Geddes Committee had reported and the Government were looking for somebody from whom they could collect money in some form or other. The proceedings seemed, even to the House of Commons of that day, to be somewhat dubious.
In the debate on the matter, a Motion to adjourn the debate was carried against the will of the Government. The Government adopted the device, familiar to Governments in such a situation, of appointing a Select Committee to inquire whether there was any breach of faith involved in what it was proposed to do. The Select Committee was drawn from a House in which the Government of the day had a very large majority. Even so, it managed to decide by a majority of only one vote that there had not been an implied pledge to teachers that their pensions should be non-contributory. However, the Government got their way and in 1925 the main Act, on which the scheme now rests, was introduced to make the 5 per cent. contribution permanent.
One would have thought that there had been enough breach of faith already in this story, but we now have to notice another feature. In the 1925 Act it was laid down that there should not be a fund for teachers' pensions, that the money collected in contributions should not be separately invested but should go as an appropriation-in-aid in the Ministry of Education Estimates, and that correspondingly the Treasury should make itself responsible for enabling the Ministry to pay out pensions. It was not to be in a fund, but in an account.
The reason given for that arrangement was that it was financially more desirable to the Government of the day. The money received in contributions was to be used at that time for the redemption of war debt, for which there were strong financial arguments. To defend that transaction, the then Minister of Education, the then Lord Eustace Percy—he was rejecting the idea of a fund and defending the idea, which was adopted, of an account—used the following words:Whereas under Lord Emmott's fund it would have been the fund that was responsible for finding the benefits and not the Treasury, under our proposal the Treasury is solely responsible for finding the cash to pay the benefits.223 He was not speaking only of that time or even of the future. He went on to examine what might happen forty-five years after the time at which he was speaking. He prophesied that in 1970 the total gross bill for teachers' pensions would amount to about 20 per cent. of teachers' salaries. In fact, at the present time, when we are still some years short of the period of his prophecy, the pensions payment amounts to only about 12½ per cent. of the salaries bill and not to 20 per cent.
Lord Eustace Percy was looking ahead to a time when the pensions payments would represent 20 per cent. of the salaries bill. He emphasised that even when the pensions payments were 20 per cent. of the salaries bill, only 5 per cent. would be paid by the teachers; 2 per cent. net, when grant had been allowed for, would be paid by the local authorities and the remaining 13 per cent. entirely by the Treasury.The whole increased liability,he said,must fall on the Treasury."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1925; Vol. 123, c. 1783–4.]What does the history of this matter sum up to? First, teachers were told after the First World War, "Negotiate your salaries on the basis of non-contributory pensions." They did so and were then told, in what any ordinary person would regard as a breach of faith, "Now you have got to pay contributions after all." Next, they are told, "Your contributions are to be 5 per cent. and the scheme is not to be funded. The Government will get some financial advantage out of its not being funded but, in return, you must understand that the advantage to you of this fund is that for a great many years ahead the Treasury will continue to bear any increased liability."
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
The hon. Member will, of course, agree that that undertaking was in the context of the question as between an account and a fund and was an undertaking that no liability resulting from the fact that there was not a fund would ever be imposed upon the teaching profession.
§ Mr. Stewart
No. Lord Eustace Percy's words will not bear that interpretation. His point was that one of the advantages of not having a fund was that even when teachers' pensions had reached the height 224 that he was forecasting, the whole increased liability would still fall upon the Treasury. Now, by further breach of faith, teachers are to be told, "It is not to fall wholly on the Treasury. It is partly to be borne by higher contributions from you."
The historical evidence shows very plainly that there was not at any time any justification for assuming that teachers could, in the ordinary course of events, be required to meet any actuarial deficiencies that might arise. There is nothing in the 1925 Act to justify such an assumption, and in the statements made by the Minister at the time he introduced the Act there is every justification for assuming the contrary.
I stress that, because in some quarters it has been suggested that what the Minister now proposes to do is merely to ask from teachers something which in reason, in common sense and in equity they ought to be prepared to pay. I emphasise that there is no evidence whatever in what has happened throughout the whole history of this matter to justify such an assumption and that we are far more justified in assuming the contrary.
From that it follows that when the Minister says, "I am going to wipe out the actuarial deficiency," he is merely saying, "I agree that in future I will not use against the teachers"—or against the local authorities, for they are one of the losers under the Bill—"an argument for which, in fact, there is not the smallest shred of historical justification." That means that this offer to wipe out the deficiency is quite valueless and that to try to strike a bargain with teachers and local authorities whereby they have to part with hard cash and the Minister merely parts with an argument that had no validity anyhow, is not a reasonable argument.
It is worth while noticing, further, that whereas the Minister's whole argument here is insubstantial, the fundamental difference between his present Bill and the abortive Bill that did not reach the Statute Book last year is merely one-third of this insubstantial argument. There is, in fact, no real difference between what the right hon. Gentleman is now proposing and what the Government prudently decided they would not do last year. I hope that this point will be considered by certain hon. Members 225 opposite, of whose resolute opposition to last year's Bill so much was made at the time.
§ Mr. Stewart
This is not altogether a matter which can be settled by reference to the past alone. Let us now look at the state of the actuarial account, which moves the argument from the past to the future. Many people have made an attempt at trying to state in simple language what an actuarial argument is, and the Minister joined the number this afternoon. My own venture on this task would be as follows: an actuarial statement is not a statement of present fact. It is not an infallible prophecy, neither is it a wild guess. It is a well-informed judgment of future probabilities, that judgment being made on the basis of certain assumptions for which the actuary is not responsible and which may or may not prove to be correct. The further the period ahead for which the actuary is required to forecast the more difficult it is to say whether or not those assumptions will be fulfilled.
I do not dispute, and I do not think anyone who has studied this matter at all seriously disputes, that the actuarial calculations which the Government uses are as good as actuarial calculations can be, but they are subject to the limitations and assumptions I have just described. What, in fact, do those actuarial calculations tell us? There is this frightening figure of £290 million which has been waved about in a fashion which might give the uninitiated to suppose that the Government have actually to find £290 million this year. Of course, the Government have not to do anything of the sort. I realise that that is generally recognised here, but perhaps it is just as well that it should be recognised in the country as a whole.
What do these figures mean? They mean that, granted certain assumptions of a kind which it is reasonable to make but which may or may not be fulfilled at some future date, the State, in order to pay teachers' superannuation, will have to find a sum in excess of what is paid in contributions. If we look ahead over a period long enough to include the death of every person who is now a teacher in service, that liability might amount to £290 million. When is that 226 future liability, to be incurred over so long a period, really going to press on the national finances? If the calculations given by the Government in reply to Questions are correct, in twenty years from now this account will show as large a balance and no greater an actuarial deficiency than it shows at present.
If we try to look ahead to the period when the liability will actually become real, when the State will actually be having to pay out more than has been paid in, we shall have to look at a period of at least thirty and, possibly, forty years ahead. So we are considering liabilities which may or may not fall on the community in a generation's time. As the right hon. Gentleman so truly said, looking back thirty years, "How full of illusions does the world of thirty years ago seem today." His successor in thirty years' time may very well make the same pronouncement about the arguments now advanced in support of this Bill.
Of course, if there were solid grounds for supposing that in the next thirty years this nation was going to become progressively poorer, then indeed not only with regard to teachers, not only with regard to education, but with regard to every department of the national life we ought to be considering what sacrifices should be made now as against future needs. But is that, in fact, the argument of the Government? What has the Chancellor of the Exchequer been telling us for quite a long time?—that the reason we have to prune the roses, trim the ship, bridle the horses, pull on the brake and engage in all the other metaphorical actions, is so that the ship can sail safely into the future in which, in twenty-five years' time, the national income will be doubled. If even half the prophecy of the Chancellor is fulfilled the whole case for a Measure of this kind melts away at once.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I think the hon. Member has got it exactly upside down. The richer the country gets the more the teachers can expect their salaries to be increased and, therefore, the larger will be the pensions and lump sum benefits and the sooner the Superannuation Account will be in deficit.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has it wrong there. The possibility of the account becoming in deficit depends on what happens to real 227 money incomes, what the Chancellor was referring to, and what I was referring to, was real incomes. If money incomes go up the account will go out of balance, but what we are discussing here is the real problem of the possibility of the nation not being able to afford these superannuation benefits and its power to afford something depends on the quantity of goods and services it will produce.
What the Government are saying is, "First of all, you must be prepared"—this section of the community, that section and the other section—"to sacrifice now as the price of sailing into the Chancellor's golden future." At the same time, the Government are saying, "But the future is not as golden as all that and teachers are to accept a further sacrifice because we are afraid that it will not be so golden." There is neither to be jam tomorrow, nor on any other day.
§ Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
The hon. Member seems to be giving a lecture on actuarial calculation. If he were an actuary he would surely have to take into consideration the trend, which has been going on all through history, of rising money value.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am obliged to the hon. Member and also to those who corrected his slip of the tongue, but what I have been saying has been in reference to increase in the real wealth of the nation, As I say, most of the policies of the Government and the justification for present sacrifice is based on the assumption that there will be such an increase of real wealth. If we make assumptions of that kind the justification for a Measure of this kind disappears at once.
§ Mr. David Price (Eastleigh) rose—
§ Mr. Stewart
I am sorry, but I cannot give way again. I have already given way three times on this question and other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate.
I take up the point raised by the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison). It is true that if, during the next generation, money incomes, and teachers' salaries with them, rise, this sum would cease to be actuarially sound. 228 The Minister himself said that there was but a faint, slender hope that, with the 12 per cent. contribution, contributions and benefits would in future balance. He said also that Clause 4, which makes provision for future liabilities, was essential to the Bill. What does that mean? It means this. At present, we have a situation in which teachers and local authorities pay a contribution of 5 per cent. each and it is known that there is to be a deficit, which, as the law stands, would be met by the Treasury. If no legislation were introduced, the Government could not escape liability to pay teachers' pensions. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not dispute that.
If this Measure is enacted teachers will pay 6 per cent., local authorities will pay 6 per cent. and the account will still not be in balance. The deficit will have to be met from public funds, partly central and partly local. That means that when we have brushed aside all the dust of the actuarial calculation the net effect of this Bill will be that whereas we have a scheme which is not self-balancing at present, and teachers pay 5 per cent., in future we shall have a scheme which will still not be self-balancing, but teachers and authorities will pay 6 per cent.
The net effect of this legislation, therefore, is to require every year in future £1¾ million from the teaching profession and to net £¾ million from local authorities with the further requirement from local authorities of two-fifths of an unknown liability. We might introduce this point, in passing. One criticism which can already be made of the financing of education is that it causes a very grave anxiety to local authorities, and we may, unless reforms in local government are introduced, face a situation in which the nation can afford to spend more on education, but the local authorities cannot face the rate burden. This Bill is not only injuring the teaching profession, it is also imposing a levy of £750,000 on the local authorities, and two-fifths of an unspecified future liability.
What is the answer which the Minister gives to the teachers who object to the Bill? When we strip it of all its verbiage, what the Minister is saying to them is, "Why should you bother? Try to get it back out of Burnham." I wonder whether the local authorities will receive that advice from the Minister with quite the 229 enthusiasm that he expects. This is a profoundly irresponsible way of facing the matter. It means that the Treasury is collecting this sum from the teachers and the teachers are invited to get it back, if they can, from the local authorities. The local authorities will get 60 per cent. of it back from the Exchequer. If the teachers were successful in carrying out the advice which the right hon. Gentleman is giving them, the net effect of the Bill would be to increase the financial burden on the local education authorities.
When we look at the Bill the teachers are justified in saying that, in effect, it means a reduction of their salaries. It does not make the fund actuarially sound, because to make provision as to how a deficit shall be met in a fund is not the same thing as creating a fund in which there will not be a deficit. We have already an account in which there are bound to be deficits. The Bill does not alter that situation. The Bill simply adds to the contributions which teachers and local authorities are to make. Therefore, the teachers are justified in regarding this as a salary reduction, and they are entitled to say that to take such a salary reduction from them is to put them in a unique position at the present time.
The Minister tried to answer that by saying, "There are other people in what are commonly called middle-class occupations who are worse off relatively than they were before the war." That is true, but that is surely not a reason why one group of people pursuing a middle-class occupation should have a crack taken at them by the Minister. It has been argued that teachers have no particular ground for objecting to paying a contribution of 6 per cent. because in many other schemes the employee pays 6 per cent. but, as I said earlier, we cannot argue this matter by taking first one item and then another, according to what suits our argument, out of the other superannuation schemes.
It is quite true that in many other schemes the employee pays 6 per cent., but it is also true that in many of these schemes the contribution paid by the employer is higher than that paid by the employee. It is true that in many of these schemes provision is made for future deficits to be met by the employer, and that several of these schemes have proper provision for widows' and dependants' benefits. So if the fact that in some 230 schemes 6 per cent. has to be paid is to be quoted as an argument why the teachers' contributions should be raised to 6 per cent., we must call into consideration all the other respects in which their superannuation scheme differs from the superannuation schemes of other workers. By and large, it will not appear that they are exceptionally favourably treated, to say the least.
It is true that one of the features in the life of our country today is the very important difference which there is between that section of the population which enjoys a reasonable measure of superannuation and that section which has nothing but the National Insurance Act to rely upon. I think that that is one of the biggest differences between different groups of workers in our nation.
My counsel to the teachers or to any group of workers on this and other matters, would be to make common cause with some of their less fortunate fellow subjects. Whatever one may think about that, we certainly shall not improve the situation by trying to drive down any one group, which is, in effect, what this Bill is doing. Why this particular group? I think that we know the reason. It is the same reason that has caused their salaries to be cut in times of past financial crisis. It is the same reason that caused the contributory schemes to be introduced in 1922. The reason is that they are handily within Government's reach, and it is fairly easy administratively to get at them. To get at certain other groups may be a more difficult Parliamentary transaction.
Teachers have been called upon, in recent years, to include in their work an ever-increasing range of functions. The nation considers it a good thing that there should be school milk and school meals on an increasing scale. That requires additional work from the teachers. The nation, looking at the grave traffic problem on the roads, considers it a good thing for young people to receive instruction in road safety. Immediately it is suggested that this is something that the teachers can do. Another group is alarmed that there may be an increase of drunkenness among young people, and a suggestion is made, "Cannot something be done about this at the schools?" So this goes on. There is hardly any social problem which arises without the suggestion that the teaching profession has a special contribution to make towards solving it.
231 I do not complain about this. As modern life becomes more complex, the task of education becomes more complex, and the teaching profession should be, and I think are, prepared to face that responsibility. But the community cannot reconcile making these ever-increasing demands on the profession with an attitude which says, "Whenever it is decided to reduce public expenditure or to take certain financial measures the teachers are always to find themselves in the most vulnerable position and most likely to have their standard of life affected."
The Minister is the latest in making increased demands on the teachers. Not long ago, if he was correctly reported in the Press—and he will tell me if he was not—he thought that it would be a good thing for teachers to have more education, more culture, more travel and what have you. As the poet says:What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed.I am sure that it would be good for teachers and perhaps for all of us to have more education, more culture, more travel, and even more "what have you," but it is hardly the best way of helping us, the teachers, or anyone to get more of these desirable things to invite us to part with 1 per cent. of our incomes for nothing. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not for nothing."] An hon. Member says "Not for nothing," but let us look at the remaining Clauses of the Bill. I do not propose to make any lengthy comment on them. There are a number of minor administrative matters which are satisfactorily dealt with.
There is the Clause which deals with the Minister's powers to make regulations to provide for widows and dependants. I think that it should again be emphasised, not so much for the benefit of this House, but to make the matter clear in the public eye, that the Clause in the Bill which makes it possible for the Minister to make arrangements which will help the widows and dependants of teachers is one which involves no additional charge on public funds. It is a rearrangement of the teachers' money, and as such, it cannot properly be regarded as a concession at all.
After all, it is the business of the right hon. Gentleman to see that such resources as are available are employed in the 232 manner most likely to give general satisfaction. He cannot say that by performing that duty he is in any way entitling himself to ask the teachers to make a contribution from their salary. It is true that there is a rise in the lump sum from one-thirtieth to three-eightieths. There is a more generous provision for teachers who have to give up their work for reasons of health. But the best comment on all the remaining Clauses of the Bill, which today the Minister described as "really valuable," was given a little while ago, when the almost identical Clauses in the previous Bill were described in the Bill itself asnot imposing any appreciable charge on public funds.There is no substantial quid pro quo in those Clauses.
I think that we should bring this point home to the Minister. He is supposed to be the Minister of Education. We are delighted that he is in the Cabinet and we understand the working of the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility. But, after all, Ministers in the Cabinet are supposed to put up some sort of battle for the needs of their own Departments, and this is not a Bill which assists the work of the right hon. Gentleman's Department at all. It is a Bill which assists the Treasury. There are a great many things which might have been in the Bill dealing with teachers' superannuation. There is the minor matter of making provision for pensions to be paid monthly instead of quarterly. There is the somewhat larger matter of allowing incompleted as well as completed years to count for superannuation purposes. There is the possibility of including all service to count towards pension. There might have been the possibility of making more generous arrangements for teachers on supply, and teachers doing part-time work, who are a very valuable part of the teaching profession at the present time.
Above all, there might have been a real provision for widows and dependants. The Minister has given us the reason why he could not include the last matter which I have mentioned. No doubt he may have other reasons for not being able to include the other things. But why could not he have taken the line, "I am the Minister of Education. It is not my business to sponsor a Bill which makes no real educational advance, but may 233 possibly make the Treasury's problem a little easier"? Why could not he have said that he would not sponsor this kind of thing until he was able to include in it some of those points to which I have referred? That would have been in keeping with the right hon. Gentleman's position as Minister of Education.
If we look to the past, we find nothing to justify this Bill and much to condemn it as a breach of faith. If we look to the future, we find that an attempt is made to justify it on the most uncertain assumptions, stretching forward to a period of time, to a date about which we really cannot make realistic assumptions at all; and those future assumptions, also, can only be of any relevance to this Bill if the other predictions of the Government about the economic future of the country prove entirely erroneous. After turning away from both the past and the future and looking at the present effect of the Bill, we see that it is simply to collect a certain amount of money from the teachers and the local authorities, and that this cannot be justified out of any consideration for the needs of education, or of justice between teachers and other members of the community, but simply as part of the general tendency of the Government to increase economic inequalities and injustices. Neither in the past, nor in the future, or in the present is there any valid argument for this Bill, and I earnestly hope that the House will reject it.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Like the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), I shall direct my attention exclusively to what is the main purpose of this Bill, to solve a problem which called aloud for solution and could not be allowed indefinitely to remain in its present state, namely, the condition of the Teachers' Superannuation Account. The fact that that Account is in immense deficiency is not, of course, disputed. But, in order to decide whether this be the right way in which to deal with it, we have to analyse with some little care the reasons for the deficiency emerging, and I should like to divide those reasons, broadly, into three.
Deficiencies in the account for a superannuation scheme of this kind, where contributions of a percentage of salary 234 earn pensions related to finishing salary, can arise in three ways. They can arise through the effect of inflation. They can arise through real increases in salary from time to time. They can arise through changes in the actuarial factors, such as longevity, rate of retirement and the actual form and calculation of the superannuation benefits themselves.
Let us take the first of those cases, the effect of inflation, which necessitates, from time to time, teachers' salaries being adjusted so that their real earnings may remain, at any rate, roughly the same. Inevitably, that process results in a deficiency in the Account. But that is not a ground on which I should defend any alteration in the proportion of salary which the teacher contributes. In real terms it would be a mere swindle. In real terms, what happens is that the teacher, year by year, continues to contribute the covenanted percentage of his real earnings, and on retirement receives a pension bearing the covenanted relationship to his real final earnings. Simply because of a fall in the value of money, there is an apparent deficiency, while in reality the State has been the gainer; for during the periods in which adjustment of salary has lagged behind the fall in the value of money, the State has been getting its education, to that extent, on the cheap. After the adjustment has been made, after the adjustments of salaries and superannuation have been made, it is still only paying its teachers and its retired teachers the same proportion of the national income as before. If, therefore, this Bill involved any element of the deficiency due to inflation being borne by the teaching profession, I should not support it.
Now let us consider the second case of a deficiency possibly arising, that is, that there may from time to time have been real increases in teachers' salaries, either absolute increases, whereby the teaching profession went forward on the same footing with a general advance in living standards made possible by the rise in the national wealth, or else a relative increase, whereby their pay went ahead of the pay of other professions and employments. There again, in neither case do I think that the deficiency ought to be made a ground for an increase of contributions. If the real rise in salary is 235 part of a general rise in the national standard of living, then the same considerations apply as in the case of inflation: for there is no real increase in the burden which the nation bears in respect of its education, no real increase in the proportion of the national wealth which comes to the teaching profession.
On the other hand, if it be—I would not say that this has happened over the last 20 or 30 years, but rather that the contrary has happened—but if by any chance it be that the real income of the teachers has improved relatively to the rest of the community, then that would so clearly be designed to produce a definite effect, that of attracting talent and manpower to the profession, that we ought to think long and earnestly before we attached any form of deterrent to it. Therefore, I would reject entirely any proposal to visit deficiencies arising from inflationary or real salary changes upon the teaching profession or the teachers' employers.
There remains to be considered the third group of factors. Here we come on to very different ground. Over the past 20 or 30 years those factors have changed substantially. The expectation of life of a teacher entering the profession today is appreciably greater than—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Shame."]. I am astonished at an hon. Member deploring the improvement in the expectation of life of a teacher. I think it must have been a misunderstanding.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
If the hon. Member does not understand irony, it is time that he did.
§ Mr. Powell
Perhaps it was a rather misplaced irony.
As I was saying, not only has there been this substantial improvement in the expectation of life, but other actuarial factors, too, have changed. One of those is what is known technically as the salary slope. Since the amount of the superannuation is attached to the salary earned in the closing years of a teacher's life, it follows that the sooner a higher proportion of teachers reach or approach their closing salary the more they will contribute towards their superannuation, and vice versa. As has been shown in the Actuarial Report of 1948, the salary slope has altered in the last 30 years so 236 as to make the actuarial factor less favourable—slightly, but none the less definitely.
Finally, this Bill itself improves the superannuation conditions of the teacher.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
I am following the hon. Member's argument very carefully—and it is a very closely reasoned one—but surely he is wrong when he says that the change in the slope of salary has been actuarially unfavourable. What has happened in the last 30 years is that teachers have more quickly got on to the maximum. They have been paying their contributions at the maximum for a longer period, and any actuarial effect of that has been in favour of rather than against the Actuary.
§ Mr. Powell
The Actuary's Report and the Report of the Working Party on this Bill were to the contrary effect, as I could quote to the hon. Member.
Finally, there is the fact that this Bill itself improves the benefits which are earned by the contributions. Taking all those factors together in one group, they represent the value of an additional 1½ per cent. contribution which, if it be divided upon the principle underlying the 1925 Act—which, after all, both sides of the House have accepted both in and out of office; whatever be the history—and I agree that, in some ways, it is a deplorable history—of the 1925 Act, the fact remains that both sides have accepted it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Both parties, when in office, have for 20 or 30 years accepted the 1925 basis of providing for superannuation. We cannot get away from that. If on that basis, in that ratio, we divide the 1½ per cent. equally, it produces an increased contribution from the teaching profession of ¾ per cent. as compared with the 1 per cent. in the Bill.
At this point, one has to deal with the argument of the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) that, even though that be so, even though the teachers are today and will, in future, be getting more for their contribution than its actuarial value—getting more than was implicit in the 1925 calculation and scheme—nevertheless the statements of the Government in 1925 ruled out for ever, and in any circumstances, any increase whatever in teachers' contributions. The hon. Member made the astonishing claim that whatever the benefits teachers might get under 237 whatever future Bill there might be, and under whatever conditions of longevity, survival and service, the Government were always bound to 5 per cent.
I cannot think that that is so. The hon. Member was, I am sure, misrepresenting the Minister of Education of that time, who, whenever he argued that no Government could in future come forward with a request for an increased contribution, was speaking clearly and decidedly within the context of the fact that interest was being credited but not actually earned on the surplus in the account, and was stating—he stated it over and over again, and of course everyone has stated the same since—that it would be monstrous if any increase in contribution were to be required on that ground.
That is made clear by the words of Lord Eustace Percy, as he then was, in Standing Committee on the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill, 1925. Replying to his opponents, Lord Emmott and the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove)—who is still with us—Lord Eustace Percy said:Therefore the case contemplated by Lord Emmott and the hon. Member is this, that at some future time a Government will come to the House of Commons with an account prepared in accordance with this Bill, which shows that the teachers and local authorities contributions, with those of the State, have been sufficient, on the assumption of a fund, to meet all the benefits chargeable against that fund. The account would show that, if there has been a fund, there could be no question of raising the teachers' contributions or of reducing the benefits, and the Government in face of that evidence would have to come to Parliament and say, 'Here is the account; here is the bond we made with the teachers some years ago; now we ask you to break that bond not only with the teachers but with the local authorities as well'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 30th June, 1925; c. 1868.]It is perfectly clear from the run of that passage, and in particular from the words that the contributions… have been sufficient … to meet all the benefits chargeable against that fund.that Lord Eustace Percy was referring to the contingency of an account credited with a notional sum of interest and able to meet the commitments of the scheme and yet the Government, in spite of that, coming to Parliament to ask for an increase in contribution.
§ Mr. Cove
My memory is that Lord Eustace Percy was arguing that there was as much security and stability in an account as there would be in the fund. As a matter of fact, the scheme in the 1925 Act was forced on the Committee by the statement of the Minister that if the Committee persisted in saying that there must be a fund—and there were Conservative Members who were as keen as we were on this point—that if we persisted that there must be a fund, he would withdraw the Bill. It was with that threat that the whole scheme was put through.
§ Mr. Powell
But the hon. Member overlooks the fact that if, under the 1925 Act, there had been a fund instead of the account, we should still be in exactly the same position, and the deficiency would be at exactly the same figure which is mentioned in the Financial Memorandum to this Bill. The point is that, before the deficiency is arrived at, the interest has been credited just as it would have been earned by a fund.
§ Mr. Cove
Will the hon. Gentleman answer me this? Surpluses are spent as an appropriation in aid of the Ministry of Education. The money paid in by teachers and local authorities is dissipated as soon as it comes in. This is what I want to ask the hon. Gentleman. Where is there any security in the future under this account? What we are doing is piling up a debt for the future, and putting future citizens to the necessity of having to pay greater taxation. The great fear among the teachers is that there is no stability and no security in this scheme. Indeed, the 6 per cent. makes it worse.
§ Mr. Powell
But on the point whether any future increase in contribution was repudiated or not, I come back to the fact that it was only repudiated if proposed because of a deficiency equivalent to the notional interest on a fund which did not exist. Had the fund existed, and had the interest been earned, there would still have been the same deficiency as that which we are facing, and dealing with by this Bill.
So we come back to this 1½ per cent. for the extra value of what present and future teachers are getting, which, on the basis of the 1925 Act, falls to be divided equally between the two parties to the superannuation scheme. I do not see 239 how one can argue that in any contribution scheme, any scheme with a contribution based upon the value of the benefit to be earned, the teachers can claim to pay less than the actuarial value of what an entrant tomorrow into the teaching profession is going to enjoy, with all the other possible changes throughout his teaching life ignored.
There remains then only the trivial difference between the ¾ per cent. and 1 per cent.—30s. gross on an annual salary of £600. I myself think that for that ¼ per cent. we are really making a great advance. We are really getting more than value for money for that ¼ per cent. I leave out of account the fact that the actuarial factors which have cost 1½ per cent. will certainly go on in the same direction, that longevity—the national health—will continue to improve, and that long before the persons entering the teaching profession today are drawing their superannuation it will be more than ¾ per cent. which will represent the additional cost of their probabilities of survival. But I leave that on one side.
What, I think, we are getting in this settlement—for settlement it is—is escape from an intolerable position, a position in which the teaching profession, on the face of an Act and on the face of a settlement, owing to the total change in the conditions since 1925, could be considered to be liable for deficiencies which ought not to be placed upon their shoulders. What we are getting in return for that ¼ per cent. is not only the writing off of a past deficiency but the writing into an Act of Parliament of provisions as to what shall happen in the case of any future deficiencies which are revealed.
Yet I do not want to see this the end of the story. We have now got a superannuation scheme which is contributory only in the sense that there is a fixed contribution from the employee, which is actuarial only in the sense that that contribution is fairly calculated in an actuarial sense; but all the other characteristics of a contributory scheme, all the characteristics of a private insurance scheme, such as my right hon. Friend referred to, are totally absent. We have nothing now which differentiates this from a pension scheme as part of salary, except the mere fact of the contribution. It is my hope, and it would be my humble advice to the 240 teaching profession, that the next objective should be a non-contributory pension scheme for the teaching profession. That is the natural next step onwards from this Bill. I believe the Bill is necessary to make that further advance possible, and I believe that that further advance will come.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) is a scholar of considerable reputation, but his arithmetic does not bear examination. The hon. Gentleman has made several miscalculations, according to my standard of arithmetic, in what he has been saying, and in my opinion my standards are as good as the hon. Gentleman's. The hon. Gentleman made this mistake, I thought, throughout his argument, that if there had been a fund we should be in the same position today. Whereas, of course, if there had been a fund a long time ago responsibility for accumulating actuarial deficiencies would have been settled and the local authorities would have been obliged to have dealt with this problem a long time ago.
The Minister today made a speech which was notable for the absence of the buoyant confidence which usually characterises his public utterances. Whether he is talking of his leading lady or philosophising in public about "Treating them mean will make them keen," the Minister usually succeeds in wrapping his words in a cocoon of charm. He was notably uneasy, today, and with good cause. For more than 20 years it has been my privilege to be associated with the National Union of Teachers, and it is my privilege to visit local associations of teachers in different parts of England and Wales. I warn the House that I have never seen the teaching profession so angry, so frustrated and resentful as it is at present.
I have seen hon. Members laugh at the number of telegrams they have received today, but it is no laughing matter when the teaching profession of this country is aroused to the state of indignation in which it finds itself today, and the Minister cannot evade his share of the responsibility for this unhappy breakdown in the relationships in the education service. The National Union of Teachers is not a party political organisation. It 241 owes no more loyalty to this side of the House than it does to that side of the House. Indeed, teachers helped a great many hon. Members opposite to get back to this House at the last Election, and they know that. They helped me. They are enlightened in Cardiff. The teachers, as a profession, have not sought to be drawn into this battle which the Minister is clearly responsible for initiating.
The Minister claims that this Measure is more generous than that which the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh), whom I am pleased to see sitting in her place, sought to introduce into the House in the last Parliament. The Minister makes exactly the same claim on the teaching profession as did the right hon. Lady in her scheme. One-third of this deficiency was to be made good by the contributions of the teachers and local authorities.
But now we are told that the Minister is being responsible for the full deficiency and that the local authority will accept responsibility for future deficiencies. Why increase the contribution to 6 per cent. if the present liability is removed? And if future liabilities are being cared for, why make the teacher pay more? It is quite clear that it is dishonest to suggest that the teacher is not meeting the future liabilities in the matter. If the amount remains at 5 per cent., the Minister knows that either he or the local authority will have to provide the bigger amount.
Then there is the argument that the burden must be equally shared between the teachers and the local authorities. There is nothing sacrosanct about the arithmetic of this superannuation scheme. There is nothing sacrosanct about sharing the balance equally. It will be found that employers pay 25 per cent. more than the employees in the National Health Service. The National Coal Board pay twice the contribution that each of its employees pays. The Central Electricity Authority pays £2 for every £ which its servants pay. There is no reason, and not even a moral basis, for the argument that there must be a 50–50 arrangement. If the contributions made by the National Gas Council, the B.B.C., the Atomic Energy Authority, and certainly the police authorities, are examined it will be found that the Minister's case is demolished.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I think that the hon. Member has not really bothered to study the other schemes. If he does so, he will find that in schemes where the employer pays more than the employee the rate of interest is 3 per cent. or less. The employer, of course, can choose. He can either have a high rate of interest to be earned by the balance and a lower rate of contribution, or a smaller rate of interest and a higher rate of contribution. For instance, as I told the House, if we had applied to the teachers' account a rate of 3 per cent. as in the case of the National Health Service, we might have had 6 per cent. teachers' and 8 per cent. employers' contributions.
§ Mr. Thomas
The right hon. Gentleman is not taking my point. Even if the cost rose to 16 per cent., the Minister, on his own argument, would say to the House that the contribution should be 8 per cent. from the teachers and 8 per cent. from the local authority. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that is the line which he has pursued. The Government have singled out the teachers for reasons which are common to all the provisions.
This actuarial deficiency which it is estimated will exist for some time in the future is traceable to reasons advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), whom I should like to thank for his speech, and indeed by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. It looks as if this proposal might be part of a campaign to deal with superannuation schemes in general. If it is, the Minister or somebody in the Government ought to have been honest enough to say so.
The policeman's pension scheme is much more out of actuarial balance than is the teacher's. Why are the Government not saying anything about the policeman's superannuation fund? All his actuarial deficiencies are met from local authority rates. The police grant is only 50 per cent., not 60 per cent. as in the case of teachers, and there is clearly here an argument that teachers are being treated differently from others.
There are benefits in the scheme for which I want to thank the Minister. They are benefits which I believe were advanced by the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side in the first instance. The right hon. Lady has not 243 always been given the credit which is due to her. I have never failed to admire her courage. She certainly had a raw deal when she was abandoned by her friends who are now coming with the same Measure to support her successor in office. It is not a pretty political picture. What are all the benefits of this Measure really worth? They are worth three-twentieths of 1 per cent. of the contribution which the teacher makes. The actuarial estimate of the amount needed to cover the deficiency is only 11½ per cent., but the Minister, for some reason which he has not explained, is making it 12 per cent., and therefore the teachers are already going to pay more than the actuary requires them to pay and more than would cover all these increased benefits of which the Minister is so proud.
This is a Bill of lost opportunity. The Minister has not referred to the anomalies which he might have cleared up. In his haste to increase the teachers' contribution he has ignored many of the demands which the profession has reasonably enough made to him. The teaching profession has not been unreasonable in its approach to the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman knows, and he could tell the House, that for many months the teachers have been in careful negotiation with him on this very subject.
I want to refer briefly to four matters which require clearing up. Due to equal pay, the young man who enters the teaching service today will draw a smaller pension than the young woman who enters today, because he is denied his two years for military service. The teaching profession asks the Minister whether, in Committee, he will make it possible for these young men to buy their way in. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why buy?"] This is the proposal that we are making. We are not being excessive in our demand. We ask that they shall cover the contribution for two years to enable them to have the same pension as the women.
Secondly, there is the ever-dwindling number of men in the profession who served in the 1914–18 war. Those years are not allowed to count for pensions. The Minister, with such a little gesture, could have removed a long-standing grievance of the teaching profession. He has not chosen to do so. The appeal which my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham made about payments being 244 made monthly, which he described as a minor point, is nonetheless a very real point. The pitiful plea of our pensioners today is that they shall get hold of their money sooner. What would it have cost the Minister to provide in the Bill that pensions should be paid monthly instead of quarterly? It is a mark of the slovenly approach to the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman must have made that he should have committed all these errors.
At present, the teachers have the grievance that all their service is contributory service but the scheme allows a pension only for completed years of service. Therefore, a teacher can pay superannuation contributions for the last 11 months of his service but he receives nothing in return. We have said to the Minister, "Why not include in the Measure a proposal to count all contributory service?" We have not met with any response. It is unreasonable of the Minister to expect teachers to remain silent when the things which they resent are going forward and those things for which they ask so much are being held back.
Above all, I want to speak about the widows' and orphans' benefits. What is not in this Bill is causing as much heart-burning to the teaching profession as what is in it. I was grateful to hear the Minister indicate that he is willing to make another approach to the local authorities on this question, but he is going to ask the local authorities, not the teachers. He is going to use the docile Parliamentary majority behind him to bulldoze his will upon the teaching profession. Why be so harsh with the teachers and so sensitive with the local authorities?
There is no provision today for the widow and dependants of a teacher who dies in active service. He creates a social and a human problem. Here is an extract from a letter which I received this morning from one of the leaders of the teachers in Lancashire:Last September a teacher aged 47 moved from Plymouth to take up a position in Liverpool. He did this in order to be able to live nearer his parents whose home is near Wigan. After six weeks or so this man contracted polio and died in a few days. After having incurred the expense of moving and taking a new house, obviously most of his resources have gone. He leaves a widow and four children aged from 4 to 16. The eldest a girl, is taking her G.C.E. next year and the second, a boy, has just commenced at the 245 grammar school. I have been informed that during the past year there have been three such cases as this in Wigan"—That is in one town. The letter continues:where a teacher has died in service and left dependants. In two of these cases an approach has already had to be made to a charitable organisation.This kind of case is a nightmare to the teaching profession, and to deny them the benefits of the widows and orphans scheme is to deny them professional status. Yesterday I received the case of a south of England teacher who died after a long and painful illness, cancer, at the age of 50. He, too, has left four children. He, having used his resources through the long illness, had to be buried by the poor law.
§ Mr. Thomas
But £20 does not cover a funeral today. Surely hon. Gentlemen opposite are not going to argue on that mean, niggardly basis with me? I am talking about the teaching profession, to which so many hon. Members on both sides of the House pay high tribute. I am speaking about a noble profession which gives so much to the nation, a profession in whose hands we place the well-being of our children and the next generation. They are asking for the right to make a contribution themselves for the sake of their fellow teachers. They are not asking for charity. We are saying to the Minister, "Give to us what the House has already given to the civil servants; give to us what already has been approved in almost all of the public nationalised industries." Why should the teachers be held back from what is only common decency, namely, that we shall be able to help each other in a time of trouble.
The Minister will be aware that there are hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House who gave their word to the teaching profession at the General Election that they would not support a scheme which was not approved by the teachers. Hon. Members might think that was going a long way, but the time for thinking that was when the promise was made. They made the promise. Their names are known. I trust that tonight they will at 246 least abstain from voting for a Measure which is resented in every school room in these islands. Not within my lifetime have I known within the profession such strong feeling, and I hope that the Minister will take opportunity in Committee to improve the Bill if, unhappily, it receives its Second Reading tonight.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
I suppose there comes a time in the life of everyone when there is a clash of loyalties and that that time also comes in the life of an hon. Member in this House. It has come to me early in my Parliamentary life. I am unhappy about it, and I have thought carefully and hard as to what should be my attitude on such an occasion when my loyalty to my party clashes with my loyalty to my colleagues in the teaching profession.
For many years, as long as I can remember thinking politically, I have been a loyal supporter of my party, and I have been proud of my party. In my own way I have suffered for that loyalty. I may suffer again. [An HON. MEMBER: "The hon. Gentleman looks well on it."] Yes, I do fairly well. [An HON. MEMBER: "Come over to this side of the House."] Tonight I have to make a vital decision as to whether I support this Bill, whether I abstain from voting, or whether I go into the Lobby against it.
I am not worried about the plaudits of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Jennings
I am grateful for them. Some other time I shall get other types of plaudits. I want to say that my convictions in this matter have led me, after considerable mental worry, to decide that unless I hear anything different from what I have heard up to now, I shall be obliged to vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. Jennings
Hon. Gentlemen might let me get on with my speech. Facetious comments are out of place at a time when a man new to this House has made the most vital decision that a new man can make. At least I deserve a sympathetic hearing from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have made this decision, and I do not know what is in store for me either from 247 my friends in my division or elsewhere. I am prepared to stand up to the decision I have made and, I hope, to justify it. I have said that if I do not hear anything different from what I have heard up to now, I shall go into the other Lobby.
In my teaching career I have grown up with the superannuation scheme. I was a pupil teacher in 1920, which seems a long time ago. I started teaching as a fully qualified teacher in 1923, at the time when the teaching profession had enjoyed four years of a non-contributory scheme, and I came into the profession when a compulsory levy of 5 per cent. had been placed upon it. I had been in the teaching profession two years when the compulsory levy was dealt with by an Act of Parliament and became part and parcel of our salary system. I have grown up with the scheme, and the vicissitudes of the Burnham scale and the superannuation scheme have been my vicissitudes.
I want to look at the background against which the Bill has been evolved. There are three parts of the canvas at which one has to look. There are the Ministry, the local authorities, and the teachers. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said it was the duty of the Minister to fight a battle for education against the Treasury. I believe the Minister has fought a very good battle against the Treasury in that we are having no cut in the Education Estimates for next year.
§ Mr. Jennings
The facts are there to prove it. Let us do without the applause.
We have to be fair about the Minister, and we must say that he has gathered to himself within the ranks of our teachers a fund of well-being and good will known by very few Ministers. I am sorry that by this Measure he will kill a good deal of it. I have heard references to him as a practical visionary.
The local authorities represent the second part of the canvas and I think they are the villains of the piece. I have been told that the writing off of the past deficiency represents a free gift to teachers. It is nothing of the sort. Whether or not the amount is £200 million, I do not know and do not care; it is, at all events, many 248 millions. It is a free gift to the local authorities, because it was their duty at the beginning to underwrite the scheme, but they did not do so. They were absolved from their responsibility to underwrite any deficiency. Consequently, if past deficiency is to be written off, it is written off in favour of the local authorities and not the teachers.
§ Mr. Maude
In the interests of the local authorities, I do not think that remark ought to be allowed to pass. It is fantastic to say that the local authorities had a duty to underwrite the deficiency earlier. The 1925 Act put no burden upon them to do that, and they were acting in accordance with the statute.
§ Mr. Jennings
I am comparing the schemes with other schemes outlined in the Working Group's Report. In almost every other case when a scheme was started the employers underwrote the prospective deficiency. That is what I meant when I said that it is a free gift not to the teachers but to the local authorities.
The third part of the canvas I want to paint relates to the teachers. I want to say something about their attitude. Like he hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), never in my teaching career have I known a time when feeling was so intense and teachers were so angry against n proposed scheme. We have heard the history of the scheme. It was begun with good intentions by Dr. Fisher to attract people into the profession. Burnham scales were instituted to give stability to the salaries. A non-contributory pensions scheme was provided. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said that our future goal—not our goal tonight—should be a non-contributory pensions scheme. Are we to return to 1918? If there is an idea of giving the teachers a non-contributory scheme at some time in the future, why should their contributions be increased now? After teachers had enjoyed a non-contributory scheme for four years, a compulsory levy was imposed, and, finally, a 5 per cent. contribution was written into the Act.
The result of successive attacks by Governments of all shades upon the standards of teachers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, in saying, "Governments of all shades," I do not forget 1931 when the Labour Cabinet—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—it is on record—decided to 249 reduce the salaries of teachers by 15 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is on record. Hon. Gentlemen opposite should read Phillip Snowden's speeches. I contend that the teachers, from their experience of successive Governments, have now come to the conclusion that they cannot trust Governments any more.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
Is not that the case of a Government under Mr. Ramsay MacDonald which was repudiated by the Labour Party, leading to the split?
§ Mr. Jennings
It is on record that before the Labour Government dissolved, the Cabinet had already decided—hon. Members opposite should read Phillip Snowden's speeches—to reduce teachers' salaries by 15 per cent., and that was a Socialist Cabinet. Teachers, owing to the treatment they have received from successive Governments, have now decided they can no longer trust Governments.
§ Mr. Jennings
I am here to do a job of work, if hon. Members opposite will let me get on with it. Teachers have been in the vanguard for cuts, but they have been in the rearguard for the disbursement of largesse. I say very sincerely that the feeling among teachers today is not political but professional. Tory teachers, who tell me that they have voted Tory for years and will do so again—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]—are full of resentment at this Measure.
Our teachers have a record of steadiness and stability second to none in the professions or industry. They are an example to the rest of the country in—[HON. MEMBERS: "How?"] I will tell hon. Members opposite how—the way they carry out Burnham negotiations and recognise the results; but there are now dangers ahead. A contented teacher is a national asset, but if we have teachers who are discontented, who seethe with anger, and who feel resentment, they will not be national assets. Is it worth while losing this valuable asset for a measly 1 per cent.? It is like selling one's birthright for a mess of pottage.
I say that the accumulated effects of all that has happened over the last 30 years have led teachers into a situation in which 250 they are becoming dangerously minded. [HON. MEMBERS: "Is that a threat?"] It is not a threat. Teachers see other people in the country holding a pistol at the Government's head and getting what they want. The teachers have never done that, but I warn the House that the temper—[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite must not be facetious. It is no good the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) talking about the National Union of Railwaymen, for it has held a pistol at the Government's head and got away with it. I am not going to have hon. Members scoffing like that when they are guilty of the very thing of which I am saying the teachers have never been guilty.
I now turn to the Bill itself. [Interruption.] It has been a jolly good introduction. It is about time somebody wrote a book about the services of the teachers to this country. I will proceed to the Bill, if hon. Gentlemen will allow me. The Bill is a decided improvement on the last one. I accept without question the actuarial report on deficiencies. The Bill contains certain new benefits. We are told that they have been transferred from the last Bill, and we were told in the last Bill that the cost was not appreciable, three-tenths of 1 per cent. and, shared 50–50 between local authorities and teachers, that would be three-twentieths of 1 per cent. The teachers are incensed about the 6 per cent. We say that we have been singled out. The Minister denied that and said that other professions were worse off. He instanced the clergy and junior Ministers.
In salary conditions we cannot compare ourselves with the clergy, nor with junior Ministers. I wish we could compare with the latter. If successive Governments have successfully depressed the value of junior Ministers, that is no argument why schoolteachers should be depressed. [Interruption.] I shall be pleased to see how the cheerful people opposite on the Front Bench below the Gangway vote tonight and how seriously they vote. Why the extra 1 per cent.? We are told that it is because of improvements in benefits and salaries and because of increased earlier retirement and increased longevity. Are we the only people who satisfy all those conditions? Why are not all the other schemes treated in this way, or—and this is an important point—are we 251 the first to be treated like this and are others to follow?
This is a cut in salary at a time when everybody else is receiving salary increases. [HON. MEMBERS: "We are not."] They have hope. The argument is that it is all right to pay the extra 1 per cent., because we can go to Burnham and ask for it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Go to Burton."] Let us hope that we can "knock the Bill for a Burton." We have a strong enough case to take to the Burnham Committee now without needing the argument about the extra 1 per cent.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Will the hon. Member deal with the point that the Minister might withhold his proposals until the Burnham Committee has given the increase of which he has spoken?
§ Mr. Thomas
That is why I said it. Will he deal with the point that the Minister might withhold his proposals until the Burnham Committee has granted the substantial increase to which he has referred?
§ Mr. Jennings
I will leave that to hon. Members on the other side of the House.
The point is that this "go to Burnham" argument exposes the whole weakness of the scheme to impose an extra 1 per cent. on us, and conclusively proves to me that it is not at all necessary. My right hon. Friend the Minister said to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, when dealing with other schemes, that it was the case that they paid a lower rate of interest but that there was a contrast in the rate of contribution paid by the employees and the employers.
Let us examine four typical schemes taken from the appendix to the Working Group's Report. The local government scheme is like ours; 6 per cent. and 6 per cent., but it is funded and the interest is 3¼ per cent. National Health: interest is 2½ per cent. and the rates are 6 per cent. and 8 per cent. The British Electricity Authority: the rate is 5 per cent. for the employee and twice as much for the employer and the rate of interest is 3½ per cent. on the pension fund and 2 per cent. on the lump sum fund. In that case conditions of rates of interest are almost identical with ours, and yet employees pay 6 per cent. and employers 8 per cent. In 252 the N.C.B., for normal benefits, 4 per cent. is paid by the employee and 8 per cent. by the employer, and, although the scheme is funded, 3¼ per cent. on credit accounts. The point is that teachers are at a considerable disadvantage when they compare their schemes with others.
Much of the ground I had intended to cover about widows and orphans has already been dealt with. I will come to the alternative. It is no use criticising unless one is prepared to put something else in the place of that which one criticises. I have been led for some years—[An HON. MEMBER: "You have."]—and rightly, to the conclusion that some drastic reform in educational finances is necessary. That is tied up with the whole question of local government reform. But the arguments used for the evolution of the Bill have convinced me more than ever that we have to approach finances in the educational world in an altogether new light. There is tremendous scope for investigation in that respect.
However, we cannot bring that to bear upon the present Bill. The Working Group's Report laid down that 11½ per cent. would be sufficient in England and Wales and 11 per cent. in Scotland. The Minister insists on the round figure of 12 per cent. Arithmetically at least, the solution is simple—5 per cent. from the teachers and 7 per cent. from the L.E.A.'s. If we carry out the scheme in accordance with the appendix of the Working Group's Report, that would be 11½ per cent. and teachers could pay 5 per cent. and employers 6½ per cent., which is a measly ½ per cent. more than they are now being asked to pay.
In view of all this, I feel obliged to oppose the Bill. I therefore plead with the Minister to withdraw it and to have second thoughts. I am so grateful to the House for a very courteous hearing.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
The whole House will sympathise with the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) in the difficult decision he has had to make. He finds himself a member of the Parliamentary Conservative Party on the one hand and a financially sponsored candidate of the N.U.T. on the other. He is in a difficult position, and so long as he retains his membership of these two bodies, he will find himself in continual trouble. The 253 best thing he can do is to relinquish one of them as quickly as he can.
The Minister stressed the need for agreement on the part of the local authorities. Indeed, he went so far as to say that we could not have the widows' and orphans' pension scheme, because he could not get agreement with the local authorities. It is, therefore, very relevant and important to point out that he is going ahead with the Bill, and with the 6 per cent. contribution, with the entire teaching profession against him. The N.U.T., the N.U.W.T. and N.A.S. and the Joint Four are unanimously opposed to the Bill.
I have received a great many letters from teacher constituents. I will read only a short part from one which is typical of those which we have all received. This letter says:Why should teachers be singled out for a cut in salary when everyone else is being given or being considered for increases? This will only still further justifiably annoy an already disgruntled, dissatisfied profession. Teachers seem to be singled out for kicks as being most unlikely to hit back.That is a typical letter, the kind of letter that all hon. Members are receiving.
The Minister will have noted a report of a special conference of the National Union of Teachers which was held a week or so ago. There were 2,000 delegates at the conference representing 218,000 teachers, and they unanimously opposed this Bill. What is even more significant is that an amendment moved from the floor of conference was also carried unanimously and accepted by the Executive. I do not speak for the N.U.T., I am quoting from the Schoolmaster, which is available on the bookstalls. The amendment said that the executive shallemploy, if necessary, the full resources of the Union to defeat the Minister's proposal.It is perhaps more significant still that a further amendment was moved, though, because of the good sense of the delegates, it was not carried. This amendment instructed the executive:to make all necessary arrangements for the stoppage of the performance of all extraneous duties of every character, including dinner duties, throughout the country as from 1st January, 1956.As I say, because of the good sense of the union, that was not carried. But it is significant that that sort of amendment should have been moved, and it gives some indication of the intensity of 254 the reaction of the teachers to this imposition.
It has been said during this debate, and quite rightly, that no other body has had its contributions increased when its superannuation schemes have been revised. The Minister talked a good deal about the local government scheme. I wish to point out three things about that scheme. First, there is the point, which has not been sufficiently stressed, that the local government scheme was revised in 1937, and at that time the officers in the scheme were not called on to pay increased contributions.
Under the revision of this scheme all teachers, those already in the scheme and new entrants, would be called on to pay the 6 per cent. Secondly, the local government scheme is the only one, of almost the only other scheme, in which the employee pays the same contribution as the employer. The British Electricity Authority and the National Coal Board schemes have both been mentioned. In both those schemes the employer pays twice the amount paid by the employee.
Also, in the case of the local government scheme, local authorities agree to meet deficiencies. Had there been a provision of that kind in the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, the present position would never have arisen. If the local authorities had made up the deficiencies under the present scheme we should not have been in trouble about it today. It has already been pointed out that the original Fisher scheme of teachers' superannuation was non-contributory, and, as part of the Geddes economies, an Act of Parliament was passed imposing a 5 per cent. contribution. At that time it was pointed out that that was a temporary measure. However, the teachers came to regard that 5 per cent. as part of their conditions of service. Since then there have been two abortive attempts to raise it to 6 per cent., and now there is this third one.
The Schoolmaster commented on that last week:Small wonder they"—that is the teachers—suspect that the verbal adulation accorded the teaching profession"—I think the Minister indulged in a good bit of that today—is never intended to be converted into coin of the realm. Small wonder teachers remain dissatisfied with their material conditions of 255 service and feel bitterly aggrieved at an attempt to worsen them and at a time when the one thing they are calling for is their improvement.The previous Bill suggested a 1 per cent. increase in the contribution, to liquidate the deficiency, so we were told, or, at any rate, two-thirds of it. This Bill, promises the Minister, will liquidate the actuarial deficiency entirely. It is as well to point out that it will be very nearly forty years before there will be an actual deficiency as opposed to an actuarial deficiency—almost forty years before the scheme will be "in the red" actually.
§ Mr. Remnant
I do not know why the hon. Gentleman needed to bring in the question of brewing, but surely he realises the difference between a cash deficiency or surplus and an actuarial deficit? If he does not, I do not know what qualifications he has for discussing the matter at all.
§ Mr. Short
The hon. Gentleman is underlining my point.
At this moment there is a surplus in the Account, or would be if it were funded, of £232 million, and, as I say, it would be forty years, or very nearly, before the outgoings from the Account in any one year were greater than the money coming in, and the whole of that surplus was expended. Therefore, it appears that the extra 1 per cent. is required to meet other factors altogether which are not peculiar to teaching but are common to other groups of employees, but to which, so far as I know, no other body of workers has been asked to contribute.
There are three other factors. The first is the longer life-span of teachers. On the whole, they are living two years longer. I should have thought, whether it be ironical or not, that we should congratulate them on that, and not try to penalise them by reducing their salaries.
The second point is that teachers are retiring a little earlier. On the average, they are retiring about a year earlier, 256 and I should have thought that the reason would be appreciated. In the last few years, teachers have had a bad time. They have had abnormally large classes, and many of the older teachers—when I say "older" I mean teachers approaching sixty—are in ill-health at the moment. Teachers are getting out as quickly as possible so long as large classes continue.
The third reason which has been put forward is the recent salary increases. Of course, the Government are to blame for that. They have made no attempt to control the cost of living, which has continued to soar, and teachers and other bodies of workers have had to have continual salary increases to meet it. The Minister argued as though, when salaries went up, the contributions from teachers did not. It is as well to point out that if salaries go up, contributions go up as well. The hon. Members for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said that we should ignore inflationary factors of this kind. So far as I am aware, in all other schemes the operation of such factors as longevity, early retirement and salary increases, are almost universally regarded by the employers as part of the normal burden that they have to bear.
I do not think that the 1 per cent. can be justified by those factors, which, as I say, are not peculiar to teachers, but apply equally to other employees. Nor can the 1 per cent. be justified by the additional minor benefits in the Bill. It has been estimated that all the additional benefits in the Bill—counting three-eightieths instead of one-thirtieth and so on—if added together, cost roughly .3 of 1 per cent., which is hardly worth mentioning, and would certainly not justify the I per cent. increase. In any case, even that .3 of 1 per cent. is to be shared between the local authorities and the teachers.
The one major benefit which the teachers really wanted—a widows' and orphans' pension scheme—is not included. Clause 8 is no answer at all in that respect. It represents a very small advance upon the present arrangement, by which a teacher can allocate part of his lump sum to his widow. Such a scheme is the one benefit, as the Minister said, for which the teachers would have been prepared to pay an extra contribution. The Minister said that local authorities would 257 not agree to a widows' and orphans' pension scheme if it cost them any more, but it is as well to point out that although the teachers do not agree to this 6 per cent. they are having to pay it just the same.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Mr. G. Thomas) has pointed out that many Conservative Members told N.U.T. delegations whom they met in May of this year that they would not support any new superannuation Bill unless it had the support of all the teachers. This Bill has not the support of any teachers. All the teachers' organisations are unanimous in their opposition to it. I hope that those Conservative Members who made such promises to the N.U.T. will do as the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) said he was going, to do, and oppose the Bill.
Apart from the hon. Member for Burton, only one hon. Member opposite has had the courage to announce that he will abstain, namely, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby). According to the Press today, he said that he regards the Bill as a breach of faith—and that is what it is.
There is another Conservative Member of Parliament who speaks for the N.U.T., and we shall all be interested to hear what he has to say—and even more to see how he votes tonight. If those two categories of hon. Members opposite—those who speak for the N.U.T. and those who gave specific promises to N.U.T. delegations—want a precedent for voting against the Government, they should look at the one mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), who spoke first from this side of the House in this debate. On April, 1922, when the 5 per cent. was first introduced, the Government were beaten. There is no earthly reason why they should not be beaten tonight, if only hon. Members opposite will stick to the promises which they made.
In his peroration, the Minister tried to persuade the House that he was reducing teachers' salaries by about 4s. a week in order to improve their status. It is really humbug for him to say that he is taking away 4s. or 5s. a week so that their status will be improved. It is argued that the 1 per cent. amounts to very little in individual cases. We have heard that argument a great many times. It represents a parsimonious attitude to- 258 wards the teaching profession. It is certainly an attitude which will affect its standing in the public esteem.
It is also argued that teachers should accept the Bill and get the 1 per cent. back from the Burnham Committee. The Minister practically said that. He did not really say it, but he went as near to saying it as he could. He said, "The Burnham Committee is meeting now," and that was certainly the impression he gave.
§ Mr. R. Moss (Meriden)
The Minister not only said that, but, when the question was put to him again, he nodded his head vigorously. He seems to be opposing the general economic policy of his right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Short
He certainly practically said it.
That is really a foolish argument, for two reasons. First, there is no guarantee that teachers would get back the 1 per cent. or, indeed, anything, from the Burnham Committee. Secondly, it is really stupid to say, "We shall take something from you with this hand and give it back to you with the other." I am not an economist, but I should have thought that that was an inflationary thing to do.
The Bill is based upon invalid premises, which do not bear examination. Secondly, it is unanimously opposed by the teachers. Thirdly, a considerable body of public opinion is against it. I urge the Minister, even at this late hour, to withdraw the Clause which imposes the extra 1 per cent. I am quite sure that my hon. Friends would facilitate the passage of the rest of the Bill. We urge him to withdraw Clause 2 because teachers everywhere look upon it as a reduction in salary. I am quite sure that it would have extremely injurious effects upon the teaching profession, and thus upon the youth of the country and our national well-being generally.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. John Harvey (Walthamstow, East)
In rising to address the House for the first time. I ask for its customary indulgence, the more so since I have sought permission to intervene in this debate only on the spur of the moment. I am very conscious of the fact that I have many school teachers in my constituency. I have met them, and I am indebted to many of them for the help which they gave in securing my 259 election to this House. I think that I have heard from them all in the last few days. Before I proceed any further on that point I should like, as this is the first occasion upon which I have addressed the House, to pay a tribute to my predecessor, who served his constituents very well for a great many years.
shall do my best to emulate his example while I am privileged to be here.
I shall find no undue difficulty in supporting the Government this evening, despite the representations which have been made to me, because I believe that this is only one stage along a very necessary road for the reconsideration of the whole question of the employment of teachers.
I gather that it is a tradition that one should avoid being unduly controversial in one's first utterance in this Chamber. I cannot completely avoid some degree of controversy if I announce that I am going to support the Measure, but I also want to point out that I do not wholly follow the argument that this increase from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. is necessarily a cut in salary. If I decide to increase some superannuation benefit for which I may be paying at this moment, I expect to have to pay an increased premium, but I do not regard it as a cut in my salary, because I hope to get it back at some future stage. If we are improving the superannuation benefits which will ultimately be payable to teachers—or the conditions under which those benefits will be payable—surely it is a deferred payment rather than a cut in salary.
I have read a great many articles of one sort and another about the merits of this controversy. I recall that when the original Bill came before the House in 1954 the Economist was not particularly friendly towards it. I therefore looked with interest at what it had to say this time. It has made two brief reviews of the situation. The first was on 29th October, when it ended with these words:The teachers will no doubt have several minor points to argue about the new Bill. But if they raise as great a storm about it as about the old one, they will be showing a poor sense of proportion. They will also deserve far less sympathy.On 26th November, the Economist said: 260It therefore seems probable that Members of Parliament and others must expect the same shoal of protesting letters, and of visits from indignant teacher-constituents, as they had to bear at the time of"—what was a little unkindly called—the Horsbrugh Bill. But this time they should stand fast.The Economist went on to give some quite cogent reasons for doing so. On that basis, and on the basis of what I propose to say next, I shall support the Measure.
Now I come to the main part of what I want to say. I should like to follow the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) as to what the teachers have to work towards. They should find a great deal of sympathy in all quarters of the House for a superannuation scheme which would be non-contributory in the long run.
The present system under which teachers' salaries are decided and reviewed is out of tune with the times. The whole system needs to be reconsidered. I have gone on record in my constituency, and I say for the benefit of hon. Members opposite that I have gone on record since the Election and not before it, as saying that if any section of the community is entitled to urgent reconsideration of its salary scale it is the teaching profession. Unless that profession is squarely based on these matters, future generations will suffer.
I would emphasise that this point of view will continue to govern my utterances in this Chamber on these matters in future. It is a point of view for which there is just as much sympathy on this side of the House as on the Opposition side. It is futile to argue, for instance, about the Communist menace among school teachers. The right answer is to attract into our schools the sort of people we want, and then our educational system will benefit, the Communist menace will disappear, and a great deal will have been done to safeguard the future of the country.
I press Her Majesty's Government, in taking this step today, to regard it as only one step on a road leading to a very necessary review of the whole system under which teachers are employed, and as leading to a very necessary reconsidera- 261 tion of the way in which the rewards of the teaching profession can be expanded. I attended last night the meeting at Woodford Green at which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) spoke, when he referred to the need for increasing technological education. There is such a need. Unless we solve this problem of how to attract into the profession the sort of people we need, he difficulty will continue to be before us.
The great storm of protests that has been aroused over this extra 1 per cent. should not so much direct our attention to it: that would be to lead our attention astray. It should direct our attention to the great demands of one sort or another that have been made of the teaching profession in recent years, and to the difficulties under which the teachers have been required to carry out their duties. It is when viewed in the light of those demands and those difficulties that this I per cent. looks almost like the last straw. If we review the situation, and recognise that in reviewing the whole question of teachers' employment we shall be doing the greatest possible service to the future of this country, the House will have benefited from this debate today and the teaching profession will benefit in the future.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
It is my privilege to follow the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey), and to congratulate him on having got over the first and probably the most terrifying of the Parliamentary hurdles, and to have become fully qualified to enter the cut-and-thrust and rough-and-tumble of our debates.
When I first entered this House I got plenty of advice about how to make my maiden speech and when to make it. No one ever told me, and I am sure that no one ever told the hon. Member, just to sit, listen and speak on the spur of the moment. It says much for him that he has done what he has done, and with brevity, which always commends itself to this House. He speech was one of lucidity, learning and sincerity. On this side of the House we much appreciated his generous tribute to our former colleague, Mr. Harry Wallace. Many of us will look forward to hearing the hon. 262 Member again, when he is not confined to being non-controversial. Whether the members of his own Front Bench thought he was not controversial, I could not say.
I have not the handicap of having to be polite to people of or being non-controversial, and it may be just as well. Today we resume a battle that has been brewing for some time for teachers' pensions and superannuation. There have already been casualties. The first casualty was the Minister, the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh). It must be a matter of concern and amazement to all that these people who rallied to ensure that she was discomforted and eventually discarded are silent today. Those colleagues of hers are faced with a Bill which in essence is the Bill which she brought forward.
Some of those colleagues took great trouble at the General Election to tell how they assisted in her political assassination and to parade before the teachers as being responsible for the defeat of her Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. I live in the town of Ayr and my Member of Parliament, who sits on the Government side of the House just behind where the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side is sitting, is the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore). I have here his election address, and it may be of interest to the right hon. Lady. I want to read what he said at that time, if I can find it. I took the trouble to mark the number of times the word "I" was used, and the number of marks which I made has confused me.We want more, better and cheaper houses …No, that is not it. Here we are:Education: Perhaps the teachers will recall that I fought their battle, both publicly and privately—that is, against the right hon. Lady—against the proposed Superannuation Bill, and they will not forget that we won.Where is the hon. Gentleman today, and what is he doing with regard to this Bill? What is he going to do tonight in. regard to the promises which he made to the teachers in Ayrshire. They are still concerned? I am perfectly sure that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will agree with me that he has not got a friend today amongst the 28,000 school teachers in Scotland.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Henderson Stewart)
Oh, yes; a great many.
§ Mr. Ross
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that among all the correspondents who write to me, and they run into hundreds in Ayrshire alone, there is not one single supporter of the Bill.
There is not one single teacher in Scotland who thinks that this is other than a cut in salary, and who does not regard this action as cavalier treatment for a service and a profession to which, constantly and sickeningly, we hear lip-service being given from the Government side of the House.
The teachers are discontented, and they are unanimous in their opposition to this Bill. They see that the second casualty in this superannuation battle is the status of their own profession and the effect which that is bound to have on the quality and number of recruits. I am perfectly sure that, as a result of this Bill and of this treatment of something that vitally concerns teachers—who wanted a superannuation Bill, but not a Bill like this—there will be no rush of recruits to the teaching profession. The teachers want a decent superannuation Bill, and they are prepared to pay extra for extra benefits, but it is almost an anachronism that today we should be discussing a superannuation Bill which makes no provision, other than by the re-allocation of existing benefits by the teachers themselves, for widows' and dependants' pensions. That should have been attended to long ago.
There has been no justification at all from the Minister or from anybody on the Government side of the House for the 2 per cent. increase. There have been suggestions that this Bill will put the fund right, but there is no fund. There never has been a fund, and, from the inception of the scheme in 1925, there never was meant to be a fund. That is the key to the whole business. If the teachers now see this increase imposed, and are given the assurance by the Minister that this is the last time that it will happen, because future deficiencies will be looked after, either by the Government accepting the responsibility or by their passing it on to the local authorities, how does the Minister expect the teachers to accept that statement in good faith?
In 1918, we had a non-contributory pension scheme, but in 1922 along came 264 the "Geddes Axe" and there was a 5 per cent. compulsory levy, while in 1925 a scheme was brought in which provided for a 5 per cent. compulsory contributory superannuation service. There was never meant to be a fund. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has been doing some political dancing today, because it was obvious from the way in which he finished his speech that his heart was in the opposition which we are putting up against the Bill. The hon. Gentleman does not believe in the Bill, and does not think it is right.
The hon. Gentleman referred to what happened in 1925, but that scheme was perfectly clear. I have read over the Second Reading and the Committee stage debates of that Bill, and I have marvelled at the gifts of prophecy that seem to have been scattered through the House of Commons in those days. Perhaps it was not so much the gift of prophecy as the fact that hon. Members had lived through the seven years from 1918 to 1925 and had seen how Governments in those days had not lived up to their promises to the teachers.
Let us see exactly what was said. I think this is important, because it underlies the whole attitude of the teachers to this Bill. It is a matter of principle, not just a question of 1 per cent. Lord Eustace Percy was answering a critical letter by Lord Emmott, Chairman of a Committee which had investigated the whole question of superannuation, in which he expressed a fear that the result of not funding the contribution would be that local authorities and teachers would have to contribute more than 7 per cent. of salary. This is what he said, and we must remember that this was a Tory Minister of Education speaking:That is an entire mistake. The point of our proposal is that, whereas under Lord Emmott's fund, it would have been the fund that was responsible for finding the benefits, and not the Treasury, under our proposal the Treasury is solely responsible for finding the cash to pay the benefits. While it is perfectly true that 45 years hence the total annual superannuation benefit will amount to a figure roughly equivalent to 20 per cent. of the salaries bill at that time"—we are getting nearer to that 45 years, and that is why the Government are taking action—that burden will fall, as to 7 per cent. only, on the local authorities and the teachers—that is to say, the local authorities and the teachers 265 will be paying 7 per cent., precisely as they do at the present moment, and the Treasury will be paying 13 per cent. The whole increased liability must fall on the Treasury.Here comes the important point:I think Lord Emmott has called this account a bogus fund. It does not pretend to be a fund, but it does pretend to be, and it is, a valid account of liability as between the Treasury and the contributors … the Treasury bears the whole extra liability."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1925; Vol. 183, c. 1783–4.]Time and time again today, the Minister of Education and the only back bencher on the Government side who has given even half-hearted support to the right hon. Gentleman—the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—have referred to this Account as a fund. It is not a fund, and if the Minister is standing by the argument of actuarial deficits, he is retrospectively smearing the Minister of Education of 1925 for having participated in a swindle against the teachers, because it was deliberate policy then that the Treasury would not, at the inception, pay anything at all.
One has only to read the Second Reading debate to see that, because taxation was high and liabilities were high at that time, the Government deliberately deferred the participation of the Treasury until such time—45 years after 1925—as it was then estimated the Government would have to meet the liability. The very thing which the Government are doing today is passing that liability on to the teachers and the local education authorities, and that is a breach of faith to which the teachers are quite justified in reacting strongly.
I am really surprised at the tame rebels on the other side of the House, who took speedy action against the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side, and today are allowing the present Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland to get away with it. [An HON. MEMBER: "A Ministerial reshuffle."] There were two Ministers' names on the first Bill, and I do not know why the Secretary of State for Scotland always seems to escape responsibility. If it was right for the right hon. Lady to have to give up her post, the right hon. Gentleman should also have done so, but we see that the name of the right hon. Gentleman, which appeared on the earlier Bill, also appears on this one, and, so far as the teachers of Scotland are concerned, they look 266 upon him as having once again been guilty of a breach of faith.
There are certain benefits in the Bill, but they amount only to three-tenths of 1 per cent., and the teachers' share, on the present estimate, will be about three-twentieths of 1 per cent. It is nothing at all. No justification for the 2 per cent. has been made out either for England or for Scotland—and if it is not right for England it cannot be right for Scotland.
The actuaries have said that an extra 1 per cent. would be sufficient to cover the actuarial deficiency plus the additional benefit; that is to say, 11 per cent.—½ per cent. each from teachers and education authorities. Nevertheless the Government insist on a 1 per cent. margin for which, even on an actuarial basis, there is no justification—and the actuarial basis itself is not justified by the 1925 position. I really deplore the whole attitude of the Government and of the Secretary of State for Scotland to this business.
The right hon. Lady's trouble was that she took time to try to persuade the teachers but miscalculated the date of the General Election. There was no time for argument so she was thrown aside. The Bill was dropped, not to win over the teachers to accept the justice of what was proposed, but to win over their votes. The two right hon. Gentlemen who have sponsored this Bill have not made that mistake. They do not seek to persuade the teachers. This Bill was printed ten days ago, and the teachers in Ayrshire have not yet been able to get copies in order properly to read it. We are rushed into a debate, proclamations and promises are made, and there is no effort to persuade the Committee or the teachers that this proposal is right. The real fact is that the right hon. Lady was unfortunate in that her Bill came just before an Election—this one comes immediately after one. The Government do not need to worry about the teachers' votes now, and they are determined to push this Measure through.
Who gains by it? The teachers gain little or nothing. It is of no avail to say that, for the first time, they have security. That was said in 1925. One of the best speeches on the subject was made by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), then the Member for Wellingborough; and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities, then Mr. Cowan, 267 said that at last teachers had security and a worth-while settlement of a vexed problem. It was supposed to be a settlement, but once again it has turned out to be a betrayal of the teachers—a salary cut—an unjust discrimination against the teachers in relation to every other superannuation scheme.
It was wonderful to hear the Minister of Education. I do not know who is to be the next Minister of Education—it might be Harry Seccombe or someone else from the "Goon Show." Whenever the Minister wished to compare the advantages that teachers were getting he referred to the other superannuation schemes; whenever we referred the other superannuation schemes he said that they were not comparable. He cannot have it both ways. We really have to look back to what was decided by the House in 1925. In 1925 a definite pledge was made by the Minister of Education of the time, who said that we were starting on something new.
He asked if it had not struck hon. Members—and I am paraphrasing what Lord Eustace Percy said—that amongst all the economies and "axes" of the Geddes Committee one branch of the public service was not touched at all—the Civil Service. The reason, he explained, was that its non-contributory scheme had been going for so long—the rights were so ancient—that no one questioned it. He said that within forty years it would be true in respect of teachers; no one would question their rights or suggest that they should pay more.
He presented the 1925 Bill, and there are Members who still have responsibility for it, including the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who last night was talking about the need for teachers. He was at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was really the architect of the financial arrangement whereby the State paid little or nothing and got the benefit of the teachers' and the local authority contributions to reduce the war debt. He was then Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is on this basis that I want to conclude, because Lord Eustace Percy, in reply to one aspect of the debate, said something which is relevant. He said that if changes had to be made the Government of the day would have to come to the House and justify them: 268… the Government … would have to come to Parliament and say, 'Here is the account; here is the bond we made with the teacher some years ago; now we ask you to break that bond not only with the teachers but with the local authorities as well'.He went on:A Government in that position will have to meet not only the opposition of the teachers—they had to meet that in 1920—but they will have to meet the opposition of all the local authorities in the country. Such a situation is conceivable. It is conceivable that there might be a Government in this country dishonest enough and strong enough to take the Parliamentary risks of a proposition of that kind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 30th June, 1925; c. 1868.]In the light of Lord Eustace Percy's statement and of his reputation, we have a Government strong enough—and anyone who knows the Government know that they are dishonest enough.
The Government only have the courage because, in the month of May, they had a mandate, not for this Bill, but for the place of power. That is the teachers' indictment of the Government. Nothing which has happened in the last few weeks or months can strengthen any faith they may have in this Government carrying out any pledge of any kind, be it to profession or to people. The Government are labelled by one of their own past leaders, speaking thirty years ago—that in doing this thing they are doing something that is dishonest.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)
I am very pleased to have the privilege of following the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). Ever since I have been here he has teased me, asking when the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire is going to speak. I was fascinated this afternoon to watch the hon. Member prowling up and down the benches, grumbling and growling about "tame rebels" and the "betrayal of teachers." I can assure him that we on this side are not tame rebels, nor shall we betray the teachers. When he looks at me he always does so as though I had just snatched away his bone—like an unfortunate dog which has just lost his bone. His expression is one of misery and despondency. I can assure him that today I shall not snatch any bones from him.
If it is not impertinent for me to do so, I should like to congratulate the hon. 269 Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey) on his maiden speech—even though I have just made my own. It was a far better maiden speech than most of us have been able to make, even after much preparation, and in it he said more or less most of what a great many of us feel. I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), though at times he seemed to mix up teachers' salaries with superannuation schemes. The scheme that is now before us is, on the whole, fair and just in view of the many difficulties besetting this problem. It is probably the best scheme that can be found for the moment. It will put teachers' superannuation not only on a sound footing but on a footing which everyone, teachers included, will at last be able to understand. That in itself is a move in the right direction.
I hope, therefore, that the House will accept this Bill, although with only a limited measure of enthusiasm, because in it I believe there is one major failing. The failure is that the scheme does not include in its scope and structure proper provision for widows, orphans and dependants. If such provision had been included, in my opinion most teachers—in Scotland any way—would not only have accepted the scheme but would have welcomed it. It seems strange that widows, orphans and dependants, who in most, if not all, schemes evolved for civil servants are taken care of, should be omitted from this superannuation scheme for teachers. Teachers are of more vital importance to the future of this country, our people and our children than are most civil servants. Why, therefore, have they not had as good a deal as that given to most civil servants?
Of course, we know the reason; the Minister mentioned it. Teachers are not in the true sense of the words civil servants. They are servants of the local authorities, and the local authorities, in their wisdom or otherwise, are not prepared to accept their share of the 2 per cent. which the Minister has told us is required for new entrants if widows, orphans and dependants are to be covered. I believe the local authorities ought to have accepted that. I further believe that the Government would have wished them to do so.
270 I am convinced that the teachers would have been quite ready to pay their half of the extra contribution. The county councils should have been equally ready to pay their share. After all, the burden which would be put on county councils is not very great. After they had received the Government grant towards their share, they would have to pay only something less than ½ per cent. I do not think that would be a very heavy burden for local authorities if it would produce a happy and contented teaching profession.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Has the hon. Member made any calculation of what it would be likely to cost the local authority in Ayrshire?
§ Mr. Nairn
Not nearly so slippery as some of the stones laid by hon. Members opposite.
I support the Bill, but I hope the Minister will immediately initiate most vigorous negotiations with local authorities. When I say "vigorous," I mean sufficiently vigorous to produce results, and when I say negotiations my right hon. Friend can interpret "negotiations" as he thinks fit. I want the results to mean that within twelve months the Minister will introduce a supplementary Bill which, in its scope, will cover the widows, orphans and dependants of our teachers. We want a fair proportion of the best men and women to come into the teaching profession. Let this House set about making sure that we get them, and, having got them, that we keep them so that in future Britain will still remain one of the leading countries in science, engineering, and other professions.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
We had two characteristic speeches to open this debate. From the Minister we had a suave, glib exposition of a Measure of which he ought to be thoroughly ashamed. It was devastatingly replied to by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). I have listened to a great many 271 education debates in this House in the past thirty years, but I have never heard the case of a Minister of Education more completely demolished than it was this afternoon by my hon. Friend. I should like to express my congratulations to my hon. Friend on his speech. I can assure him that he will receive the thanks of the teaching profession throughout the country.
In the spring of last year I met the chief education officer of one of the English counties who told me, "I am the educational adviser of the group of Conservative members opposed to the Superannuation Bill." He said, "Of course I am not a Conservative." If they wanted anything constructive they would not go to a Conservative. "I am advising them. I do not like the Bill, but the other night I was speaking to one of them over the telephone and I said to him, 'Don't you realise that if you succeed in what you are trying to do you will unship the Ministers'." He said, "The reply I got was 'Don't you realise that that is the major part of the exercise?'."
Where is the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. G. Longden) today? He was the hon. Member who wrecked the political career of the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh).
§ Mr. Maude
My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) is not here this evening. I understand he has expressed his intention to abstain from voting on this Bill. May I ask if as a matter of courtesy the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) informed my hon. Friend that he was to make that observation?
§ Mr. Ede
No, there was no need to inform the hon. Member of such a remark as that—[Interruption.] When I want criticism of my conduct it will not come from the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) but from someone who is capable of expressing it. If the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West has gone so far as the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) said, I congratulate him. I only wish he had had as much courage in dealing with the present Minister as he had in dealing with the right hon. Lady, for there were no threats of abstention last year. Oh no, then we were told 272 that five and twenty hon. Members opposite were willing to go into the Lobby against the Government. It was because of that threat that the Bill never came up for Second Reading.
With the exception of my right hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Key), I have been connected with the teaching profession longer than any other hon. Member in this House. My right hon. Friend is a few months younger than I am, but he started as a pupil teacher a couple of years earlier than I did. I have never found it possible in the course of my life to recommend any young man to become a teacher, because what we have been witnessing today has not been so much past history to me as a record of what I have seen during my life. Take the speech of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn) to which we have just listened—this is the best for the moment, but they accept it with limited enthusiasm, they accept it nevertheless—teachers are more important than most civil servants. I do not know why the word "most" was inserted. I have heard it all for 50 years, and I have always seen the teaching profession betrayed when a Government was looking round for money. That is true this afternoon.
The Minister, when I interrupted him about the police fund, said. "It is a quite different fund." Of course it is like this—there is no fund at all. He said that I ought to know something about the fund, as I was Home Secretary. Let me tell him that the difficulty in increasing police pay is the knowledge that the police authorities and the Government Departments concerned have that any increase in pay means an enormous increase in the demand on the police pension account, the payments of which, as in this case, go on the local rates. They know that on police pensions often a very high proportion indeed—far higher than the 20 per cent. mentioned by Lord Eustace Percy as likely to be charged on the Exchequer in 1970—has to be paid out of current rates with a 50 per cent. grant from the Exchequer.
Listening to the right hon. Gentleman, one would think that this year the Chancellor of the Exchequer is somehow or other going to transfer £259 million raised from the taxpayers—
§ Mr. Ede
The right hon. Gentleman talked about this £259 million as if it were some hard cash that the Chancellor has to find. Even on Lord Eustace Percy's calculation, the trouble was not going to arise until 1970, and I understand that the recent actuarial return indicates that the money actually to be found will have to be found at a far later date than that. Of course, actuaries are only respectable bookmakers. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is all they are. They calculate the odds. They may be not so much bookmakers as the tipsters in the modern Press whose calculations are rarely profitable to anyone.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
Surely the right hon. Gentleman, who was a very responsible Minister for six years, knows that the late Sir Stafford Cripps, who was as honourable a man as anyone in this House, based his economic policy year after year on the Economic Survey produced by actuaries, in whose honesty and ability the right hon. Gentleman does not believe.
§ Mr. Ede
In the first place, the Economic Survey is not produced by actuaries, and, in the second place, I am not accusing anyone of dishonesty. One cannot argue with prophets. One has only to wait until events contradict them, as they eventually do. An actuary always makes a calculation which will save himself, if he should still be alive and has to give an account of the way in which things have worked out, from having erred on the wrong side.
In every local government officers' superannuation fund, which is reviewed quinquennially, there is always a deficit prophesied. But what happens there? When a deficit is prophesied for a local government officers' superannuation fund, a statement is also made as to the extra percentage contribution which ought to be paid in, and that falls entirely on the employer.
The most devastating thing that has been said this afternoon has been the quotation made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, reinforced by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), about the statements made by Lord Eustace Percy in 1925. Let us be quite certain of this. Lord Eustace Percy was never a popular figure with the teachers. I know the time 274 when he was called the "Minister for Thought," and, of course, that did not make him popular with hon. Members opposite. In fact, he found that there was so little use for thought in the Conservative party that he resigned from office and never took office afterwards.
Lord Eustace Percy made it quite clear that the Act of 1925 was a settlement which left the teachers' superannuation fund in a similar position to the local government officers' fund. That is to say that when the calculation was faulty and the 5 per cent. on each side would not provide the necessary sum, any accrued deficit had to be met by the Treasury. We have had no mention of that in the speech of the Minister of Education. Not a word did he say about Lord Eustace Percy's position. He put all the blame apparently on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) for having returned to the gold standard in 1924.
That was already a fact at the time when the 1925 Act was passed. Only those who were in the teaching profession at the time, like my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), can realise tonight the indignation felt in 1922 and 1925 when the 5 per cent. contribution was introduced. It was only made in the smallest degree palatable to the teachers by the assurances given by Lord Eustace Percy that this was a final arrangement, and any deficit that arose would always be borne by the Treasury. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman talking about having made a payment. This is what he actually said in the course of his speech—"A payment without precedent in size"—when he was talking of the £259 million.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I said that the wiping off of the £259 million constituted a precedent without any parallel in size. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny the fact that there never has been a deficit of this size on an account which has been taken entirely by the Exchequer?
§ Mr. Ede
I was concerned with local government officers' superannuation funds Tong before 1937, immediately after the passing of the Act of 1922. The quinquennial valuations took place before 1937 and the revealed deficit fell upon the employing authority only. It was not shared with the employees and the 1937 Act merely continued that process. I am coming to deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) in a moment.
It was found in 1937 that, generally speaking, 5 per cent. on both sides was insufficient and the sum was increased to 6 per cent., but the people who had come into the scheme under the 5 per cent. arrangement were not compelled to go over and pay 6 per cent. That is another way in which this scheme differs from what then happened. Should there be a deficit on the quinquennial valuations that has to be met by the employers, as it was before. There is no provision in the local government officers' scheme for putting anything extra on the employees.
Owing to interruptions I have spoken for rather longer than I intended, but I should like to join in the congratulations offered to the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey). I am sorry that he is not now in the Chamber, because it was a remarkable piece of prescience on his part, speaking only on the spur of the moment, that he happened to have the relevant copy of the Economist in his possession to make the quotations on which he based his speech. I hope that he will not bring the whole of the Library into the House on future occasions when he wishes to speak.
Jeremiah was a very dismal sort of person. [An HON. MEMBER: "He was right."] He was certainly right in what I am going to quote. He asked:Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?He was making quite plain from what follows in the verse that he was not so 276 much a prophet as an historian. The Tories in their approach to education are like the Ethiopian and the leopard. They may put on masks, they may try to whitewash themselves, but in the end, if there is any trouble, one of the first services to be attacked is education, and the certain thing is that an attack will be made on the payments made to teachers.
Hon. and right hon. Members opposite should read the rest of the text. Jeremiah said that if Ethiopians could change their skins or leopards their spots,then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.But Ethiopians do not change their skins and leopards, so far, have been unable to get rid of their spots.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)
I wish that I could feel that the speech of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), any more than the speeches of some of the teachers' representatives here, was really calculated to increase sympathy for the teachers' cause among members of the public. Unfortunately, it is true that education is not very popular among the great mass of the people, and that is one of the things with which Governments, as well as teachers, have to contend.
It would be a very good thing if the public could be persuaded to believe that the needs of teachers were great, and that they deserved both higher salaries and a better pensions scheme. But one way not to succeed in persuading the public is to overstate and distort the case in the way in which we have heard it distorted today, so that one would think that the Bill existed for no other purpose than to make a so-called salary cut and impose it upon the teachers.
We have heard that several times. Even the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short), who made a much more moderate speech than other teachers' representatives here, said it. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) made quite extravagant claims in that respect.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. Member is referring to "teachers' representatives" as if all those who have spoken, at least from this side of the House, were here as teachers' representatives I assure him that that is not true.
§ Mr. Maude
I am speaking about hon. Members on the other side of the House who make no secret of the fact that they speak as special representatives of teachers, with their interests very much at heart. There is no reason why they should not do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) said exactly the same thing, and nobody is criticising him on that score. The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) must be very suspicious.
§ Mr. G. Thomas indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Thomas indicated assent.
§ Mr. Maude
That is not true. It is a distortion of the facts to say it.
The executive of the National Union of Teachers, so far as I know, has never attempted to deny that there are substantial benefits in the Bill, and it is most unfair to try to cover them up now. There is, for example, the recalculation of the lump sum, and there is Clause 12, which seems to me to confer very substantial benefit on teachers, and there are a number of other minor benefits. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West went on to deal with one or two points which, as the Minister said, are to some extent Committee points, small details which are not in the Bill but which can be dealt with by Amendments in Committee. I would agree that some of them are reasonable requests.
The question of the widows' and orphans' pensions provision was the most substantial problem that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West mentioned. It struck me as a bit thick that he should say that 278 the teachers asked for "the right to contribute to their own scheme for widows' and orphans' pensions." He did not go on to say that they were also asking someone else to contribute to them, which makes a difference to the argument.
If all that is being asked for is that teachers should have a right to bear the full actuarial cost of extra benefit for widows and orphans, they could have gone to my right hon. Friend and said, "We are prepared to pay for the lot if you run it for us." I do not mind betting that my right hon. Friend would probably have answered, "Yes." The hon. Member omitted to say that. He said that the teachers asked for the right to contribute to their own pensions scheme.
§ Mr. Thomas
If he took down my words, the hon. Member will be aware that we were asking for what is already given to the Civil Service—that the teachers should make their contribution and that the Government should do likewise.
§ Mr. Maude
Local authorities do not want to concede that they should pay any proportion of the contributions in respect of widows and orphans because in some of the other schemes dealing with local government employees there are provisions for widows and orphans in respect of which the beneficiaries pay the whole of the contributory cost. That would be to put the teachers in a different position from other local government employees in that respect.
There has been a great deal of talk, not only about local government schemes, but about other schemes. When the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said that when dealing with this matter we have to take each scheme as a whole and not single out one part of it, he could not have said anything more profoundly relevant to the argument. If he had thought of it a little more, he would have seen that that is precisely as good an argument in favour of raising the contributions of teachers from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. as against it, because it is not an argument for saying that teachers are being "singled out" to pay 6 per 279 cent. If we look at these schemes—and the Working Group Report has an appendix which contains all these schemes and a number outside the local government employment sphere—we see that every one of the schemes is different.
It cannot be said, "Here is a scheme which exactly represents the situation of the teachers, and if we put an extra 1 per cent. on the teachers they will be that much worse off in relation to other schemes"; because where we find a benefit in one of the other schemes as compared with the teachers' scheme, there is always a disadvantage. I have looked at them carefully. Some hon. Members mentioned the case of firemen and policemen. Those are totally different schemes. For one thing there are no lump sum benefits, which is a substantial disadvantage. It is true that there are widows' benefits, but the lump sum in the teachers' scheme can be commuted to provide widows' and orphans' benefits, which puts them much more nearly on a level footing. In addition, it would be unnatural if there were no special provision for widows and orphans in the case of police and firemen, who run a real risk to their lives which may leave their families widowed and orphaned in a way which, so far, at any rate, teachers have not been exposed to.
Now I want to deal briefly with one or two points made by the hon. Member for Fulham and by the right hon. Member for South Shields. They were intent on purporting to prove that this Bill represents a breach of faith with the teachers. The hon. Member for Fulham said there was a breach of faith in 1922, when the scheme was made contributory. He added that in 1925, Lord Eustace Percy said—but I did not propose to go deeply into what is rapidly becoming a kind of mystique surrounding the question of what Lord Eustace Percy said or did not say or mean, because we have had plenty of views on that, and we heard the same argument from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and the right hon. Member for South Shields.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has given the complete answer, and anybody who did not hear his speech should read it in HANSARD tomorrow. It is not 280 only the answer of my hon. Friend. What hon. Gentlemen opposite might realise is that it is also the answer of Lord Eustace Percy himself. In a letter to The Times about eighteen months ago, he said in terms what he said at the time and what he meant.
The right hon. Member for South Shields was at pains to say what an honest person Lord Eustace Percy was, compared with the dishonest lot of us now on this side of the House. He might have given Lord Eustace Percy credit for knowing what he meant when he said it, and for making an honest and responsible statement now. Lord Eustace Percy cannot be prayed in aid by hon. Gentlemen opposite because he did not say what they allege he said.
We had an allegation, repeated by another hon. Gentleman, that the reason why the Bill of my right hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh) was withdrawn, and this Bill is being proceeded with, was because there was a General Election impending at the time of the previous Bill. I should have thought that was a peculiar and somewhat dangerous argument to come from the other side of the House and, in particular, from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields. I had not intended to raise this point, but in view of that, there are one or two questions I want to put to hon. Gentlemen opposite and to which we might be given an answer in the winding-up speech from the Opposition.
The Report of the Government Actuary on the position of the scheme in 1948, showing a deficiency of £102 million, which was still rising, was signed in December, 1950; that is to say, it was presumably placed in the hands of the Government then. It was laid as a White Paper in March, 1951, by the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) who, I notice, pat upon his cue, has just come into the Chamber and sat down. Assuming that the Government did not see the Report until the White Paper was laid, which is improbable, they still had it from March, 1951, but we can assume that they knew the contents of the Report in December, 1950. It would be valuable to us to know, because we could then judge the validity of the claim of hon. Gentlemen 281 opposite to be the only true supporters and protectors of the interests of the teachers, exactly what happened between December, 1950, and October, 1951.
§ Mr. Peart rose—
§ Mr. Maude
I am sorry but I must finish this argument because it is an important point which I want to get across.
When the Treasury was presented with the Report of the Government Actuary showing a deficiency of £102 million—two years before that time, remember, and still rising, so that it was presumably larger in December, 1950—did it take no action about it, make no inquiries or suggestions as to what should be done, for nearly a year?
§ Mr. Cove rose—
§ Mr. Maude
Just a moment, and then I will give way.
What I think must have happened was that they did take a decision. They must have had a Bill in draft during 1951, and what I think we should be told is this: if there was a Bill in draft at that time, did it contain a proposal to raise the contributions of teachers from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. or did it not? Had the Government taken any decision? If they had not taken any decision then from December, 1950, until October, 1951, they decided to let matters drift because there was a General Election coming along.
§ Mr. Cove
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene. I do not know whether there was a Bill or not, but I know that the late George Tomlinson told me definitely that he would not introduce a Bill to raise the contribution of teachers for pension purposes, if only because of the reason that there was a surplus coming in every year and there was no immediate necessity to do it.
§ Mr. Maude
That is absolutely fascinating. That that was the view taken 282 by the Treasury at the time is inconceivable. It is the veriest nonsense to suggest that. I had as great respect and affection for the late George Tomlinson as anybody in this House; but whether or not he said that, it is inconceivable that the Treasury made no attempt to get this rapidly rising and vast deficiency dealt with.
The Labour Government must have been proposing to do something about it. If we obtain an assurance from the Opposition that it was not proposed to raise contributions from 5 to 6 per cent., well and good, but we ought also to be told why there was a delay from December, 1950, until October, 1951, in announcing this—if it was not because a General Election was coming. In other words, were the Labour Government proposing to let things slide indefinitely?
When we come to look at the matter, that is precisely what the Opposition has recommended today. I listened very carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Fulham to discover what the Labour Party's policy was about teachers' superannuation. It amounted to this, "Because this will not happen for thirty, forty or fifty years, we will not do anything about it at the moment, and probably not for thirty, forty or fifty years." No responsible Government could possibly saddle posterity with a debt of that sort.
The hon. Member said, and the right hon. Member for South Shields repeated it, that actuarial prophecies do not always come true. The effect of what he said was, "Why should we act on them now when it may all be all right in thirty or forty years' time?" Neither of them—the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman—nor anybody else has ever suggested that a single factor in the calculation can move in favour of the scheme.
Unless it can be shown that teachers' are going to die five years earlier, or retire considerably later, or that their salaries will decline, none of which is probable, many of the factors must move against the scheme. Therefore, there is no chance of the actuarial forecasts proving to be unduly favourable to the scheme. No responsible Government could conceivably let the matter slide indefinitely, because sooner or later something—it might well range up to about £500 million—would have to be clawed back gradually from the Exchequer and 283 poured out to meet liabilities in respect of teachers' pensions.
This proposition is being made at a time when the teachers can go to the Burnham Committee with every hope of getting some recompense. This is not unreasonable, as was suggested by an hon. Member opposite. Listening to the hon. Member for Fulham, one would think that the one thing the teachers must do is to go to the Burnham Committee before they have been asked to pay the addition. What grounds would they then have for asking for compensation? It must be obvious that, until a liability is imposed, they have no case to take to the Burnham Committee.
§ Mr. Maude
In respect of pensions, I mean.
The teachers know that perfectly well. They know it is really fantastic to make a fuss about 1 per cent.—not even 4s. or 5s. a week; it is 2s. 9d. gross weekly in the case of the average male teacher—when they will be going to the Burnham Committee and arguing in terms of perhaps a 25 per cent. increase in salary. They must know it, and I am sure they do know it. They are perfectly entitled to make this row in order to improve their case before the Burnham Committee; but if the House allows itself to be stampeded into rejecting this extremely courageous and obviously sound Bill it will bitterly regret it later.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
It has been said that if one keeps something long enough one eventually finds a use for it. I think that has happened in the case of the speech which the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) has made. I want to bring the House back to the Bill that we are discussing The hon. Gentleman's speech could just as well have been made on the previous Measure or any previous suggestions I heard nothing in it which had any particular reference to the Bill. It is obvious from his speech what his views would have been on the last occasion.
I am told that the rebellion on the Government back benches has been brought to an end. It could not have been a very serious one. I am wondering whether the fact that there is a rumour of a Minis- 284 terial shuffle has anything to do with its ending. Presumably this is a rather bad time at which to rebel.
I cannot understand why anyone who was against the 1954 Measure could possibly support this Bill. In fact, if anything, the reason for supporting the previous Measure was slightly better than the reasons which are held for supporting the Bill. The right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh) brought forward a Measure under which the 1 per cent. increase to be met by the teachers was intended to meet part of the actuarial deficiency. On this occasion, the actuarial deficiency is supposed to have been wiped out, but the additional 1 per cent. is still required. All the difference I can see between the 1954 Measure and the Bill is that this time we have a different salesman. A bad article cannot be made a good article merely by changing the salesman. To be honest, I do not think the salesman was at his best today.
We have had some curious arguments from the Government benches. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) seemed to say, "Let us have an increase of 1 per cent. in the contribution which the teachers make, and that will be a sort of preliminary canter to a non-contributory scheme." On the other hand, the Minister said. "We want to raise the prestige of the teaching profession. Let us make the teachers pay another 1 per cent. and see how their prestige goes up." If the prestige of the teachers is improved by the additional 1 per cent., I wonder how good it would be if they had to pay an additional 2 per cent.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The Conservative Party owes an apology to the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side, because she stood the brunt of all the attacks that were made at the time she inroduced her Measure, not only from teachers and hon. Members on this side of the House, but also from hon. Members opposite. During the years when she was Minister of Education she valiantly defended the Conservative Party. Indeed, so valiantly did she defend it that it always seemed to me when she spoke in the House that her brief was from the Conservative Central Office and not from her Depart- 285 ment. However, there was a rebellion among the Conservative Party, and it was thought better to throw out the scheme, and out with it went the right hon. Lady. To suggest that the differences between her Measure and the Bill are sufficient to make hon. Members opposite change their minds does not make sense.
I do not quarrel with the Government Actuary's Report—I accept it in toto—but it is important to make it clear to the country that at the moment, instead of there being a deficit, there is a credit balance in actual payment. I believe the people of the country are of the opinion that the Government are going to make a payment to make up teachers' pensions at the present time. Actually, there is a credit balance of £232 million. In about 14 years' time, the contributions and the cost of the pensions will just about equate, and possibly in about another forty years all the present balances will have been exhausted and the contributions will prove insufficient.
What are the differences between this and the 1954 Bill? This is an attempt to sell the Bill not to the country, not to the teachers, but to Conservative back benchers. What has happened to sell it to them? Let us first take the present actuarial deficiency. In the 1954 Bill the Government was to make up two-thirds of it and in the present Bill it is to make up all of it, but yet the contribution from the teachers and the local authorities will be exactly the same, 6 per cent. What about future actuarial deficiencies? The 1954 Bill made no provision, but the 1955 Bill says that it will be met by the local education authorities, subject to the Government grant.
What will these things cost the present Government? Actually nothing. As a matter of fact, they will be slightly the gainers. They will have a notional additional 3½ per cent. on the additional notional figure to put in next year, but in actual cash what they will get will be increased contributions from the teachers and increased contributions from the local authorities, less the 60 per cent, grant. Whatever they will have to pay—it is suggested that it will be an extra £1 million—will be more than covered by the increased 1 per cent. from the teachers. There is no fund, and therefore any credit which is made to the fund can be only a 286 notional credit, plus next year the notional increase of 3½ per cent.
Future actuarial deficiencies will be met by future Governments, and not by this Government. Can we legislate for future Governments? It is not surprising that the teachers are rather chary about this, knowing the history of superannuation schemes, a history which certainly does not inspire confidence in such schemes. Since the history has been given, I will not delay the House with it for more than a minute, but it is as well briefly to recall what happened. In 1918 it was noncontributory; then in 1922 came the Geddes Axe and the levy of 5 per cent. It is amazing how history more or less repeats itself.
When in April, 1922, the Government came to the House with a Bill to enforce the 5 per cent., it was defeated. In 1954 the Government did not actually bring the Bill to the House for the Second reading, because they knew beforehand that it would be defeated, because of the rebellion on the other side. In 1922 the Government set up a Select Committee which by a small majority decided that the Government had not broken faith. Fortified in that way the Government again brought in a Bill in August of that year, and the Bill was passed. In 1925 we had the Teachers (Superannuation) Act with contributions for teachers and local authorities fixed at 5 per cent. I say fixed at that because, whatever is said on the other side, I am quite certain that the teachers themselves thought they were definitely fixed for all future time. I happened to be one myself at that time, and that was my idea.
There was no provision in that Act for future possible actuarial deficiencies. Lord Eustace Percy, to whom so much reference has been made tonight, spoke at that time only of guaranteeing the fund against capital depreciation. Since then there have been two previous attempts to increase the cuts to 6 per cent. Both have been dropped because of opposition, and I suggest to the Minister that the best thing he can do is to follow suit with this particular Bill, although it does contain certain minor improvements which are welcome to the teaching profession, but, as has been pointed out, the total additional cost of all these benefits is not very great. It does not provide a pension 287 scheme for widows, orphans and dependants. The Financial and Explanatory Memorandum says:Clause 8 empowers the Minister by rules (to be laid before Parliament and subject to annulment) to make provision for pensions for widows and orphans and dependants. The cost of benefits would involve no additional net charge on public funds, being met by a reduction of the amount of the additional (lump sum) allowances or death gratuities payable to, or in respect of, teachers under the existing superannuation system.The teaching profession is very interested in a scheme for widows, orphans and dependants, and for that teachers would be willing to pay.
§ Mr. Powell
Would they? Would the hon. Member clarify that? He said the teachers would willingly pay the cost of a scheme for widows, orphans and dependants. Does he mean that or not?
§ Mr. Blackburn
The teachers would certainly make their contribution. I did not mean pay the entire cost, any more than in any other superannuation scheme the total cost is paid by the people who receive benefit, and I think that the hon. Member understood that.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
Is it not a fact that the teachers themselves run their own benevolent fund? Do they not pay the whole lot?
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am sure that the hon. Member does not mean that interruption seriously.
The teachers are interested in this, and I do not think that what the Minister has said meets their case. They want something more than that. According to this scheme, the only people who would be paying would be those teachers with dependants. 1 am certain that the teaching profession as a whole would be prepared to make its contribution towards a scheme for widows, orphans and dependants.
There is another small matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) referred—that of providing for monthly, instead of quarterly payments for pensioners. Of course, hon. Members who have never had the experience of living on small amounts will not realise the importance of payments being made at shorter intervals. The third point I want to mention 288 is in connection with National Service. The Bill should provide that the man who does two years' National Service, first, does not lose on salary grounds and, secondly, does not lose on pension grounds.
I am certain that I am speaking for the women members of the teaching profession when I say that although they were anxious about having equal pay they did not want special privileges. At present a National Service man starting his teaching career two years later is at a disadvantage and that situation should be righted, and it is obviously something which could have been put right in a Bill of this kind. I hope that at the Committee stage the Minister will be prepared to do that.
In conclusion, I ask the Minister: is it really worth it? Is it really worth going ahead with this Clause of the Bill and upsetting the whole of the teaching profession? Do we or do we not want to attract people to the profession?
I do not think that a reduction in salary—or perhaps I had better not put it that way because an hon. Member opposite objected to saying that it was a reduction in salary—an increased superannuation contribution is the way to attract more people? Do we want a contented profession? The Bill is not the way in which to get one. I assure the Minister that there is no body of workers anywhere in the country that gives more time voluntarily and unpaid to its job than this profession. Probably more overtime is being done by teachers than by any other body of people.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Without pay, yes. It is important that we should have teachers who feel that they are appreciated. We know the sacrifices which they are making. What they are doing ought to be appreciated. The suggestion made by the Minister that a new salary agreement could take into account the increased contributions really is just nonsense. If that is in mind, why go to all the trouble of causing this discontent? I say to the Minister that the Government will be well advised to let the Bill go the way of the two previous attempts to make the increase of 1 per cent.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
I should like to follow the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn) on two of his points. In the first he sought to belittle the £300 million liability which the Government are taking on and to say that no money is yet payable and that that is in effect not a good consideration for the other side of the picture.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I did not belittle the liability. I belittled the contribution which the present Government would have to make.
§ Mr. Pitman
That is precisely what I was trying to say. If the hon. Member will guarantee an overdraft for me he will have nothing to contribute immediately, but I will open such an account which he then guarantees and he will see that there will in the future be contributions which he will have to pay. He must not belittle this in any way. He is running quite contrary to the policy of the National Union of Teachers which, in the communication it has sent to every Member of Parliament, has asked anybody who is a friend of a teacher not to make that ridiculous statement, because it just gets one into trouble.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I said that I wanted to refer to the actuarial position. Then I said that I accepted in full and absolutely the actuarial position which had been disclosed. I accepted that. I think that the hon. Gentleman is trying to mislead the House, trying to twist my words. I have accepted the position that there is an actuarial deficiency, but that does not mean that the present Government will have to pay anything to make good that deficiency.
§ Mr. Pitman
That is just quibbling over words. The hon. Gentleman is saying exactly what I said he had said. In accepting a liability, as in guaranteeing an overdraft, the Government are making a considerable "consideration" in terms of contract.
The other point which I should like to take up with the hon. Gentleman is that he asked in what respect the Bill differs from the earlier one. To begin with, there is the immensely important factor that the other Bill left the whole thing up in the air. The treatment of future deficiencies was not provided for. The teachers had to go, septennial after septennial, to fight out in the country, and 290 in the House, something which ought to have been settled and which will now be settled by the Bill. It is in that respect that there is the biggest improvement.
The next improvement to which I attach importance is the acceptance of the whole of the liability for £300 million. Whatever anybody may say, I am absolutely certain that the teachers, in their sober moments, will say that that is a fine piece of acceptance of liability by the Government and that they are grateful. Thirdly, there has been a really substantial point in not penalising the young incoming teacher and making him pay part of the pensions of existing teachers by an overpayment of his rate of contribution. I remember very clearly the strong point made by the N.U.T. in their objection to that.
Then, finally, there is a real benefit in having got quite clear who is the employer and who is responsible for the payment of salaries and for the payment of pensions. It seems to me that of all things likely to bedevil relations between a man and his employer is to have his salary coming from one source and his pension coming from another and dubious source, so that he really does not know where he stands in relation one to the other. From now on it will be perfectly clear that the slate is wiped clean—that is an expression used of the £300 million, which is a nice and generous wiping—and that from now on it is an issue of salary and of pension coming from only one source with only one person responsible, and a clear matching of duty and responsibility with power in that one person.
A very wise man once told me that the greatest friction always arose in choosing which was the least bad of two thoroughly bad alternatives. He said: "It is very easy to make the choice between a good and bad alternative. It is a bit more difficult to choose which is the better of two good ones, but the fur really begins to fly when whichever one of the two one chooses one is in a real mess." And this has been a real mess. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) pointed out, successive Governments have run away from this, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), a former Financial Secretary, smiled blandly when that point was made. I 291 think that we are like the bull angry with both alternatives that is charging at the red cloak, not realising that in point of fact the red cloak conceals the sight of what are the two real villains of the piece. The two villains of the piece are, firstly, inflation and, secondly, the poverty of local government finance.
I have been a keen member of the N.U.T. for a number of years. I am not a representative, in the sense that everything I say is what I think and I do not purport to represent that union in any way whatever, but I protest—and I think the whole House will protest—against the I per cent. cut in salaries. It will be a good thing for it to be clearly on record that the teachers have suffered such a diminution. If we take salary and pension together as a global whole the teacher is definitely 1 per cent. down in salary, and he will not get any more bread and butter when he retires. We must avoid pounds, shillings and pence, because we do not know what will happen to the pound, but in terms of bread and butter the teacher will be getting as pension no more than was the understanding under the Act, but he will be paying more out of salary. It is good that the House should recognise that there has in fact been that cut.
The teacher and we in this House have a right to protest about this, but the issue is, to whom are we to protest? Should it be to this House and the Government, who are not the employers of the teachers, or should it be to the local education authorities who are the employers? I was interested to hear the Minister say that it is local authorities generally, including Socialist controlled local authorities, who have refused to pay 7 per cent. so that the teachers may continue paying 5 per cent., and who have refused to put into operation the widows and dependants scheme straight away. If during the Committee discussions we have an Amendment to allow any local authority to put the widows and dependants scheme into force, it will be interesting to see whether the Socialist controlled authorities will fall over one another to do so, as might be implied from what we have heard during this debate.
§ Dr. King
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that local authorities would 292 have no objection to the proposals about widows and orphans pensions on a contributory basis, if the contributors were the teachers on the one hand and the Government on the other; if the teachers made a 50 per cent. contribution and the Government the rest? Is not the real way to solve the hardships of local authorities for the Government themselves to accept some of the responsibility which they are trying to put on to the local authorities?
§ Mr. Pitman
I am coming to that point, but it turns on the issue of who is the employer. I say that the House and the nation clearly want local government to be responsible and to be the employer. If it is an issue of getting some funds out of the State for local education, I think it wrong for that injection of money to come in a form which vitiates the relations between employer and employee. It should come in a bigger block grant and leave the employee looking single-mindedly to only one employer.
Hon. Members are very apt to confuse the Secretary of State for War with the Minister of Education. The Secretary of State for War employs and pays his soldiers, but the Minister of Education does not employ and pay his teachers. The Secretary of State for War has the Royal Army Pay Corps to whom he can order what they shall pay. The Minister of Education is dealing with free agents in the local education authorities. It would be wholly out of keeping with the attitude of this House were the Minister to have done what this House could have done for him and forced the local education authorities to pay 7 per cent. and forced them to take on the widows and dependants scheme, after they had apparently, unanimously decided that was something which they would not do.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
The teachers feel that they ought not to be the persons who are forced any more than the local authorities. If this House considers the other arrangement is right, why not have a Bill to implement that arrangement and not the wrong one, merely because the local authorities do not want it done that way?
§ Mr. Pitman
We have been told by the Minister that the attitude of the local authorities to the whole of this Bill was that the only condition under which they 293 would agree to its terms was if the Government contributed this guarantee of £300 million, and if the teachers took the 6 per cent. and not the 5 per cent. It is not this House which is making that decision, it is the employers.
I know enough about employing people and about wage negotiations to realise that the total of all remunerations is taken globally as between employer and employee and that pensions and salaries are regarded as only parts of one complete whole of remuneration. It is far from idiotic to suggest the first thing unions would do is to go to Burnham and demand immediately this extra 1 per cent. and, in so doing, the employer will get 60 per cent. of it back from the Exchequer. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ask, why do it that way? The answer is clear. It is because it leaves the relationship of employer and employee in the ideal position in which it should be.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
If the hon. Gentleman follows that line of argument, will he ask his right hon. Friend to urge upon local authorities that they should specifically take this question of the increased contribution into account the next time that teachers' salaries are negotiated? Can it be made definite? The hon. Gentleman seems to suggest that it is an admirable arrangement, but the trouble from the teachers' point of view is that their loss is certain and their potential gain is still uncertain in the future. Would it not be a good idea if it could be made certain that they would get it back?
§ Mr. Pitman
I should certainly join the hon. Member in urging the Minister to do that, but the real difficulty is surely the poverty of local government finance, as I mentioned earlier.
The danger which we and the teachers must face is that we shall tilt at the red cloak instead of tilting at the two major evils in the light of which the teachers are now suffering and will I fear continue to suffer. They will still suffer from inflation because every time the Burnham Committee sits, the local education authorities are bound to take into account the fact that any increase in salaries will considerably increase the deficiency in the inscribed fund.
I do not here join with my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), because I think that in some ways it is a good thing that there 294 should be some force working to stop inflation. If every time there is any repercussion from inflation, it were to lead to the Government shouldering the whole burden, we should have forces working only in the direction of producing more and more inflation. I think that in some ways it is a good thing that local education authorities and the teachers and the nation should have periodically to face the fact that inflation with Burnham awards of increased salaries are expensive in themselves but are only part of the total expense which long-term inflation exerts on salaries and on pensions and on the well-being of the country.
The other enemy behind the red cloak which we should be charging against is the poverty of local finance which is based on rents of housing and office accommodation. Both in the 1918 war and the 1945 war rents were kept down artificially by rent restrictions Acts so that rates came to be looked on as out of all proportion to what they ought to be, although they have not gone up as much as they ought and as other expenses have. If teachers had been paid on "whisky money," as some of them used to be, with the increase in the price of whisky the financing of payments for salaries and pensions would not have been as difficult as it has been because the employer would have been better able to pay. I consider that there is real substance in that point, and that the teachers ought to join with those of us who think that local government finance ought to be improved so that, for not only teachers, but the police and every one else, there might not be this particular red rag making us charge angrily against the wrong enemy.
There is a muddle and it will be unpopular to get out of; it always is. But, for the four reasons which I have given, this Bill is much better than the last Measure and because, too, there is so much good in the Bill I propose to support it.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
I do not propose to speak for long, and my observations will be brief. I do not know whether I should declare an interest, but I might mention that I was a secondary school headmaster until my election to this House last March. This Bill will help me personally with regard to my 295 pension. Consequently, strange as it may seem, I shall be speaking contrary to my own interests. I shall be standing in the light of my personal advantage. Thus for my declared interest in the Bill.
I shall attempt to ride across the quibbling technicalities and labyrinthine figures of the actuarial reports which we have had. I am not immediately concerned with them tonight. The first principle of government and of administration is recognition of the inviolability of contract. That is the basis of my argument. Agreements should not be unilaterally broken by teachers, local authorities or—above all—by the State. Unless the solemnity of contract is admitted and acted upon there can be no moral basis to the administration of law.
I can well recall the coming into operation of the first superannuation Act. It was introduced to make the teaching profession attractive, and I was one of those who were attracted by it. It was then on a non-contributory basis. In 1922, however, as a result of the Geddes Report, a levy of 5 per cent. was imposed upon teachers, and the contract enshrined in the 1918 Act was torn up as though it were a scrap of paper. That was the first act of unilateral violation of a solemn contract, and from that day onwards a repetition of the same thing has been threatened continuously.
The levy was first paid in 1922 and, although we had the idea that when conditions improved the scheme would return to a non-contributory basis, three years later, in 1925, the levy was riveted securely by the Act of that year. The 5 per cent. contribution then became fixed by law, and it has remained so until now. During the thirty years which have since elapsed there has been a constant feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty that there was a danger of the agreement being further broken—not by the teachers or by local authorities, but by the State.
In March, 1933, less than eight years after the 1925 Act, the Government Actuary reported a deficiency and recommended that teachers should pay 6 per cent. In 1951, the Actuary reported again, but we had to wait until 1954, when a Conservative Government were in power, before a Bill was introduced to increase the rate of contribution to 6 per cent. 296 That Bill was withdrawn. Now we have this Bill, which includes the same proposal.
And so, whilst the 5 per cent. contribution by teachers and local authorities has held the field for thirty years, the surface of that field has been very rough. It has been more in the nature of a ploughed field than a good-surfaced playing field, and Governments have been more concerned with ploughing than with playing ball with the teaching profession.
All this breaking of contracts and threats of doing so have taken place in periods of so-called crisis. This is a very strange thing. In 1922 we had the Geddes Report; in 1925 the action which was taken was said to be part of an attempt to save the dignity of the by returning to the gold standard. It was a deflationary period. In 1936 there was a depression. In 1954, and now, in 1955, we have a period of prosperity—which is too dangerous to enjoy. It is a very strange world. Whether there is deflation or inflation, whether there is a depression or prosperity, the contract between the State and the teachers has had to be called into question.
Hon. Members opposite now tell us that teachers live longer than they used to. I hope they do. I hope that we shall all live longer than our fathers did. As the old Book says,the child shall die an hundred years old.What is wrong with that? Should not this desirable phenomenon have been clearly seen by the statesmen of 1918, 1922 and 1925? It is a fundamental law of human nature that we should all desire to live as long as we can, and that we should do all we can to achieve that commendable desire. Are teachers to be penalised because they live successfully? Do not other classes live longer? Why should there be this discrimination?
One of the accepted principles of administration is that an action should not only be right but should appear to be right. A piece of legislation should not only be equitable but should appear to be equitable. That is where this Bill falls short. This is a cut in the salary of teachers at a time when the cost of living is rising, and so it is, and appears to be, unfair and discriminatory. I should have thought that for the sake of 1 per cent. the Government would have hesitated before imposing this extra burden 297 upon a section of the community to which every Member in the House owes a personal debt, whether he went to a public school or an ordinary council school.
The Government should have hesitated before imposing this burden which, however light it may appear, engenders a sense of grievance among the members of this grand profession. I appeal to the Minister not to tarnish the lustre of equitable government, but to withdraw the Bill and try to devise another. If he does not succeed the first time, let him try again.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)
I welcome the statement made by the Minister of his intention to reconsider the question of widows', orphans' and dependants' benefits in the not-too-distant future. He said that a more generous scheme will have to come. Many of us feel very strongly indeed on that point.
My views have been clearly stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn), but I would put them before the House briefly again. Other hon. Members have spoken on behalf of their constituencies. With my two colleagues who represent the other Croydon constituencies I have interviewed deputations of teachers, have spoken to many individual teachers and have had much correspondence on this important matter. There can be no doubt of the very strong feeling the teachers have about the present situation. Rightly or wrongly, they feel that they are not getting a square deal. I very much hope that when the teachers have had the opportunity to study the speech made by the Minister today they may take a rather different view of the circumstances.
It is vital for Her Majesty's Government to take the teaching profession with them. It is however obvious that the profession is not well paid in comparison with other professions, and indeed in comparison with many trades it is also very poorly paid. I sincerely hope that 298 the Burnham Committee will soon make fair awards to the teachers more in accordance with the times in which we live. The Minister conveyed the idea that the Committee was already sitting.
If the teaching profession is called upon, as it will be under the Bill, even only for a time, to pay a further 1 per cent. contribution from its present pay, I do not see how any sensible hon. Member can contend that that extra payment is anything but a cut in pay. The teacher will take home less money on each occasion and, on the face of it, will have less money to use for his family. As the Minister rather implied, I do not think there is much doubt that the Burnham Committee will take such increases in superannuation contribution into account, but a space of time may elapse before the Committee's recommendations can take effect, unless it backdates its recommendations, which I think it is unfortunately not allowed to do.
On the other hand, if teachers are to receive additional benefits for their increased contributions over and above what is already provided for in the Bill I believe they will be prepared, to judge from what they have told me, to pay not only a 6 per cent. but perhaps a 61 per cent. contribution. They need to feel that they would get a substantial return for such contributions.
One point is clear in the minds of most hon. Members: the teachers have a most urgent desire for a widows', orphans' and dependants' pension scheme, similar to that of the Civil Service. I have been in touch with the Minister of Education before his statement today to find out the cost of such a scheme. My right hon. Friend told the House that, quite apart from the capital sum which would be required, it would cost an additional 2 per cent. contribution. I believe that the profession would be prepared to pay a considerable addition towards this expense; could not the remainder be borne by the local authorities and the Exchequer combined?
The Minister said that the local authorities might not be anxious to take on extra expense, but surely any decision of this House would eventually be upheld by the local authorities. If the local authorities knew it was the will of this House they would agree to the compromise. It is certainly not uncommon for this House 299 to pass legislation which monetarily affects local authorities, and I do not see why we could not do so on this occasion.
I believe that hon. Members are now well versed in the views of the teaching profession on this matter so I will not detain them by going over the details. The country needs a sound and happy education system for our children, because it is upon these children that our future will depend. To ensure this desirable result it is most important that the Government should take the teaching profession with them. I must say that I feel strongly that there ought to be some method of compromise to encourage the provision in this Bill of a widows, orphans and dependants scheme.
I am convinced that if there could be such a compromise all the parties concerned would come together on this Bill. I have seen very large numbers of teachers from the Croydon area, and I am quite convinced that, in the end, there would be general agreement if only this compromise could be reached in this Bill. I felt the Minister rather gave a hint of that; perhaps it could be done at a later stage of the Bill, but at any rate it is vital f-r us to strive to obtain it.
It may be true, of course, that we are getting more women teachers into the profession in these days, but I also believe we are getting fewer men teachers, and we must in some way or other endeavour to make the profession more attractive.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Has the hon. Gentleman got figures, because I understand that we are recruiting more men, rather than fewer, at the present time, as well as women teachers?
§ Mr. Harris
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, who certainly speaks with great experience in these matters. Perhaps I put it too much on a national basis and not on a local basis, but my information locally is that while we are getting more recruits into the profession, they are women teachers, and there is a certain decline in the number of recruits of men teachers. However, I should be very glad to accept the hon. Gentleman's correction of my view.
During my years of public life, both in local Government and in Parliament, I have always felt that the teaching profession has had a quite justifiable 300 grievance in regard to their employment. For the moment, there is quite a lot of animosity, more than any of us would like to see, being deployed in this matter, and I feel strongly that we should try to obtain some sort of compromise in order to ensure that the teachers themselves feel that this new Bill is a step in the right direction and an encouragement to a profession which all of us wish to see successful and flourishing.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
We have heard some amazing arguments in defence of the Bill today, from the Scottish hon. Member who admitted that it does not contain the provisions for widows' pensions which all Scottish teachers insist is their most pressing demand, to those who say that by raising the pension contribution from 5 to 6 per cent., we shall provide a stepping-stone to the day when teachers will have non-contributory pensions. Finally, there has been the Minister, who seems to have been working off a hangover from his boyhood and imitating the teachers who on many occasions must have said to almost every hon. Member of this House, "It hurts me more than it hurts you, but it is going to do you good."
It is about three years since the Government introduced the first Bill, which roused the indignation of the teaching profession, of the Opposition, and I was going to say the educated members of the Tory Party, but certainly the Members of the Tory Party who belong to the education group and are keen on education. It remained on the Order Paper of the House of Commons in silent ignominy week after week. When it eventually disappeared, it carried with it the then Minister of Education, who was transparently honest in that, as in all her actions during her period w Minister.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh staked her political destiny on the colt mathematics of actuaries and lost. I have always thought that the right hon. Lady has been treated shabbily by her party In 1951, she imposed the cuts demanded by a Cabinet from which she was ex eluded, and, when public opinion mad the Government reconsider their economy cuts, the right hon. Lady was dropped 301 and the new Minister was put into the Cabinet. The Government managed to get away with the idea that the right hon. Lady was the villain, and that true Toryism was to be found in the shining speeches of the new Minister.
I find the new Bill almost analogous to the old one. It has been foisted on the public—sold to the Tory rebels. Indeed, so confident was the Minister in his approach to the House that he even tried to persuade the Opposition that this was really something for the benefit of the teachers. Just as old Toryism will peep out in the broad education policy of the Government, so I believe that in this Bill there are the same elements which were so bitterly opposed in the former Bill. I want to try to convey to the House just how bitter the teachers are, and how much more angry they are today even than they were three years ago, when the right hon. Lady introduced her Bill.
Much as I should like to, I do not propose to run over the historical background, though I remember, after having starved my way through college, making my first "voluntary" contribution, levied on my first salary, to the hard-faced businessmen—who looked as if they had done well out of the war—who sat in the House in 1922, the time of the Geddes cuts. I want to refer only to one thing from the historical background, though it has been interesting to note that Lord Eustace Percy has been discussed more this evening than he was ever discussed for anything he did for education in his time.
In 1933 the Actuary said that there was in actuarial deficiency of £10 million and that the answer was to increase teachers' contributions to 6 per cent. In 1948 he said that the deficiency was £102 million, and that the answer was to increase the teachers' contribution to 6 per cent. In 1951, the actuarial deficiency was some £200 million, and the Actuary said that he answer was to increase the teachers' contribution to 6 per cent. Now comes he new Bill, with a similar or greater deficiency, and again the answer is to increase the teachers' contribution to 6 per cent.
I shall deal with the differences between he two Bills in a moment, but the stark act remains that whatever the theoretical 302 calculations, the answer, ever since 1933, has always been "increase the teachers' contribution by 1 per cent."—impose a wage cut on teachers of 1 per cent. of their salaries. No wonder one says that the Treasury—like the devil, according to the old Scots lady—is "gey persistent." It is no wonder that the simpler members of the teaching profession get so befogged with the actuarial issue that they spoil their strong, simple case by attacking actuaries in general.
The Bill imposes a wage cut on teachers, and it is the first wage cut since the war.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
It is not exactly the first wage cut, because only last week the Scottish Office cut the wages of teachers.
§ Dr. King
If it were a national all-round fiscal cut of 1 per cent. of everyone's income, if everyone had to endure the 1 per cent. cut imposed on teachers—on top of Purchase Tax and everything that the Government have failed to do to reduce the cost of living and combat inflation—the issue would be political. As presented to the teaching profession it is personal, and the teachers say, rightly and indignantly "Why pick on us?", especially as that profession is fighting a major war to win what it regards as adequate pay but is, so far, fighting a losing battle even to maintain the 1945 income. In the midst of the struggle, with a new round just a few months ahead in Burnham, the imposition of a cut on men and women teachers of 1 per cent. has blown the lid off.
My fellow trade unionists will appreciate what I mean when I say that usually the rank and file are the bitter enemies of the executive. Gunning for the executive is a traditional British pastime, but I attended the protest meeting—the special conference of the National Union of Teachers—and the most remarkable feature of it was the complete unity between the platform and the floor of conference. That is some measure of the intensity of feeling which exists inside the teaching profession.
303 Let us be quite clear about the facts on the actuarial calculations. So far there has never been any deficiency on the pension scheme; indeed it makes a profit every year for the Treasury, and that profit balance is piling up year by year. Now it is more than £200 million, and the pension scheme will go on accumulating profits for about another fourteen years. It is agreed on both sides that those profits earn a notional interest of 3½ per cent. The Treasury tried to cut it to 3 per cent. and grudgingly conceded 3½ per cent., which was not an unexpected concession in the moneylenders' paradise which we are making of Britain where, by their policy, the Government are deliberately raising the interest on everything except the notional interest charged on their spending.
After another fourteen years there will come a year when more is paid out of the pensions Account than is paid in during that year by teachers; in time the £200 million balance will be eaten away until, says the Actuary, at some date in the future all the notional reserves and interest on them will have gone, and the State itself, some years ahead, will have to start meeting some kind of annual deficiency. It is the total of what someone will have to meet in the years ahead, when the present Minister, his predecessor and his Socialist successor will have long laid down office, if they have not laid down much more than that, that the Actuary is worried about.
Here the difference between the two Bills lies. The old Bill said that the Government would meet two-thirds of the actuarial deficiency and teachers therefore would have to pay 6 per cent. The new Bill says that the Government will meet three-thirds of the actuarial deficiency, and still the teachers will have to pay 6 per cent. Here one might note the artless innocence of the former Minister who pledged remote successors to a mere two-thirds, and the consummate skill of the present Minister, who swings his party and The Times into line by pointing out that he is drawing a bigger cheque on posterity than his predecessor was prepared to draw.
I want to be fair. The Minister has pledged posterity to meet three-thirds but has also pledged that the teachers will not again be troubled with further increases in contributions. I understand that 304 teachers value that as a stabilising action which is worth something. But again, the Minister's predecessor, who would not give so firm a pledge, may have been a little nearer the mark when we remember that what a Parliament can do a future Parliament can undo. The only thing teachers are certain about in pensions history is that once a charge is levied on them it is never taken off.
The new Bill goes much further. There may be in the future actuarial deficiencies of which the present Actuary is not aware. They are not within his ken. The Minister has persuaded local education authorities to undertake this on behalf of future Associations of Municipal Corporations and County Councils Associations, but why are there to be deficiencies in the years ahead? It is well to be clear on this point, a little clearer than the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) was. If it is because pensions are going to be really better than they used to be there might be some justification for raising the contribution which teachers make. But the new benefits in the new Bill were all in the old Bill, and the former Minister spoke of those extra benefits as being financially negligible in their cost.
The two real reasons for the future imbalance of the account are that people are living longer and the cost of living has risen. Incidentally, as the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has since admitted, the moving towards each other of minima and maxima in teachers' salaries is really beneficial actuarially rather than harmful, as I interrupted the hon. Gentleman to point out.
Teachers salaries have risen as the value of money has gone down. But whilst a pension is based on the latest salary, paid in the latest and cheapest money, many of the teachers' contributions were paid on smaller salaries, but in much more valuable money. So every rise in the cost of living which produces a wage increase upsets the actuarial calculations of any, indeed every pension scheme, including the whole of the financial support which the Government have pledged themselves to give to noncontributory schemes, like the Civil Service pension scheme.
Indeed, that is why my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) once called attention in this House to the danger of placing excessive value 305 on the reports of actuaries in a period of inflation. I admit that in the future there will be the new feature of equal pay. It is a tragedy that this comes so late that many women teachers will not get the benefit of equal pay in the pensions which they will draw. The long-term effect of equal pay will be to some extent to add to the actuarial deficiency.
Again, says the teacher, "Why pick on us?" Inflation was not caused by teachers. Teachers bear the general effects of inflation like any other members of the community. The injustice to women in this country was not confined to women teachers. No other body since the war has been asked to bear an extra charge on top of those borne by the teachers, like everyone else in the general pattern of citizens, because of inflation and of social injustice.
Moreover, the actuarial deficiency could be met by 11½ per cent.—not12 per cent.—by a 1½ per cent. increase in the total contributions of teachers and local education authorities. It is only the cautious or the tidy mind of the Actuary that shoves in an extra ½ per cent. Why not make the scheme actuarially sound at 11½ per cent.
So far as Scotland is concerned, the actuarial estimate of the sum needed is only 11 per cent., and Scottish teachers ought to be even more indignant than English teachers about it.
§ Dr. King
I now turn to the local authorities, who are to pay 6 per cent. instead of 5 per cent. I am a local authority man and a member of an education committee, and I think that I know the feeling of local authorities. They feel that an extra 1 per cent. is more than enough to carry, and that they are being generous in taking on any future hypothetical deficiency.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) put his finger on one of the roots of the problem behind this Bill—the problem of local government finance. I have always thought that national government should bear a greater portion of that part of education finance which is national and irrevocably shaped by the nation, and which the local authorities merely have to administer.
306 That may not be the answer, but if there is a problem in local government finance, and indeed a problem of local government finance which every major action of the Government since they took office at the Election has made more serious, the teachers again say, "Why attempt to solve the grave burdens that face local government finance by having a snipe at the teaching profession?" I know that the 1½ per cent., if the local authorities were to bear the whole of it, would be a burden on the local authorities. But it is worth pointing out that half of what local authorities have to meet is borne already by the State in grants and if the local authorities took on the whole of the actuarial burden of the extra 1½ per cent. they would really be paying only ¾ per cent.
I may be a simpleton, but I do not see why the Government should not make their contribution to this attempt to reconcile the claims of the local authorities and the teachers over this pension business by themselves undertaking the 1½ per cent. If the Minister had done that he would have pleased both teachers and local authorities, and he might have made himself qualified to regard himself as behaving in a statesmanlike way.
As it is, the right hon. Gentleman may be clever, but he has certainly driven a wedge between the local authorities and the teachers who should be partners and who at individual level—individual teacher, individual local authority man, local authority committee and individual teachers' group—esteem each other highly. If it is good tactics to separate the two and use one to damn the other, it is certainly very bad long-term strategy. It is for that reason that I have urged the Government and the Minister to drop the Bill.
The men and women whom the Minister is embittering hold the future of Britain in their hands. I am worried when I see the teaching profession, instead of thinking single-mindedly about the job and how best to do it, giving more time and anxiety to the battle of holding on to, let alone improving, their standard of living than they did before the war.
I spent 25 years in a grammar school where in the staff room we spent a great deal of time talking about education, books, art, music, the children, and certainly the headmaster, but very little 307 about our financial condition and the problem of money. Those days are gone. The teaching profession is bitter today because the Bill is the culmination of a number of attempts to impose upon the profession a new charge for pensions when teachers are spending most of their time battling to maintain their standard of living.
Let us remember that since the war we have asked the teachers to make bricks without straw, to live in crowded classrooms, to go on working in slum schools which ought to have been pulled down fifty years ago, and to create the revolution of secondary education for all. Very often the country does not appreciate what a tremendous achievement British education, particularly in the secondary sphere, has made in the last ten years. The teachers have lived up to the demands that have been made upon them. Men and women who are doing such a good job have a right to expect more from this Legislature. Therefore, I ask the Minister to take the Bill back, to remove the obnoxious 6 per cent. charge Clause and let us have a Council of State, when he brings in a new Bill, to lick its other provisions into shape.
§ Mr. Rankin
On a point of order. May I utter my protest, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, against the fact that only one Scottish Member on each side of the House has been called in this debate? No wonder that this is often referred to as the English House of Commons.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
It seems to me from the course of the debate that it would have been better if we had had a separate Bill to deal with teachers' superannuation in Scotland when it is realised that in the case of this Bill so little chance has been given to Scottish Members to voice the protests of Scottish teachers. It has been said time and time again that if English teachers feel strongly about the Bill, Scottish teachers feel even more strongly about it.
A comparison of the Bill with the 1954 Bill shows that, in spite of all that has been said by hon. Members opposite, there is indeed very little difference between them. There is little in this second Bill, 308 which we are discussing today to make it more palatable either to Scottish or English or Welsh teachers.
When the original Bill was published there was a great outcry from teachers all over Britain, and even a Tory Government came to realise that it, added to all the blows which had been directed against education, was making the Government unpopular in the country. Ruthless as usual, that Tory Government made a scapegoat of the Minister. At that time I felt sorry for the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh) because I realised, as many in this House and throughout the country realised, that a fairy tale was being spread by the Tory Party and the Tory Government to the effect that the educational policy which had been pursued from October, 1951, was due to a poor, inefficient Minister and was not due to the specific policies of a Tory Government. That was the fairy tale spread about the country and, for that reason, spread by the Government—
§ Miss Herbison
It was because they realised the unpopularity of their education policy. It was because they realised that an Election was in the offing that they sacrificed the Minister of Education. This is abundantly clear when we realise that it is the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who is to wind up this debate. He and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland carried out exactly the same policy in Scotland as the Minister of Education carried out in England and Wales. They were carrying out a policy dictated by the Tory Cabinet, and especially by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the then Minister of Housing and Local Government. Yet we have both of them here, still continuing the same policy. I expect the Tories felt that their purpose was served by sacking one Minister, but they should realise that it did not pass without notice in Scotland.
Indeed, the one outstanding difference in the two Bills lies in the names of the Ministers adorning the backs of them. There is perhaps another difference. The Bill carrying the name of the right hon. Lady the Member for Moss Side, was withdrawn before the Election and this 309 second one has been introduced as quickly as possible after the General Election.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) said that the Labour Government had had the report of the Government Actuary in 1948 and asked what we had done about it. The Government of 1933 also had the report of the Government Actuary showing that there was a £10 million deficiency even then, but what did that Government do about it? One thing I can say from this Box tonight is that a Labour Government did not introduce a Bill which would make a cut in the salaries of teachers—
§ Miss Herbison
Not at all. It was because they realised, as I will try to show in the rest of my speech, how important it is that we should attract teachers to this profession.
The Bill is part and parcel of the greatest confidence trick ever perpetrated on the British public. Trying to win votes, the Tories made the sky the limit in their promises. What a different story it has been since the General Election. How different it has been listening to Ministers' proposals time after time cutting the standard of living of our people. The Bill will cut the standard of living of an important section of our people.
I warn right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite of the gravity of the danger involved when pre-election promises are ruthlessly broken by post-election deeds. Our democratic way of life—indeed, our democratic form of Government—is on trial in the world today, and it is of the greatest importance that this nation should show that it can work. Woe betide the Members of the Government who are shamelessly bringing it into disrepute. They are doing harm not only to this country but to the cause of democracy in every corner of the world.
The Second Reading of the Bill has been taken with indecent haste. Hon. Members have complained that there has been a space of only ten days between the Bill's presentation and its Second Reading. Was the Minister afraid of his back benchers? It is clear that those back benchers are pulled in different directions at different times. Time and time again they bay at Ministers to cut public expenditure, and then, poor souls, they are 310 sometimes so worried about votes that they are not very sure what they ought to do. Was the Minister afraid that this time his back benchers would be so scared of teachers' representations that he hurried the Bill?
§ Miss Herbison
The Minister says "not at all," but in his speech he did not give a single reason why only ten days should elapse since the Bill's presentation and its Second Reading.
On 2nd December the London correspondent's column in the Glasgow Herald said:The Government have evidently decided to be quick on the draw with the Teachers' (Superannuation) Bill. This is jet-propelled treatment indeed compared with the test-bed failure of the 1954 Measure which never got properly started and remained an object of derision on the Order Paper for the better part of a session before it was ultimately withdrawn for re-tooling.I have a different term for the re-tooling, and I have already expressed it.
It is evident that the Minister was taking a precaution against any undermining of the loyalty of his back benchers. I have learned from the Educational Institute of Scotland that nine days ago only three copies of the Bill were available in Edinburgh for that important body to discuss. It was not until eight days before the Second Reading that the Scottish teachers in Edinburgh were able to get copies of the Bill in bulk. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), in an excellent speech, pointed out that many of the teachers in Ayrshire even to date have difficulty in getting copies of the Bill. That is a most scurvy treatment of a noble and responsible profession.
The Minister tried to prove that the teachers have not been singled out, but he gave us no evidence to show that that was not the case. Indeed, it would have been difficult to have given us evidence, because the teachers are the one body of public employees singled out for a cut in salary. Even some hon. Members opposite have realised that this increase of 1 per cent. in contribution is a 1 per cent. cut in the teacher's salary.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and other hon. Members on this side of the House have gone into the whole history of superannuation. The first scheme started was 311 non-contributory, and the reason given in 1918 for a non-contributory scheme was that it was to attract people of the right quality into the profession. Are we in such a position today that we no longer need an attraction to get properly qualified people? Every report clearly shows that the need was never greater than today for more and more highly qualified people in the profession.
The whole history of teachers' superannuation is an indictment of the parsimony of Tory Government after Tory Government. My right hon. and hon. Friends have quoted from the speeches made in debates on the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1925. Those of us who have read every single word of those debates have no doubt that the 5 per cent., which it was decided at that time should be paid by the teachers, was considered to be the last word on teachers' contributions for superannuation. In spite of that the Government today is asking for this extra 1 per cent.
I have also been interested in the numbers of hon. Members opposite who, in trying to draw away all blame from the Minister of Education and from their Government, have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the local authorities. The Minister himself has said that this was not a political matter and that all local authorities, whether Labour or Tory controlled, wanted the increase and were opposed to teachers' superannuations for pensions for widows, orphans and dependants. I want to ask the Joint Under-Secretary who will reply whether that can also apply to Scotland.
I have different information. I understand that the Joint Under-Secretary of State was present with the Minister of State at a meeting of local authority associations and the Educational Institute of Scotland on 20th October. Is it not the case that at that meeting the representative of Glasgow Corporation, a corporation which employs the greatest number of teachers of any authority in Scotland, told him that the authority was so concerned at the scarcity of teachers and the effect of the shortage on Scottish education that it believed it necessary to retain the good will of the teachers.
I want the attitude of this great Labour authority to be placed on record. It 312 said that it wanted to keep the good will of the teachers, that it was prepared to listen to the teachers' representations on material improvements and that it was also prepared to contribute its share towards the cost of these improvements. The Joint Under-Secretary says that that is so. Then, the Minister was completely wrong when he said that local authorities were opposed to any of the things we have asked for.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The hon. Lady must get that right. I most carefully said, "All the local authorities in England and Wales." I am just as well aware as she is that there is a Scottish exception.
§ Miss Herbison
When the Minister, not once but on a number of occasions, tried to make the point—and he was dealing with the whole Bill—that this was not political and that local authorities both Labour and Conservative were against it, he ought in fairness to have said that the biggest local authority in Scotland did not take that point of view. I am certain that if that local authority had been listened to and if the Ministers had used their influence, they might have got the local authorities to have taken a different line.
The Minister has been asked why there should be these increases from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. and from 10 per cent. to 12 per cent., especially when one improvement in the Bill is that the Government are to take over the actuarial deficiency. He said that we had to take into account equal pay and the greater age to which members of the teaching profession were living. I have read very carefully the Reports of the two Working Groups in England and in Scotland. They show clearly that for England there should be a contribution of 11½ per cent. but for Scotland the contribution should be 11 per cent. They show clearly that that 11 per cent. covers equal pay, the greater age to which teachers are living and increases which have not yet been made in Scotland but which I understand will be reported soon. They are the increases, as a result of the recommendation of the Appleton Committee for specialist teachers in Scotland.
To cover all these increases, a contribution of 11 per cent. was sufficient; yet, for good measure, both Ministers stick to 12 per cent. The Minister has made no 313 case at all today, and neither have his hon. Friends, for raising the contribution to 12 per cent. It would have been difficult indeed for him to make out such a case, because when one examines the benefits accruing to the teachers under this Bill, every one of them could have been given by .3 of 1 per cent. rise in contribution, which, I expect, would be divided between the teachers and the local authorities.
The Tory back benchers have been in a serious difficulty. They do not want to let the Minister down, and they do not want to appear in a wrong light in the eyes of the teachers, and so they have been balancing on a tightrope and trying to get the best of both worlds. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and some of his hon. Friends have tried to prove that this increase in contribution is necessary; that it is making viable this fund—although it is not a fund, it is an Account—and that once we have got this cleared out of the way we can begin to discuss a non-contributory scheme for teachers. I have never heard such nonsense in my life. The suggestion of an non-contributory scheme came from several Members, including the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. I always listen to his speeches with the greatest attention, but I think that today his did himself less than justice.
Then we had a statement from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire—[HON. MEMBERS: "Central Ayrshire."]—yes, the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn). The suggestion would never have come from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire hopes that within twelve months we shall have a non-contributory scheme. It is complete dishonesty on the part of hon. Members who have made those suggestions.
§ Mr. Powell
Does not the hon. Lady realise that the problem of the responsibility for future deficiencies is the great obstacle to converting a contributory into a non-contributory scheme, and that once that is disposed of the way is open? [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the last Bill?"] It was not in it.
§ Miss Herbison
Even were I to accept that, what is hindering the Government from carrying out both of these things 314 in one Bill? There is nothing at all. It is not as if there is any great rush in this matter. It has been said time and again that forty years will elapse before we shall begin to spend more than we are drawing in. Forty years will elapse before we have this great actuarial deficiency. At least the Government have many years of a breathing space and they could consider what they should do about this matter. I say to hon. Members opposite that their suggestions have no validity whatever.
Most teachers are responsible citizens. They have put forward their case fairly. They say that if the Bill had made proper provision for widows, orphans and dependants, they would have been willing to pay their share in a scheme. There is no such provision in the Bill. We have been dealing mainly with actuarial deficiencies—with 5 per cent., 6 per cent. and 1 per cent. But there is a wider significance in all this—the effect upon the teaching profession in Scotland, in England and in Wales. At the present time teachers are more disgruntled and frustrated than they have ever been in the history of teaching. This Measure will not improve their feelings.
What effect will it have on recruitment? It is realised that by 1957 there will be a shortage of 3,300 teachers in Scotland.
There is another and much more important side to the problem. Scotland has always prided itself upon having a great number of graduates among its teachers. Since 1951 a serious fall has occurred in the number both of honours and ordinary graduates entering this profession. The position in the West of Scotland is even worse than that for the whole of Scotland. There is another point which we should take into account, which is not often made. Many of our honours graduates entered the profession when it was considered a good one—a profession that had better pension rights and conditions than most other professions. That is not the case today, and when those men and women leave the profession there will not be a sufficient number of others to take their places. Have the Government given no thought at all to these matters?
I want finally to make the point, in this very hurried speech—[Laughter.]—this has been a very hurried speech, because there are many, many things that could have been said. Time and time 315 again, ever since the Joint Under-Secretary of State became responsible for education in Scotland, he has asked the teachers of Scotland for their co-operation. He has said that he wants all the help that they can possibly give him in solving the educational problems with which we are faced. But not one suggestion of any significance which has been made by the Educational Institute of Scotland has been taken up by the Joint Under-Secretary. We sometimes talk about helping with both hands. A better metaphor for the Joint Under-Secretary in this case is that he has severely kicked Scottish education with both feet.
I want to give my reasons for saying that, because they are closely tied up with this Measure. In November, 1951, the Joint Under-Secretary was responsible for the infamous circulars upon school building and economies. In June, 1953, he was responsible for Amendment No. 7 in the Training Regulations—regulations which lowered the educational qualifications for certain teachers, and lowered the status of the whole profession. In December, 1953, he gave his ready support to the previous superannuation Bill. In April, 1954, he was responsible for introducing salaries which did not take full account of the rise in the cost of living which had occurred since 1951.
His latest blow at Scottish education was discussed in this House recently. In introducing equal pay he lowered the scales of new entrants to the profession. Now we have this Bill. What a sorry mess the Scottish Tory Ministers have made of education. What a record of incompetence. What a record of a Government that do not realise that if we are to raise the standard of living, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer boasted in that pre-Election speech, by 25 per cent.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, to double it."] By 50 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, 100 per cent."] By 100 per cent., as hon. Members remind me—in 25 years, the only way to do it is by having an educated manpower in many industries. The only way to get that is by ensuring that we have it first of all in the teaching profession.
The Bill, with all the other measures which I have mentioned, is militating against getting an educated manpower. If the Government are really serious about 316 attracting recruits to the profession, I ask them to withdraw the Bill, have further consideration with teachers and local authorities, and introduce a Bill that will take account of the desires of the teaching profession.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Henderson Stewart)
I know that the House would expect me first to join with those who have congratulated my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey) upon a most effective and accomplished maiden speech. We all trust that he may frequently adorn our debates.
Before referring to the remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) may I say to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and to the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) that I did note that they raised a number of small but important points. I think the hon. Member for Cardiff, West himself agreed they were small points.
§ Mr. Stewart
Yes, but the hon. Member also said they were Committee points. We shall examine them all in Committee. If he and his hon. Friends have any other points which they would like to raise, those points will be very carefully considered as Amendments.
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North complained that we did not have a special Scottish Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I grant that there is always a case for asking for a separate Bill, but most of us are agreed that since this matter affects both countries in more or less the same way, and the changes proposed in the Bill affect both countries in more or less the same way, there was not a case on this occasion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The hon. Lady complained about the shortage of time between the publication of the Bill and the Second Reading. I am sorry if inconvenience was caused to her or to the teachers of Scotland. Of course, ample opportunity will now be available to us all.
I know that the hon. Lady did not mean to be as rough to me as she sounded. I am not very greatly perturbed when she 317 tells me that I have no friends among the teachers in Scotland, and that my record is one of attack upon the teachers all through. It is not so. I have enjoyed the closest friendly relations with teachers of all kinds in Scotland, and I still do. I am glad to have co-operated with them and I trust that I may be allowed to continue to do so in the days immediately ahead. If I have the time before I finish, I will give the hon. Lady chapter and verse to prove that my actions, and those of my right hon. Friends, far from doing harm to Scottish education, have proved of the greatest advantage to Scottish education in the last three years.
It is quite clear that we have been dealing with a topic of considerable interest to many hon. Members. Indeed, I have not listened to so much impressive oratory from the other side of the House, all on the same theme, for quite a long time, and that in itself is quite impressive. It almost seemed that on this relatively limited topic of teachers' superannuation, the Opposition have at last discovered a talisman to unity. [Interruption.] Well, I observe that on every other policy proposal—financial, economic and international—the party opposite has claimed three years before it is to be expected to have made up its mind, but on this question, namely, whether the teachers' contributions to their pensions should be increased by an average of £5 per year, hon. Members are, for some strange reason, instantaneously absolutely and unanimously decided upon action. That is a very odd thing.
I have heard a lot of complaint about what we have done and what we have not done, but hon. and right hon. Members opposite were themselves in power for six years. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Bill?"] I am coming to the Bill, but this has a lot to do with it. As has been shown, they themselves had the accounts of the Actuary in December, 1950, but it is noticeable that they took no action on that report at all.
I would now like to ask them a question. At the time when they left office in 1951, they had not announced either that the contributions should be increased—and the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North said they would not have done that—or announced that the deficiencies would be made good wholly by the Exchequer. If they had intended 318 that the deficiencies should be made good and that nothing would fall upon the teachers, why did they not tell that good news to the country? Of course, the truth was that they had no plan. As in every other major proposition, they funked constructive action.
Let me now pass from the Opposition to the teachers. Of course, this is an important matter for the teachers, and if anybody had any doubt about that, our mail in the last few days has proved the contrary. Not all the letters that we have had have been hostile, although most of them have been—but by no means all. [Interruption.] Oh, no; I must tell the House that I have been struck by the attitude of the older experienced men in the profession whom I have recently met, and I should like to read the House just a paragraph or two from a letter which I had yesterday from a Scottish teacher. [Interruption.] We have heard the other side of the case, and I have no doubt that the House in its fairness will permit me to present this side.
This is a letter from a teacher in Midlothian, who says:I cannot accept the policy the E.I.S. is pursuing with regard to the Teachers' (Superannuation) Bill. With 48 years recorded teaching service behind me, I may represent only a small section, compared with the hordes of younger people whose retirement is far off. But these are men and women who, like myself, would welcome the passing of this Bill without any further delay. To us, it affords a new hope of casement in the grim prospects of retirement.
§ Mr. Stewart
I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite are surprised that I should read both the good and the bad parts of this letter. I could so easily have left out that section, but I wanted the House to have the benefit of this man's experience.
I read only this one further sentence:Although a member of the E.I.S. of very long standing I dissent from their views on this Bill, and cannot understand their unrealistic attitude to the situation that confronts them. This attitude has, in my view, already prevented many teachers from enjoying the improved benefits offered in the 1954 Bill.
§ Mr. Pryde rose—
§ Mr. G. Thomas
On a point of order. Is it not in accordance with the courtesy of the House that, if an hon. Gentleman quotes a letter from an hon. Member's constituent, that hon. Member is usually given the right to reply?
§ Mr. Speaker
The rule is that, unless the hon. Member who is in possession of the Floor gives way, an hon. Member is not entitled to remain on his feet.
§ Mr. Stewart
I quoted that letter because it seems to reflect the views of very large numbers of responsible teachers, and also because I honestly believe that much if not indeed most, of the present agitation against the Bill, is based upon a misconception of its contents and purpose. If hon. Members will bear with me, I should like to dispel misunderstanding and remove doubts.
It is quite clear, and it has been repeated over and over again—
§ Mr. Woodburn
Can the Joint Under-Secretary say how old this teacher is? That is what is worrying the rest of us—if he has been teaching for forty-eight years?
§ Mr. Stewart
He does not tell me in the letter, but no doubt I can find out. I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to be rather facetious about aged and experienced teachers.
§ Mr. Woodburn
We are a little puzzled as to the man's interest in superannuation, if he has been teaching for forty-eight years. I can understand his not objecting to increased contributions if he is not going to pay them but is anxious to get the improved benefits.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think the best answer I can give the right hon. Member is to give him the letter—[An HON. MEMBER: "Give the name."]—of course with the name and address—and the right hon. Member can address his rather pointed questions to the gentleman himself.
The objection to the Bill has been stated over and over again. It is largely, if not entirely, an objection to the rise in the rate of contribution. Let us face that particular issue. Why do we want 320 to raise contributions? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why? "] The answer is known to every hon. Member, and is known and understood by every teachers' leader in the country. If there is any doubt about it in the mind of anyone let them read the two Reports of the working parties, where everything is stated with the utmost clarity.
Both the English and Scottish schemes have been out of balance for many years—the English one since 1933, nearly a quarter of a century ago, and the Scottish one since not many years later. In 1951, the House was made aware that the deficiencies had amounted to the considerable figure of £113 million. A little later the figures revealed by the next examination were given. No one now disputes that today the deficiency is of the order of £300 million, and the working parties have both accepted the Actuary's view that to keep the schemes solvent, with the aid of the financial proposals of the Government, a rise in the combined contributions from 10 per cent. to something of the order of 12 per cent. is inescapable. That is declared in the Reports of the working parties and accepted. Let us not forget that the working parties were composed of accredited, responsible, respected representatives of the teachers. The principle and the approximate size of the increased contributions needed are no longer in dispute.
It seems, therefore, that the only important issues between us in this House and outside are three: first, whether the actual increase should be to 12 per cent. or to 11½ per cent. and 11¼ per cent. which the Actuary suggested in the case of the English and Scottish schemes; second, whether the contributions of the authorities and teachers should be the same or weighted on the side of the authorities; and, third, whether the Bill should make provision for a widows' and dependants' pension scheme like that of civil servants.
As to the first matter, the precise rate, the Government propose that the combined rate of contribution of employers and employees should be 12 per cent. of salary. I do not think it is really disputed anywhere that, to meet the benefits for teachers now serving, a rate of considerably more than 12 per cent. on the present salary scales is required. As the House 321 knows, it is precisely to meet that obligation that the Government have shown readiness to accept liability for the deficiency at the date of the commencement of the scheme.
In the case of new entrants the Actuary and the working party agreed that rates of 11½ per cent. or 11¼ per cent. would be sufficient only upon certain conditions; that is to say, if there were no salary increases and no changes in other factors, such as longevity. It would be wholly unrealistic to think that there would be no changes in salaries in future, unless we are to assume the very opposite of what we all expect, which is that the position of this country will improve, and we will all grow more wealthy.
It is inevitable that teachers' salaries will rise because they will be entitled to a growing share of the national wealth. That is inevitable and, that being so, it follows that the charges upon the benefits of the fund will themselves grow. No Government can shut their eyes to that matter. It is, therefore, no more than elementary prudence to round off the combined contribution at 12 per cent. with, as hon. Members know, the added provision that future deficiencies, as they arise, will be covered by increased contributions by the local authorities, grant-aided as usual.
It is this consideration that I beg the House to reflect upon, particularly those hon. Members with local authority experience. It is this consideration which forms the basis of the scheme now proposed. The Government's offer to meet the deficiency existing at the beginning of the new scheme, their readiness to maintain the rate of interest at 31 per cent., and the acceptance by the local authorities of the liability for meeting any future deficiencies—these three undertakings were made on the clear understanding that the rate of contribution by employers and employees would be 6 per cent. each.
That, in fact, was the essence of the Tripartite scheme which my right hon. Friend announced to the House. If local authorities are to accept responsibility for meeting deficiencies, then it is only fair and prudent not to start with a contribution rate cut to the bare minimum so that a deficiency is bound to arise almost at once. The Government chose to raise the contributions to 12 per cent. 322 for Scotland as well as for England and Wales and I am quite sure that wisdom will support our decision. [Interruption.] I am endeavouring to answer the points put by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
The next question was who should pay and who should pay what. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) and other raised that matter. It is complained in certain quarters that in other schemes differential rates are paid by employers and employees. That is not so, as the House knows, in the case of local government schemes. It is so in the case of the National Health Service, where the employers pay 8 per cent. and the employees 6 per cent. I should like to explain to the House how that arises.
The total of 14 per cent. required for the National Health Service scheme when it started in 1948 was calculated by reference to a rate of interest, not of 3½ per cent., but of 2½ per cent., which automatically required a higher contribution than 12 per cent. I am sure that the House by now has appreciated that the rate of interest is directly related to the rate of contribution. Moreover, the benefits which were being offered by the National Health Service scheme, although presented in a more up-to-date style, were regarded as actuarially about the same as the benefits in the local government scheme. In that case, the employees were paying 6 per cent. and the employers an equal contribution.
I ask the House to note this point. The employers in the National Health Service scheme are also responsible today, and are paying today, about an extra 2 per cent. to avoid deficiencies, so that in practice the employers, in respect of National Health Service Schemes, are paying 8 per cent., and, unless my guess is very far wrong, sooner or later, with the rise in salaries of teachers, the local authorities will have to meet a deficiency in respect of teachers. It may well be, therefore, that before many years have passed the local authorities will be paying in Scotland and England a higher contribution. It may well be 8 per cent. and 6 per cent. I trust that when hon. and right hon. Members reflect on that kind of issue they will understand the position.
I should like to say a few words about widows' pensions. I should like to say a great deal if there were time. As the 323 House has already been informed, the difficulty is not that we on these benches would not like a scheme. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education tried immensely hard to persuade the local authorities to play in this matter, but the local authorities, with the single exception of Glasgow, were adamant. They would not consider co-operating in the introduction of a scheme along Civil Service lines—that is, one in which the local authorities would make an equal contribution with the teachers.
While that position remains, it is manifestly impossible for a Government to introduce that kind of pension scheme, but we have in the Bill a provision for another kind of scheme. I would ask the House to let us proceed with that one as quickly as we can. I assure the House, as did my right hon. Friend, that we should like to proceed to another step and that we shall do so as soon as it is possible.
I was asked questions about quarterly and monthly pensions. In Scotland there has been strong pressure for many years to introduce monthly pensions. While there is not now time to go into the matter, I can tell the House that we are examining this new proposal put to us,
§ and some suggestions put to us by office routine experts that by improving organisation and methods the payments could be made monthly instead of quarterly, without exceptional extra expense. I hope that our examination may show that that is so. If it does, we shall try to do it.
§ In conclusion, I should like to answer the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North. Some of my hon. Friends have shown in the debate that the Bill is one of many steps that the nation is taking and must continue to take for the development of education. I would only add that so far our record in this matter of education has been good. Judged by any test hon. Members might like to make, I claim that the facts prove that we have been forward-looking. Whether the test be building achievements, the increase in the number of teachers coming into the profession in Scotland and England, or the increase in salaries—in all these and other matters we have made progress. It is in that spirit and as part of that progress that we propose the Bill.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 299, Noes 249.327
|Division No. 72.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Brooman-White, R. C.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Eden, Rt.Hn. Sir A. (Warwick&L'm'tn)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Burden, F. F. A.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Arbuthnot, John||Campbell, Sir David||Erroll, F. J.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Carr, Robert||Farey-Jones, F. W|
|Ashton, H.||Cary, Sir Robert||Fell, A.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Channon, H.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Atkins, H. E.||Cole, Norman||Fisher, Nigel|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fort, R.|
|Barber, Anthony||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Foster, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Barter, John||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Freeth, D. K.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Crouch, R. F.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Glover, D.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Cunningham, Knox||Godber, J. B.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Currie, G. B. H.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Dance, J. C. G.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Davidson, Viscountess||Gower, H. R.|
|Black, C. W.||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Body, R. P.||Deedes, W. F.||Green, A.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Braine, B. R.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Gurden, Harold|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Drayson, G. B.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||McAdden, S. J.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Robertson, Sir David|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||McKibbin, A. J.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Mackie, J. H. (Calloway)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Russell, R. S.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Hay, John||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macleod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Heath, Edward||Macmillan, Rt.Hn. Harold(Bromley)||Shepherd, William|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Maddan, Martin||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Maitland, Cdr. J.F.W.(Horncastle)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Speir, R. M.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Hope, Lord John||Marples, A. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Marshall, Douglas||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Mathew, R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Maude, Angus||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Mawby, R. L.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Storey, S.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Molson, A. H. E||Summers, C. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thomas, Rt. Hn. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Neave, Airey||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Oakshott, H. D.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Johnson, Erie (Blackley)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Kaberry, D.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Keegan, D.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Kerr, H. W.||Osborne, C.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Page, R. G.||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Kirk, P. M.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lagden, G. W.||Partridge, E.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Peyton, J. W. W.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Pitman, I. J.||Water house, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Pott, H. P.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Powell, J. Enoch||Whitelaw, W.S.I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Wills, C. (Bridgwater)|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Profumo, J. D.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Ramsden, J. E.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Rawlinson, P. A. G.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Redmayne, M.|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Remnant, Hon. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Renton, D. L. M.||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ridsdale, J. E.||Mr. Studholme.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Albu, A. H.||Beswick, F.||Burke, W. A.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Blackburn, F.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blenkinsop, A.||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Anderson, Frank||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Callaghan, L. J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Carmichael, J.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Baird, J.||Boyd, T. C.||Champion, A. J.|
|Balfour, A.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Chapman, W. D.|
|Bartley, P.||Brockway, A. F.||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Clunie, J.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Coldrick, W.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Reeves, J.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Reid, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rhodes, H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, Rt.Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Daines, P.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Ross, William|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Rt.Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Kenyon, C.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||King, Dr. H. M.||Short, E. W.|
|Deer, G.||Lawson, G. M.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Ledger, R. J.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Dye, S.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lewis, Arthur||Snow, J. W.|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacColl, J. E.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McGhee, H. G.||Steele, T.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||McGovern, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McLeavy, Frank||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Fletcher, Eric||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Forman, J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mahon, S.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Freeman, Peter||Mainwaring W. H.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mason, Roy||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mayhew, C. P||Thornton, E.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Messer, Sir F.||Timmons, J.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mikardo, Ian||Tomney, F.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mitchison, G. R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Grimond, J.||Monslow, W.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hale, Leslie||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne valley)||Morrison, Rt.Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Mort, D. L.||Wade, D. W.|
|Hannan, W.||Moss, R.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Moyle, A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hastings, S.||Mulley, F. W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Healey, Denis||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||O'Brien, T.||West, D. G.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Oram, A. E.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Holman, P.||Orbach, M.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Holmes, Horace||Oswald, T.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Holt, A. F.||Owen, W. J.||Wigg, George|
|Houghton, Douglas||Padley, W. E.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Paget, R. T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Willey, Frederick|
|Hoy, J. H.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Panned, Charles (Leeds, w.)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pargiter, G. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Parker, J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parkin, B. T.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Paton, J.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Peart, T. F.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Irving, S. (Dartford)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Probert, A. R.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St.Pncs, S.)||Rankin, John||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
|Bill accordingly read a Second time.|
|Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 (Committal of Bills).|
Question put and agreed to.