HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 cc1215-8

Amendment made : In page 11, line 19, after "thirty-six", insert : in subsection (6) after the words 'was made' there shall be inserted the words 'or amended', and ".—[Mr. Henderson Stewart.]

Mr. Ross

I beg to move, in page 11, line 45, to leave out paragraph (c).

I move the Amendment because I want an adequate explanation of the intentions of the Government. I want to know what is behind this insistence on putting in the new paragraph (c). Section 88, as amended, simply states that it will be lawful for an education authority to pay such reasonable expenses incidental to the proper discharge of their duties of a teacher or someone in connection with education, and it adds that such expenses may include contributions to any association of education authorities concerned in the consideration of educational questions. That is really in paragraph (a) of Section 88.

Paragraph (b) is easy to understand. It refers to travelling and other expenses necessarily incurred by a teacher or other officer of the education authority with the approval of that authority in the performance of, or for the purpose of, his functions as a teacher or officer, as the case may be; and … Then we come to what I consider is a rather wide power to give to an education authority because, referring back to the "teachers" in paragraph (b) which can be interpreted as meaning any teacher at all, it empowers the local authority to pay expenses of removal and of the temporary accommodation of any such teacher or officer ordinarily resident in the area of another education authority who has been appointed to the service of the authority concerned. I want to know what the Government have in mind in this connection. This power is wide enough to permit the poaching of teachers. There is a scarcity of teachers. Supposing that Glasgow advertised that it was prepared to accept teachers from another area and that it would pay all the expenses of removal and their temporary accommodation until such time as they were able to assist them to get a house. That might well prove an attraction for certain people.

When I was a teacher before the war I resided in Aye, which was the area of another education authority, but I taught in Glasgow. I did not suggest to Glasgow that I should change my affections and teach in Ayr unless -they did something towards paying my expenses of removing to Glasgow. There may well be some reasonable explanation and circumstances in which that might be permissible and worthy of support. But to give these general powers to authorities is to go pretty wide and may well open the way to certain practices not at all desirable or for the benefit of Scottish education and harmony between education authorities.

It may well be that there is some simple explanation which I have so far omitted. But this proposal refers simply to Section 88, and I shall be interested to hear what the Joint Under-Secretary or the Lord Advocate has to say about narrowing the circumstances in which they think this provision will work.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

There is nothing strange about this. It is a perfectly straightforward proposal with the object of which I should have thought that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) would be in agreement. In faraway places like the Orkneys and Shetlands they had difficulty in getting teachers, and in the past, since they have had no power to do so, authorities have asked for ad hoc authority from the Secretary of State for permission to pay travelling expenses—the removing, etc. We are trying to regularise that and put it in order.

I agree that if one looks at this provision with the eagle eye of the hon. Member, it is possible to conceive that we might be doing something different. But that is all we mean, and I assure the hon. Member that, in the views of the draftsmen, this is the way to express our desire.

Mr. Ross

I agree that it is desirable, but it is not a question of what the Department means or the Government mean. It is the fact of what it will permit. This is not limited to faraway counties. It is open to any authority to utilise the provision.

Mr. Stewart

The intention is that the regulations dealing with the expenses of removal and temporary accommodation of teachers should define the circumstances in which the power may be exercised, and will restrict the exercise of the power to cases in which education authorities are not able to get teachers to apply for posts because of exceptional heavy costs of removal and the difficulty of obtaining accommodation.

Miss Herbison

We can be certain, then, that this provision will not be used for the purpose mentioned by my hon. Friend. As the Joint Under-Secretary will know, there is one local authority in Scotland which used to pay £50 a year more. In that way, when there was a plentiful supply of teachers, it took only teachers with the very best certificates. Because we were afraid that there would be poaching, we felt that there must be some other explanation about this provision. Of course, if the regulations specify that it will be used only in cases like the Orkneys and Shetlands we should consider it a very good provision. If, on the other hand, some education authorities tried to exert influence on the Secretary of State to make it apply to them because they were in difficulty for certain reasons, it seems to me that the Secretary of State would have great difficulty in resisting such pressure because of the wording of paragraph (c). Is not that the case?

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I quite agree with the hon. Lady. It would never do to allow poaching, and we do not think that that will be allowed. The amendment does not, of itself, empower education authorities to pay the removal expenses of teachers moving from one education area to another. Section 88 empowers education authorities to pay such reasonable expenses incidental to the proper discharge of their duties as may be sanctioned by regulations made by the Secretary of State. Subsection (2) gives examples of the kind of expenses which may be authorised by the regulations. I am sure that the hon. Lady will keep her eyes open to see that none of the unfortunate things to which reference has been made happen.

Mr. Ross

We have now to depend upon the declared intention of the Government to bring in regulations limiting this provision to special areas and to special circumstances in those areas. In view of that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 11, line 49, at the end to insert : In section one hundred and eight, in subsection (1) the definition of 'Service' shall be omitted. The purpose of the Amendment is to relieve us from certain embarrassments in regard to the word "Service." The Committee will remember that in the recent Teachers (Superannuation) Act the definition of "Service" was carried on from the 1952 Scheme, but the Amendment will release it again and the definition will in future be able to be provided in regulations. The Committee may at the same time consider the very last Amendment, in the Second Schedule, on page 13, line 22, which is consequent upon this one.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I beg to move, in page 12, line 29, after "(1)", to insert : for the definition of 'Central Institution' there shall be substituted the following definition— Central Institution" means an educational establishment for the provision of further education recognised as a central institution by regulations made by the Secretary of State ;' and ". This and the next two Amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend were designed to meet the proposal put to the House during the Second Reading debate by the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). We thought that proposal a very sound one, and we have taken the opportunity of putting it in the form of words advised by the draftsmen. If the right hon. Gentleman will be so kind as not to move his Amendment, on the assurance that the three Amendments that I am moving meet his case, we can perhaps go forward.

Mr. Woodburn

I thank the Minister for having done that and also for drafting the Amendments so that they fit in properly with the Bill. I was not concerned with the particular words but with the simplification of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made : In page 12, leave out lines 32 to 39.—[Mr. Henderson Stewart.]

First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.