HC Deb 22 March 1956 vol 550 cc1534-5

Subsection (1) of section nine of the Elementary School Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1898 (which provides that annuities and allowances under that Act shall be payable quarterly at such times and in such manner as the Treasury may fix), section seven of the School Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1918 (which provides that annual superannuation allowances shall be payable quarterly as aforesaid) and the said section seven as incorporated in the First Schedule to the principal Act shall have effect as if the word "quarterly" were omitted.—[Sir D. Eccles.]

Brought up and read the First time.

6.45 p.m.

Sir D. Eccles

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The Committee will remember that on the Second Reading my hon. Friend and I both said that we would do our best to arrange that teachers' pensions should be paid monthly and not quarterly. The difficulty was that the Paymaster-General's office was overworked and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not see how to do it. Now it is to be possible, but not at once. It will require extra staff as it means six or seven hundred thousand extra payments a year.

This change was asked for from all quarters of the Committee, and I think it will be of service to many teachers. We will do it as soon as we can, but I am told that April of next year is likely to be the first date on which it can be done. The method by which we are doing it is to leave out of the old Act the reference to "quarterly," which then leaves it to the Minister to decide at what periods the pension shall be paid. I give the Committee the assurance that it will be monthly.

Dr. King

In view of the fact that we shall have very little that is kind to say to the Minister during the rest of the evening, I should like, as a back bencher, to thank him for his new Clause. The change will be a real boon to a majority of the pensioners who have found it very difficult in the past.

Mr. K. Thompson

I should like to say, in echoing the sentiments of the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King), that there has been for a long time a need for precisely this new Clause and that a great many teachers will benefit as a result of it. I take this opportunity of congratulating my right hon. Friend on introducing it.

Mr. M. Stewart

I feel that I ought not to lose what may be the last opportunity, as my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) suggested, of saying a kind word to the Minister. I combine with it a word of congratulation to the hon. Member for Walton (Mr. K. Thompson), who has just spoken. One swallow does not make a summer, but possibly there will be further contributions from the Government back benchers as the debate goes on.

I say seriously that not only we but many people will have cause to be grateful to the Minister for finding that the difficulties which seemed to surround this question could be overcome. On one occasion I taught for a short time in a school which was outside the State system of education. I remember while on the staff there that a revolutionary suggestion was made by some of the younger members that our salaries should be paid monthly instead of quarterly. The view was taken by some of the senior members that if this were done it would lower our social status. The kind of social status, however, which arises from receiving ones income, whether salary or pension, at inconveniently prolonged intervals is the kind of social status which fortunately most people are too sensible to want. For a number of pensioners this will be a real and valuable concession, and we record our gratitude and pleasure at it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.