HC Deb 09 April 1970 vol 799 cc724-7
5. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now publish the terms of reference in detail for restructuring proposals by the Burnham Committee; and when he expects the publication of the recommendations, including an arbitration body for teachers' pay.

8. Mr. Hornby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what sum of money he proposes to allocate for the improvement of the salary structure in the teaching profession, now that the basic scale has been settled.

Mr. Edward Short

The Committee itself has agreed to consider the salaries structure, and I expect the discussions to begin shortly. I have told it that the Government are committed to increases, including the interim increase already provisionally agreed, totalling not more than £42 million in 1970–71 and £84 million in 1971–72. The restructuring will be from the pre 1st April, 1970, base. There are already arrangements for arbitration.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is the Minister aware that, in this context, restructuring does not refer to teachers' monetary rewards alone? Having regard to the seething discontent in the profession which has led to the latest strike threat on the size of classes and no doubt on other issues, will he give the Burnham Committee some parameters or guidelines on restructuring over a wider area than salaries and pecuniary rewards alone?

Mr. Short

Frankly, I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. Restructuring refers to the restructuring of salaries, and the Burnham Committee is about to engage in a restructuring exercise extending over the next few months. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that last year the biggest drop ever was recorded in the pupil-teacher ratio.

Mr. Hornby

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify the position a little further and confirm that it is Government policy, as reported in The Times Educational Supplement on 3rd April not to provide more money for teachers' salaries without a genuine restructuring of pay? Will he say whether the money is to come out of the teachers' increase for 1970–71, or will it be additional to that?

Mr. Short

We have said that the money that we will make available is on the basis of a genuine restructuring, and I hope that the Burnham Committee will get down to the job quickly.

Mr. Newens

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the controversy about whether the £42 million for the current year and the £84 million for the following year are maxima, or whether there is room for negotiation of any further amounts? In view of the controversy, can my right hon. Friend clarify the position still further?

Mr. Short

There is no controversy at all on the Government's part. I gave this information in the House before Easter. I have written to both sides of the Burnham Committee to make our position clear, and I have made it further crystal clear today.

10. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of the recent settlement on teachers' salaries, he will propose modifications of the procedures and composition of the Burnham Committee.

40. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what modifications he intends to propose in the procedure and composition of the Burnham Committee.

Mr. Edward Short

I have told the Burnham Schools Committee that, if both panels wish it, I am ready to enter into wide-ranging discussions with them, from which no relevant matter need be excluded.

Mr. Hill

Does not the Minister agree that the Burnham Committee is now rather too large and unwieldy to be able to deal most effectively with some of the complex problems like restructuring and to avoid the danger of any negotiations becoming too protracted?

Mr. Short

If the two sides can agree on changing the structure of the Burnham machinery, I am willing to talk to them about it.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will the Minister confirm that it is his policy to drop the Government representatives from the Burnham Committee and also the proposals for compulsory arbitration? Is it not necessary to do this if claims are to be considered on their merits and not fall victims to the remnants of the Government's incomes policy?

Mr. Short

Certainly I would be willing to look at those two points. The Government are very much involved, as they find about 57 per cent. of the money for teachers' salaries.

Mr. Newens

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the provisions in the Remuneration of Teachers Act, 1965, for compulsory arbitration were shown in the recent dispute to be quite useless, since there was no agreement about going to arbitration? In the circumstances, would it not be more sensible to agree to drop them?

Mr. Short

Obviously, there must be some arrangements for arbitration in the case of a breakdown. I am inclined to agree that the present arrangements need changing. But I am willing to discuss this and any other matter that the two sides wish to raise.