HC Deb 06 March 1969 vol 779 cc659-60
22. Mr. Brooks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will arrange an inquiry into the present arrangements and machinery for collective bargaining by all those engaged in the educational service, including those working in both schools and universities.

Mr. Edward Short

I see no case at present for an inquiry.

Mr. Brooks

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the use of the National Board for Prices and Incomes to determine university salaries, in the absence of any preliminary collective bargaining machinery, is wholly unsatisfactory? Does he not also agree that the members of a union affiliated to the T.U.C. should not find themselves denied pay simply for working to rule in defence of their right to adequate representation in such collective bargaining machinery as exists for teachers' salaries?

Mr. Short

My hon. Friend has put two separate points. First, university teachers have never had collective bargaining. Exploratory discussions are taking place now between my hon. Friend the Minister of State, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and the Association of University Teachers. The discussions are still continuing. On the other point, this is a matter for the local authorities; they are the employers of the teachers. I understand that the matter is now settled in most places, and I hope that the teachers will get back to normal working.

Mr. Lane

Without necessarily seeking to defend the action taken by some members of the National Association of Schoolmasters, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he appreciates how very strong is their sense of grievance at the moment and how anxiously they are seeking to find a way out of the present impasse?

Mr. Short

I realise that the members of the Association have very strong feelings, but they have not approached me at all on this matter.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Will my right hon. Friend take great care before messing around with the Burnham machinery? Whatever its faults, it has worked relatively well in the last few years.

Mr. Short

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We should remember that the Burnham machinery is statutory machinery. It is embodied in an Act of Parliament passed by this House as recently as 1965. The main objection is not to the machinery but to the procedure. The Committee can review its own procedure at any time.

30. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now take steps to set up a collective bargaining procedure to determine the pay of university teachers.

Mr. Edward Short

I refer my hon. Friend to my Written Reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford) on 27th February.—[Vol. 778. c. 364–5.]

Mr. Price

Could my right hon. Friend make clear what the stumbling block is in setting up this machinery? Is it the university authorities which refuse to combine to set up collective bargaining machinery, or is it Government policy that such collective bargaining machinery is inappropriate?

Mr. Short

No, Sir. The difficulty here is inherent in the structure of the universities. The problem is that we cannot get any of the parties concerned to constitute an employers' side for negotiations.