§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
As an introduction to this strictly limited Bill, hon. Members may find it most convenient if I give them a general account of the recent negotiations on teachers' salaries. I shall, first, give the reasons for my intervention in these negotiations, then say something about the present Bill, and finally, say what I can at this early stage about the discussions I propose to hold with all the appropriate parties about future arrangements for settling tachers' pay.
I begin with the reasons for my intervention. I remind the House, first, that the Minister of Education has a rôle to play in the procedure for settling teachers' pay laid down under Section 89 of the Education Act. This procedure involves three parties, not just two, and a set of proposals can come into force only if all three are agreed. All three parties, and not the Minister alone, have, as it were, a power of veto under the present statutory machinery. I cannot believe that Parliament intended the power given to the Minister under Section 89 to be little more than a formality. Certainly, I myself have never doubted that the power conferred on the Minister by Section 89 carries with it a duty to consider whether the proposals submitted to him are such as he should approve both in the interests of the education service and in the national interest as a whole.
I think that the whole House recognises that teacher supply is the key to educational advance. Hon. Members on both sides of the House never fail to point out, quite rightly, that the main responsibility for policy decisions affecting teacher supply rests squarely upon the Minister of Education. It just could not make sense to regard teacher supply and the pattern of teachers' salaries as two disconnected issues.
As I said in my letter of 20th February to the chairman of the Burnham Committee—and I quote these words again 429 as they are really at the root of the whole controversy—I believe that the expansion of the profession, as well as the esteem in which it is held and thus its attraction for potential recruit of high quality, depends quite as much on the opportunities it offers of advancement for the most able, best qualified and most ambitious of its members as on the level at which the more junior are paid.I do not think that any Minister of Education today, granted his fundamental position of responsibility for the education service as a whole, can disengage from a concern with the composition of a teachers' salary settlement as well as with its total cost.
I remind the House, also, that the interest of the Minister of Education in such matters is not new. In July, 1959, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), although he did not, in the end, reject the Burnham Committee's proposals, expressed the view that the needs of the education service could have been better met if the total expenditure involved in the Committee's recommendations had been distributed in other ways; and he asked that due note be taken of the views which he had expressed when the time came to undertake a further salary review.
Two years later, in 1961, Lord Eccles made very clear to the Committee that he expected it, in submitting revised proposals to cost £42 million instead of £47½ million, to maintain unchanged the increased differentials which it had proposed and to make the whole of the reduction on the basic scale. Therefore, my predecessors, on the two immediately preceding occasions, expressed positive views on the composition of the settlement.
In putting forward its most recent proposals, the Committee must, in my view, have been conscious that it was making a submission which took only the slightest account of the probable views of the Minister and which was, therefore, unlikely to command his automatic approval.
I think that I should next remind hon. Members of the nature of the provisional agreement which the Burnham Committee reached on 24th January last and which it submitted to me for my approval. This agreement was to last for two years. It provided for an in- 430 crease in the salaries of full-time qualified teachers in primary and secondary schools of almost 7 per cent., costing, over the two years, nearly £42 million. Its main terms were as follows—I just summarise them for the convenience of the House.
First, the basic scales, payable to all teachers, were to be increased by a flat £50 per year at every point. Every teacher, irrespective of age, length of service or qualifications, was to receive, by this provision, an equal amount. This meant that the larger the salary now earned the smaller was the percentage increase proposed.
Secondly, the salaries payable to all two-year trained teachers were at one step to be made identical with those of three-year trained teachers. This measure of assimilation meant that about 195,000 two-year trained teachers, about two-thirds of all teachers, would receive a further £30 over and above the £50 addition to the basic scale itself.
Thirdly, special provision was made to ensure that all teachers with three or more years' training who were already in service—but no newcomers—should not, as a result of the process of assimilation just mentioned, lose the £30 per year lead they would otherwise have enjoyed at maximum over their two-year trained colleagues. This lead was "protected" by granting these teachers, about 27,000 in number, a special increase of £30.
These three provisions, which all related to payments on the basic scales, together accounted for 97 per cent. of the total cost of the proposed agreement. The remaining 3 per cent., accounting for only a little over £1 million out of the additional £42 million to be expended over the two years—this was for primary and secondary teachers only—was devoted to increasing the allowance payable to holders of good honours degrees from £100 to £120 a year. This was the only increase proposed in respect of differential payments.
I assure the House that it was only after great thought and with considerable reluctance that I decided to question an agreement reached through negotiation. But there seemed to me to be grounds for questioning each of the 431 four major components of this provisional agreement—those dealing with the basic scale, assimilation, protection, and differentials—and it was the combination of these features within a single and substantial settlement to last for two years which I found impossible to accept.
In essence, the Burnham Committee's provisional agreement seemed to me to have got its priorities and thus its balance wrong. It gave too much weight to the young and inexperienced teacher and too little to the older. It set the balance too much in favour of the teacher already in service and too little in favour of future recruits. It rewarded insufficiently those who have the prime responsibility for organising the life and work of the schools. In short, it seemed to me that it was not just the details but the whole strategy of the provisional agreement which was wrong.
I take, as an example, the crucial question of differentials. Spokesmen for the Burnham Committee have made much of the fact that they have progressively improved since 1945 the relative position of differential payments for higher qualifications, longer training and greater responsibility within the total salary structure. This is true, and I have at no time sought to deny it. But we need to examine a little more closely the background against which this improvement has to be judged.
Comparisons and generalisations as between professions are both difficult and dangerous. But it is probably true and fair to say—and I should have thought that the whole House agreed with me here—that one distinguishing mark of the professional man is that this salary, which, at the beginning of his career, seems modest in relation to the wages earned by less skilled workers, rises pretty swiftly as his career advances. Quite certainly, a true professional salary structure offers full opportunity for the most able and ambitious members to advance faster and further than their contemporaries. This was well illustrated in the comprehensive survey of salary structure carried out by the Royal Commission on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration under Sir Harry Pilkington's chairmanship, which reported in 1960.
432 For the teaching profession, on the other hand, the opportunities for advancement and salary increase were in 1945, and still are today, much more limited than elsewhere. All our experience shows that for the good graduate, for whom we have to compete with the other professions and industry, the teacher's starting salary, even before the increases now proposed take effect, fully holds its own, and that this favourable comparison is maintained during his first few years' service. But by mid-career, and later, the teacher has fallen behind.
This shows two things: first how very necessary has been the strengthening of differentials which the Burnham Committee has carried out since 1945; and, secondly, and more important, how we cannot afford to relax our efforts in this direction if we wish to see the teaching profession compare more favourably with other professions than it has in the past and thus attract more able and talented young people into its ranks. And yet the effect of the Burnham Committee's proposal on this occasion would have been to halt, and even in part to reverse, the progress which it had been making. Over the years it had built up the proportion of the total salary bill devoted to differentials to about 15 per cent.
I felt bound to challenge its present recommendation to add a further £42 million to the salary bill over the next two years of which not 15 per cent. but only 3 per cent. was devoted to differentials. This seemed to me to be a wrong departure from sound policy.
Before leaving the subject of differentials, I want to repeat a point I have often made before both in and outside this House. Differentials, as the term is understood in the context of teachers' salaries, does not mean just "plums" at the top or rewards only for those in the grammar schools and other well-known schools of our maintained system. In one form or another, nearly 120,000 teachers benefit from differentials—that is getting on for half the profession—and of these 120,000, about 50,000 serve in primary schools and 35,000 serve in secondary modern schools. It is absolutely untrue to say that my concern with differentials suggests that I am interested only in the honours graduates in the schools and not in those whose background is a training college, who advance in their careers.
433 I now turn to the problem of assimilation. This has complicated the situation probably more than any other issue. Let me say straight away that I accept the principle of assimilation. The minimum normal training required to obtain the status of qualified teacher has recently been changed from two to three years; and it would be quite wrong if those teachers already in the profession with only two years of training were to be debarred for the whole of the rest of their careers from achieving equality of reward with their younger colleagues.
But the Burnham Committee's proposal to achieve complete assimilation immediately in one step seemed to me to be a serious misjudgment of priorities. Its cost accounted for over one-quarter of the total of £42 million and it distorted the balance of the entire agreement. It seemed to me that this was a matter that could perfectly fairly be taken in stages. The obvious first stage was to ensure that all two-year trained teachers who had reached the maximum of the basic scale should be assimilated at once. This would benefit immediately about 90,000 of the 195,000 teachers concerned and would represent a very substantial first instalment.
I do not propose to say much about the Committee's proposal to "protect" three-year trained teachers already on the maximum of the scale against the effects of assimilation. The reasons for this proposal are highly technical; they have in considerable measure to do with superannuation. But it was not, in fact, the details or, indeed, the anomalies of this proposal that seriously concerned me, but the principle which underlay it. The principle was, in effect, to restore to the older three-year trained teacher already in service the lead over his two-year trained counterpart which it was the essence of the assimilation proposal to remove.
I must say that I found it hard to reconcile this desire to maintain this lead with the Committee's other desire, which, in principle, I shared, to level up the status, opportunities and rewards of two-year trained teachers with those of the three-year trained teacher. I was obliged to tell the Committee that I could not, in principle, accept its "protection" proposals.
There is one feature, common to the 434 assimilation and protection proposals, which I wish especially to emphasise for the benefit of hon. Members. Both these proposals would benefit exclusively teachers already in service; neither could help recruitment to the profession for no new recruit could benefit from them. Yet together they accounted for over 30 per cent. of the total cost of the agreement. If I am charged today with tilting the balance a little less in favour of existing teachers than the Burnham Committee did and with correspondingly improving the prospects offered to new entrants, this is a charge I willingly accept, for it only strengthens my belief that my action has truly been in the best long-term interest of the profession.
In turning to the last of the issues raised by the provisional agreement—the basic scale itself—I would particularly ask the House to keep in mind the distinction I have just made between teachers already in service and new entrants. For the new entrant, we are not concerned with the complications of assimilation or protection. We have to judge what pay he or she should receive from the basic scale itself. Here, as I have already explained, the Burnham Committee wanted to give a flat-rate increase of £50 a head—to the youngest newcomer as well as to the most senior and most experienced teachers in the land. I asked myself—and I now ask all hon. Members present—whether this proposal was right, or fair.
It seemed to me that it was better to give rather bigger increases on the basic scale at the age at which teachers find that their financial responsibilities are increasing more rapidly than in their earlier years but when they are not quite ready for promotion and thus to earn responsibility allowances in addition to their basic scale salaries. It was with these teachers in mind, those coming into the profession, and remembering particularly how their needs and problems have been pressed upon me, that I concluded that it was wiser and fairer for the increases on the basic scale to be graduated so as to offer rather less to teachers in their first few years of service and rather more to those on the upper part of the scale.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I have no doubt that the present situation, whereby teachers' salaries become steadily less compared with those in other professions as one advances up the scale, must have an adverse effect on recruiting to the profession.
As I shall explain, the Burnham Committee was not prepared to accept this view, and, as the House will be aware, I have announced my own proposals. Leaving aside assimilation, the basic scale which I have in mind falls below that of the Burnham Committee at only the first three steps. On the next three and at the maximum it is the same. But at all intervening points, covering roughly the age range 27 to 36 for teachers entering at the normal age, my proposed scale offers bigger increases than the Burnham Committee's by sums ranging from £20 to £60. In other words, rather than a flat-rate increase of £50 a head—or £80 for those who would benefit from assimilation or protection—I have proposed a range of increases from £30 to £110. Such, then, were the conclusions I reached after studying the terms of the provisional agreement submitted to me on 24th January.
I have given the House these details for two reasons. On the one hand, hon. Members will want this background to the legislation now before them. On the other hand, I want hon. Members to be in no doubt that it was because of—and only because of—the inherent defects in the provisional agreement which I have just outlined that I took my initial stand.
I believe that there were real and important differences of principle between the views of the Burnham Committee and myself. I do not believe that these differences can be simply brushed aside or said to result merely from those of us in Curzon Street thinking that we know best. The differences are ones of principle, widely affecting the recruitment of teachers, the image of the teaching profession, the long-term developments of the education service and the clear responsibilities of any Minister of Education for co-ordinating and directing the progress of these developments.
My firm view remains that if, as Minister, I had come to the conclusion that the Burnham Committee was taking 436 a wrong turning in the difficult route ahead to these common objectives, I should have been failing in my duty had I not put alternative suggestions to the Committee. This is what I did in my letter of 20th February.
I will now resume my narrative of the events leading up to today's debate. On 20th February, I wrote to the Burnham Committee setting out broadly the views I have just given to the House. I shall anticipate some later remarks I want to make about this letter by saying, here and now, that the Committee met to consider my views on 1st March and, on the afternoon of that day, I had a confidential exchange of views with a deputation of the Committee.
The Committee as a whole met again on 8th March. It is no secret that the Committee refused to make any changes whatever in its proposals.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
Will the Minister make clear whether that confidential discussion was with the full knowledge of the entire Burnham Committee, or was with the two gentlemen about whom I have addressed a Question on the Order Paper?
§ Sir E. Boyle
The confidential exchange of views on 1st March was a confidential discussion with a deputation of the full Burnham Committee chosen, as far as I am aware, by the full Committee.
On 12th March, I told the Committee that I accordingly proposed to introduce the present legislation, to ensure that whatever salary increases were finally arrived at should be payable with effect from 1st April. On 20th March, I wrote to the Burnham Committee setting out details of the salary changes that I proposed to introduce under this legislation and invited the Committee's observations. I received the Committee's reply on 25th March and I think that I can say without offence that it was entirely non-constructive.
In essence, my proposals amounted to a redistribution of the same total sum as the Committee had recommended. By saving about £4 million on assimilation and protection and by changing the distribution of a further £1 million on the basic scale, I was able to do two things. I increased the total amount devoted to the basic scale itself and so produced there the higher increases which I have already 437 mentioned, and I ensured that there would at least be no worsening in the total proportion of the whole teachers' salary bill devoted to differentials. In this latter connection, I was able to offer nearly 120,000 teachers additional above-scale increases ranging from £10 to £100. I went out of my way to see that the head teachers of primary schools would receive a generous share of these increases.
I reckon altogether that under my proposals, about one-third of all teachers will gain outright, one-third will get the same and one-third will get less. It is inescapable in a redistribution of the kind that I have thought necessary that some must gain less if others are to gain more. This was inherent in everything that I have said and done from the outset of this dispute. I am convinced that the money has now been placed where it is most needed and best deserved.
I turn now to the second main subject of my speech, namely, the need for the legislation which is now before us.
§ Sir Kenneth Thompson (Liverpool, Walton)
Can my right hon. Friend tell the House whether his letter of 20th February was the first indication that the Burnham Committee would have of what his mind was likely to be on this matter?
§ Sir E. Boyle
As my hon. Friend may recall, I explained that to the House when I made a statement on 21st February. I intended to explain it again today. I deliberately waited until it had become clear that the provisional agreement would be ratified by a majority of both panels of the Burnham Committee. Then, I wrote my letter to explain.
§ Mr. G. Thomas rose—
§ Sir E. Boyle
I would rather continue; I have more to say. While, as Financial Secretary, I calculated that I gave way about 400 times in debate, I will, if the hon. Member will allow me, give way a little less this afternoon.
The reason for this legislation is that a situation of deadlock has been created. I wish to examine three aspects of the present deadlock: how it came to be created, whether it could have been avoided, and how best to resolve it. One thing which should be remembered is 438 that the possibility of deadlock was from the very beginning inherent in Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944. Parliament cannot make two parties agree, and, therefore, as a general rule, when some action depends upon an agreement between parties, we go on in our statutes to provide what shall happen if that agreement is lacking.
Section 89 set up a statutory process which assumed agreement between parties at two separate stages: between the teachers and the employers in the first instance before proposals could be submitted to the Minister, and between the Committee and the Minister at the second stage. If there was a failure to agree at either of these two stages, there could be no new salary proposals; yet no alternative method of proceeding in the event of disagreement was provided. It is as well to remember that. The possibility of a deadlock of this kind was always inherent in Section 89.
To see how our present deadlock came about, I want to take hon. Members back to my original letter of 20th February. I insist to the House and to the country that this was not a dictatorial letter. It started from a readiness on my part and that of my colleagues, including my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to accept the total cost of the Committee's proposals, even though we thought it generous when considered in relation to the big increases in teachers' salaries which came into effect as recently as January, 1962, and in relation to the Government's incomes policy as a whole.
Most people might consider that the total size of a negotiated settlement is the most important feature about it; and, certainly, in accepting it I felt that I was taking a very long stride towards the Burnham Committee in the interests of reaching agreement if possible.
I ask the House to consider the nature of the reply which I received from the Burnham Committee to my letter of 20th February. When I, as Minister, had taken a long step towards the Burnham Committee in accepting its total sum, given a minimum statement of the principles which I wished the Committee to follow in revising its proposals and had left it some room for manœuvre in 439 determining how to work out these principles in practice, the Burnham Committee, in its reply, did no more than reiterate its earlier proposals.
There was no reference to my willingness to approve a settlement of the same total cost with a modified distribution and no offer to modify its proposals to even the smallest extent in response to the suggestions which I had made. I accept full responsibility for my share in the action that has been taken, but I emphasise that the complete inflexibility of the Burnham Committee in this matter made its own contribution to the resulting deadlock.
Next, I wish to consider suggestions that I could have avoided the deadlock granted that I have a responsible part to play in the settlement of teachers' salaries. I should like to deal with a number of alternative courses which it has been said were open to me. I want, first, to answer those who have criticised the timing of my intervention. There are those who say that I should have made known my views earlier than I did and, in particular, that I should have made my position known during the course of the negotiations. I should remind the House, in answer to that, that I have no official standing on the Burnham Committee. I think that hon. Members should be aware of what happened at the conclusion of the 1961 salary negotiations dispute.
On that occasion, Lord Eccles, with the full concurrence of all the other parties concerned, finally agreed not to proceed with legislation to amend the Burnham procedure. There was a readiness on his part to allow all the parties concerned another opportunity to make the existing arrangements work. Lord Eccles agreed to limit his participation to the provision of factual information on the supply of teachers and the needs of the schools—and this information was duly provided on this occasion—and he gave further assurances, at the request of the two Joint Secretaries of the Burnham Committee, that no global sum would be prescribed and that Ministry officials would not join in the negotiations or be involved in points of principle in the early stages of the negotiations.
Certainly, I am not aware of any standing invitation to make my views known 440 to the Burnham Committee. It has been suggested that I should have made my views known to the Committee, but to do so would have been inconsistent with the understanding reached by Lord Eccles with the teacher and local authority associations in 1962. Naturally, I was kept informed, through the Ministry's official assessors on the Burnham Committee, as to the progress of negotiations—certainly I was—but I should inform hon. Members—and I hope that this is no breach of the confidentiality of the proceedings—that until 24th January, the day on which the provisional agreement was reached, nothing I learned in this way led me to suppose that proposals would be made to me which I would find unacceptable. The plain fact is that on 24th January these negotiations took on a totally different complexion and, before the day was out, an agreement had been reached which I had had no reason to anticipate.
Finally, in answer to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Sir K. Thompson) just now, I should explain to the House that it is not the provisional agreement which the Minister is asked to consider, but a final agreement which has been formally ratified by a majority of the associations represented on each side of the Burnham Committee. It was not until 16th February, when the National Union of Teachers decided to ratify the provisional agreement, that anybody, including myself, could regard it as certain that the proposals would receive the necessary formal ratification.
I made my views known to the Committee as soon as possible thereafter—on 20th February. I am bound to say, as I said to the House at the end of February, that I was influenced by the fact that Lord Eccles had got into trouble for intervening too early last time. I did not delay my intervention any longer in the hope that it might still be possible for the Burnham Committee to take account of my views and submit proposals to me which I could accept in time for the salary increase to be payable with effect from 1st April, 1963.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he had to wait four weeks for fear of offending the Burnham Committee?
§ Sir E. Boyle
My predecessor had got 441 into trouble last time for intervening too soon. I took the view—and I do not think that the Committee has really disagreed with me about this—that the proper time for me to intervene was when, but not before, it had become clear that the provisional agreement was to be ratified by a majority of both sides.
The criticisms that I have so far dealt with turn on the timing of my intervention. Another, more important, criticism is that, while my case may have been sound, I should not have pushed it to the limits on this occasion by rejecting the Burnham Committee's recommendation, but that, instead, I should have accepted its proposals on the ground that the settlement proposed was only a minor one, a holding operation pending a review of the whole structure of teachers' salaries which was to take place during the following two years. I have even seen this referred to as "A veritable mouse of an agreement". I cannot accept this at all.
This was an agreement to govern the salaries of teachers for a period of two years, a vitally important period from the point of view of recruitment, and involving increased expenditure over the period of nearly £42 million for the salaries of full-time qualified teachers in maintained primary and secondary schools alone, and well over £50 million when the salaries of teachers in further education and consequential costs for part-time teachers, for superannuation contributions, and so forth, are taken into account.
In percentage terms, it represents an increase of almost 7 per cent. over the current salary rate; and this, coming only fifteen months after an increase of over 14 per cent. under the 1961 Burnham Report, could not be regarded as a minor matter. Moreover, this settlement was to provide the base from which the promised review of structure and the negotiation of the next round of salary proposals would begin, and it would, therefore, have an important determining effect on salary settlements for the future. For those reasons, I could not treat this as a minor matter.
A final course that has been urged upon me—and it may be mentioned this afternoon and I will deal with it now—is that I should have made more money available to accommodate the objectives 442 of both the Burnham Committee and myself. All I can say is that I think that this is an unjustifiable request. Against the general background of our incomes policy, teachers have been treated well, and rightly so. But I do not relish the precedent that if the Burnham Committee concentrates its efforts on the basic scale the Government will attend to the differentials. Though I recognise all the temptations to take what looks like the easy way out, I believe I should be wholly and utterly wrong to accept this way out of the deadlock. There is, therefore, a deadlock, the consequence of which is that, because the Burnham Committee and the Minister cannot agree upon suitable salary scales, there is no legal way of paying increased salaries.
Given this situation, I had the choice either of doing nothing, or of taking positive action. Had I done nothing, there would have been no increases in salary at all for any teacher in England and Wales from 1st April, no prospect of increases at any future time unless and until the Burnham Committee and the Minister reached agreement, and no means of backdating any such agreement. I know that a number of teachers and some people sympathising with them have taken the line that they would prefer no increase if it has to be imposed by Act of Parliament.
I must make this political point to the House. Those who attack me now for dictatorship would have attacked me with equal vigour if I had tried, as they would have said, to starve the teachers out, and we know that perfectly well. But, apart from that consideration, I believe that to leave the deadlock unresolved would be the wrong way to treat a responsible body of public servants and I would certainly think it quite wrong to deprive teachers of salary increases which the. Government think they should have. Therefore, I reject at once the idea of leaving the deadlock unresolved. We must consider possible ways of breaking the deadlock.
One possible way would have involved first, the immediate opening of discussions about the future negotiating machinery in the hope that changes could be agreed upon and the law changed, if necessary, and then, secondly, to set this new machinery to work to bring in a salary increase. I did consider this, but I did not see how the discussions on 443 machinery could reasonably be expected to come to a successful conclusion quickly enough.
After all, the difficulties in which we find ourselves are neither local nor ephemeral, but deep-seated and fundamental; and I think that it would have been wrong to assume that solutions to them could be found in a matter of a few months. I cannot believe that it would have been wise to have embarked on these important discussions on new machinery, while the present sharp dispute on the present pay increase remained unresolved. As time went on, the teachers' understandable impatience for news of their increase would, naturally, have grown and I cannot believe that this would have been the right background for the full discussions on machinery on which I hope shortly to embark.
Given these powerful objections to proceeding in that way, there was no course remaining open to me but to propose immediate legislation with the very limited purpose of assuring salary increases with effect from 1st April, 1963, so that the discussions on future machinery might proceed in a clearer atmosphere, relieved of any preoccupation with the immediate pay award.
By this means—and here I can come to speak more directly of the Bill itself—I can take the one essential practical step about immediate salary increases without prejudging in any way the form of machinery for the future. The Bill does nothing to repeal Section 89 of the 1944 Act. On the contrary, it preserves the present Burnham machinery until we can decide, after discussion, what changes we wish to see made.
Now I would like to look in rather more detail at the Bill itself. It is a short one and as limited in its effect as could be devised. The fundamental purpose of the Bill is to be found at once in subsection (1) of Clause 1. This gives the Minister of Education power to make Orders to amend the Burnham Reports which now govern teachers' salaries without having received acceptable proposals from the Burnham Committee, as required under Section 89. Orders under the Bill could relate to teachers in primary and secondary schools, in establishments for further 444 education or in farm institutes—in fact, to all the teachers covered by any of the Burnham Reports. And subsection (9) requires Orders made under the Bill to be laid before Parliament and to be subject to the negative Resolution procedure in either House.
Subsection (4) provides that Orders made under the Bill can operate only to increase teachers' salaries, not to diminish them either in general or in the case of any particular teacher, and, of course, as the House will be aware, this safeguarding of individual teachers' salaries is a regular feature of every Burnham Report.
Subsection (5) provides that any Order made under the Bill before 1st August next can have effect retrospectively from 1st April last. It has always been the intention of all the parties throughout, including the Government, that 1st April should be the operative date for the salary increases, and this retrospective power is now necessary to make this possible. After the named date of 1st August, 1963, the situation will revert to what it was, namely, that Orders governing teachers' salaries cannot be retrospective.
Finally, I would draw the attention of the House most particularly to the terms of subsection (6). On 31st March, 1965, two things would happen: the power to make Orders under the Bill would lapse, and all Orders already made under the Bill would lapse, and I should like the House to be clear as to what this implies. If we were to reach that point in time without having worked out a new salary settlement, then, on 1st April, 1965, there would be no provision whatever to govern teachers' salaries.
The Bill has been drafted in this way deliberately as a proof of my intention that the power I now seek should be seen to be as limited and as temporary as possible. Representations have been made to me that the Bill should provide that Orders existing at the time should continue in force beyond the date of expiry of the Bill so as to avoid the risk of any gap in the orderly regulation of teachers' salaries. If it is the general wish of the House that this should be done, I would be prepared to table the necessary Amendment.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I had talks about the principle of the timing with representatives of the local authority associations, which is normal with legislation affecting their interests.
I have already made it clear that my starting point is that each of the responsible partners in the education service, including the Minister of Education, should be assured of an appropriate place in any revised machinery and procedure for the settlement of teachers' salaries. I am anxious that all those concerned shall have a full opportunity to discuss with me and also with each other what changes in the present machinery may be desirable, and that in the outcome their proper interests should be safeguarded.
As I said in answer to a Question just before Easter by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), I am willing to see every issue, including the Minister's statutory powers in these matters, fully and frankly examined. The Government have no intention of avoiding the controversial questions that will arise, and I should like to mention some of them to the House. Should the Minister discuss views and ideas on salary scales with the teachers and local authorities openly at an early stage in negotiations? Should he play a formal part in the negotiations? Should the power that he now has by virtue of Section 89 of the 1944 Act to accept or reject a proposed settlement be modified or altered? What means can be found for resolving differences of view without the Minister having again to come to Parliament, as I am having to do today?
I hope that all these issues will be fully and frankly discussed. Indeed, I go a stage further. I beg the House to believe that I say this with no desire to prejudge the issue. It may well be that these discussions will raise the wider question whether collective bargaining ought to be modified—or even replaced—by recourse to an independent body. I am not expressing a view. I am merely saying that these questions may be raised in the course of these talks. An outcome along these lines might well have different implications for the Minister's rôle in salary matters, and we may, at the same time, find it useful to look at the relationship with our problem of the arrangements for settling salaries in comparable professions. I would not wish to exclude 446 such possibilities from the scope of our discussions.
These are difficult and complicated issues, and whatever the ultimate rôle of the Minister I should want to examine their implications for the standing of the teaching profession, for the welfare and standards of the education service as a whole, and for the Government's wider concern for the conditions for the sustained growth of our economy.
I hope that we can avoid the use of slogans such as "He who pays the piper calls the tune", or "The Minister wants to be judge, jury and executioner". I do not believe that slogans of that kind will help the inception of these discussions. I intend to approach these issues, as I am sure do the teachers and the local authorities, in a genuine spirit of inquiry. I have no cut-and-dried scheme to suggest. I want, first, to listen to what my partners have to say and I hazard the guess that out of our discussions will emerge a pattern of working which none of us can exactly foresee today.
That completes what I have to say on the three main points I set out to cover; the reasons for my intervention; the purpose of the present Bill; and my preliminary thoughts on future arrangements for negotiating teachers' salaries.
I ask those right hon. and hon. Members who intend to raise what is now the familiar charge of "dictatorship" to relate their case to what I have said this afternoon, because I want to make it clear, with all the emphasis I can, that the sole considerations that I have had in mind are those I have put to the House in my speech.
It may be helpful if I mention, for the record, and at the outset of our debate, some of the things that I have not had in mind. I did not set out with the deliberate object of picking a quarrel with the Burnham Committee. I emphasise that to the House. I did not aim to divide the teaching profession or the local authorities by playing off the differences of one association or union against another. I had no sinister plot in mind to put an end to collective bargaining. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly not.
As I have explained, this is a limited Bill for two years to cover a particular unprecedented situation which was 447 none the less always inherently possible under the 1944 Act. Above all, I have not been under secret instructions to adapt the teaching profession in this country to the continental model to facilitate this country's entry into the Common Market. I think that that topic is now off the agenda. In general, the kindest thing that I can say is that some of these charges are misconceptions, and the rest just plain rubbish.
What, in the last analysis, have I done? In reality, I think, three things. First, I have rejected the recommendations of the Burnham Committee. This is a function entrusted by law to the Minister of the day. I did this because I thought that the Burnham Committee had reached a bad agreement. I told the committee so and I gave my reasons—reasons which, I may add, have attracted a considerable volume of public support. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not know what newspapers hon. Gentleman read. Had I been content not to do so, to make light of my responsibilities, to leave national considerations to look after themselves I should, no doubt, have saved myself a great deal of trouble. But because a Minister of Education cannot be a nullity, it is surely absurd to suggest that he wants to be a dictator.
Secondly, I have had to ask the House to pass ad hoc legislation to deal with the present impasse. I recognise that this is a exceptional procedure. Parliament should not normally be called upon to settle pay disputes in this way. I entirely understand the teaching profession's real concern that their salaries—even, as in this case, a considerable overall increase in salaries—should be imposed upon them by Parliament. But we face a deadlock which both justice and common sense require should be broken—and broken with the minimum of delay—so that we can look to the future.
This is the third thing I have done—to ask everyone to look to the future. The Burnham Committee has, in virtually the same form, existed for forty years and the 1944 Act for nearly twenty. I am asking everybody to join with me to consider whether our present machinery and procedures for settling teachers' salaries really match our present needs. The pressures on any 448 Minister of Education to act decisively and positively over a widening range of educational issues are much stronger today than they were twenty years ago, and they are growing stronger all the time. I hope that some day we can have a wider discussion on this matter. I think that hon. Gentlemen, with whom I shall be glad to discuss this at any time, will agree with me that these pressures are real; they originate from some of the most dynamic and forward-looking elements in our society, and it is no good blaming a Minister for their existence.
I do not believe that the acceptance of a more purposive and creative rôle for the Ministry of Education need necessarily lead to any diminution in the standing of the other partners to the education service—the teachers and the local authorities. I do, however, recognise fully the dangers of an excessively empirical approach to these matters, and it is certainly not my desire to bring about a major change in the relationship between the educational partners simply as the cumulative effect of a number of ad hoc decisions. I am very ready indeed that these matters should be frankly discussed when appropriate among all these educational partners. But for the moment we are dealing with just this limited Bill and in asking the House to pass the Bill, which is designed to end a deadlock, I should like to assure hon. Members that I have acted in this matter solely in what I conceived to be the best interests of the education service.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which interferes with established negotiating machinery in respect of teachers' salaries and provides for the imposition of an award which is contrary to the wishes of both the local authorities and the teachers, which will have a discouraging effect on the recruitment of young teachers and which will embitter discussions on the future pattern of negotiating machinery for the teaching profession.We have had, apart from the peroration, a well-prepared lecture. The House no more likes lectures than does the Burnham Committee. We have also had 449 an ex-parte statement. What we hoped for was not an ex-parte justification but some acceptance of the responsibility for the present position and a desire for reconciliation.
I am sorry that we have not with us the First Secretary. We have had a good deal of reference to Section 89 and what was meant when the Education Act, 1944, was put on the Statute Book. No one could have told us about this better than the First Secretary. In fact, when he was Minister of Education he made several statements on what he understood to be the effect of Section 89. Of those statements, I will take the one which he gave when he addressed the teachers. He said:I think that it is most important that it should be made plain on my behalf, also on behalf of my successors in office, and on the part of the Government, that it is no normal part of the duties of a Minister to resolve the differences that have arisen between the PanelsThen the Secretary of State said:I should not be at all surprised if you would warmly agree with me that that was the right interpretation of the Burnham machinery and the right attitude that both sides should take up in the future in regard to the Government of the day.The First Secretary went on:You would make an even greater mistake than the Government if you were to regard it as any part of the general duties of a Government to regulate the conditions and awards of those who serve in any non-State regulated branch of our national life. I, personally, should very much regret it, and it would go right against the grain of some of my most fundamental ideas.Probably this is why the First Secretary is not with us today. He went on to say:Now just as I, on my side, would regret any attempt made by the Government to dictate the salaries of teachers—or to decide them—similarly I should equally regret, as I presume you would"—he said to the teachers—the giving up of this excellent machinery. …It would have been interesting to have had the First Secretary with us. He would obviously have been a very regretful man indeed—he must be in view of what the Government has done. Everyone knows—apart from the Establishment—that this Bill is an awful blunder. I said "apart from the Establishment", using the same words as were used by the right hon. Gentleman, 450 because everyone knows that the initiative came from the Establishment. This was bureaucratic initiative. This is the moist arrogant example so far of the men in Whitehall knowing best. The Burnham Committee can meet for months, but the men in Whitehall can tell us in a few days what ought to be done. But, if this is a good day for the bureaucrats, it is a very bad day for education.
I have no wish to take away the credit which is very rightly due to the First Secretary and to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) for the Education Act, 1944, but I am sure that they would concede what a lot they owed to the friendly triumvirate, Sir Percival Sharp, Sir Frederick Mander, and Sir Maurice Holmes. These men worked together for a decade. It was because they worked together in harmony that the 1944 Act was possible. Sir Percival Sharp had a worthy successor in Sir William Alexander, and Sir Frederick Mander in Sir Ronald Gould. The missing member is the Ministry of Education. But one of the unfortunate consequences of this legislation is that it will make it even more difficult to fill the vacant chair. We cannot gloss over this difficulty by taking the short cut of bureaucratic centralism.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am not quite sure that I have followed the hon. Gentleman exactly. He says, "The missing member is the Ministry of Education". [HON. MEMBERS: "A point of order."] The point of order is this: Is he saying that there was something wrong or defective about Sir Maurice Holmes's successor? If so, is that in order?
§ Mr. Willey
I was going on to say that it would nevertheless be absurd to cast all the blame upon Curzon Street. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would recognise that he is responsible for his Department, and that so far as the Burnham negotiations are concerned the Tories have a very bad record. There is a myth that the Burnham negotiations always show an irresponsible magnani- 451 mity. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when it first met after the First World War it provided scales which meant that the teachers were slightly worse off than they were before the war began. Notwithstanding that, a Tory Government, through the Teachers Superannuation Act, imposed a salary cut upon teachers and, as a result of the May Committee, we had a 10 per cent. cut in the early thirties. We have had the same sort of history under the present Government.
When one thinks of Baroness Horsbrugh one thinks of the Teachers Superannuation Act, which represented an effective cut in teachers' salaries, notwithstanding the conditions of the early fifties. Lord Eccles succeeded where Baroness Horsbrugh had failed, but he did so by interfering with the Burnham machinery, by giving an undertaking in advance that the Committee would give an increase to teachers to compensate for their increased contributions. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd) openly threatened the Committee. Lord Eccles, two years ago, not only threatened the Committee but imposed a reduction of £5½ million on its award.
That occasion was remarkable, because we had direct political intervention. The Conservative Central Office issued propaganda attacking the teachers and the Burnham Committee. Last year the Government took the unprecedented step, of which the Minister is aware, of rejecting the recommendation of the University Grants Committee. Within a few months we had Lord Eccles himself making proposals in the House about auxilaries and short-term commissions, without even consulting the National Advisory Council. It is therefore important to realise that we are discussing this situation against a background of Conservative antipathy to teachers.
The other important thing to recognise is that we are discussing this matter—as the Minister has conceded—against the background of events in 1961, when the Burnham Committee understood that it would subsequently be allowed to negotiate a new agreement, which would come into force on 1st April of this 452 year, and that those negotiations began as long ago as June last year.
About the proceedings of the Burnham Committee as a whole a good deal of nonsensical mysticism is talked. The three knights—Sir William, Sir Ronald and the right hon. Gentleman—talk about this Burnham with as much obscurity as the three witches in Macbeth did on the other Burnham. It is difficult to know what happens in the Burnham Committee and what are the relationships within it.
I should like to give an illustration of what I mean. Recently the right hon. Gentleman appeared on television in the programme "Panorama". On that programme he was asked the very proper question—why he did not tell the Burnham Committee what he had in mind. I still find it extraordinarily difficult to understand why he did not do this. In the television programme he gave the remarkable and ghostly answer that "it would be like a king coming to the House of Commons." This is nonsense—and it is not only nonsense; it is the sort of childish stuff that one would get in a school debating society—and to avoid possible correspondence I hasten to add in a lower form school debating society. The right hon. Gentleman is responsible for a situation of vital importance to education, and to give a reply like this is completely frivolous and irresponsible.
The background to these negotiations was the compromise in 1961. No one can disguise the fact that in order to get his own way Lord Eccles threatened legislation to replace the Burnham machinery. I said then that if he got his own way we would not hear any more of his threat. He did get his own way, and that is what happened. But it is important to recognise Lord Eccles's argument. He said that he wanted powers to enable him, if necessary, to indicate to the Committee at an early stage his views on the size and nature of a salary settlement.
Again, he said that he had told the Burnham Committee,that the Minister shall in future be associated with salary reviews in such a way that the Government's views on the size and general lines of the distribution of salary increases should be made known to the Committee at an early stage in the negotiations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st August, 1961; Vol. 645, c. 1408.]We know that he said rather more privately than he said publicly, but the gist 453 of what he said was that it was imperative that the Burnham Committee should, at an early stage in the negotiations, have some idea of what the Government had in mind.
In those circumstances, for the right hon. Gentleman to talk about a king going into the House of Commons was nonsensical, frivolous and absolutely irresponsible. In view of the difficulties that we had had in 1961 he knew that some initiative should have been taken by him in an effort to avoid these difficulties arising again, if he shared Lord Eccles's views. As I have said, however, we have had an ex-parte statement. We ought to pay some attention to what the Association of Education Committees have said, which is contrary to what the Minister said, namely, that when the Burnham Committee met in June last year—a considerable time ago—"the Minister had been given a standing invitation to communicate his views to the Committee at any time. His officers presented some statistical information at an early stage of the negotiations, but at no time did the Minister seek to put his view as to the total amount of money which would be acceptable to the Treasury, or the way in which it should be distributed".
After all the unfortunate difficulties—if I may use a euphemism—that we faced in 1961, the failure of the Minister to take some action this time seems so extraordinary that I cannot accept his own account of his own motives when he says that he was not spoiling for a row with the teachers. The only evidence I have against it is the cloak-and-dagger business of the Minister trying to negotiate through two of his political friends who happen to sit on the employers' panel of the Burnham Committee. I can think of no worse form of negotiating than that. If the Minister had had any views he should have stated them to the Committee and not tried to convey them in this hole-and-corner fashion.
But this is all immaterial; there is no dispute between the Committee and the Government about the total sum. The right hon. Gentleman is not trying to save the Treasury a penny. At the end of the day Lord Eccles, at any rate, could say that he had saved the Treasury £5½ million, but here, by some fortuitous 454 coincidence—and I find some difficulty in understanding the mysticism surrounding the Committee, and the way in which it works—there has been absolute agreement on the total sum of the award.
It is no good the Minister's trying to avoid this. It is important to realise that this is not a generous award. When the right hon. Gentleman said that it had been described as "the veriest mouse of an award" he did not tell us that that description came from The Times Educational Supplement, which has been his consistent supporter and a critic of the Burnham Committee throughout these negotiations. If The Times Educational Supplement expresses such a view we must agree that it is one that we can readily accept. That is important, because the major criticism of the Burnham Committee has been on broad economic and financial grounds.
On the local authority side, it is occasionally said, with some justification, that the voice of the education committees ought to be tempered by that of the finance committees, and that it is the finance committees who have to prepare the budget each year. In the same way, when we say that the views of the Government should be made known to the Burnham Committee, we have in mind the relationship which any award made to the teachers will have to the general economic position of the country, and similar considerations. But here these questions are no more than hypothetical, because in fact there was complete agreement about the award.
As I began by saying, we have to remember the whole time that English education depends upon a very delicate partnership which we have to hold together, and one of the great justifications of the present Burnham machinery is the fact that it depends at the end of the day upon an agreement. It is vital, particularly in view of our present difficulties, to ensure that there is harmony between the three bodies responsible for English education.
Turning from the total award, I will say at once that I am not prepared to discuss the details either of the award or of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals. Parliament is utterly unsuitable to conduct wage or salary negotiations. This is an improper use of Parliament. This is, in fact, rubber-stamping Curzon 455 Street, and it is aggravating if at the end of proceedings we are asked to vote upon an order which we cannot amend. It is unrealistic to expect a debate upon the details on the Floor of the House of Commons.
But we can consider the broad position of the Burnham award, and the first point which I emphasise is one to which the right hon. Gentleman referred incidentally—that since the war the Burnham Committee has strengthened differentials to a very great extent. The Committee claims this, and it is probably true. The right hon. Gentleman did not seek to deny it. The Burnham Committee has increased and strengthened differentials in the teaching profession probably to a greater extent than any other negotiating machinery in the country.
This was largely conceded by the right hon. Gentleman not only today but in a letter to the Burnham Committee in which he said,It is true that salary settlements since 1945 have progressively improved the prospects and rewards for advancement within the profession by increasing the payments for longer training, higher qualifications and greater responsibility in relation to the basic scale.We have to bear this in mind if we are considering the present award. We have to bear in mind, too, what happened when Lord Eccles intervened in 1961, because when he reduced the award by £5½ million he took the whole of the £5½ million off the basic scale and none of it off the differential structure. The effect of Lord Eccles' intervention was, therefore, to increase still further the differentials, which in the original settlement had already been stepped up considerably. One must consider this factor if one is considering what one might have expected to be the result of this examination of teachers' salaries at the recent Burnham Committee meeting. I think that it was natural enough in these conditions that the Committee first of all looked at the basic scale. My own personal opinion is confirmed by the fact that this was the view of the Joint Four, those teachers' organisations most representative of those with most to gain from differentials.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to this but only in passing. We have not only to consider that retrospectively here 456 was a Committee which had probably the best record of any negotiating machinery in the country with respect to differentials. We have also to look prospectively. The Committee said, "This is an interim award. We will use the two years of this award, 1963–65, to hold a thorough review of the differential structure of the teaching profession"—an attitude which is considerably prejudiced by the steps which the right hon. Gentleman is now taking.
Let us pause and agree about this: there was no dispute about the global award, no dispute about the total sum. There was no dispute whatever between the right hon. Gentleman and the Burnham Committee about their attitude towards differentials.
Let us turn to what I regard as the four main features of the Burnham award—starting salary, assimilation, increased allowances for good honours graduates and the provision, with which the right hon. Gentleman dealt, which is rather complicated, to safeguard the teachers who had sought an extra qualification beyond that required by the then operative regulations. It is clear that the major dispute turns on the questions of assimilation and starting salaries.
An important point about which the right hon. Gentleman has not spoken at all is that the Burnham Committee was facing an entirely new situation. The qualification for teachers has been altered. We now regard teaching as a profession which depends upon the basic requirement of a three-year training and no longer upon a two-year training. If one is facing a new requirement, then anyone who has had any experience of salary and wage negotiations knows the difficulties of assimilation, or, to put it in another way, as it is put sometimes, of dilution.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Is not my hon. Friend aware that the qualification remains the same? The two-year man has the teacher's certificate which is the qualification for the profession. The three-year man has the same qualification. All that happens is that there is a longer period for exactly the same qualification.
§ Mr. Willey
I noted my hon. Friend's remarks, and that was why I said "requirement". What I emphasised—and I should like to know whether he is with me in this, because he is experienced in it—is that the Burnham Committee faced 457 a new situation. What should the Committee do? If I may express a personal point of view, if I had taken part in the negotiations I should have favoured immediate assimilation. This, again, is what the Burnham Committee recommended. There is no dispute of principle here, because the right hon. Gentleman has gone so far as to provide for the assimilation of half and the assimilation of the remainder over a period. But, personally, I agree with Burnham that it is better to grasp the nettle, otherwise there is a constant sore and irritation within the profession which upsets subsequent negotiations.
In fact, there are precedents. This is the view previously taken by the Burnham Committee in other instances. Incidentally, I should have said that this was a triumph for the teachers' representatives. This is always a very difficult thing. It is always particularly difficult when the award, as in this case, is not a generous award, because it is the other teachers who have to provide the money at their sacrifice in the interests of harmony within the profession and in the interests of the outward professional status which is created by a unified profession. There is no dispute in principle, surely, between the right hon. Gentleman and the Burnham Committee. He, as Minister of Education, ought to have been relieved that the members of the Committee, particularly those on the teachers' panel, had grasped the nettle and had said that the best step to take was immediate assimilation. There is nothing here which could justify the action which the right hon. Gentleman is taking today.
This leaves us with the issue of the starting salary. Obviously this is the main bone of contention. I refer again to the programme "Panorama", in which Sir Ronald Gould said,The Minister's representative in the Burnham Committee admitted that if we gave a salary scale beginning at £650 the Minister would reject it.The Burnham Committee at any rate was well informed about the right hon. Gentleman's view upon this crucial point.He said that £650 a year is too much for a three-year trained teacher.This is the essential issue. When the Minister was pressed about this, he said that he thought it was necessary to begin 458 below £650. When it was pointed out to him that this was a take-home pay of less than £10 a week, he was still prepared to justify it. He has not dared to do that today, but we know what his justification is. It is the mean, contemptible justification that there are more applicants for the training colleges than there are places.
This whole question of the status of the teaching profession is being by-passed by the Minister today merely because he believes he is in the happy position of having more applicants for training colleges places than there are places. He ought to be ashamed that that position obtains, and he ought to be thoroughly ashamed of using this argument to prevent teachers getting a decent starting salary, because it is the basic salary which determines the standing of the profession.
I could have understood a Treasury Minister saying something like this on the television, but I cannot understand a Minister of Education saying it. Still, one has to remember that he came front the Treasury and hot-foot from the row he had last year with the university dons. He has an allergy not only to school teachers but to the profession generally.
§ Sir E. Boyle
The hon. Member has admitted more than once that I am not saving the Treasury arty money over this matter which we are debating today.
§ Mr. Willey
I am saying that I would have presumed that a Minister of Education was more concerned about the status of the teaching profession than he was about using such a miserable pretext as this in saving on the basic scale.
With apologies to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), the Burnham Committee concerning the status of the profession was faced with a new situation. This is now a profession which depends on three years of full-time training in higher education. It was concerned about the steps it should take to establish and further the esteem of the profession. The modest conclusion it came to was to say that a profession depending upon people coming in after three years' full-time training in higher education was entitled to have a salary which would amount in real terms to no more than £10 a week.
The local authorities, on their side, 459 were interested in another point of equal importance. Because of the shortage of teachers, more and more young teachers have to start away from home in lodgings, if young teachers have to start in lodgings through no fault of their own but because of the desperate shortage and the quota system, any decent representative of a local authority would say that a practical salary of £10 a week to take home was the least which could be afforded.
The right hon. Gentleman did not face this argument. The Burnham Committee was not being unreasonable but was remarkably modest. We have to make some elementary comparison. When dealing with local authorities we find that the lowest starting salary for any profession in local government is £675. We know there are differences about career prospects, but, if we think of the teacher coming to the profession, we must remember that he compares very unfavourably in salary with a corporal in the Army or with anyone joining the police force. In the police force the career prospects are probably better. If we take the really crucial test as I mentioned, the first Burnham Committee did no more than provide that teachers were slightly worse off than before the First World War began. If we take the proposals of the present Committee, we find it would have provided a starting salary for the profession which in real terms would have made the recruit slightly worse off than the recruit coming into the profession in 1944.
The right hon. Gentleman may not pay attention to me, but it is not surprising, because of this essential disadvantage which the profession faces, that when his colleagues on the Bow Group looked at teachers' salaries three or four years ago, although they took his view about differentials, they said that before anything was done about differentials there should be a 20 per cent. increase in the basic scale. That was their approach. It should be our approach also now. We are faced with the position that, even if the Burnham Committee's recommendations had been accepted, a teacher would have been worse off in real terms than he would be twenty years ago. Obviously the Burnham Committee on this occasion 460 was bound to deal first with the basic salary and then say that because of its interest and concern about differentials during the two years of the present negotiations it would consider a review of the whole differentials structure for teachers.
In these circumstances, it is not surprising that on the Burnham Committee itself the Joint Four supported this view and the whole of the local authorities supported it. When we were discussing teachers' salaries in 1961, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Government provided 55 per cent. The local authorities provide 45 per cent. in much more difficult circumstances, but they saw the validity of this argument and saw that it was inescapable to take this approach in facing the practical difficulties of teacher shortage.
Above everything else, this was carried out within what the Times Educational Supplement rightly described as,the veriest mouse of an award".The right hon. Gentleman as Minister of Education ought to have been very relieved that the members of the Burnham Committee, with a great deal of dexterity and admittedly over an appreciable time, had nevertheless been able to come to an agreement. The right hon. Gentleman upset all this by saying that he and his Department know better and that he would resort to Ministerial decree. What was the effect of that? I do not understand his justification that a third will be better off, a third the same and a third worse off. This does not justify, it only explains the position. What it does is to enforce a redistribution against the wishes of the local authorities and against the wishes of the teachers which at the end of the day will take back about 15s. a week from some teachers, the younger teachers, and give a similar sum or less to some others. This seems an extraordinarily irresponsible way for the Minister to behave.
I am not going to discuss the details, and I do not think the House can discuss them, but I refer to the Association of Assistant Masters, because I received a memorandum from that body yesterday. This Association is one to which the right hon. Gentleman will pay particular regard because, as he pointed out, 85 per cent. of its membership are university graduates and two-thirds of those have first-class and second-class honours 461 degrees. About three-quarters of its membership are holding posts of special responsibility.
Let us test what has been done in the light of this Association with its membership particularly dependent upon differentials. We know how they behaved in Burnham. The Association supported the Burnham Committee and its Executive ratified that support subsequently, but what did it say to the Minister? It said:In the opinion of the Executive Committee, the Ministers salary proposals, when applied to members of this Association, certainly fail to pass the test of his own declared intentions.It has analysed the effect upon its membership. Here is a membership particularly dependent upon differentials, and they do worse than teachers generally. This is not a third; two-fifths of its members are worse off as a result of the Minister's intervention.
I have said that I cannot accept any other explanation of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct than that he was spoiling for a row. I have referred to the B.B.C. programme "Panorama". As I spend much time upstairs in Corn-mince on the Television Bill, I should also refer to commercial television. In the programme "This Week", when interviewed by Mr. Kenneth Harris, this is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman said:It is easier to get people to concentrate their attention on a matter such as the reform of the Burnham machinery if we have a row".This seems thoroughly irresponsible. It is more irresponsible because—the Minister has not told us this—in fact, in November of last year, the Burnham Committee decided to review its proceedings. It said—we have heard an ex-parte statement from the right hon. Gentleman—that it was willing and anxious, and always had been, to receive the right hon. Gentleman. There has been nothing—certainly in view of the initiative taken by Lord Eccles—to prevent the right hon. Gentleman from going to the Burnham Committee or sending his views to it.
This Bill, unfortunately, can only prejudice a very difficult situation. If the right hon. Gentleman does not believe that it is a difficult situation, let him have a word with Lord Eccles. It is not a simple matter, and that is why I began with the statement of the First 462 Secretary. There is a lot to be said for the Burnham machinery. We have an educational system which depends on the partnership of three bodies, and, particularly in view of the difficulties arising from the teacher shortage to be faced in the next three years, there is a lot to be said for avoiding arbitration. No one on the Burnham Committee will agree to the right hon. Gentleman being a dictator. But that is what he is being by introducing this Bill. What confidence will there be in these negotiations?
I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would stop giving us his well-prepared lectures and think about the reactions that other people may have in this situation. It is a very difficult business to negotiate and always get agreement. But having got it, it should not be upset on the frivolous grounds on which the right hon. Gentleman is upsetting this agreement about negotiating machinery. All we have had this afternoon is a few questions. Any fool ran ask questions. It is giving the answers which is difficult. All we have had is questions. This shows that the right hon. Gentleman has not given any thought to this at all. What he has been doing—
§ Sir E. Boyle
In view of what the hon. Gentleman has just said about a dictatorship, may I ask whether he would rather that I had this afternoon given what I thought were the right answers before I have other talks with the educational partners at all?
§ Mr. Willey
That again is a sixth form debating sort of reply. If the right hon. Gentleman is so dissatisfied with the Burnham machinery that he is prepared to take the step which he is taking by the introduction of this Bill, he should have very definite views about that machinery. He has shown us so far that all he can do is pose a few questions and that he has not conveyed any views at all to the Burnham Committee.
The right hon. Gentleman anticipated this. We know that it is not a matter only for the teachers. We know that this is a matter which affects all white-collared union members, all those in the public services, all those in local government and the professions. We know that the teachers are weak organisationally and also that the profession is large and difficult effectively to represent. This is 463 an issue which is of concern not only to teachers. It is of concern to all those in the public service and in the professions. It is also a matter of vital concern to the local authorities.
Time after time Government spokesmen say that the block grant was introduced to give more freedom to the local authorities. That is quite untrue. The block grant was introduced for other reasons. But because it could afford more discretion to local authorities, the local authorities have been under constant attack. This is another occasion of a deliberate attack upon the independence of local authorities.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a new Minister, a junior Minister carrying out a very senior job. It is unfortunate that, as Minister of Education, he should have lent himself to this sort of use. Whatever ulterior purpose he may be serving, it is very much at the cost of education. Of course it will affect recruitment, if one takes a long-term view, because recruitment is affected primarily by the status and esteem acquired by the profession.
I am with the right hon. Gentleman in his interest in curriculum reform. I think there is great scope for that reform and that action is needed. I do not agree with Sir William Alexander. But the right hon. Gentleman has put himself in a difficult position. This is something which can be done only by the partnership upon which English education depends. I do not agree with Sir Ronald Gould. I do not agree with the teachers about a quota. I come from a part of the country which would suffer badly if we do not have some protection through the quota. But one cannot deal effectively with a situation caused by an absolute teacher shortage unless one has the good will and co-operation of the teachers and the local authorities. If that is upset it is extraordinary difficult to obtain the right response. With the present difficulties facing education, we have, unfortunately, to rely very largely on the good will and co-operation of the teachers. These are the things which the Minister of Education should have thought about before being so easily trapped into taking the action which he has taken.
It is still fashionable to quote the Crowther Report, although it is not 464 fashionable to do very much about it. The Crowther Report concluded:Everything in education depends ultimately on the teacher and everything in educational progress depends on there being teachers with the right qualities and in the right numbers to carry it out.This is what the Minister has failed to appreciate. He could win a little battle and lose the war. His primary responsibility remains—as I have said in every debate—the provision of schools and the provision of teachers.
Recently we had a debate on schools, and we discovered that the right hon. Gentleman is such a weak Minister that he has enforced more severe and savage cuts on school building than Lord Eccles did at the height of an economic crisis. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has not thought about it sufficiently, but in this way he is showing contempt for the teachers at the very moment when we depend on their co-operation more than we have ever done before. He has been a very short time in office. But he has earned the award of being the worst Minister of Education that we have had since the war—and that is a difficult distinction to attain.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. If the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) does not give way, the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) must not remain on his feet.
§ Mr. Willey
The teachers did not ask for this bureaucratic intervention. The teachers did not ask for this Ministerial intervention. The teachers did not ask for a Parliamentary intervention. But now that that action has been taken they in turn can take only one step. They can only take the step of changing the majority in this House of Commons. I hope that the teachers appreciate this. The challenge has been thrown to them by the Government. They did not want the challenge to be thrown, neither did we. But as it has been thrown, I hope that the teachers will respond and help us to see not only that this Minister does not hold office much longer, but that the Government who support him do not either.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. R. P. Hornby (Tonbridge)
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said that the House of Commons was no place in which to discuss wage negotiations. I agree with that remark. It is not a subject, with all its intricacies, which can easily be discussed in the forum of debate. What the hon. Gentleman did not say but what he should have said is that the House of Commons is very closely concerned with the finances of the country and with the provision of money for essential services. It is also very closely concerned, through the Minister who is responsible for that Ministry, with the system of education which is provided and accepted by us all as a basic investment in all that we seek to do. It is because a difference of opinion has arisen about the necessary ways of providing for an efficient education system that we have this debate today.
There are three points before us in this debate. The first is the straightforward issue on the Bill. It is a simple Bill which would enable teachers to be paid more money as from 1st April of this year. Because of the events which have occurred, unless the Bill goes through that money cannot be paid; unless we revert to the position in which the Minister responsible is asked to go back on all his previous actions and say, "Although I, being responsible for the education services of the country, hold the view that the distribution of money proposed by the Burnham Committee is not in the best interests of those services, I go back on all that I have said hitherto. The Government will accept this distribution, regardless of its effects on the system, and then we will start again".
I do not think that that is a tenable proposition, unless one fundamentally disagrees with the Minister's point of view, to which I will come later. The first question is whether we are to allow the Bill to go through so that teachers may be paid more money as from 1st April of this year. This discrepancy of view having arisen and this stage having been reached, the important thing now is to get the immediate salary question out of the way and then get on to the much more important question of the negotiating machinery for the future. My first point, therefore, is that we should pass the Bill. 466 Let us pay £21 million in one year and £42 million in two years, with the ancillary awards that follow from that. Let us pay that money. Let us get that out of the way. Then let us have two years in which to discuss the future negotiating machinery.
The two-year period which can be used to discuss the future negotiating machinery is the second point arising on the Bill. In the latter part of his speech the hon. Gentleman accused my right hon. Friend of dictatorship. If dictatorship was intended in what my right hon. Friend has done, why is a two-year period written into the Bill? Why would this come up again in two years' time if there had been no change in the situation? There is no sign of dictatorship in that.
My right hon. Friend described fairly and fully why he has taken this view. He explained why he quarrelled with the specific details underlying the Burnham award. Having taken that decision, in all honesty he could only say, "This having happened, all of us being agreed that teachers should be paid more, and there being disagreement only on the distribution of the award, let me take the temporary"—I emphasise the word "temporary"—"power to pay out this money, which is the only method available to me. I have no intention of dictatorship. After that is done, let us sit round the table and discuss how best we can resolve what is admitted by all of us to be a formidable problem".
The third point is the formidable problem of the structure of negotiating machinery for a profession vital to the country, a profession which needs recruits, and recruits of a very high standard, in addition to many other recruits of better than average quality. It needs all that. It also requires for the servicing of the profession a very large amount of money, money drawn both from the Government and from local authorities. It is a service which is in competition with many other industries and public services. How best can we arrive at salary structures in a way which seems fair to the parties affected, in a way which will attract recruits of the calibre which is needed, and in a way which also safeguards the position of those who have to provide the money—the local authorities, the Treasury, the taxpayers and the ratepayers?
467 My right hon. Friend has been criticised for a number of reasons. He has been criticised on the ground that the detail of distribution is none of his business. The detail of distribution cannot be separated from the pattern of recruitment into the profession, which affects the schools for which my right hon. Friend is responsible. There is a basic difference of opinion between my right hon. Friend's views as he has expressed them in the House today and in his letter to the Chairman of the Burnham Committee and the views expressed by the National Union of Teachers and in a document entitled, The Burnham Story, written, I imagine, by Sir William Alexander or written on behalf of his Association. That difference of opinion concerns the relative importance of salaries for those who are in the profession, have been in it for some time, and are staying in it, and the initial basic salary.
The hon. Gentleman suggested that the most important single issue was the initial starting salary. I disagree with him. The arguments have been stated on both sides. One could go ad nauseam over all the ground about the prophecies of the population statistics and the prophecies of what will be needed in the teacher training colleges. The fact is that our resources for training are what they are today. We have to consider how best we can service the schools.
The immediate need is to provide a structure of salaries and a career system which is likely to do even more than Burnham has attempted to do already. I accept that Burnham has done a great deal by way of introducing differentials, but what is needed is a structure which is likely to do more than has been done already to persuade people to stay on longer and help them when their family responsibilities are likely to be heavier. Over the next two years I would like to see thought given to going even further at the higher levels and in the posts of special responsibility to see how best real quality in the profession can be rewarded.
I do not suggest that there are not many highly gifted and dedicated people in the profession. What I am suggesting is that more of them are needed. I have always felt that the longer a man stays in teaching the worse off he is by com- 468 parison with many other careers. At a time when applicants for places at teacher training colleges are, whatever the background reasons, in excess of the number of places available, it is vitally important that we should use this moment of time to inject incentive further up the scale as a first step towards improving quality in many different places in the profession.
The second result arising from quality is that by attracting the leaders—head teachers, heads of departments and others of real character and ability—the prospects of holding others in the profession are enhanced because of their willingness and desire to work with people of that calibre. The relationship between the people of real calibre at the top and the number of entrants who are willing to stay in the profession and make it their career should not be under-estimated, particularly at a time when increasingly we will need to draw on part-time teachers and attract back to the profession by the personal contact and influence of head teachers and others the ex-teachers who are so badly needed.
My right hon. Friend has been criticised because having decided that he should concern himself with the differentials and pattern of the scales, he got his answers wrong. If one studies this matter carefully, one finds since this controversy arose that the manoeuvring space within the scales—the minimum and maximum and the number of people who have special responsibilities and so on—is very small. It is no wonder, therefore—since there are difficulties concerning certain aspects of the Minister's proposal—that certain answers might create their own problems. It is all an extremely difficult jig-saw puzzle.
Nevertheless, there is everything to be gained by the Ministry going into the negotiations at an early stage of the proceedings so that it can become fully aware of the problems at the outset. In this connection, my right hon Friend has been criticised because, it is suggested, he could have been accepted on to the Burnham Committee without all this fuss. That may be so, although I am not all that certain. There would have been considerable discussion and delays if the salary awards had gone through and then my right hon. Friend had asked the Burnham Committee, "Can I join you now?". I suspect that the problem would not necessarily have been solved.
469 If it is considered that there is a place for the Minister in these negotiations, then the sooner this point is settled the better. As to the suggestion that he could have joined anyway, that argument does not get around the problem that my right hon. Friend was faced with, namely, proposals which he felt were contrary to the best interests of the profession. As my right hon. Friend said, the problem facing him was whether he should let these things go through for the sake of peace and quiet and then raise the question or whether he should raise it at the beginning in the interests of the system over which he presides. I do not see how any responsible Minister could have taken a line different to that taken by my right hon. Friend.
It is then suggested that my right hon. Friend already had sufficient powers; that contacts were in being and that those contacts and powers were sufficient. If that is so, and if these informal contacts exist, is there not a good deal to be said for removing the mystery and bringing the whole thing into the open? We are told a good deal in the booklet The Burnham Story, but precious little is known about how the Committee operates. It would be an excellent thing if we knew more about that.
Big problems are involved in the future structure of the negotiating machinery. An increasing sum of money is coming from the Treasury for the education service hut, despite all the possible hazards, a bigger part will probably have to be played by the Ministry in these negotiations. This is inescapable. It is likely to mean that my right hon. Friend's task in pleading for more money for the education service from the Treasury will be rather easier if he is in the position of being able to say that he at least has a say—if not the whole say—in the distribution of the money which is wanted to create an efficient service. It would be of some help to him if he could say that he is part and parcel of the negotiating machinery.
Although we have been discussing the differentials affecting new teachers and those who have been in the service for twelve or more years, there are many other problems needing urgent consideration. For example, I do not believe that we have the right answers yet—despite everything that has been done by way of 470 equal pay and so on—about the right sort of treatment to mete out to different types of teachers; the treatment of the family man in the profession and the woman teacher. We must look seriously at the problem of dependants' allowances. We must also look at the other financial problems so that the new pattern of employment being created by earlier marriages, people leaving the teaching profession and returning to it at a later stage, and so on, are fully taken into account.
I hope that the House will give a speedy Second Reading to the Bill and that it will clear up the immediate salary problems. I hope that my right hon. Friend will then refute the suggestion of dictatorship by quickly taking up the question of discussions on the future pattern of negotiations and that that will lead to new negotiating machinery in which my right hon. Friend will have a full part to play. I hope that the next round of negotiations will be carried out in a way which will give confidence to the Minister of the day that he has an opportunity to play his part in shaping the service. I hope, finally, that a good deal of the animosity that has arisen because of this controversy will gradually die away.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I wish, firstly, to express my full support of the line of argument taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). He stated with a frankness that is highly necessary in this matter the exact point of view from which those who wish to see the education administration of this country carried on under the provisions laid down in the 1944 Act must regard the present situation.
The Minister is charged under the Act with the direction and control of the educational service, and he has to ensure that his policies are worked out by the local education authorities. One of the gratifying things about the present trouble is that there is no dispute between the local education authorities and the teachers about their attitude towards the Minister's ambitions in this service.
I am a believer in effective collective bargaining. Anything that militates against effective collective bargaining is a detriment to the internal structure of our public life. I had a painful experience 471 of the way in which young teachers are regarded. It fell to me in 1905 to enter the education service. There were then 317 elementary education authorities, each with a separate scale of salaries locally negotiated between local teachers and local education authorities. I commenced in 1905 at a salary of £95 a year, rising by £5 increments to a maximum of £130. When I reached, not the top of the scale but the penultimate stage, the local education authority decided to reduce the maximum from £130 to £125.
That is the kind of thing that exactly realises the ambitions of the right hon. Gentleman. It created a disgust in my mind with the whole of the arrangements for the recruitment and payment of teachers that has forbidden me ever to recommend anyone to go into the teaching profession. Nobody has gone into it on my advice, and there are a great many outside it who have remained outside it because of my warnings. I shall be reinforced in that course in future by the history of the negotiations we are now discussing.
I believe that the Burnham Committee represents about the best way of conducting negotiations between the employer and the employed. My mind is not at all agitated by those who say that as the employer gets his subsidy from the State, the State should have the determining voice because the subsidy for teachers' salaries is more than half the cost. The conditions of service, which very often are more important than the actual salary, are determined between the local education authority and the teachers, who are the proper people to be concerned with the salaries that ought to be paid.
I am not quite certain what is to happen in future. This is an astounding Bill. It virtually suspends for approximately two years the operation of Section 89 of the 1944 Act. Unless the Minister brings in—or unless another and better Minister brings in—a new Bill to deal with the situation, Section 89 will come into full force on 1st April, 1965. I note that arrangements made under the provisions of this Measure may be made retrospective up to 1st August of this year, but if the Minister were to adopt, in the course of the next period something that might have been 472 decided originally under Section 89, will it be retrospective, or is this special provision—which, after all, has been a matter for controversy for years; the ability to back-date the salary awards—confined only to orders made by the Minister, although those orders are to be based on a consideration of reports that were prepared under Section 89?
We shall get involved in a large number of anomalies during the period that Section 89 is temporarily suspended, and I hope that there will he some room for consultation. I hope that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but as I read the Bill he now takes into his consideration the various reports mentioned in the Schedule. He then amends the recommendations of these reports, and there is no requirement that he shall consult anybody about them. He will be able to amend reports prepared under Section 89 in any way that be thinks fit. I should have thought that there ought to be a requirement that, in doing that, he should consult the committees that drew up the reports—and they are very knowledgeable people in these matters—in order to find out what objections they might have to any of his amendments.
I suppose that I am almost a sufficiently old-fashioned Liberal to sit on the bench below me—if I could only reconcile myself to a position of complete futility. I regard the Minister's increasing power over education—and some of his ambitions in addition—as being one of the greatest dangers to the future of the country. When we think of what happened in the first half of this century over great areas of the continent of Europe, can anybody desire to see a Minister of Education given the unlimited kind of powers that he gets under this Bill and feel that academic freedom is likely to survive?
I do not regard academic freedom as being merely confined to being able to send a boy or girl to a public school and a university. Academic freedom consists of the freedom of the teacher in the class room to use his personality to the full in that contact between a mature and an immature mind that is the real basis of education in a free country. Any increase in the power that the Minister gets to deal, on his own word only, with the circumstances of the 473 school and popular education, is something that needs very careful checking, and it should be granted only when one has complete confidence in the Minister to whom one is giving the power. The only person to whom I should ever give such power is one person, but no one but myself would trust him.
My opinion of the right hon. Gentleman was such that I had the highest hopes of him when he came to his present office. If there is one thing I should not have expected him to do, it is to get involved in this particular quarrel. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland. North said, a tradition has grown up in this country, certainly since about the end of the First World War, in which it has been recognised that there were three partners, equally important, equally ambitious to secure a sound democratic system of education—the Ministry, the local authorities and the teachers. While I should not myself have expressed such admiration for the triumvirate which my hon. Friend mentioned, who were in power when I suddenly found myself at the Board of Education in 1940, I am quite certain that the partnership will have to be revived before we can create the kind of national atmosphere which will make further educational advance possible.
I have a difficulty of my own in connection with the right hon. Gentleman's action. I am a governor of three independent schools. Every time there is an increase in the Burnham scale, the boards of governors are involved in a reconsideration of the salary structure in each of those three schools. Only as recently as last week, this matter was considered at a governors' meeting at one of them. We are presented with a very real difficulty, because, of course, we rely mainly on additional differentials to get any staff at all.
What responsibility does the Minister feel he has for people in our unfortunate position? We have raised the fees every time salaries have gone up. In the early days immediately after the war, we did it in fear and trembling. Then we reached the astounding conclusion—which was reached also by the Departmental Committee on Private Schools over which I presided in 1932—that the 474 people who buy education hold the extraordinary view that the best proof one can have of the quality of an education lies in the amount which the school governors demand. The bigger the fee, apparently, the better the education must be.
There will come a breaking point at some time. We shall ultimately reach a scale of salaries involving payments to teachers in independent schools which parents will refuse to pay. It will be a very difficult decision to make, because the strongest compulsion for school attendance in this country which I have ever been able to discover is the insistence of certain persons and certain families that their children shall be educated in a particular school which has, without any very great signs of success, educated successive generations in those families.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman how, when he is dealing with this matter and considering some of the differentials he proposes to apply, he thinks he will be able to cope with the problem of the independent school, since the more the differentials are increased in the maintained schools the higher will have to be the differential paid to the staff of the independent schools. I should not myself ask that the public schools should be abolished. I think that there should be greater ease of access to them from a wider range of the population. However, if the Minister is determined to keep the private and independent schools going, will be pay some regard to the extent to which the tasks of the governors are being made more difficult by the increase in the differentials in the State system?
I am not a great believer in differentials in the State system. I regard the spread of differentials within that system as being one of the greatest causes of difficulty in the proper organisation of the schools. I have heard some very queer tales about the way that certain posts of special responsibility, heads of departments, and so on, are little more than annual appointments and they are shared round so that, at the end of a few years, everyone has had his bit and it will be Buggins's turn next year. This is not good for the internal organisation of the schools, and it is not helpful to education.
475 How far does the Minister intend to go in future in taking some guidance on the decisions affecting both the State system and the non-State system when he is considering the reports and deciding what variations there should be? I cannot believe that, even with the expert advice he has in the Ministry, he can be better able to make a decision than a body like the Burnham Committee which meets as the representatives of those responsible for the administration of the schools and those responsible for the practice in the schools. They can speak from very wide practical experience. They are in touch with organisations which, for some years now, have devoted their minds to this aspect of our education service.
It is a sad day when we have the temporary suspension of the collective bargaining system in this highly important phase of our public life and we have to rely on the decisions of the Minister in a matter which must intimately affect the internal organisation and the educational atmosphere and life of the schools. The twentieth century has not led us to think that there are many people in any country of the world who can discharge such a duty in a way that is to the public benefit. In those countries where it has been most practised, the result has been disastrous from every point of view. I regret that the Minister is even prepared to think that, in this matter, as in some others which, I understand, he is contemplating, he thinks that he can give better decisions than the collective judgment of those who are faced with the hard day-to-day work of the administration and practice of our schools.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
May I first congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education on making a first-class speech. He brilliantly deployed all the facts and arguments, but what he said did not convert me. I disagree fundamentally in principle with what my right hon. Friend has done. Therefore, I cannot support the Bill and have no intention of supporting it in the Lobby tonight.
§ Mr. Jennings
That is why I am not 476 voting against the Bill. I do not want to be accused of preventing the teachers from getting a rise.
This salary dispute is an absolute tragedy. As has been said, my right hon. Friend went to the Ministry of Education with the high hopes of all of us on both sides of the House. I have always paid high tribute to my right hon. Friend as a tip-top Minister, whatever has been his Ministry. I still think that he is a tiptop Minister. A Minister can make a mistake and do something wrong in the opinion of an hon. Member and still remain a first-class Minister. However, I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend on this issue, and I repeat that this salary dispute is a tragedy because it need never have happened. All the energies of hon. Members, the Ministry of Education, teachers and local authorities should be concentrated on educational problems and development, yet here we are involved in a miserable squabble which should never have happened.
I do not want to repeat the threadbare arguments about the dispute and the charge that my right hon. Friend is acting as a dictator, which I have never believed, and he proved that to me this afternoon. I do not think he is built to be a dictator, and I shall show why. He is doing what he thinks is right, and that is what I am doing. We must, therefore, pay tribute to the sincerity of my right hon. Friend's arguments.
I do not want to repeat all the other threadbare arguments which have been adduced ad lib in the last few weeks about the merits or demerits of this dispute. I wish to try to be constructive and to look to the future. I wish to tell my right hon. Friend how I think he could have avoided this dispute. Let us get the Burnham Committee, or whatever committee there may be in future, on an even keel. Let us have no more disputes of this description and get down to something fundamental in the development of our education system. I told my right hon. Friend some weeks ago that he should have accepted the freely negotiated settlement.
Another threadbare argument is that my right hon. Friend came in at the end of this dispute and the answer to the statement that he could not have come in at any other time is in this publication 477 entitled The Burnham Story, published by Education. On page 24 it is stated:For two years past the Minister has had a standing invitation to go to the Burnham Committee at any time or send a memorandum.I was interested to hear my right hon. Friend say that he was not aware of this. I gathered that that was what he was saying this afternoon. Here is a categorical statement in a very responsible document which has been issued to every Member of Parliament, and yet the Minister says that he is not aware of this standing invitation. We should know whether the invitation was made and, if so, how it is that my right hon. Friend does not know of it.
I told my right hon. Friend some weeks ago that he should have accepted the freely negotiated settlement but, at the same time, should have announced to the country in general and to the parties concerned in particular—the local authorities and the teachers—that he would call all the interested parties together in order lo discuss the future negotiating machinery for teachers' salaries. If this had been done, my right hon. Friend would have given notice that this would be the last time that any such dispute could take place. If he had said this, obviously he would have laid down the principle that he had a right to come in as a full partner. I do not dispute that right; in fact, I have advocated it. My right hon. Friend should have announced that he was prepared to take his place as a full and equal partner in any future committee, whether it is called the Burnham Committee or not. It would be a tripartite committee consisting of the authorities, the teachers and the Minister as a full and equal partner.
This should be an agreed settlement. If it is an agreed settlement, the Minister is party to it. But, in passing, the Minister should also say that, if he is a full partner in a settlement of this description, Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944, is null and void, because he cannot be an equal partner with the teachers and authorities and then, if there is not an agreed settlement, stand apart and say, "I reject this settlement". Therefore, Section 89 would have to go. This is a constructive approach to what we should have in future.
478 In case of disagreement, the settlement should go to arbitration. This is what we have never had in the Burnham Committee. All three parties—the Minister included—should agree to accept the findings of the independent arbitration body. This is the sensible approach. This is how my right hon. Friend could have avoided this pettiness and miserable squabbling which has alienated almost every teacher in the country.
§ Mr. Jennings
Yes. I have a much longer memory than my hon. Friend in political and educational history. Before the war the Labour Party set up a very active teachers' league. Here I am making a political point, but it illustrates what I am trying to tell my hon. Friend. We in the Conservative Party who were teachers got together and set up a counterpart, and we established and organised the Conservative Teachers' Association. As hon. Members on both sides will realise, it was an uphill battle. This was in the late twenties and early thirties. They were memorable days. After the war, this association was re-established and it has rendered valuable service to the Conservative Party in post-war years. At one fell swoop, my right hon. Friend has almost killed the years of work that many of us put in before the war and since.
How can we as Conservatives now go to teachers and ask them to join the Conservative Teachers' Association? Until recently, apart from this action, we had a first-class story to tell them. I am proud of the record of my party in education. I have never hesitated to say so in the House of Commons and have stubbornly defended all attacks on my party in all kinds of places—training colleges, political meetings, universities, the lot.
By his action, however, my right hon. Friend the Minister has at one fell swoop alienated the vast majority of teachers. I qualify what I said earlier; instead of saying "almost all", I say "the vast majority". If my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) disagrees with that, he is either blind or deaf.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Since, happily, I am not yet either, will my hon. Friend 479 explain how it is that when feelings ran exceeding high after Lord Eccles's action, I certainly did not observe that this excellent body to which he has referred folded up? Indeed, I have been subsequently to the conferences held with greater enthusiasm than before.
§ Mr. Jennings
My hon. Friend is talking about the Conservative Teachers' Association. Of course, it is still in existence. It has recovered from worse blows than this. It will continue to be a vital force in the Conservative Party. My statement, which has not been contradicted, was that because of this action, the vast majority of teachers have been alienated from having sympathy with my party, and this I deplore. It makes me miserable.
This is the death-knell of the Burnham Committee. This has been the ruination of free negotiation. This is an imposed decision by the Minister. Teachers, to whichever party they belong, feel aggrieved that this has happened. There is no difference in global amount between my right hon. Friend's scales and what the Burnham Committee announced. The difference in the scales and in the principles was just not worth the row. This is a mistake which my right hon. Friend has made.
Let me look a little bit further to the future. My right hon. Friend and his Department have got down to organising and settling scales. I always have a deep regard for the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and listen to him with respect because of his great knowledge of educational matters. The right hon. Gentleman and I have not always agreed. Today, however, he struck a chord in my heart when he mentioned the word "differentials". What precisely do we mean when we flirt around with this word? I want to get down to this.
The right hon. Member for South Shields touched upon a sore point, the question of graded posts and posts of special responsibility. I have used this to introduce what I think should be done with regard to future scales. The Ministry and any future committee should look at the scales. The foundation of any system of scales is a basic scale. We start from that point.
Above the basic scale, at the foot of the pyramid one erects the differentials. 480 I want to define what I mean by differentials. The first is the head teachers' salary, the differential between the assistant teacher and the head teacher. Next comes the deputy-head, and thirdly, heads of departments, provided that they are bona fide departments.
We come next to the graded group, graded posts. I would scrap the lot. Instead, I would institute extra payments or a long-service increment at whatever stage the Committee decided. I would certainly acknowledge extra qualifications in the most valuable way possible. The question of extra qualifications—honours degrees—is the root of all differentials. These extra qualifications would have to be deliberately and specifically defined. That is the way I should like to see the job tackled.
Up to now, I have castigated my right hon. Friend. I am a member of the National Union of Teachers. In fact, I am a sponsored Member on this side of the House of the National Union of Teachers. I have not always followed the Union's policy, I have not always followed my party's policy, and in the main I have been pretty independent. I want to say here and now that the National Union of Teachers is not immune from criticism—not by far. The fact that the Union withdrew the invitation to the Minister to its conference was petty and childish.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Is the hon. Member not aware that if that invitation had not been withdrawn, the Minister would have been exposed to far greater humiliation by teachers who were feeling very angry indeed at what had happened and that the executive of the National Union of Teachers saved the Minister a great deal of personal humiliation when deciding that it was wiser for him not to attend the conference?
§ Mr. Jennings
I am grateful for that intervention, because, as the hon. Member well knows, I was well aware of the reason. I did not want to bring that reason out, because it is disgraceful that a body of educated people, with whom I have been proud to be associated for so many years, and still am, cannot so control their feelings of indignation that they cannot sit and listen to an exposition of a case with which they disagree without being rude and boorish to a Minister, an 481 invited guest. Certainly, this has done tremendous harm to the teaching profession. That is why I wanted to say here that the National Union of Teachers is not immune from criticism in withdrawing the invitation.
The Union destroyed among many of my colleagues on this side the strong case which it had built up in its mass lobby and is trying to build up today. By that action, the Union destroyed every vestige of its case with my colleagues. How the Union can expect me, as a sponsored member on this side of the House, to go to my colleagues and argue the case with them in face of such a deliberate withdrawal and petty, childish action, I fail to understand. In doing what it has done, the National Union of Teachers has lost face, standing and status.
One effect of the dispute has been to bring much nearer—according to the way we look at it, the danger or the advantage—the centralisation of the payment of salaries by the State. I have been a heretic about this. Long before the war, I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness that the State should accept full or almost full responsibility for the payments of teachers' salaries, either by means of a 100 per cent. grant or, to give local authorities a vestige of financial interest, a 95 per cent. grant.
The criticism against that idea has been that it took away the autonomy of the local authorities. It should not be beyond the wit of man to invent a financial system such as this and still allow local authorities to retain the organisation of their teachers' system.
Finally, the burden of rates is becoming so great that there is only one way to tackle it in the short term and that is to take as much education expenditure as possible out of the hands of local authorities, and we make a start with the biggest of the lot—teachers' salaries. In that way the dispute has pinpointed the problem.
Although I have criticised my right hon. Friend, I still retain tremendous faith in him as a Minister and I wish him good luck for the future.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) has reminded us that he dis- 482 agrees with the Minister but none the less thinks that he is a good Minister. I believe that today the Minister has introduced a bad Bill, an unnecessary Bill, a dangerous Bill. By the way in which he has behaved, the Minister has wantonly destroyed relationships which other Ministers of Education have built up over many years with local authorities and the teachers' leaders. The Minister is too intelligent a man not to know that he is now the major obstacle to an understanding being reached about the negotiation of teachers' salaries.
It has been suggested that the Minister of Education would have greater authority with the Treasury if he could now claim that he was a member of the Burnham Committee and sitting inside negotiating salaries. If that argument is good for the right hon. Gentleman, is it not equally true for every Minister dealing with public servants? Does it not mean that the Minister of Education is the forerunner in the attack which the Government are making upon freely negotiated salaries for those employed in the public sectors of our economy?
The Minister will know from Questions which I have addressed to him that there are certain things to which I wish to draw his attention and that of the House. He told us this afternoon that on the afternoon on which he was to reject the settlement, he discussed privately with members of the Burnham Committee the proposals which had been made to him. When he saw Sir Ronald Gould and Sir William Alexander immediately after the proposals were known to him, he made it quite clear to those honourable gentlemen that he was not seeking their advice or taking them into consultation, but was giving them an ultimatum—they must accept his terms or there would be trouble. When he was faced with the direct question from Sir William Alexander: "Are you telling us, or are you asking us?", the Minister replied, "I am telling you".
This was the extent of the Minister's belief in consultation and negotiation. Can he wonder and can the House wonder why the teaching profession is indignant at the treatment it is receiving? It is an elementary principle in our way of life that organised workers shall have a voice in their own salary negotiations.
483 The Minister was not content with this. He took extraordinary measures to ensure that he should receive the support of the Press, and I want to say a serious word about this. It is common for Ministers of the Crown to hold Press conferences. They have their public relations officers. They get the Press together and give their side of the stories and that is understandable. The right hon. Gentleman took unusual measures. He summoned representatives of the quality newspapers, as they are sometimes called—the Guardian, the Telegraph, The Times, the Economist. He singled them out for special treatment and he gave half-hour interviews separately to each of them.
When he replies tonight, perhaps he will tell us why he invited not the normal education representatives of these newspapers, but the leader writers. If we are to establish in this country a system whereby Ministers can give favours to certain papers, they will be afraid to withhold their favours in case they are not in the deal next time.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I will deal with this when I wind up, but I want to get one point on the record now. I also invited a representative from the Daily Mirror, but, through no fault of his or mine, he was not able to come.
§ Mr. Thomas
That is a compliment to the right hon. Gentleman's intelligence, because this is a paper with circulation. I put that on the numerical side rather than any other side. [Interruption.] I want to be more careful than the Minister was.
The Burnham Committee has a remarkable record of agreed reports over the years. It has not been easy in these post-war years, with the changing face of education and with the changing structure of education, for teachers' leaders to agree with local authorities on the various reports which have been submitted. Undoubtedly the Minister knows that in the last three Burnham Reports the emphasis has been on differentials, on career prospects, on qualifications. Today the man on the minimum is no better off than he was in 1945. Unlike the old-age pensioner, who to some limited small degree has been enabled to share in the country's increasing standards, the qualified teacher's purchasing power remains 484 where it was in 1945. The Minister has said to these young people of 22—and the men are mostly young married men—that he thinks that £650 a year is too much for them to have to start.
I have asked myself why the Minister has so foolishly earned the wrath of the teaching profession. What does he gain? Out of the £21 million, upon which he and the Burnham Committee are in entire agreement, he has redistributed only £5 million. However, he has thrown away something worth far more than £5 million—the good will of the teaching profession and the local authorities.
The Minister gives the impression that he has no faith in local authorities. It is pointed out in The Burnham Story that out of the £21 million which has been awarded the Government provide only £12 million. Local authorities provide the rest, and the Minister, representing Her Majesty's Government, realises that the Treasury will take back its fair amount in taxation, so that of the total increase, the Government will be providing between £6 million and £7 million, and the local authorities will be providing £8 million. This is the arithmetic of the matter, and it is therefore no use the Minister saying that he is providing the major part of this increase. When we come down to actual facts as to how much money the Government are providing, taking into account what they get back, one finds that they are providing less than half.
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Gentleman belongs to the "C" stream if he believes that. I am sorry to use educational terms, but I hope he understands what I mean.
§ Sir K. Thompson
Will the hon. Gentleman carry his argument to its logical conclusion and recognise that the Government will also tax the £8 million to be provided by local authorities, and that at the end of the day they will probably make a profit on the deal?
§ Mr. Thomas
If we follow this argument far enough, no money will be given.
Teachers are not the only people in the employ of local authorities who 485 have 60 per cent. of their salaries paid by the Government, and I want to ask the Minister about his plans for the future. He knows very well that he could have spoken to the Burnham Committee at any time he wished to do so. He was not in purdah. It was possible for him to speak to Sir Ronald Gould or to Sir William Alexander on the telephone at the start of the negotiations and say, "Before you start I want you to have a rough idea of what I think".
Lord Eccles, Sir David Eccles as he then was, intimated that this would he done, and the country knows that he stood at that Dispatch Box and said that he would like to have a greater say in what was going on in the Burnham Committee. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Sir K. Thompson), who was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, knows better than most hon. Members the relationship that has existed between teachers, local authorities, and the Department, and if the Minister had desired it, there was nothing to stop him letting his representatives, who were sitting in on the Burnham Committee deliberations from beginning to end intimate to the Committee that he had views which ought to be taken into account.
However, the Minister's advisers remained silent. It was only when they saw the Minister that they talked, and up to the very last day the right hon. Gentleman was kept informed of every step taken in the Burnham Committee. The indictment against the Minister is that he sat idly by doing nothing until the agreement was reached, and I repeat this afternoon that he stood by while the N.U.T. brought its members from all parts of the country to ratify the agreement though he knew all the time that he going to reject it.
§ Sir E. Boyle
This is rather important in view of what the hon. Gentleman said. I repeat what I said earlier. Lord Eccles's assurances that Ministry officials would not attend the Burnham negotiations were given subsequently to the speech to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and it was those assurances that I had in mind when considering my relations with the Committee. The officials were there as assessors. They were not there in any sense as negotiators on behalf of the Ministry.
§ Mr. Thomas
I have never indicated to the House that the men were there as negotiators. They were there as representatives of the Minister to hear what was happening and to report to him. The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt correct me if I am wrong when I say that these people, whatever their title, faithfully reported to him all that happened in the Burnham Committee. Is that true or not?
§ Mr. Thomas
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, who agrees that his officials reported to him. He was, therefore, as aware of what was happening as were Sir Ronald Gould and Sir William Alexander. The only difference was that the Minister did not attend the Committee and speak himself. He knew what was happening, and if he was disturbed about the course of events there was nothing to stop him intervening and letting the Committee know.
§ Mr. Norman Cole (Bedfordshire, South)
Unless I misunderstood him, the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said that at one stage before the end of the negotiations the view of the Minister that he could not agree to the starting point envisaged by the Burnham Committee was made known to that Committee. I am not disagreeing with what the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) is saying, but I should like to get that point cleared up.
§ Mr. Thomas
When my hon. Friend returns he will have to speak for himself. I only know the case as I have it from the N.U.T. and from discussions with other people.
Last week I attended the N.U.T. conference at Margate. I have been a member of that conference for thirty years, and I know the atmosphere and life of it. The Minister has created a feeling of frustration and bitterness which it will not be easy to end. The conference spent several clays discussing this Measure and how to oppose it, and this is indicative of the bitterness felt by the teachers.
Is the Minister going to say, as he did this afternoon, "I am convinced that the money is now being properly distributed"? What will he say to the teachers and to the local authorities if they refuse to accept his terms in the negotiations 487 that he now envisages? Will he insist on having his own way? Will he go to the negotiations and say that, unless the teachers and the local authorities agree to his having his place on his terms, he will do again what he is doing now? He has undermined the confidence of the people with whom he has to negotiate, and he has made things harder for himself.
I believe that the Minister is doing harm to our public life by the upset and upheaval that he is causing, but I am reminded that he is the successor to a series of Ministers who have upset the teaching profession. I am thinking of Dame Florence Horsburgh, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd) and Lord Eccles, who all had their crises.
This situation has arisen not because we were faced with difficulties. We had difficulties in the past in the days of George Tomlinson. We had a terrible crisis in the first years after the war, but we did not have the mass lobbying that we have seen in recent years, and I believe that this is due to the philosophy of hon. Gentlemen opposite who seem to be opposed to teachers taking their proper and rightful place in the community.
I am not worried about the effect on the independent schools. I think that they can and do look after themselves very well, but if the Minister wants to recruit the right people to the teaching profession he must give to that profession what any self-respecting people demand, the right freely to negotiate their own salaries and to feel that they are not being pushed around by a Minister who is not even their direct employer, and by one who has no experience at all of the State school system. This wants saying because the teaching profession believes it. It is high time that we had someone with experience of the State schools as Minister of Education, and then perhaps there would be a better spirit.
The National Union of Teachers, like the local authorities, does not relish this present struggle, but it has no option but to let the Minister know that it will pursue to the limit of its strength its opposition to this or any other attempt to impose a salary settlement against its will.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
It is an exceedingly difficult task to try to follow the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) in a debate of this kind, for no one doubts for a moment the sincerity of his views, and we all know the experience he brings to this task.
The hon. Gentleman started with a criticism of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education for his alleged action—I do not know the facts about this—concerning the Press. I do not know the facts—I do not know that I am awfully interested—but I cannot help feeling that the hon. Gentleman was not entirely fair to the pretty hard bitten Gentlemen of the Press if he assumed that even the charms of the Minister could make them write something, which they did not believe in merely as a result of one half-hour's interview. Maybe he did take—and, I think, rightly take—appropriate steps to make his point of view known, but. I do not find that a matter for criticism. Even hon. Members get used to having points of view put to them, and unless these distinguished journalists had felt the case a strong one, I do not think that they would have written in the way they did. While I realise the hon. Gentleman's gallant efforts to make it sound sinister, he must allow me to say that I did not find his argument entirely persuasive.
I should like in a moment to deal with the remaining part of the hon. Gentleman's argument; but I join him and hon. Members on both sides of the House in regretting that there has been a dispute. Of course, I regret this deeply, and I would not have chosen to have had this happen. I ventured to interrupt my hen. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), who is not here at the moment, merely to get it into perspective. I do not honestly believe—I say this with equal sincerity, but I can only give it as an opinion—that the profession feels so deeply about this in such large numbers as it did on the previous occasion. I say that as one who, however inadequately, tries to keep closely in touch with opinion in the teaching profession in my constituency and outside it. One judges these things by discussion here, in one's own constituency, by correspondence, and so 489 on. Therefore, I think it important that we should get the matter into perspective.
Nevertheless, I accept that the Bill is, as it were, a deceptive Bill. Ostensibly it is simple and short, and ostensibly it gives my right hon. Friend what I would call emergency powers, limited in time, but in fact, as the debate has recognised and as the hon. Gentleman himself said, it is the demise of Burnham that we are gathered round to decide. This is what we shall decide when there is a Division later.
My right hon. Friend has been criticised on various grounds. I shall try to deal with one or two of those criticisms. There was the potent argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton and echoed, in whole or in part, by other hon. Members, that went like this: faced with an agreed salary recommendation by Burnham, which rightly or wrongly he did not like, my right hon. Friend ought in fact to have sanctioned it, to have swallowed his dislike, for the—perhaps it is a little hard to say—sake of peace; but to have coupled that acceptance with the clear understanding that it was the last occasion he would do so with Burnham constituted as it is today, and that discussions on reform must follow.
I say, quite firmly, that if my right hon. Friend had done that there would have been a mountain of criticism, because if ever there was negotiation under duress it would have been that. In the one hand One holds a bag of gold and says, "You can have it, but on terms." Any responsible Minister must have these terms reasonably set out. Any responsible Minister would have the terms reasonably recorded by a statement by Burnham, or something of that kind, and anything closer to negotiations under duress with the carrot of pay increases hanging over the noses of the teachers I would find it hard to imagine. I believe that if my right hon. Friend had behaved in that way it would not have met in the least with the approval of the teacher's organisations. Apart from this, it would have been morally indefensible for a Minister, be it rightly or wrongly, but I think rightly, who believed deeply that the pay and salary proposals were wrong to have swallowed his dislike for them merely to buy peace.
I do not find this at all an agreeable proposition, and I believe that on both sides of the House, however strongly feel- 490 ings may run, we would hardly be surprised to think that that would not be the sort of thing that would commend itself to the present Minister. Therefore, I must confess that I do not find this a persuasive argument.
I speak, like so many other hon. Members, as one who has the deepest respect for the profession and its welfare, but I find myself in the most profound disagreement and disappointment with even so distinguished a figure as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) when he told us that since 1905 he had not found it possible to recommend anyone to go into this great profession. I find that profoundly disappointing and sad.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
I do not criticise the right hon. Gentleman's motives for doing it; he is entitled to do so. I only say how sad I find it that he should find himself in this position. I have an incomparable optimism for the profession. I said in an earlier debate that I would never have had the courage to go into it myself; I think it is one or the greatest professions of this country. But to find someone in the key position of Parliamentary Secretary at the time of the 1944 Act who has lost his faith in the profession to which we are trying to recruit people, I find to be not a matter of criticism but very sad. I say quite firmly that I take a diametrically different point of view.
The second criticism has really been put on page 2 of the able memorandum which Sir Ronald Gould has been good enough to circulate to all hon. Members. He says that this is the crux of the present dispute. He statesThe principal reason why the Minister has aroused such bitter feeling among teachers is because he intends to impose his own salary scales contrary to the advice he has received from the body statutorily responsible for advising him.It is time to say a few plain things about the Burnham Committee. Without question it has performed a very great service. I make no criticism of its distinguished chairman and, least of all, of those who have laboured through the years as members. But I wonder whether, in modern conditions, we can possibly be satisfied with the make-up of 491 the so-called employers' side. As far as I can see, only one body is directly controlled by the ratepayers. The others are precepting bodies, or quasi-local-authority bodies. This is one of the matters which I very much hope will be studied closely in the forthcoming confrontation of the various authorities.
Another fact, which is not appreciated by some hon. Members, is that the National Union of Teachers has been increasingly taken over by the women members, especially at primary level. I do not criticise this development. The women are entitled to do this. They have done it in a democratic way. But it means that the conduct of those who head the union is very watchful of the large block vote for which the women are responsible. This has dictated many of the actions of the union leaders.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Indeed, yes, but I am also aware that an increasing number of branch representative positions have been taken over by women primary teachers. I make no criticism of that. As I say, they are entitled to do so. There are more women than men in the teaching profession, and there always will be. That is one of the problems involved in trying to construct some kind of professional body, as I said in our last debate on the matter. Why this should, in turn, lead to such bitter reactions—to quote what Sir Ronald Gould said—I do not understand.
The Burnham Committee, says the N.U.T. in its own memorandum, needs an overhaul, and the Opposition Front Bench rightly commits itself to this view. We all remember the remarkable speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the last debate. I thought that his was easily the best contribution from hon. Members opposite on the broad principle of the matter. We all well remember that he accepted in principle that Burnham might need recasting. Significantly, he was also exceedingly careful to avoid committing himself to the proposition that the Burnham recommendation was of itself necessarily a good one. He was extremely careful on that point, contrary 492 to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) today. The measure of difference between the two sides of the House does not need this magnification. It is not necessarily as wide as some hon. Members on both sides of the House have suggested.
The third factor may be loosely referred to as the Alexander argument, which is that we should look not at this recommendation but at the sequence. It is said that the sequence proves that for many years Burnham has successfully concentrated on differentials. It is agreed that this recommendation goes in an opposite direction, but the argument asks us to look at the sequence. I do not find this argument attractive. It is rather like the mother of 14 children presenting her proud husband with a fifteenth child which, through some physical blemish, is palpably not his son, and saying, "My dear, do not worry. Look at the sequence." The father, however, will be concerned with that particular child.
I regard it as very reasonable for my right hon. Friend to be concerned with this settlement. I come into these matters with appropriate reticence—as does the Minister—as someone whose only knowledge of matrimony is drawn from B.M.A. pamphlets and Lady Chatterley's Lover. Nevertheless, I can venture into the argument up to a point. The argument about sequence is not a persuasive one. The point that called far my right hon. Friend's attention was the settlement in question.
The fact is that, as we have had to say before, more and more of our people—and we are talking not only about teachers but about ratepayers and taxpayers, which nearly all teachers are themselves—are taking the view that this Burnham negotiating machinery is too blunt an instrument, and that it needs refining. There is no substantial measure of disagreement on this among the bodies concerned.
I was very surprised to read the statement in The Burnham Story—which admits to being a slanted booklet, having been written by one who takes a particular view—that the Minister had had an open invitation to attend Burnham whenever he wished. This suggestion has been quoted previously in the debate. That was never my understanding of the matter, judging the situation 493 from published statements, and the Minister has performed a valuable service by putting the matter clearly on the record.
It also needs saying that some of those who have held responsible and valuable positions an both sides of this negotiating machinery have tended to act with a determination to defend tenaciously their own personal spheres of responsibility. I do not agree that there has been an open-handed willingness in the past to have the Minister in whenever he has wished to be present. I do not impute any bad motives to the writer of the pamphlet, but the Minister has killed this suggestion pretty thoroughly.
We would probably all agree that we are dealing not only with the great teaching profession, but what is sometimes forgotten in these debates is that those whom they teach are one of our most precious assets. It therefore behoves hon. Members on both sides of the House to try to put forward constructive thoughts in connection with what is to be built up out of the present situation.
At the beginning of my speech I said that I was doubtful about the limitation in time contained in Clause 1(6), which provides that the Bill shall continue only for two years. I appreciate the Minister's object. He holds this view with absolute sincerity. But in this respect we must learn a lesson. Here I am being self-critical. I know as well as most people the reasons which led my noble Friend Lord Eccles to cease taking part in the difficult negotiations of 1961 and to reach the agreement which has frequently been mentioned in earlier debates. Looking back with the wisdom of hindsight—which is a very easy operation—I feel that it would have been better if Lord Eccles had carried out his legislative operation at that time. I say that frankly, across the Floor of the House.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Will the hon. Member be a little more precise? At which time? Does he mean at the time of the original negotiations, or in March, 1962?
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
I mean, arising in 1961 and going on into 1962. I am referring to the time when the proposals to legislate were dropped, on certain understandings. With the benefit of hindsight I think that it would have been 494 better, once the issue had been raised, to have dealt with it then. I am anxious to ensure that we do not make the same mistake again. I am wondering whether we shall need rather longer than the period we may have given the Minister in order to recast this machinery in a very substantial fashion. I will try to indicate the sort of thing that I have in mind.
The perennial difficulty of local government is to have persons who are truly representative of it when negotiations are being carried out on a national level. I think that we have to find a different formula for local government representatives at the top. I should dearly like to take the opportunity to recast the teachers' organisations as well. I am wondering whether this is an opportunity given to us for opening negotiations with all the teachers' organisations on far more fundamental questions of representation than merely shifting people round, or bringing extra people round, the Burnham conference table. I am wondering whether we should go into far greater detail than is suggested today about recasting educational expenditure as between the centre and the circumference, which might have considerable ramifications and affect the sort of people we have round the conference table. These are fundamental questions which should not be approached in a hurry. They should not be gone into in a rush.
The Minister has made it as plain as words can make it—I believe that the greater number of hon. Members accept it from him—that he genuinely wishes to negotiate this—if hon. Members like that term—through the various constituent bodies. If this is to be done, and legislation is to be forthcoming, two years is not all that long time. When we have the Committee stage of the Bill I feel that fundamental questions will have to be discussed.
So I conclude, having attempted to deal with some of the arguments put up against the actions which my right hon. Friend has taken. I firmly support the principle on which he works. I am not by temperament, nor by action, necessarily a slavish supporter of any particular party line. But I do not think that I have ever defended an action with more absolute certainty that it was the right way to proceed. I hope, however, that we shall never lose sight of the primary 495 objective, which is obviously a contented teacher training force, for whom, I repeat, I believe that the presence and influence of the Minister in Burnham may well turn out to be a direct personal advantage; and through that contented teacher training force an advantage to those young people for so much of whose lives this great force is responsible.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail. When he referred to the slant in the document, The Story of Burnham, he reminded me of the description of a story of the American Civil War which the author described as an unbiassed account of the American Civil War written from the point of view of the South."
Be that as it may, I think that the document to which the hon. Member referred is a very valuable one and is full of valuable information. I wish to say at the outset that I am sorry that this debate has been necessary and that it has been brought about by the deliberate action of the right hon. Gentleman whom we thought would have been the last Minister to take such action as has made the debate necessary. When he became Minister, most of us felt that we had a Minister of Education who had the welfare of the education service at heart and who would work consistently and smoothly towards a successful educational service. No one doubted the right hon. Gentleman's intellectual ability to grasp the tremendous problems involved. No one would deny that he entered the Ministry with the maximum amount of good will from the members of the teaching profession and the education administrators of the country. Then, like a lightning flash, he made his announcement in February. It was completely unpredictable. But the result of that announcement was very predictable.
It upset the educational services and the teaching profession. Here I must be personal. The announcement was baffling to me both in its purpose and in its timing. I was at a loss to know exactly why the Minister took the step which he took at that time, and I am still puzzled about why he did it. The Burnham negotiations 496 had been concluded and agreed to by the parties involved. It was not the end. A new phase would open out in due course. The Minister could have accepted the findings and recommendations of the Burnham Committee and, had he felt constrained to do so, he could have said that there were certain features about which he was not perfectly happy. He could have indicated corrections in the superstructure which he thought might be put right in the next round of negotiations. That course was open to him. He would have lost nothing and gained much by adopting it.
But here again we have an example of the nibbling away at our social services. If there is a weakness in the Burnham set-up, why not say so at the right time, and if a case were made out for the overhaul of the Burnham structure, no doubt it would have reasonable consideration. Let us examine this nibbling which has been going on over the years. Up to 1956 the Burnham system of negotiation worked well. Then we saw the clumsy method of raising the superannuation contributions from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. In 1958, two years later, the then Minister of Education threatened to reject the Burnham agreement if the minimum proposed were not reduced by £10. In 1961—reference has been made to it this afternoon—the then Minister intervened in an agreement because of the then pay pause policy of the Chancellor.
This irritating nibbling away at agreements arrived at by a statutory body culminated in Lord Eccles, when he was Minister, suggesting that the Burnham procedure was faulty. He suggested that another plan should be thought out. Unfortunately for the present Minister, Lord Eccles did not proceed with it. The idea that a review of the negotiating machinery is necessary is therefore not new. It was not conceived in the mind of the present Minister. It had been ventilated by his predecessor. Although the idea of the necessity for a review had been mooted, this Minister allowed a set of negotiations to proceed until final agreement was reached and endorsed by the parties concerned. Then he swept down upon them, rejected their proposals and published his own scales, and he introduced this Bill which enables him to impose them.
This is an imposition. The statutory body responsible for advising him, the 497 people who know the education service inside and out, is set aside. The Minister assumes the pontifical rôle and considers that he and his officials know best what is good for the education service of the country and what salary arrangements are best. It is the final act to date of this nibbling at negotiating machinery which started in 1956. We are justified in asking, what is behind all this?
We are also justified in our conclusion that it is a part of a deeper and more subtle strategy. The central idea behind it all is to increase the control of the Ministry at the centre over the salaries of teachers employed or engaged by local authorities. Hon. Members opposite pay lip-service to local authorities. A few years ago a percentage grant was set aside and was replaced by the block grant in order to "increase the freedom and independence of local authorities". Now we have arrived at a situation in which the Minister is determined to introduce a Measure which will strengthen his hands in the distribution of the increments awarded on salaries. The authority and power of the local authority and the wishes of the people in the profession are debased while the power of the central authority is increased.
I suggest that that is a very dangerous direction in which to travel at this time. To do so the Minister has wrecked the Burnham machinery before setting up any other machinery to take its place. The only conclusion to which we can come, because it is the only feasible explanation of a baffling procedure, is that the Minister wants to take charge of the teachers' salaries. What is the Minister's case? It is that the agreed scales do not improve differentials on a scale sufficient to make the teaching profession attractive. I shall not deal with the question of differentials. A case has been made and accepted for differentials according to qualification and experience.
My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) revealed what is taking place in regard to differential payments. There is no single factor, or any series of factors, which has created more trouble, bad feeling and bitterness in the staff rooms than this question of differentials. I know what I am talking about on this issue. I was almost persuaded to give a piece of personal experience. I advise the Minister to keep 498 out of this if he wants to keep a clean record. I pay tribute to the teaching profession on this occasion. The profession is worthy of our highest praise and commendation because it is prepared to forgo in some measure differentials which would benefit thousands of its members in order to get basic scales placed on firm foundations, thereby improving basically the status of the profession.
The local authorities and the teaching profession say that we should get the basic scales right first and build differentials, if necessary, on the basic scales. They say that £630 a year is not a suitable salary for a young man or woman after three years' training. Yet we are told that there are so many people leaving the profession almost as soon as they enter that it is justifiable to pay them only £630. I ask hon. Members opposite, since when has it been right to determine the salary of a person by the number of people who leave the profession? We are told that there is no real shortage of supply of potential teachers; there are plenty of entrants, and the supply is adequate. Therefore, we are told, why should we worry about the high basic pay for entrants to the profession?
It is true that the supply is great, but I ask the Minister, does he still hold the Victorian economic doctrine that income should be determined by the supply and demand of teachers? True, the supply is great at the moment from the view of view of the number of applicants, because 2,000 were rejected from training college admission last year. The applications are high in number, but there is a hidden demand for teachers, a tremendous hidden demand. There will be a hidden demand on a tremendous scale until classes are reduced to educational standards. The demand is there, but it is hidden because the Minister has failed, and Ministers before him have failed, to provide the facilities for admitting these students to training colleges.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
I have only the briefest of contributions to make to this important debate. I hope the House will bear with me if it is a somewhat personal one, but I think it only right that I should detain the House for a few moments to make it.
First, as to the merits of the detailed proposals foreshadowed by the Bill, and 499 as to the comparative merits of my right hon. Friend's apportionment of the total sum and that favoured by the Burnham Committee. In so far as there may be any doubt about which is the better in the national interest and the long-term interest of the teaching profession, I unhesitatingly give the benefit of that doubt to my right hon. Friend.
Next, as to the proper rôle of Government, representing as they do the interest of taxpayers who provide the cash for nearly half of the teachers' salaries—[An HON. MEMBER: "More."] That is debatable because we take away the Income Tax. The Government represent also the interest of the entire nation in determining the level of public expenditure and allocating our resources in wise priorities. As to the proper rôle, therefore, of the Government in the process of negotiating teachers' salaries, I unhesitatingly accept that the old Burnham machinery is now, in the context of incomes policy, no longer satisfactory and should be scrapped and replaced by a mutually acceptable alternative which will bring the Government in on the ground floor.
Also, I should like to say personally to my right hon. Friend that I do not think the country could possibly have a Minister of Education of greater vision or one more alive to the function of education as the mainspring of national prosperity and the service which, above all others, affects the whole tone and quality of national life. I hope hon. Members opposite will not think me intolerably provocative when I add that, although the continuing expansion of the education service is the most difficult of all the challenges which face the Government, this and preceding Conservative Governments have an incomparable and magnificent record of achievement in this field.
In support of that view, I need call in aid only one fact, because it is conclusive and incontrovertible. It is that since my right hon. Friends have been responsible for the Government of this country between 1951 and 1963, the proportion of the gross national product devoted to education has been increased by nearly 70 per cent., from 3 per cent. in 1951 to nearly 5 per cent. today.
I also feel obliged to say that I am 500 very sorry indeed that the National Union of Teachers, with whose point of view, as I shall make clear, I have a certain basic sympathy, should have seen fit to behave as it has. Those of my friends in the teaching profession whose standards and characters I most respect find much to regret in this. For example, though I cannot possibly add—I have not the authority that he has—to the damning indictment by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) of the neurotic and pathological discourtesy of the N.U.T.'s behaviour in connection with the invitation to the Minister, I find much to regret in the mass exploitation for propaganda purposes of every citizen's right of access to the Central Lobby of this Palace. I find much to regret, too, in the vindictive party-political tone in which some spokesmen of the National Union of Teachers have expressed their views of the specific issue of this Bill. The staff-room Socialists who feel that any stick is good enough to beat a dog with would, I should have thought, have merited more respect if they kept their party political involvement more in the background in debating the issue.
Having said that in criticism of the National Union of Teachers, I have, as I have also said, none the less a basic sympathy with their opposition to this Bill. While I hope I have not been ungenerous to my right hon. Friend and the Government, which I am proud to support on most issues, I am bound to say to my right hon. Friend that I consider this Bill ill-judged and unnecessary, for the following reasons.
I think it is wrong, so long as the Burnham machinery established under the 1944 Act remains in being, to go back on what has for twenty years been regarded as a Government pledge to keep to the spirit as well as the letter of the Act. I supported the Government on the last occasion when the Minister rejected the Burnham proposals. On that occasion Burnham put forward fresh proposals. I would support the Government now in so far as my right hon. Friend has rejected the Burnham proposals. But on this occasion Burnham has refused to put forward fresh proposals, and therefore a totally different situation has arisen from that which faced the Government in the last dispute. That is because the rules 501 of the game—if I may use that analogy—based on Section 89 of the 1944 Act and an answer to a Parliamentary Question given by my right hon. Friend who is the present First Secretary of State in December, 1944, are that the Minister may accept or may reject the Burnham proposals but he shall not frame scales or amend scales submitted to him.
The situation facing my right hon. Friend is that he has rejected proposals, and no fresh proposals are forthcoming now. In this Bill he is—and I quote the answer to the Parliamentary Question I have referred to—framing the scales and amending scales submitted to him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st December, 1944; Vol. 406, c. 1942.]I find that I cannot myself justify this changing of the rules by ad hoc legislation which, however dressed up, is no more than an intervention against the rules of the game contrary to the twenty-year-old interpretation of the 1944 Act which constituted the Burnham Committee.
My trouble is that if I am accused, in supporting this Bill, of supporting a breach of faith, I cannot honestly answer that charge. Not to my own satisfaction. It may be that the case can be argued, but to me it would taste of sophistry, and in the end one is not convinced in these matters by argument but by what one feels to be right. I feel that this is not right. I feel that the pledge that this sort of thing would not be done under the Act is such that, before any Government can be released from that pledge, there must be a Bill to amend it and that Bill must be debated in this House.
Such a Bill might well be timely now, though it raises difficult questions of principle concerning the independence of local government. Its framing should, of course, be based upon the fullest consideration of and co-operation with the teaching profession and the local authorities. Such a Bill might well be timely and the House might well be advised to accept it, but this is not such a Bill. This is a Bill breaking a pledge given in this House about the way the 1944 Act would be worked, so long as that Act stands unamended.
That, then, is my position on the principle of the Bill. That being so, the House is entitled to ask me now what should be done, in my opinion, if I favour, as I do, the differentials proposed 502 in the details of the Bill. I must try to answer that.
Ideally I think what should have been done—my right hon. Friend is not personally responsible for the fact that it was not done—is that the Government long ago should have exercised forethought and anticipated events. Surely, with the emergence of the incomes policy philosophy, the Government should have observed that they would need an early say and a positive influence, which is at present precluded in the Burnham procedure, in deciding teachers' pay. Ideally, therefore, the Government should long ago have set about replacing the Burnham Committee. The pay pause dispute would then have been, logically enough, the last dispute under the old Burnham. But that is all water over the dam. The time for doing the ideal is now long past. My right hon. Friend is not to blame for the opportunity having been missed.
So, then, one has to ask, what should he have done in the present circumstances, when he is lumbered with the Burnham Committee, lumbered with the Burnham conventions and pledges, but finds the Burnham proposals unacceptable and against the national interest? I suggest there are two things he might have done. Firstly, on the one hand, he might simply have said, "This will not do", and then, when Burnham failed to make fresh proposals, he could have allowed the teachers to sweat it out without extra pay for the extra time required while the new machinery was being established and made to work.
One can see objections to this. All the teachers would have been very cross, even those who are not quite so cross now over the proposed differentials. It would have been bad for morale, although one can hardly say that morale is soaring at the moment. It might, too, have been regarded as a breach of the promise implicit in the "pause" element in the "pay pause"—the argument used to justify the last rejection. Anyway, whatever the objections may be, that is one thing my right hon. Friend should have done.
The other thing he might have done was this. He might have said, "I do not like these proposals, but I am bound by the twenty-year-old pledge." He certainly should not have said, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) suggested, "I will 503 accept the proposals for the sake of peace and quiet." He should have said, "I am bound by this pledge. Therefore, while I do not like the proposals, I shall have to lump it, and in due course, over the years, I shall have to negotiate satisfactory settlements to achieve the salary structure which I want, by means of the new machinery which I shall set up."
I am not presuming here and now to say which of those two courses of action I should consider the less unsatisfactory, but I must say that either course would have been better than to kick over the traces and change the rules in his own favour in the middle of the game, which is what he is considered to be doing under this Bill, and what I am afraid I personally cannot establish to my own satisfaction that he is not doing.
As it is, the result of this Bill, I greatly fear, will be to poison relations between the teachers and the Government for years to come. I am profoundly distressed at the prospect of the discussions, which will be difficult anyway, for the new negotiating machinery, which is absolutely vital, being held in an atmosphere of mistrust, which, I greatly fear, will be the legacy of this Bill.
I dislike opposing my right hon. and hon. Friends—and I prefer my right hon. and hon. Friends to hon. Gentlemen opposite, even when my right hon. and hon. Friends are wrong—but I dislike even more the reason which compels me to oppose them, namely, that I do believe them to be in error about this, and I feel that if one does not oppose one's friends when one thinks they are wrong, then one's support is, perhaps, of less value when one considers them right. I am afraid that I cannot take the view that the Bill is right or wise, for the reasons I have tried to explain. As I believe that in the House of Commons the vote must follow the voice, I shall vote against the Bill.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
Although I disagree with much that the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) has said, I would commend to the notice of his right hon. Friend the Minister the very serious remarks made by the hon. Gentleman in his last few words about the poisoning 504 of the relationships between the Government and the teaching profession, a poisoning that hon. Members on both sides of the House must seriously regret.
A grave innovation in today's debate is that the Minister has asked the House to discuss and approve a very complex set of salary scales and one which replaces a set of scales drawn up by the legally constituted body for negotiating them. This has never happened before in the history of Parliament. The House is not the place to attempt to consider any complex wage structure in any profession or industry. That might be appropriate to a Fascist grand council. It might be the practice inside the Soviet Union. It is beyond the capacity of Members of Parliament to deal with such a detailed and complex issue.
Moreover, we are not asked to discuss and amend the proposals which the Minister and his advisers have thought up at Curzon Street. We are asked to accept them lock, stock and barrel. Having said what I have, I do not propose to deal with the scales in general. I will only illustrate the difficulty by one single point. The first back bencher on the Government side who supported the Minister said that one reason why he approved of the scales was that he believed in the reward of teachers for long service. Now one thing which is certain that the Minister's scales do not do as compared with the Burnham scales is that they do not provide a penny extra reward for the teacher by virtue of his long service. The Minister told the House that one of the virtues of his scale was that he was improving the basic scale apart from some minor sections. He then told us that the period for which he was improving the basic was that between 27 and 36 years of age, which is a mere ten years of the scale, one-quarter of a teacher's working life.
I do not propose to attempt the impossible, to ask the House to examine line by line the statement which the Minister has made on behalf of his own scales. I want to put the issues which I believe are behind the scales of the Bill. The more I have listened to the debate the more I have become convinced that certain great issues are at stake. Towards the end of the war, when the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. 505 Butler) was carrying the Education Bill through the House of Commons, an attempt was made by Members of Parliament to write into that Bill something that would have destroyed the Burnham Committee. For the sake of the record, it was over the question of equal pay. There was an attempt, not to tamper with details of Burnham, but to impose on it a national principle which it was going to take us many years to win.
The then Minister of Education, the present First Secretary of State, had to resist that. He summed up his case for Burnham in these words which I propose to quote to the House:The Government make their grants, of which the teachers' salaries form one of the main burdens"—the percentage of the burden has not changed over the last twenty years—but that does not mean that the Government are the employers of the teachers, nor does it mean that it would be right for the Government, or the teachers or the authorities, to overthrow, this priceless machinery by which wages are regulated between the two sides.The right hon. Gentleman said later:… it would be wrong to interfere with the method by which teachers' salaries have, with such success, been regulated for the last 25 years and I certainly am quite unwilling to disturb that machinery, which has led to such excellent results."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 30th March, 1944; Vol. 398, c. 1612–3.]The right hon. Gentleman had a little difficulty in convincing the House. He had to bring in aid the greatest Englishman of our time, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). When it came to the final vote, the right hon. Gentleman was supported in the principle of leaving Burnham free from Ministerial interference by the whole of the then Tory Party, including the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir P. Agnew), who will vote against it tonight, the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead), the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pick thorn)—
§ Dr. King
Included among those who voted in support of the right hon. Gentleman were those I have already mentioned—the hon. Member for Carlton was not the most distinguished Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education that we have had since the war—and Lord Eccles, the present Lord Chancellor, the present Home Secretary, the present Minister for Science, and the First Secretary of State himself.
Tonight the Opposition are standing by the principles of the Butler Act, the principles which were enunciated by the then Minister of Education in the debate to which I have referred. The First Secretary of State and any right hon. Gentleman or hon. Gentleman who voted as he did in 1944 for the principles then enunciated and who votes for the Minister tonight, ought to be ashamed of himself.
The more I think about the Bill the more I believe that it is a reversion to old-fashioned Toryism, the kind of Toryism that optimists like myself had thought was passing away. I would remind the teaching profession, and indeed the British public, that every advance in the conditions of teachers, as of other workers, from the conditions described by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in his contribution to the debate, has been won, not as an act of grace from a Government, but by the strength of union organisation and its application both industrially and politically. That is why sixty years ago the trade unions, fighting for social justice, had to create a political party—the Labour Party—as the political expression of their aspirations. The early members of the National Union of Teachers, to which I am proud to belong, and the I.A.A.M., of which I was also a member for a quarter of a century, faced exactly the same kind of victimisation and persecution at the hands of Tory Governments as did any other trade union. The struggle may have been a little more respectable, a little less violent on the surface, but the struggle underneath was the same. The struggle underneath is the same today and must express itself in all the forms of democratic life, including the mass lobbies which have caused some hon. Members some distress.
507 If there were any doubt about the kinship, one has only to look at some of the letters in the Press, and indeed at the remarks of one speaker today, to find that we are getting some of the old propaganda bogies out, some of the real old stuff that I knew in my early days in the Labour movement, with Sir Ronald Gould now as the ogre, as Jimmy Thomas and A. J. Cook were, as the trade union boss imposing his will on the timid local authorities—with Sir William Alexander as one of the timid ones, I suppose—and representing a union which apparently—we have had this smear this afternoon—is a mass union dominated by primary school teachers, and especially by women primary school teachers.
I am a feminist. I have fought for equality between the sexes. We won the legal battle years ago, but we have by no means won the moral battle. It seems amazing that any one should refer to the unions and consider that there is something wrong with them simply because a considerable number of women belong to them. Moreover, the hon. Gentleman who referred to this emphasised that they were primary women. Lip-service is often given to the parity which ought to exist between the various kinds of education. Even so, the fact that the word "primary" has been used this afternoon as a denigratory term is rather amazing.
We have had from this Minister the classic old Tory formula of divide and rule. He thinks that by buying off one group he will control the others, just as the party opposite played off the trade unions against each other before they became really consolidated. The Minister's greatest shock must have been to find that this time it has not worked; that there are people in this country who are prepared to sacrifice money in the interests of something more important than money—in this case, professional solidarity. I shall never forget that as a political innocent coming to this House I heard a Tory hon. Member say:… money buys anything. It buys money."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 110.]That is not true. In these last weeks the teachers have shown the Minister that, fortunately for Britain, there are other things besides money.
The Minister has not succeeded in dividing the teaching profession among 508 the third who will gain, the third who will not be affected by his Bill and the third who will lose. The bulk of them are solidly together. The Minister's real objection to the Burnham awards is that they are made by a body on which employees have too much say. This is also the underlying philosophy of the National Incomes Commission. This is clear to any one who studies its reports.
All the wage negotiating machinery of the past fifty years had to be won. It had to be fought for before it was conceded. I had thought that this part of the battle was over and that decent Conservatives accepted not only that we have such negotiating machinery but that they welcomed its existence and considered that it had relieved the country from a great deal of tension. It is not the first time, however, that the Government have interfered with wage negotiating machinery. Before the present Bill probably the most outrageous case was that of the Minister of Health and his treatment of the nurses. Further, the Home Secretary turned down the recommendations of a commission, set up a local authority's committee hoping to get a better answer and finally turned that down; and that was on the question of pay for under-paid probation officers.
Although Burnham has worked well for forty years—and although, as Sir William Alexander has clearly shown, it has done, by and large, the very things which the Minister charges it with not having done—this Minister, in this Bill, contemptuously tears up a wage agreement and makes a new law so that he can impose his own amateurish proposals in place of the Burnham recommendations. "Amateurish" is a strong word, but how amateurish they are the experts have shown time and again. The right hon. Gentleman gave the figures but they do not even do what he said they would do. Indeed, the I.A.A.M., in a circular which every hon. Member must have received today, states:The Minister's salary proposals, when applied to members of this Association"—these are grammar school people, graduates, good honours graduates; the men in the grammar and secondary modern schools who are getting the posts of special responsibility—certainly fail to pass the test of his own declared intentions, which were. 'That more should be done for those with longer service, higher qualifications and greater responsibility'.509 They prove this in their letter time and again with facts and figures. I will not weary the House by quoting the statistics; suffice to say that they prove that the Minister has not done in his scales what he told the British public he intended to do.
Some Tories are afraid of democracy. At least their picture of it is one of a well-paid elite ruling over the masses. This would not be so bad if the elite were chosen on defensible grounds and not, as is the present elite, partly on ability, often on birth and, more often, on successes in take-over bids, land speculation and the wealth that accompanies the hardships inflicted on others by the Rent Act.
According to this kind of Tory, if the masses are allowed to choose—even inside a profession like that of teaching—they will level down, and this type of Tory believes in prizes for the outstanding—Britain for the Clores. That is what the Bill is all about. The Minister thinks that Burnham has given too much to one-third of the teachers; the most poorly paid. The Bill gives him power to take some millions of pounds from them and give it to one-third of the others. This, he believes, will attract better people into the teaching profession—a profession which is short of teachers because the right hon. Gentleman has failed to provide enough college and university places in which to train them.
We will not solve the teacher shortage by adding £20 here, £50 there or by adding £100 to the better-paid teachers, especially if, in order to do that, the money is taken from the poorest teachers. The real solution to the teacher problem rests on an expansion of further education.
There has been so much forging of the facts in the Minister's own propaganda campaign—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I should, of course, have said that there has been so much fogging of the facts in that campaign—I never use the word "forge"; it is too strong—that it is worth again emphasising that Burnham has never paid all teachers the same salary. There are differentials for length of service, special responsibility, extra academic qualifications, headship and for deputy headships. So complex is the structure that, as has been shown time and again, in the Minister's own scales he often does not achieve even what he says he sets out to achieve.
510 These differentials I have mentioned have been steadily stepped up since 1945. Many of them have even been created by the Burnham Committee since the war. In the last debate on this subject I gave the illustration of one simple differential; that of a head of a department, which has increased since the year before the war almost tenfold compared with the present day—indeed by 1,000 per cent. Indeed, many members of the profession believe that the differentials are too great already and that at least some of them certainly cause friction, especially when we remember that, in one way or another, one-third of them are treated differentially from the basic scale.
Whether that is true or not, the vast majority of teachers believe that the profession, like that of dentistry or medicine, needs an adequate basic scale; that, at the present moment, the basic scale is inadequate; that the concessions they won by the recent long negotiations with the local authorities were not generous—and I must confess that I was distressed to hear the Minister himself using the word "generous" almost as a word of abuse and saying that he accepted the terms although they were generous; that the minimum basic scale sought for the young men coming into the profession is one of which the profession is worthy, and to which the young men and women who have had a long unpaid career up to that time are entitled; and that, at this point of time, before there is any increase in the differentials there should be an increase in the basic scale.
Hon. Members will remember that in our last debate I prophesied that the bulk of the teachers hon. Members would meet the next day in the first teachers' lobby would be those who stood to gain by the Minister's proposals but were fighting on behalf of their young colleagues. I was right. I am certain that every hon. Member who has met the teachers from his constituency has met men and women who have said, "I do not want the extra money if it is to come out of the pockets of young teachers."
Why does not the Minister appreciate that this is not a matter of money but of struggle for a principle? It is, however, a principle that goes much deeper. The agreement that the Minister contemptuously tore up is not merely the agreement of the teachers but of the teachers plus the local authorities. It 511 was based on seven months' bargaining by men and women who have devoted many years of their life voluntarily to this work of negotiation. It was based, as the pamphlet, Burnham Story, shows, on the progress made in all the various realms in all previous Burnham negotiations since the war.
The Minister has not only thrown over the profession, with an arrogance and contempt that he should be the last man to show, but has also thrown over the local authorities. I am one of those who believes in local government. I am a local authority man. Local government is older than Parliament, but I believe that the freedom of local authorities is being whittled away, and by no Department more than by the Ministry of Education.
Any member of a local authority knows that we are compelled to wait for schools which we know are necessary but which the Minister will not let us build. We have to cut out many important and useful amenities because they do not come within his own rigid cost figures. Many hon. Members must have had the ironic experience I have had for the last twenty years. We read H.M.I. reports telling us, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that certain things must be put right in a school building, and then Her Majesty's Government, through the Minister of Education, prevents us from putting them right by not allowing them to be put in a building programme.
So far, however, all the controls on education have been financial. Now, this Minister—young, progressive; we thought him the newer face of Toryism—tells the local authorities, not what I think he might be right to say, "This is the ceiling above which you cannot spend", but that he alone knows the best way of spending the money he is generously allocating to them. Up to now, I had thought that relations between local authorities and the Ministry were good, were improving. I find it hard to believe that any of the Minister's advisers advised him to pursue his present crazy course. In reality, as well as constitutionally, the right hon. Gentleman is personally responsible for the Bill we are now condemning, and in this he is as stubborn as the Government which he once left when they were being equally stubborn and equally foolish over the Suez crisis.
512 His method of doing it has been as bad as that of de Gaulle. He had every opportunity of letting Burnham know that he could not accept a settlement that did not conform with the principle he suddenly discovered after Burnham had finished seven months of negotiation. One of the many criticisms of de Gaulle is that he waited until the Lord Privy Seal had worked patiently—and, as I believe, nobly—for many months in trying to achieve a settlement before he suddenly said, "There can be no settlement except that imposed by me—"moi, Charles de Gaulle. I am Europe." I charge the Minister with doing exactly the same thing tonight: "L'education—c'est moi."
I hope that the teachers will now at long last learn the political lesson. I am certain that to be an "independent Conservative" is no solution. That would only mean, "I don't mind what you do to the nurses, the railwaymen, the probation officers or the miners as long as you don't do it to the teachers." It is the Minister who has made this a political issue. The Government are responsible for tearing up a freely-negotiated wage settlement. The Minister's action has made bitterness when harmony was essential. He needs, and surely must desire, more than ever before, co-operation between himself and all who work in education. If the teachers were to work to rule tomorrow they could bring the whole of his educational edifice tumbling down in twenty-four hours.
But co-operation goes two ways. The Minister has to give as well as to take. I would appeal to him, even at this late hour, to scrap the Bill and accept the award. By all means let him use his power to transform the structure in the years to come—it would be a regrettable step, but at least it would be honourable and decent. But let him now show his good faith by accepting salary negotiations that were freely and legally conducted, and then tackle the new question. He should do that in the interests of education itself.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
As time presses, and a number of other hon. Members still wish to speak, I am sure that the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) will forgive me if I do not follow 513 him in his arguments. This debate is very important to the future of education, and I confess that I am in some difficulty over it. I have great respect for my right hon. Friend the Minister. Whilst I did not agree with all of his speech this afternoon, it was clearly stated, and I could never condone the personal attacks made on him. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) made some personal attacks on my right hon. Friend—I do not think that it did his own reputation very much good.
I agree with the criticism made by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) of the National Union of Teachers' attitude at its conference. I condemn the action taken by the Durham County Teachers' Association in first issuing to the Minister an invitation to have dinner and then withdrawing the invitation. That sort of thing does not add much lustre to the image of the profession. I realise, of course, that these teachers are very angry over the Minister's intervention, but their cancellation of the invitation savours somewhat of childishness. They would have got far more respect from the general public if they had gone ahead with their plans for the Minister to attend the dinner whilst underlining their opposition to his intervention in Burnham.
My right hon. Friend is being assailed on all sides now, but I ask him to take heart. It is not so long since Sir William Alexander was the teaching profession's béte noir. We were told that he was the man who would never part with the money, yet some sections of the profession now regard Sir William as the knight in shining armour. My right hon. Friend may yet see the day when he will again bask in the admiration of Mr. John England.
§ Mr. Montgomery
That depends on what people do at the next election; but I am quite certain that the hon. Member will not be sitting on this side of the House.
Having said all that, however, as one who—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) would get up and interrupt property, perhaps I could deal with what he says.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)
The hon. Gentleman said that we should not be sitting over there. I was offering to lay him 6 to 4.
§ Mr. Montgomery
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said, he would know that I was referring to the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock). If the hon. Member for Small Heath wants to join the Liberal Party, it is quite open to him to do so. No doubt, the Liberal Party would welcome more recruits, even though the consequence might be pushing the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) further along the bench.
As one who taught for nine years, I cannot support the Government tonight. I made up my mind on this issue some time ago. However, I must say that I have been much concerned by some of the letters I have received from members of the teaching profession. Never in the time I have been in the House have I had so many rude letters. This one, I think, is really choice:Dear Sir, As I cannot be present in London on Wednesday, 27th March, to join in the lobbying of M.P.s by my colleagues in the National Union of Teachers, I am writing personally to you instead. I strongly support the recommendations of the Burnham Committee which are the results of seven months of democratic negotiation, and which have been accepted by my employers, the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Education Authority.I absolutely condemn the rôle of dictator adopted by the present Minister, who intends to introduce into Parliament proposals which would legalise his former illegal action.All teachers will be particularly interested to see how individual Members of Parliament react to this. I will do everything in my power to influence teachers to vote against anyone who supports the Minister of Education. This will apply especially to the large numbers of teachers and friends who reside in your marginal constituency of Newcastle, East if you support Sir Edward Boyle.There it is. I can only say to the lady in question that that is the quickest way to get me into the Government Lobby. It is ironic that someone should accuse the Minister of dictatorship and then try to dictate to me how I must vote on any particular issue. The teachers have a strong enough case without having to resort to political threats like that. If this lady had bothered to write to me and ask for my views, this, I think, would have been perfectly fair and understandable, but the use of pistol-at-the- 515 head tactics of that kind is something which I am not prepared to tolerate. As long as I am a Member of the House, I shall always resist threats like that.
I hope I have not laboured the point too much, but I wanted my attitude to be made perfectly clear, lest this lady should feel that, by her action, she had persuaded me—if "persuaded" be the right word—to abstain in the Division tonight. If anything, hex letter had the opposite effect. It made me seriously doubt Whether the teachers' case was as strong as I originally believed it to be.
However, I believe that the overwhelming majority of the teaching profession are doing an excellent job for which they should receive every credit and every praise. They axe responsible and reasonable-minded citizens, and they are the people who I am really supporting tonight. As for the ill-mannered people and the agitators, who certainly have had a field day recently, I should not lift a finger to help them. I am only glad that they make up such a tiny minority of the teaching profession, albeit that tiny minority is very vociferous and has done a great deal of harm to the image of the teaching profession in the last few years.
Turning to the Minister's proposals, I do not object too violently to what he proposes to do. What I object to very strongly is the way in which he is doing it. In the cause of education and the expansion of the teaching profession, we have got to give opportunities for advancement to the most able, the best qualified and the most ambitious teachers, just as we have got to pay attention to the level of those who are more junior. But I cannot condone the way in which the Minister has intervened and is now seeking to impose his pay scales on the teaching profession.
We must realise that the Burnham Committee had reached an agreement. In my view, although the Minister may not have been happy with this agreement, he should, nevertheless, have accepted it. As has already been pointed out today, he is not saving one penny by rejecting the Burnham scales and introducing his own. I am sure that, if he had accepted the agreement, the bodies concerned would have been only too willing to promise that, after this settlement, there would be a complete 516 re-examination of the salary structure and they would have recognised the importance of differentials.
We are now to have a review of the salary negotiating machinery. Those of us who are interested in education are anxious to know what the proposals will be. We want to be absolutely sure that whatever succeeds Burnham will not only be fair but be seen to be fair. I suggest that my right hon. Friend might well consider having the whole system reviewed by an independent body. It is almost certain now that the Minister will take part in future negotiations on teachers' salaries. I welcome this because, after all, the Minister finds a great deal of the money which is paid for teachers' salaries, and I believe, therefore, that he should have some say in the discussions. Also, it is much better that he should do this openly and at the outset rather than sit in the wings and wait until a decision has been reached between the local education authorities and the teachers' organisations.
However, we must have one thing absolutely straight. If the Minister is to come into the salary negotiations, he must give up his right under Section 89 of the 1944 Act to accept or reject any agreement which is reached. Several times tonight we have been reminded of what was said by my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State, then the Minister of Education, after the 1944 Act came into being:… the functions of the Minister under Section 89 of the Education Act. 1944, are limited to approving or disapproving the scales of remuneration submitted to him by the Burnham Committee and, if he approves them, to making an order requiring local authorities to remunerate teachers in accordance with those scales. It was made quite clear when the Clause, which is now Section 89, was introduced in another place that it was so drafted as to leave no responsibility with the Minister for framing the scales or amending scales submitted to him".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st December, 1944; Vol. 406, c. 1942.]If the Minister does go on to the committee which will negotiate teachers' salaries, he must go there as an equal partner. He must argue his case inside the committee and try to convince the teachers' organisations and the local education authorities of the rightness of the views which he propounds. It would be entirely wrong if the Minister were to go on the committee, have a say there, 517 and then, if there were a deadlock, impose his scales again. I think that teachers do honestly and sincerely expect that, in any future salary negotiating machinery, in the event of deadlock, and the Minister being on the committee, they should then have the right to free and unfettered arbitration. If this could be assured, we could take a tremendous step forward to regain the confidence of the teaching profession.
We must also consider the problem of the cost of education and how it should be borne. This concerns us all because we all know that there are great difficulties in finding what we consider to be the right amount to be spent on education. Also, we must find the right way to distribute power as between local authority and central government, and ensure that we got the desired standards in all areas. Apparently, on the Continent education is directed centrally. In America it is too decentralised. Our system in Britain, under which the less wealthy areas have equal educational opportunity with the wealthy areas, is the right sort of system, but, as someone pointed out earlier in the debate—I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Burton—under the present system for financing education the burden facing the ratepayers is just about intolerable. In my view, we must shift some of the burden of education finance from the local authorities to the central Government, but, at the same time, we must be very careful that we do not take control of education away from the local authorities.
One thing which I would suggest, and which I have suggested in this House before, is that basic salaries should be the responsibility of the central Government and that responsibility for the rest of teachers' salaries should be divided between the central Government and the local education authorities. This view was put forward by the Bow Group some years ago, but, like so many of its recommendations, the Government have never seen fit to accommodate it in their programme. I think that the Government should certainly look at this point again because I believe that it is a worth-while point and if accepted would lessen the burden of ratepayers without impairing our education service.
One of the things which we must face is that it is impossible to pay teachers 518 by results, because how does one judge who is doing a good job and who is doing a bad job? Is the teacher working tremendously hard with a backward class but not having a lot to show for it doing any less than the teacher with the bright class whose members can turn out beautifully written work? We must also face the fact that academic brilliance of itself does not necessarily make a good teacher. We must try to ensure the recruitment of people of the highest possible calibre into the profession, and I believe that the only way that we shall ever ensure this is by giving teachers an attractive salary scale and by restoring their confidence in their salary negotiating machinery.
I therefore deeply regret my right hon. Friend's intervention in this dispute, and I also regret that I will not be able to support him when the vote is taken tonight.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
I find myself in the very unusual position of having something in common with the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee). He said that he had never defended an action with greater certainty that it was right, and I find that I have never opposed one with greater certainty that it was wrong.
This Bill is a breach of faith, as the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Ire-monger) demonstrated so clearly. It is also one which I do not believe the Government would have dared to introduce in respect of any other set of people. I have here a letter from a constituent in which he says:It is at times like these that I wish I drove a petrol tanker or worked in a power station. However, with the nurses and the probation officers, we have to make our protest as best we can.I am sure that a Bill of this nature would never be introduced in respect of the electricity generation workers. Not so very long ago, at the height of the pay pause during the winter before last, an award was made to the electricity power workers which was in conflict with the Government's declared policy, but all that they did was to administer a sharp rebuke to the head of the Electricity Council for his failure to prevent this award from being given.
519 The hon. Member for Ilford, North said that he did not like these proposals. I think that be was right in saying that the Government should be bound by the pledge which they gave at the time of the Education Act, 1944. Particularly should they be bound by that pledge in view of their declared intention of establishing new negotiating machinery, because this just cannot be done without the co-operation of the teachers.
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) said that the teachers are a responsible body of people and that they are doing a splendid job, with which I entirely agree. What a way this is to treat them if that is so. The hon. Gentleman says that his objection is not really to what the Minister is doing but to the way in which he is trying to do it. I think that we would all agree with him. That is the main criticism that we make of this Minister.
Why did not the Minister give the Burnham Committee any indication of his view at an earlier stage? The first indication which he gave was in his letter of 20th February to Sir Thomas Creed, when he indicated the principles which would have to be followed in any settlement to make it acceptable to him. The Burnham Committee had been meeting since 15th June, 1962, and I still fail to understand why the Minister waited until the eleventh hour before making his views known to it. One explanation which has been given to us is that Lord Eccles said that the officials who were the assessors had no right to put the Minister's view to the Burnham Committee. But what stopped him from writing a letter? There is no law against that, and there is nothing in the 1944 Act which says that the Minister is not, under any circumstances, to write a letter to the Burnham Committee setting out his views.
The Association of Education Committees says quite categorically that the Minister was given a standing invitation. That is said not once in this booklet, The Burnham Story, but is stated twice. It is said:For two years past the Minister has had a standing invitation to go to the Burnham Committee at any time or send a memorandum.Here there is a conflict which I think should be resolved. Someone is not telling the truth, and I have no doubt in 520 my mind which of the two parties it is. This may be because the Minister is under some misunderstanding. I do not believe that to be so because he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education at one time, and, if this invitation was given two years ago, there must be some record of it, and we should like to know a little more about it.
The Minister said when he wrote on 20th February:I have had to weigh up carefully whether I should communicate with the Burnham Committee before they have formally submitted proposals to me.He amplified that by saying that he had to wait until he was almost sure that the agreement would be ratified. But what is it that he had to weigh up carefully? It was not whether the agreement would be ratified. He seemed to be saying on one occasion that it was whether his action was in conformity with Section 89 of the 1944 Act.
In his letter of 26th March, the Minister says:I believe that I have acted properly in accordance with Section 89 of the 1944 Act.When the Minister was questioned by Mr. Robin Day on "Panorama" he said categorically that he was not entitled to give the Burnham Committee any inkling of his views at an earlier stage. I begin to wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has studied the 1944 Act at all, because there is nothing in Section 89 about his writing to or communicating with the Burnham Committee. His powers under the Section are limited to signifying formal approval or rejection of proposals formally submitted to him. Since that stage in the negotiations had not been reached when he wrote his letter of 20th February, that letter was not written in the exercise of any statutory right. It could just as well have been written by his predecessor when the negotiations started in June the previous year, or it could have been written by the present Minister when he took over in the July purge.
I wish to examine as briefly as I can the differences between the Minister and the Burnham Committee to see whether they were so substantial as to warrant interference—and "interference" is really too mild a word to use in this connection where one is driving a steamroller over one's opponents. It has been said that the House of Commons is not 521 the place in which to conduct wage negotiations. I do not intend to do that, but we cannot avoid some discussion of the differences between the Burnham Committee and the Minister. This has been forced on us. We do not want to have to do this in the House, but I do not see how we can avoid some discussion of the differences in the two proposals.
We all know that the present Minister and Government have an attitude towards the use which should be made of their powers under Section 89 of the 1944 Act which is quite different from the interpretation applied by successive Ministers right up to the time of Lord Eccles in 1956. Since then, however, there has been increasing interference. It has become much worse in a number of different ways, culminating in the present move, which goes far beyond anything which even the present Government hitherto have dared to do.
One would think that for such drastic action to have been taken, the Burnham proposals must have been outrageous. Is that the contention of the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary? We ought to hear something about this. I am not maintaining that the Burnham solution was perfect, but it is worth emphasising that no negotiated settlement can be perfect and must always finish up as a compromise which is acceptable to the various interests concerned.
The first criticism made by the Minister was that only 3 per cent. had been allocated to the differentials and the remaining 97 per cent. to the basic scale. He said that he saw serious disadvantages in that part of the proposals from the standpoint of the recruitment of teachers.
The situation has nothing to do with the recruitment of teachers. The fact is that, because the Government have failed to provide sufficient places in the training colleges, potential teachers having the right qualifications to gain them entry to the profession are being turned away in large numbers, even with the existing lower salary scales than those proposed by either the Minister or the Burnham Committee.
Perhaps the Minister will tell us that he meant not recruitment to the profession but the wastage which occurs particularly among people with higher 522 qualifications after having been in the profession for a few years. For this reason, he will say that he has increased the salary which is earned by a teacher with between six and fifteen years' service by amounts ranging from £20 to £60 as compared with the Burnham proposals. I suggest, however, that the prime consideration of people who decide whether to take up teaching as a career is the salary which they receive at the minimum and at the maximum. In the former case, the Minister has reduced the figure, and he has left the maximum unchanged.
To pay for the extra rises which he has awarded in the middle of the salary scale, the Minister has had to cut the salary received by a teacher in the first three years after qualifying by £20 in each year. Does the Minister feel that a salary of £650 for a young man or woman who has completed three years of training is too much? The Minister has used what I consider to be an entirely spurious argument about the wastage of young women teachers who leave to get married after only a few years' service.
We ought to admit that this is a serious problem but that it is not relevant to the amounts which should be paid at the beginning of a teacher's career. Having accepted the principle of equal pay for men and women, one cannot then use the fact that so many women take up teaching as a reason for depressing the salaries of the profession as a whole.
Whatever view one takes of the relative merits of the Minister's proposals and those of the Burnham Committee, the important question to decide is whether these differences raise matters of principle which would justify, not only the use of Section 89 of the 1944 Act—although that is not what we are talking about—but the Minister's dictatorial imposition of his own scale by means of legislation.
At the bottom end of the Minister's proposed basic scale, the difference is £20 and at the top it is nil, while in between the differences are nil for three years, £20 for seven years, £30 for two years, £40 for one year and £60 for two years. There is nothing in these differences which could possibly be said to justify the Minister's intervention.
The next point made by the Minister is that under the Burnham proposals, not 523 enough has been awarded to teachers with—these are three categories—longer service, higher qualifications or greater responsibility. In his letter of 8th March to Sir Thomas Creed, the Minister said that these three factors were the essence of his proposals. I have already pointed out that he has not proposed any improvement in the salaries of teachers with fifteen or more years' service. In addition, he does not propose to make any alteration in the Burnham award for graduates or for good honours graduates. He is merely endorsing the Burnham proposals in that direction.
Therefore, the only respect in which the Minister has followed the three principles which he has enunciated is to give extra payments to head teachers, deputy heads, and so on. In doing this, he has completely ignored the effects of earlier settlements which, as he should admit, widened the differentials. He has ignored also the fact that the increases in the basic scale proposed by the Burnham Committee merely restore the cut made by Lord Eccles when he was Minister.
It is worthy of note that the starting salary for a teacher has remained constant in real terms since 1945, whereas over that eighteen-year period those holding posts of responsibility have had increases ranging up to more than 50 per cent. for a typical head of a grammar school. Nevertheless, in spite of these widening differentials, the Burnham Committee was to undertake a complete review of the whole subject over the next two years, if it had lived, and the Minister was perfectly well aware of that. But he brushed that aside because, he said, such a review would have been prejudiced unless this present settlement had stuck rigidly to the same proportion of differentials to basic scale as there is in the existing total salary bill.
On the subject of differentials, the House may be interested in two quotations from constituents of mine who are to benefit. The first comes from a headmaster of a primary school who says:Now that the Minister's proposed salary scales have been published, my opposition is in no way diminished, although, as a Primary headteacher, I gain slightly".In the same letter he says:While, as a Head Teacher, I appreciate the extra amount I shall receive, I deeply regret 524 that I shall receive it at the expense of the younger members of my Staff".Another correspondent writes to me:As a schoolmaster I wish to make it quite clear that I resent the Minister of Education destroying Burnham with his unwarranted intervention.The fact that I shall gain considerably by his settlement does not sway my views in the slightest".It is for the Minister to appreciate that teachers are practically unanimous in their opposition to his proposals, irrespective of whether they benefit or not.
The third main difference between the Minister and Burnham was on the question of assimilation. Here he accepted the principle, and I believe that his main reason for refusing to make the transfer in one stage was that he had to save £4 million from somewhere to keep his own proposals within the £21 million total which he had already endorsed. It was quite easy for him to say, "I will stop the assimilation and that is where I will get the money from". He has never attempted to justify this delay in implementing an agreed principle. All he said to Sir Thomas Creed in his letter of 27th March was:The Committee's criticism of my proposals to exclude the protection of certain existing teachers and to assimilate two-year trained teachers to the basic scale was to be expected: we each know where the other stands on this.That is all the justification he gives for refusing to adopt the principle of assimilation and for delaying its completion into the indefinite future.
From all this I have concluded that the Minister's objective has not been to improve this one settlement but to smash Burnham altogether and to replace it with something else. He has repeatedly said that he thinks that the present arrangements for negotiating salary scales for teachers are unsatisfactory and that some fundamental changes are needed in our machinery and procedures. But it is one thing to argue that these reforms are needed and quite another to think out an arbitrary way of settling this dispute when existing procedures have led to a result which the Minister finds unpalatable.
The main source of the Minister's dissatisfaction is that he takes no practical part himself in the Burnham negotiations although he pays about 60 per cent. of the salary bill. But there has been no recent change in that position 525 and it has certainly operated since before the present round of Burnham negotiations started.
Most people would accept that the person paying the bill ought to have some say in the negotiations, but that was as true last June as it is now. The second point to bear in mind has been made by several hon. Members and is that if one once accepts that argument, it can be extended to all other local authority employees. The House should be quite clear where it is heading on this before it makes any decision. No one has gone quite so far yet as to suggest that Ministers should be directly responsible for negotiations on local authority employees' salaries.
I think that the Minister must have a seat at the conference table of any reconstituted Burnham Committee, but I am equally certain that, as several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Ilford, North have said, in return for that he must give up his Section 89 powers. Either in his opening speech or in an intervention the right hon. Gentleman said that he would be prepared to negotiate on this, but I do not think that this properly falls to be one of the subjects to be negotiated.
The right hon. Gentleman says that as part of any revised machinery he must have a seat at the conference table, and think that we ought also to require him as a quid pro quo, to give up these powers before the negotiations on the revised machinery even begin. The recasting of this machinery will be a major undertaking, much more difficult to accomplish than any single settlement has ever been, and it will involve striking a fair balance between the interests of the three parties, one of which is at present in a state of conflict with the other two.
The Minister says that slogans will not help in evolving any compromise on this, but equally I put it to him that his action has practically destroyed any chance of success on this front, and it can hardly be a more inauspicious moment to start discussions between the Minister and the appropriate bodies, which he says he wants. If the Minister wants their co-operation, he must now accept the Burnham recommendations and immediately withdraw the Bill.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Cole (Bedfordshire, South)
I very much deplore this dispute which is the cause of this Bill being introduced, and on which we shall have to vote in just over an hour. I also deplore the fact that because this dispute is at national level it has become a political one. It is a great pity that politics have come into the matter, because the original rights and wrongs, virtues and vices, on both sides will be lost in the political arena and the question of whether one supports one's Government or not. I am in two minds about whether I am prepared to support the Government. It is not that I entirely agree or disagree with either side. If I abstain it will be as a protest against what I feel has been a lack of statesmanship in the way this matter has been dealt with.
We are engaged here in a dispute about the most important of all matters, important, that is, to the individual. I think that we have lost sight of the fact that we are dealing with human beings and individuals. Rightly or wrongly, individuals have their own views about things, and those views cannot necessarily be tailor-made to our own views. We are dealing with a principle, and in the past people in this country, high and low, have gone to the stake for a principle, whether or not the principle was worth it or justified it.
I grant that in this case an all-important matter is the starting point of a junior teacher's scale. We have all gone through the junior years when money was all-important, but in so far as I, like other hon. Members, have received letters from people who are more prepared to sacrifice additional money than to sacrifice the principle of Burnham, I am bound to believe that the whole fight is on a matter of principle, and I think it is in that direction that the matter might well have been considered.
Two or three weeks ago the profound remark was made to me that there was not one chance in a hundred that the Burnham Committee would, after seven months or even seventeen months, evolve an exactly identical scale of new pay awards to that evolved by the Minister of any party at any time. I therefore begin to understand the feelings of we hon. Members who have been here for more than ten years and have had this 527 sort of dispute before them off and on every 18 months for the last eight or nine years. I think that some back benchers are getting very tired of it. I am sure that the teachers are, and I am sure that no good has come out of these disputes, whoever has won them. I am sick of them.
I want to be able to meet my teachers, as I have told them, to discuss things of greater portent, education itself, and not be all the time squabbling on whether there should be a 1 per cent. increase in superannuation or deciding whether one teacher should get £20 a year more or a differential of £30 a year. I believe that these things, important as they are to the individual, are, nevertheless, less important in the general surroundings of education. I should not mind it so much if we were debating how much religious education, how much education in British history and how much education in international history should be taught in the schools. I should have thought that that was something which Members of Parliament as statesmen should address their minds to, but to spend a whole day deciding between two different scales is, I think, lessening the normal dignity of Parliament.
I ask my right hon. Friend, since he is only taking powers in the Bill and no details are in it, whether it is impossible for him, to some extent if not wholly, to meet the principle in the viewpoint of the teachers, while retaining his own integrity, in any scale he issues under the powers of the Bill. No one doubts my right hon. Friend's integrity. Some of us were with him on these benches in past years when he showed that integrity beyond all shadow of doubt; when he kept his own viewpoint and stood as some of us want to stand now. What was good for him then in stating and standing by his own opinions is equally good for us tonight, and some of us may feel called upon to exercise that right. As to his integrity, there can be no doubt whatever. In my humble opinion he might be regarded by history as being much more statesmanlike if, without sacrificing his integrity, he endeavoured to meet on the less important matter of finance the teachers' viewpoint. That is what I understand statesmanship to be. Maybe I am too simple about the whole thing, but I hope that to be simple does not neces- 528 sarily mean to be devoid of intelligence. I think that we are bringing far too much acrimony, far too little good will and proper feeling for the whole service of education into this debate instead of looking at it from a wider viewpoint.
I come to the question of Burnham itself. Looking back over the years, I am not surprised to find that Burnham is not working any more. Nineteen years have passed since the 1944 Act and eighteen years since Burnham submitted its first recommendation under that Act. I have no hesitation in saying that something which was all right eighteen years ago is today out of date. We have had the graduated pensions scheme, numbers of firms have offered security to employees, the academic and scientific demands of industry are attracting those who are teachers or potential teachers—a hundred and one reasons which make the whole machinery of Burnham out of date. Looking back on it, I am amazed at the acumen and good will of those people who made it work in the past. Only in this country could people think that there could be a workable organisation with two kinds of authorities reaching a decision, and with the decision then having to go to a third party who provides anything up to 60 per cent. of the award decided upon by the other two. It is quite extraordinary. I hope that Burnham will come to an end. It should. But I hope that we shall not leave a vacuum in its place. When the dust of this battle has died down—and I hope that it dies down quickly—my right hon. Friend should immediately begin negotiations to set up a new body. Whether it should still bear the name of Lord Burnham or should be given a new name does not matter, but it should be sacrosanct that that body has the right of arbitration as a final long stop.
Unlike the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), I would reserve to the Minister one power. He should be fully represented on that committee by executive representatives who can communicate to the other members what is in the Minister's mind, and what his decisions are likely to be, from the first day of the negotiations. With all this I would arrogate to the Minister a final responsibility. He cannot divest himself of this responsibility. If the global sum decided upon by the committee is more than the Minister can 529 obtain from the Treasury or the Government, he must have the right to decide whether it should be awarded. Whatever committee we may set up in the future, I believe that the Minister must have this final power. If this were left to the committee it would take away from Parliament and the Executive the power to decide how much should be allocated to certain State services.
All other powers could be left in the hands of the committee, and they could be used with good will by the members, if there were proper representation. But it is extraordinary that on Burnham we should have had these assessors, or observers, whose main function was to report back to the Minister, but who almost never communicated to the members of the Committee what were the Minister's reactions to their proposals. I am surprised that the system has worked as well as it has done for the last eighteen years.
I am deeply sorry that this dispute has arisen. It has put many back benchers in an unenviable position. It has brought them forward into the conflict, and for them to try to be statesmanlike and practical, but nevertheless to have a conscience, is no small task for most hon. Members. Some of us who have not been involved in the past, or have not stated our views, must come to a decision in about an hour's time. I hope that it will be appreciated by everybody that however sincere the Minister may be in putting forward his viewpoint, those of us who feel called upon to differ from him are equally sincere.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
The speech made by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) shows the great unease which the action of the Minister has caused among members of the Conservative Party. I was delighted to hear from the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) how effective the Minister has been in undermining the Conservative Teachers' Association. Apparently he has not completely destroyed it as he is about to destroy Burnham, but he seems to have been almost as successful in dealing with it.
An underlying feature of the debate has been the determination of hon. Members to try to shift some of the costs of education from local authorities to the 530 central Government. I am sure that this was one of the motives behind the right hon. Gentleman's action over the Burnham Committee. I want to utter a warning in this respect. Merely to shift the costs of teachers' salaries will not resolve the problems of local government. Local government in its existing form is part of the English set-up. Merely to transfer a bit of it will do nothing at all to cure the root of the trouble, which is that rates are regressive and levying money by rates causes great difficulties for local authorities. If any attempt is to be made to lighten the burden, a case could be made for giving additional grants to local authorities from the centre but not specifying that they should be for one action or another of local government.
The logic of saying that, because the Minister of Education pays a large part of the salaries of teachers, he should dominate the educational world and the teaching situation, if carried to its logical conclusion, would mean that in areas where large rate deficiency grants are paid the central Government should play a much larger part in the local government of the poorer areas. I warn the right hon. Gentleman that were he to try that in Durham he would be in trouble. I do not believe that any hon. Members who are worried about the rate situation would want that form of interference. If the local government situation needs attention, how much better would it be to consider the matter on its merits and decide on a form or amount of grant, and not to do it in the underhand way implied in this Bill.
This is the root trouble in relation to local authorities and arises from the dispute of the right hon. Gentleman with the Burnham Committee and the introduction of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has not considered calmly and coolly and on its merits the need to establish a new order, which we may all want, and in which the right balance of forces is decided. It is a grievous situation into which the right hon. Gentleman has got himself. I noticed that when he was speaking he was careful not to say that he wanted teachers' salaries taken from the local authorities and made the responsibility of central Government. The right hon. Gentleman hedged about that and right well he might. He has put himself into the position of alienating practically all the 531 local authorities and has done a grave disservice to local democracy. One of the strongest features of local democracy is the interest in education. I feel that the right hon. Gentleman has prejudiced his political career by this foolish act.
The other matter to which I wish to turn, and about which I think the right hon. Gentleman has been completely naive and contradicted what he said when he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury, relates to the attempt to put teachers in their right professional position. The impression I gained was that the right hon. Gentleman would like to see the professions related to each other, especially at the bottom of the salary scale, and some general scale of worth worked out.
Some years ago, when the right hon. Gentleman was at the Treasury, I asked him why he did not pursue a policy of organising a manpower budget. He said that that would be impracticable. But it is no more impracticable than what the right hon. Gentleman is now trying to do, to get the right pay balance between the teacher who is starting his career and the young solicitor and doctor. At the moment—and it is at this moment that the right hon. Gentleman is making these moves—the situation in the professional world is completely chaotic.
Take, for example, the situation of junior doctors working in the Health Service. Can anyone say that their position is a model for the teachers? The whole of our hospital service depends upon doctors from Commonwealth countries coming to work in England as part of their training. To try to equate the position of a teacher starting out in the profession with that of a junior doctor in a hospital would be ridiculous. A similar case could be argued in respect of a comparison with the legal profession. The whole situation is ridiculous. Let us take another profession, the dental profession. Not only is there no relationship between the situation of a junior dentist and people in other professions; there is no relationship between the one set of junior dentists and another. If a dentist works for the local authority he is badly paid. If he is in the Health Service he is nevertheless nearly in private practice and does very well indeed. The Service Ministers protect their dentists by putting them in a 532 special cadre and giving them a special rate of pay.
It is quite impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to devise anything of this sort without years of planning, of thought and consideration and by having a proper incomes policy related to people's social worth. I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) belabour the Government on their attitude to the social worth of the contribution made by people to society. What the Government have done has been to allow those whose forces are weak to stew in their own juice or to push them down, while allowing those who are strong to get away with it.
I am pleased that miners, of whom I represent a considerable number in my constituency, have great political strength. They have achieved that without the help of others and have protected their own interests. In the modern world one needs a policy which takes note of people's social contribution. One cannot leave society merely to the effects of the activities of those with greatest economic strength. In the industrial world there is not equal pay. Among teachers there is equal pay and in that sense the teachers are stronger. There is no equal pay for women factory workers, nor just pay for farm workers or many railwaymen.
Unless the right hon. Gentleman makes a fair contribution to all sides and sets out a completely organised plan to attempt to arrive at a just decision he cannot get away with what he wants to do now. The argument today cannot possibly be about differentials. It cannot be on the basis that there is a satisfactory differential system throughout the professional world.
Under the Burnham agreement differentials have moved steadily more widely from 1948 down to the present crisis. In 1948, for example, there were created twenty-two salary levels for heads instead of five. In 1951 the new scheme of special allowances for assistants was brought out. In 1954 the good honours degree allowance was introduced. In 1956 there was the new superstructure of differentials and graded posts in all schools, for heads of departments in secondary schools and deputy heads in most schools; heads of secondary modern schools were upgraded and there were five 533 higher levels for the heads of large schools. In 1959 there was extra pay for good honours graduates, and in 1961 there was a new higher level for heads of departments in secondary modern schools and new posts for extra deputy heads.
Burnham has paid particular attention to all this and it has been supported, very much to the credit of the lowest-paid teachers, by those teachers who have not benefited considerably from it. The teachers have been most responsible while the right hon. Gentleman has been irresponsible. He has been hasty and has done more damage by one blow to the cause of education than any Minister has done for about thirty years.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
We have had a debate which has been interesting in more respects than one. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that of the half dozen speeches made by hon, Members opposite—persons nominally supporters of the Minister of Education—only two have been in his favour.
Four have been critical, one to the extent that the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) indicated that he is proposing to vote with the Opposition against his own Government. He made a courageous speech explaining why he would do that. Three other hon. Members indicated that they felt so strongly that a mistake has been made by the Minister that they are seriously considering at least abstention. I have reason to think that other hon. Members opposite who have not caught your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may also abstain.
The Bill we have been discussing is not a long or complicated Bill. It consists in fact of one operative Clause and the short Clause about the Title, extent and so on. It is a Bill of brief duration, not a Bill for ever more. It is a Bill which provides for regulations and requires the Minister to make regulations only to 31st March, 1965, less than two years from now. Yet on this occasion we have the unusual situation for a Bill of this kind that the Minister himself, having already spoken once in the debate, is, I understand, hoping to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to ask leave of the House to speak again. The Minister has, after all, a fluent and competent Parliamentary Secretary, who is not in his place at the moment, but 534 who has been here for the larger part of the debate, and surely one must ask oneself why on this occasion does the Minister depart from the more normal practice and ask leave to speak twice. Surely there can be only one explanation—that he is uneasy in his mind; otherwise he would have followed the usual course and have given the job of winding up to the second string—as I am on my side, to the equivalent on his side. This seems to be the most significant thing: the Minister takes his position so seriously in this matter that he feels he has to intervene a second time.
This Bill is the first legislation which the right hon. Gentleman has produced as a Minister of the Crown. He is for the first time a Cabinet Minister and this is his first Parliamentary Bill. I am sorry to say it is a misbegotten Parliamentary child.
§ Mrs. White
I preferred the rather more delicate expression, but I certainly am sorry that it has not been a better conceived one.
Why is it that the Minister is so uneasy? It as, of course, because he is aware that it is not really this Bill we are discussing. He knows perfectly well that he has made a crashing error of political judgment, and that is what he is trying to repair in this debate tonight. The details of the Bill, as several of my hon. Friends have suggested, are in themselves of little consequence. The meat of it will come in the regulations which have not yet been laid before the House, although the Minister has published his suggestions. It has been made abundantly clear today that the House of Commons is not the place in which we ought to be discussing the details of remuneration. We are not a negotiating body. We are quite unsuited for it.
The Minister has chosen this time to bring in a Bill which has been regarded by his hon. Friends as ill-advised and ill-timed. They are supported in this by The Times Educational Supplement, which was quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) in his most admirable and forceful opening speech. I shall quote it again. It is not a good friend of this 535 party, and normally is a most loyal supporter of the Minister, but in its article of 1st March it said:Why has the Minister chosen to raise an issue of principle on a comparatively small interim salary award? He has certainly put in hazard the real popularity he has enjoyed in the educational world.He has put in hazard far more than his popularity. He has put in hazard his whole position as a Minister. He has put in hazard the confidence he has hitherto enjoyed, the confidence of the teachers and the local education authorities, and the confidence of many Members on both sides of the House. I will say quite frankly about this that I personally am deeply disappointed by what the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) quite properly said is a failure in statesmanship. Because when the Minister came to his office we felt that in him we had a Minister of obvious intellect and with the keenest personal interest in education, and we felt that of all the appointments made after the purge of July last this at least was one we could reasonably welcome. Therefore I am all the more deeply distressed that someone of whom we had such high hopes has been arguing within a logical vacuum.
One could argue possibly about each of the points he has made on the proposed award. The right hon. Gentleman made four major ones—the basic scale; the period of assimilation; the differential, which has been so admirably dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden); and what I think is the most questionable—the protective device of the extra £30 for the three-year trained teachers. Even granting that on every one of these four points the Minister is right—I do not believe that he is right on more than one of them at the outside, but even granting for the sake of argument that he is right—why should he have made this error of judgment? Why did he not realise that, however correct his assessment might have been on those individual points in the Burnham scales, that is not what matters at this moment? What matters at this moment is—what is the future of Burnham? What is the future of the negotiating machinery for the whole teaching profession? What is the future of the relationship between the Government of the day, the local edu- 536 cation authorities, and the teachers? That is what matters.
By throwing himself into this acrimonious dispute, the Minister has jeopardised the two things which not only are matters of substance but are the two things which it had been agreed should be considered. The two important things are the future of Burnham and the whole structure of the salary scales within the profession. There has already been agreement that both these major matters should be studied. It is not in dispute that both these things—the procedure of the negotiating machinery and the salary structure within the profession—should be studied.
Therefore, why should the Minister go out of his way to embitter the whole atmosphere and ensure that the consideration of both these important matters now takes place, not in an atmosphere of good will, calm and rational argument, but in an atmosphere of emotion and resentment and in a situation where people will be standing on their pride and dignity so that it will be very difficult indeed to reach the sort of compromises and accommodation which are necessary if either of these reviews is to come to a fruitful conclusion?
The Minister said that it was not his deliberate object to pick a quarrel with Burnham. It may not have been his object, but as a man of intelligence he must surely have known that this is what the result of his actions would be. The Minister made a very significant remark in one of the many television appearances which he made last March. I must say in passing that it is a little hard on hon. Members when we have not only to read speeches in HANSARD and in the newspapers but also have to try to follow the television appearances of Ministers. In one of the many television interviews which the right hon. Gentleman sedulously gave at this time, obviously feeling that his position needed defending, he made a very significant remark to the effect that he thought that if there was a row it would clear the air and make consideration of these matters easier.
I believe that that is a completely mistaken judgment. It reinforces the doubt which the Minister has now sown in my mind as to his competence as a statesman. He cannot foresee that action of this kind is likely to have certain 537 results in the attitudes of other people and that to have a quarrel of this sort, for from making these important negotiations easier, will make them more difficult.
The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) said that what we are discussing is the demise of Burnham. The hon. Gentleman has clearly already killed it off. He said that he thought that it would have been wrong for the Minister to try to buy peace. We are not suggesting that the Minister should have done anything improper. We are suggesting that he should have used his judgment as to what were the real priorities in this situation. That is what we accuse him of failing in.
Ever since the Minister put himself into this position I have been asking myself why he did it. I know many other people who have been asking themselves the same question. I have been trying to find the answer. I may be wrong in my analysis. I am not a psychiatrist or a professional psychologist. I may be mistaken, but I cannot help feeling that he has been looking over his shoulder at his predecessors and has said to himself, "At such and such a point they showed themselves to be weak. I must show that I am strong". He knows that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), when faced with difficulties over teachers' salaries, gave way. He unwisely suggested that there should be general cuts of £10 all round—one of those humiliating candle-end economies so dear to the Treasury mandarins.
Then Lord Eccles secured what he wanted on the financial side, but gave way on the matter of pursuing the discussions on the negotiating machinery. Here, too, the hon. Member for Wokingham, who was close to him at that time and was his P.P.S. for a while, believes now that it was a mistaken judgment. I believe that the present Minister, after looking at the actions of his predecessors, felt that a great act of moral courage was required of him. Moral courage, though admirable in some ways, may be a blinkered quality, if not a blind one. We already have one Minister who persists along a mistaken course, and I am sorry to find that the Minister of Education and the Home Secretary are brothers under the skin. 538 There are some very disturbing similarities.
In our reasoned Amendment my hon. Friends and I have tried to put forward for the consideration of the House a summary of the arguments why we consider it wrong to support the Bill. Our first point is that the Bill represents an interference by a Minister of the Crown in negotiations which have been freely entered into, freely agreed and conducted by bodies which, under the existing law, have been entitled to negotiate and reach such agreements.
There has been no dispute in Burnham about this. It is not a question of the Minister having to arbitrate between the two sides. We are convinced that this kind of interference on the part of the Government—and it was graphically described by the hon. Member for Ilford, North and the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South—is calculated to spread alarm and despondency not only among the teachers but among large bodies of other persons who are public or quasi-public employees.
From the Government's point of view it is unstatesmanlike and unwise of them to spread this alarm and despondency at the very tune when they are asking the trade unions and professional associations to help them in a national incomes policy. In view of all these facts, why has the Minister gone out of his way to do this kind of thing? It is not the first time. The Minister is not the only sinner, as I have discovered from looking through the records. We have heard a good deal about the 1961 pay pause, but I hope that hon. Members have not forgotten the wage freeze of 1957. In my researches in the Library I discovered the facts concerning the situation which arose in November, 1957, over Health Service employees, as a result of which a statement was issued by the British Medical Association, in which it was stated:This latest decision of the Minister"—in that case the Minister of Health—in overruling agreed negotiating machinery is bound to accentuate anxiety and lessen confidence in the minds of those who are dependent on the Government for their remuneration".The Health Service workers depend entirely on the Government. The teachers 539 depend on them only partially, but the psychological effect is the same.
Although my hon. Friends and I may differ about the methods to be adopted in achieving some kind of national incomes policy, we recognise that this sphere of public life is one of very great importance. We feel, as members of the public, that it is against our general interests that the Government, as represented by the Minister, should make a mistake of this kind now, a mistake which will have effects over a far wider field than that of education, for greater difficulties will be placed in the way of reaching understanding and tolerance in a matter of such immense national importance. The Minister is indicted on that ground.
Furthermore, there is our anxiety about the future of the teaching profession, and our knowledge of the very large numbers of teachers who will be required to man our schools in the next decade, the enormous recruiting problem with which we shall be faced—the fact that we have not at present enough places for them is neither here nor there. We are trying to think of the image of the profession given to young persons, some not yet at college or entering their profession, but still at school. What sort of impression will young people have when they see the profession being pushed around by the Minister like this. It is not just a question of money but of feeling, "I don't want to be associated with a profession in which I can be pushed around as someone of no account" in the way in which the Minister has been treating the profession in the last few weeks. It is not just a question of money, although it is partly so.
One hon. Member after another has pointed out that one of the Minister's main objections to the Burnham proposals is that he thinks the scale at the point of entry is too high at £625—that £625 has something demoralising about it. We are perfectly well aware that in professional life one may expect to start on a fairly low level and work to greater heights later on whereas, in other work—in industrial jobs—a young man will reach possibly even his maximum earnings in his early twenties. But we should bear in mind that we are recruiting teachers from a very wide section of 540 society, and if we are to get the numbers needed we shall have to recruit them from an even wider field. In other words, the young men and women going into teaching may well have brothers and sisters already earning in industry, so it is valid to say that if we are suggesting a salary of £12 2s. 4d. a week gross, before deductions, which is what the right hon. Gentleman offers, as sufficient, we have to consider not just professional wages but the wages that people can get in manual jobs—printing and the like.
I have here various basic wages, without any overtime—and teachers do not get paid for the overtime many of them work. I have figures of £14, £13, £16, £11, £17, £12 19s., and so on, in the printing and various other comparable trades. The present national average for an employed man is £16 16s. 10d. a week, but we say of the young teacher, "All right—don't worry about it. He will get by, even if he is living from home because of the quota, on £12 2s. 4d. a week." I do not stress that too strongly, but I must say that it is not an additional attraction to anybody to come into the profession.
I repeat that what has really shaken us most is the Minister's attitude. He has said that he does not wish to dictate a new pattern for settling teachers' salaries; that he does not wish to dictate the new machinery which, by general agreement, may possibly emerge. But who was to trust him after this action? He may say that he has no intention of dictating, but he is already dictating. Therefore, the Minister having acted in this way and having shown his mentality in smaller things, people may well anticipate that he will do it in greater things too. He has not told the House why he has completely overthrown the whole basis of the Education Act, 1944—Section 89—as it was put to the House by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) who, after all, is still a member of Her Majesty's Government. One can regard this sub specie aeternitatis.
The present First Secretary has held various offices in Government for longer than some of us can remember. I am surprised that he is not present tonight, because the discussion of Clause 89 of the 1944 Bill was one of the most interesting there were. According to the right 541 hon. Member for Saffron Walden greater matters of principle were involved in Clause 89, which the Minister destroys in this Bill—let there be no mistake about it, although there is no actual repeal Clause in the Bill, this Measure destroys Section 89 of the 1944 Act.
My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) reminded us of a vary dramatic occasion in the House. I was not myself then a Member, but as a woman I was extremely interested in the debate which took place and the defeat of the Government at that time on equal pay. The reason given by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden as to why he could not, in the middle of the war, concede the principle of equal pay for women in the teaching profession was that it would have involved the interference of the Minister in the salary negotiations, and he did not believe that the Minister had the right to interfere in them.
He made this abundantly clear. In fact, there was a decision of the House on a vote carried against the Government. He said that, unless this decision were reversed, it would destroy a form of machineryon which we have depended for the teachers' contentment for a very long time.We are entitled to a very much better explanation from the Minister of why he has now destroyed the teachers' contentment. His right hon. Friend was quite clear about it. He said:One of the reasons why the teachers have been satisfied is that they have had their own machinery for regulating their own affairs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1944; Vol. 398, c. 1367.]This is now to be brought to an end. We should be told much more fully why it is to be brought to an end. It cannot be for anything in this little Bill. What the changes proposed by the Minister amount to is derisory. He has spoken as though he were adding vast sums of money to the remuneration of people at the top of the scale in the teaching profession. He is doing no such thing. He is adding at the very most something between 15s. and 25s. a week to a few hundred teachers in the differentials at the top of the scale.
I have an extremely interesting letter here from a teacher who is himself a headmaster and who says that he would 542 gain slightly by the Minister's proposals. He says:Some few hundred of us will get increases over the Burnham recommendations"—that is, from the Minister's intervention—of from £40 to 70 a year (no £100 as would at first sight appear"—because, as the Minister knows, £30 has been deducted with another hand.There will be a considerably larger number of smaller increases down to £5. How fatuous it is to suggest that this sort of sum is likely to have the least effect on career prospects"—or on teacher recruitment. If a teacher is one of the few hundred best paid teachers in the service, is it really going to make much difference to him whether, at the end of the day, he gets £2,500 or £2,540?
We must get into perspective the order of the increases which the Minister has given as his justification for jeopardising the chances of success of negotiating on the really important matters, the future of the Burnham machinery and the future total salary structure of the profession. Again, quoting from this teacher's letter:The differences between the Minister's scale and the Committee's recommendations are in fact, derisory at the top of the scale, where there are increases, but serious to the lowly paid teachers at the bottom of the scale where there are decreases".In other words, to lose £20 at one end is far more important to the individual than to gain £40 at the other.
It seems to us, that, by his action in this matter, the Minister has shown an error of judgment and an error of statesmanship of the first order. It is bitterly disappointing to us who believed that we had in the right hon. Gentleman, even though he was a member of the Tory Party, someone in charge of education to whom we could look for really great things. He is a person of brilliant attainment in some respects. We all enjoy his speeches and we all respect the quality of his mind. But he seems to lack that essential of a great Minister, the quality of statesmanlike judgment. In saying this, I am repeating what has been said by his hon. Friends on the other side of the House.
It is for these reasons that we believe that we are acting in the best interests of education in this country and of the teaching profession in asking the House to divide against the Bill. We know that many hon. Members opposite in the last few weeks have had occasion to 543 discuss this matter with teachers who have come to see them in the House and in their constituencies. Some of them have given positive pledges. Some have made sympathetic noises which I dare say they hoped would be taken as pledges but which were not so specific. I merely tell them this: teachers are methodical and they keep records.
§ Sir E. Boyle
By leave of the House, I should like to reply to a number of points which have been made in the debate. First, I should like to answer two or three points raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas).
§ Sir E. Boyle
I have done so. The hon. Lady is not as methodical as the teachers of whom she has just spoken.
Several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, have raised material points. They have referred to what they have described as a standing invitation to the Minister to make his views known to the Burnham Committee at any time. I should like to make two points on that.
First, as I said in my opening speech this afternoon, I knew of no such standing invitation. Members of the Burnham Committee and I may have had different impressions of their readiness to receive a formal intervention from me, but I was certainly under the impression that the understanding reached between Lord Eccles and the associations at the conclusion of the discussions in 1961–62 would have made such an intervention by me unwelcome. I pointed out this afternoon that Lord Eccles gave assurances in response to questioning by both the Joint Honorary Secretaries of the Burnham Committee that Ministry officials would not join in the negotiations or be involved in any points of principle in the early stages of those negotiations. It was in the light of those assurances that I felt that an intervention on my part would not be welcome
I was not worried by this, and the more important point that I would make to the House is the second one. The course of the negotiation as observed by my assessors did not suggest that the Committee would reach conclusions which I would find it difficult to accept. It was 544 only on 24th January—and I emphasise this—that the negotiations took a completely different and unexpected turn, and the unacceptable elements of the settlement appeared for the first time. It was, of course, on that day that the Committee reached its provisional agreement.
§ Dr. King
We can understand that no formal invitation came from the Burnham Committee for the right hon. Gentleman to join the Committee as a third partner, but his own representatives were continually at the Burnham Committee's meetings and they could have conveyed at any time quite informally the views which he held which were so serious to him that he was ultimately going to tear up the results of the negotiations.
§ Sir E. Boyle
The officials were there as assessors and not as representatives of mine. That was the point agreed by Lord Eccles.
It has been suggested that there was as it were, a convention that I had a standing invitation to make my views known. I was not under this impression. If there was a misunderstanding about it, I am sorry, but I acted in perfectly good faith in interpreting Lord Eccles's agreement as I did.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Has the Minister taken any steps since the publication of the document last week at the teachers' conference to verify the facts? Has he contacted Sir William Alexander, because there is a major disagreement between him and the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees?
§ Sir E. Boyle
No, but if there is a misunderstanding between us on this matter, I am ready to have it cleared up. All that I am saying is that I believe that I acted in perfectly good faith.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West raised two other points. He said that I spoke to the two Joint Secretaries of the Burnham Committee on 20th February—which is true—and approached them in a dictatorial manner, saying, "I am not consulting you, but telling you". It is important to remember the context in which those words were used. February 20th was the day on which I wrote my first letter to the Chairman of the Burnham Committee, about which the hon. Member for Cardiff, West asked 545 me a Private Notice Question in the House. I thought it only courteous to inform the two Honorary Secretaries of the Burnham Committee of what I proposed to do and to give them beforehand an intimation of what would be in that letter. I still maintain that that letter was not couched in dictatorial terms.
My first letter to the Burnham Committee left room for negotiation between us. I did not in any way that morning threaten to introduce my own detailed scales. That morning, I was simply giving notice that I would be writing to the chairman to say that I could not accept the provisional agreement.
The third point raised by the hon. Member concerns the Press. I should not like there to be any bad feeling on this matter, because I do not consider that I have in any way gone beyond what is conventional or usual. Obviously, my decision to announce that I could not accept the provisional agreement was an important political matter. It seemed to me right that I should inform representatives of the Press of what I proposed to do. Nobody saw my letter to the Chairman of the Burnham Committee before it was received by the Burnham Honorary Secretaries and before they had a chance to study it.
As to my Press conference that evening, I left it to the editors themselves to decide whom they sent along. I have had happy contacts with the educational Press, not only on this occasion, but on many other occasions. Whatever faults can be found with me as Minister, I do not think that anyone would say that I was not accessible to representatives of the educational Press at any time.
I saw them over the N.U.T. survey in January, I have seen them over this matter and I have already arranged a discussion with them next week on the subject of the Ministry's Annual Report, Certainly, on this occasion, I meant no discourtesy, because it seemed to me that this would be a matter of considerable interest to the national Press as well.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
On how many occasions has the Minister invited the leader writers rather than the educational correspondents?
§ Sir E. Boyle
I have never invited leader writers specifically to see me. If the hon. Member wishes further details, I am ready to let him have them. On this matter, however, I have always taken the view that any Minister must keep in close contact with the educational Press, but there is nothing whatever wrong in encouraging the public discussion of educational issues in the national Press.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West said that it was time that we had a Minister who had first-hand experience of the State system. I was Parliamentary Secretary for three years and I am sure no education Minister since the war has in his time visited more maintained schools or had more contacts with the teaching profession than I have done. I have visited well over half the education authorities and, precisely because I came up through the independent system, I have done my very best during all my years at the Ministry to keep in as close contact as I could with all that was going on in the maintained schools.
I should like next to turn to the point, which was raised by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and a number of other hon. Members, about what was said by my right hon. Friend the First Secretary in 1944. I am well aware of what was said on that occasion when the Education Bill was before the House of Commons, namely, that Section 89 was so drafted as to leave no responsibility with the Minister for framing or amending salary scales.
I certainly accept that both Parliament and my right hon. Friend did not envisage in 1944 that the Minister's responsibilities would lead him to feel that he should concern himself with the details of the scales. Even if such an approach was thought right at that time, however, surely it is reasonable that we should now ask ourselves, twenty years later, whether this same approach meets the needs of today, when the education service plays a so much greater part in the life of the nation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ton-bridge (Mr. Hornby), who made such an admirable speech, was absolutely convincing in his demonstration that any Minister must be right to take note of the details of distribution. I am sorry to have missed the speech of my hon. 547 Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger), but I have had a full report of it. I understand that the point of view which he was expressing was that rather than bring in this Bill, if I wanted to I should have rejected the Burnham report and then immediately had negotiations on the whole of the machinery and procedures before I brought in any legislation. I can only make the same answer to him that I made earlier this afternoon and which my hon. Friend the Member for Ton-bridge also made, namely, that I simply cannot believe that this unresolved pay dispute could have been the right background for the full discussions on which I hope to embark. That was the difficulty. It was not that I did not wish—
§ Mr. Iremonger
That was not my point. It was that if the Minister felt that he could not accept these proposals, it would have been better to accept them none the less because it was not worth the difficulty of interfering with the negotiations.
§ Sir E. Boyle
My hon. Friend will find that I have some comments on that to make at the end of my speech, because I think that ultimately that is the matter which the House must decide. I thought that my hon. Friend was presenting the alternative that, if I wanted to, I should have rejected the award and then waited until we had the new machinery before bringing in any new legislation. I was saying that I could not believe that that would have been a wise course to pursue.
The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) was much too gloomy about the prospects for the talks on the new machinery. My impression is that, no matter what our present disagreement may be and no matter what may be said at conferences and so on, there are many people in the teaching world and in the local authority world who are keen to begin these talks and who will be glad to find today that I have shown that the agenda is to be wide.
§ Sir E. Boyle
If the hon. Member will listen, I will give the answer. There are many people in both the teaching world and the local authority world who will welcome these talks and a wide agenda, but I do not believe that it will be possible to bring them to an end within a very few months. If we are to do our jobs thoroughly, these talks must take a considerable time.
§ Mr. Lubbock
Will the Minister rescind his powers under Section 89 of the 1944 Act in addition to saying that he must have a seat at the conference table? That might be one way in which he could secure the co-operation of the teachers in framing the new machinery.
§ Sir E. Boyle
If the hon. Member had been present in the House before Easter, he would have known that I made it absolutely clear to the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that I was willing to see every issue, including the Minister's statutory powers, fully and frankly examined. I said today—he will find it if he reads my speech tomorrow—that one of the questions which would certainly have to be discussed would be the power which the Minister now has by virtue of Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944, to accept or reject a proposed settlement. However, I do not believe that it would be right tonight for me to give all my views before I have had any talks with my education colleagues.
I want now to come to some of the other issues raised by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North. Although I do not want to make too heavy weather of this, I was sorry that at the start of his speech the hon. Member said that I had been subject to pressure from the Department. I hope that he was not in any way suggesting that the policy behind the Bill and the events leading up to it were not mine but the Ministry's. Let me make it absolutely clear that I have had the usual consultation with and advice from officials on these questions, but the decisions have been and will continue to be mine, with the support of my colleagues in the Government.
I do not want to make too much of this, but the hon. Member will be aware that a number of rumours have been going around that there are those in Curzon Street who want, for its own 549 sake, to take more power and so on. Let me make it perfectly clear that the Government and I as a member of the Government take full responsibility for the Bill and for the decision which we are asking the House to take tonight.
I come next to what the hon. Gentleman said about the Conservative Party and teachers. The hon. Gentleman had a good deal to say about the period immediately after the First World War and the period after 1931. I am not sure how much is gained by going back to those years. I should have thought that the whole place of education in our national life had been so revolutionised since the war and during the period of Conservative government that there was not very much point in harking back over thirty to forty years, but I disagree with the hon. Gentleman that my party has been inimical to the interests of the teachers.
After all, it was in this Parliament that we brought in one of the most important educational reforms that this country has had in the teaching profession, namely, the three-year training course, and it was a courageous decision to bring in these courses at a time when we knew that the school population was going to rise again. I believe that that reform is likely to do more for the status of the teaching profession than any reform since the war.
§ Mr. Willey
Does the Minister realise that he is going back thirty or forty years? This was first recommended immediately after the First World War.
§ Sir E. Boyle
In that case it is a pity that none of the Labour Governments did it either.
I think it ought to be remembered just how the whole standing and importance of the teaching profession, and indeed the opportunities open to the teaching profession, have increased under the present Government. The progress that we have made towards secondary education for all has provided great opportunities for teachers in schools of all kinds. Hon. Members know the vast amount of experiment going on in primary schools today, and let us not forget that one child out of four in a primary school is in a post-war primary school. At the secondary stage, we shall shortly have got rid of all all-age schools, and there has been 550 a big development of the grammar schools. All these things have enormously affected the opportunities open to teachers. I mention these things because the charge has constantly been made in the course of today's debate that the Conservative Party is against the interests of the teaching profession.
Looking ahead, during the 1960s there will be no fewer than 270,000 new entrants to the teaching profession, that is slightly more than the total number of teachers now in service, and I think the hon. Member for Sunderland, North knows that there will be a steady rise all the time in the population of those in the training colleges.
Coming to the particular provisions which are connected with this Bill, the hon. Gentleman made two main criticisms. First, he seemed to suggest, in the context of the minimum of £630 rather than £650, that I was not worried about the status of the profession. I believe that it is wrong to suggest that the status of a profession depends purely on the starting salary. On the contrary, surely the whole point is that the status of any profession and its attraction for good recruits depends on the scale of advancement and the opportunities that it offers.
If one looks at the basic scale, we have nothing of which to be ashamed. The hon. Gentleman referred to the Bow Group pamphlet of 1959 which said that the basic scale ought to go up by 20 per cent. It has done since then. In 1959 the basic minimum was £520, and as soon as this Bill becomes law the minimum on the basic scale will be £630.
The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) spoke about differentials. He said that I was not calmly deciding this matter, and then referred to differentials and said how impossible it was to compare one profession with another. I accept his point, as I have always done, that a manpower Budget is desirable, but a very difficult thing to bring about. But my main point this afternoon was that if one compares the teaching profession with other professions the opportunities for advancement and salary increases in the teaching profession were in 1945, and still are today, much more limited than elsewhere. In other words, I was not trying to draw an exact comparison between professions; I was trying to point 551 out the relative prospects of advancement in the teaching profession compared with other professions. Here I am absolutely clear that whereas the Burnham Committee has done a good deal for differentials since 1945, none the less we cannot now afford to relax our efforts if we are to see the profession compare more favourably with other professions than it has in the past.
It would not be right at the moment to push, as it were, the concertina in. I believe that this is particularly important at a time when the teaching profession in the 1960s will contain more people than ever before, and when its contribution to the nation's life will be more important than it ever has been. That is why I attach such very great importance to not going back on the 15 per cent. of the total salary bill that is devoted to differentials.
I should like to mention two points with which I can agree that were made from the benches opposite. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Sunderland, North speaking about the quota and the curriculum study group. Concerning the quota I, as a Birmingham Member, quite apart from my interest as Minister of Education, know how important this is from the point of view of staffing schools in the most difficult areas. I have no doubt that this view is strongly represented within the National Union of Teachers, and I am quite sure that statesmanship will prevail here. This is an extremely important subject.
With regard to the curriculum study group, I read with great interest what was said by Sir Ronald Gould at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers. I thought that he made a helpful approach to this, and I can see no reason why there is not here a basis for negotiation and agreement between the National Union of Teachers and the Ministry of Education.
My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), in a robust speech, spoke about the withdrawal of my invitation to the N.U.T. Conference. I regret it for one main reason, that for me it is of great value to have as many opportunities as possible of meeting members of the teaching profession personally. It is not just the set speech, as it were, that one delivers, but the opportunity at the even- 552 ing functions that one so greatly values—the informal functions—and I hope that it may be possible on other occasions for me to meet members of the profession.
Before I come back to the point that was made by the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), in her winding up speech, I should like to answer one point that was made by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I can assure him that what I have in mind to do will not involve any interference with the academic freedom of teachers. As to consultation with the Burnham Committee, I sent my ideas on salary scales to it in confidence for its observations, and there is nothing to prevent it continuing, if it wants to, to give me its detailed observations before the scales are made.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East asked why I had done this. I did this because I thought that the Burnham Committee had reached a bad agreement, and for no other reason. I told it so, I gave it my reasons, and those reasons, as I said this afternoon, have attracted a considerable volume of public support. Had I found that just one or two elements in this agreement were unsatisfactory, it might have been that I would have felt able to approve the agreement as a whole, but, as I explained to the House, there seemed to me grounds for questioning all of the four major components of the agreement. I set out my reasons this afternoon, and pointed out that it was not just the details but the whole strategy of the agreement that seemed wrong. The Burnham Committee seemed to me to have got its priorities wrong. Its proposals gave too much weight to the young and inexperienced teacher and too little to the older, and they rewarded insufficiently those with prime responsibility for organising the life and work of the schools.
I cannot agree that this is a trivial matter. To refer to something involving the sum of more than £10 million over two years as a trivial matter seems to me to be getting matters right out of scale. Nor do I agree that differentials of £40 or £70 are trivial.
§ Mrs. White
The Minister should take account of what happened under his predecessor. The sum of £5½ million is not trivial, but all that was taken off the basic scale and not the differentials. Is 553 it not natural that in the next round of negotiations the other side should come into its own?
§ Sir E. Boyle
That is a good argument against any further pulling out of the concertina this time. I did not propose, and I would not have proposed, that the overall proportion devoted to the differentials should be increased for that reason, but I do not believe that it is a good enough reason for saying that only 3 per cent. of the extra should be devoted to the differentials. It was the decision positively to reduce the percentage of the overall salary bill given to the differentials that seemed to me to be the worst of all.
This was bound to be an extremely con-
§ troversial decision, and I thought hard about it before taking aotion. But nothing that has happened since I wrote my original letter, with all its consequences, has made me feel that if I had my time over again I would have acted differently. I believe that the decision that I have taken is right from an educational point of view, and I believe, furthermore, that it is right from the point of view of the nation as a whole, particularly when we consider the major contribution that the education service has to make to the country in the years ahead.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 283, Noes 223.557
|Division No. 103.]||AYES||[9.57 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Corfield, F. V.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Allason, James||Costain, A. P.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Coulson, Michael||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Craddock, Sir Beresford(Spelthorne)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Crawley, Aidan||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Critchley, Julian||Hastings, Stephen|
|Balniel, Lord||Crosthwatte-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Barber, Anthony||Crowder, F. P.||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cunningham, Knox||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Barter, John||Curran, Charles||Hendry, Forbes|
|Batsford, Brian||Currie, G. B. H.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hiley, Joseph|
|Bell, Ronald||Dance, James||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hobson, Sir John|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||de Ferrantl, Basil||Holland, Philip|
|Bidgood, John C.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hollingworth, John|
|Biffen, John||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Doughty, Charles||Hopkins, Alan|
|Bingham, R. M.||Drayson, G. B.||Hornby, R. P.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||du Cann, Edward||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Duncan, Sir James||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Eden, John||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Bossom, Hon. Clive||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hurd, Sir Anthony|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Elliott,R.w.(New'ctle-upon Tyne,N.)||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Box, Donald||Emery, Peter||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||James, David|
|Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Errington, Sir Eric||Johnson, Dr, Donald (Carlisle)|
|Braine, Bernard||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Brewis, John||Farr, John||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.Col.Sir Walter||Fell, Anthony||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fisher, Nigel||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith|
|Brooman-White, R.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Forrest, George||Kerans, Cdr, J. S.|
|Bryan, Paul||Foster, John||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Buck, Antony||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Bullard, Denya||Freeth, Denzil||Kimball, Marcus|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander Eric|
|Burden, F. A.||Gammans, Lady||Kitson, Timothy|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||George, Sir John (Pollok)||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden)||Gibson-Watt, David||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Belfast,S.)||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Leavey, J. A.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Leburn, Gilmour|
|Gary, Sir Robert||Godber, J. B.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Goodhew, victor||Lindsay, Sir Martin|
|Chataway, Christopher||Gough, Frederick||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Gower, Raymond||Litchfleid, Capt. John|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.)||Green, Alan||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Gresham Cooke, R.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Cooke, Robert||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. C.||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Gurden, Harold||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Cordle, John||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||MacArthur, Ian|
|McLaren, Martin||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Talbot, John E.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Maclean,SirFltzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs)||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Taylor, Frank, (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|McLean, Nell (Inverness)||Pitt, Dame Edith||Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Pott, Percivall||Teeling, Sir William|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Temple, John M.|
|McMaster, Stanley R.||Prior, J. M. L.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)|
|Maddan, Martin||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Pym, Francis||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Marlowe, Anthony||Ramsden, James||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Rawlinson, Sir Peter||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Marten, Neil||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Turner, Colin|
|Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Rees, Hugh||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Renton, Rt. Hon. David||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Mawby, Ray||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Robson Brown, Sir William||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Mills, Stratton||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Roots, William||Walder, David|
|Morgan, William||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Walker, Peter|
|Morrison, John||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Mott-Radelyffe, Sir Charles||Russell, Ronald||Wall, Patrick|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald||St. Clair, M.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Neave, Airey||Scott-Hopkins, James||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Sharpies, Richard||Webster, David|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Shaw, M.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Shepherd, William||Whitelaw, William|
|Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Skeet, T. H. H.||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Smithers, Peter||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Wise, A. R.|
|Page, John (Harrow, West)||Speir, Rupert||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Stanley, Hon. Richard||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Partridge, E.||Stevens, Geoffrey||Woollam, John|
|Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Peel, John||Stodart, J. A.|
|Percival, Ian||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Peyton, John||Studholme, Sir Henry||Mr. Chichester-Clark and Mr. Finlay.|
|Abse, Leo||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Herbison, Miss Margaret|
|Ainsley, William||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Albu, Austen||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hilton, A. V.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Deer, George||Holman, Percy|
|Balrd, John||Delargy, Hugh||Hooson, H. E.|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Dempsey, James||Houghton, Douglas|
|Beaney, Alan||Diamond, John||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)|
|Bence, Cyril||Dodds, Norman||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Driberg, Tom||Hoy, James H.|
|Benson, Sir George||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Blackburn, F.||Edelman, Maurice||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Blyton, William||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hunter, A. E.|
|Boardman, H.||Edwards Robert (Bilston)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics,S.W.)||Finch, Harold||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Fitch, Alan||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Bowles, Frank||Fletcher, Eric||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Boyden, James||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas|
|Bradley, Tom||Forman, J. C.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Galpern, Sir Myer||Jones,Rt.Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||George,LadyMeganLloyd(Crmr'thn)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Ginsburg, David||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Callaghan, James||Gourlay, Harry||Kelley, Richard|
|Carmichael, Neil||Greenwood, Anthony||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Grey, Charles||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Chapman, Donald||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||King, Dr. Horace|
|Cliffe, Michael||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Lawson, George|
|Collick, Percy||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Ledger, Ron|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gunter, Ray||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Cronin, John||Hannan, William||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Harper, Joseph||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hayman, F. H.||Lipton, Marcus|
|Dalyell, Tam||Healey, Denis||Loughlin, Charles|
|Darling, George||Henderson, Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis)||Lubbock, Eric|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|McBride, N.||Peart, Frederick||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|McCann, John||Pentland, Norman||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|MacColl, James||Popplewell, Ernest||Swain, Thomas|
|MacDermot, Niall||Prentice, R. E.||Swingler, Stephen|
|Mclnnes, James||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Taverne, D.|
|Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Probert, Arthur||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Proctor, W. T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Briggs)||Randall, Harry||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Rankin, John||Thornton, Ernest|
|Manuel, Archie||Redhead, E. C.||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Mapp, Charles||Reid, William||Tomney, Frank|
|Marsh, Richard||Reynolds, G. W.||Wade, Donald|
|Mason, Roy||Rhodes, H.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Mellish, R. J.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Warbey, William|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Millan, Bruce||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Weitzman, David|
|Milne, Edward||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Welis, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Monslow, Walter||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Whitlock, William|
|Moody, A. S.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wigg, George|
|Morris, John||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Moyle, Arthur||Skeffington, Arthur||Willey, Frederick|
|Mulley, Frederick||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Neal, Harold||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|O'Malley, B. K.||Small, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Oswald, Thomas||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Owen, Will||Snow, Julian||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Padley, W. E.||Sorensen, R. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Woof, Robert|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Spriggs, Leslie||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Parker, John||Steele, Thomas||Zilliacus, K.|
|Parkin, B. T.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Paton, John||Stones, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Short and Mr. G. H. R Rogers.|
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 (Committee of Bills).