HC Deb 05 March 1970 vol 797 cc593-6
3. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what examination he has made of the desirability of having higher initial salaries for teachers with smaller subsequent increments.

Mr. Edward Short

The structure of teachers' salaries is a matter for the Burnham Committee and the Committee has now in fact decided to undertake a review of the structure.

Mr. Sheldon

While welcoming that information, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he agrees that it is just a historical accident that we have had this very long scale? Should we not rather more closely relate the value of experience to salaries?

Mr. Short

I agree. I think that the scales have become distorted. That is why I was so anxious that the Burnham Committee should start a full scale and radical review of the structure of the scales.

Sir G. Nabarro

Having regard to the massive demonstrations at Westminster and throughout the constituencies of the United Kingdom on teachers' pay structure and associated matters, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can advise the House about the likely duration of the examination by the Burnham Committee and whether we can expect at least an interim report within a few months?

Mr. Short

There are some Questions on the Order Paper on this matter which I propose to answer shortly by way of a statement. The present review will end and the new scales will be implemented on, I hope, 1st January next year.

7. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement about the teachers' pay dispute.

25. Mr. Wellbeloved

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total expenditure on teachers' salaries in 1963–64; and what is his estimate of the current cost on the basis of the acceptance of the Burnham offer.

48. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a further statement on the teachers' pay dispute.

50. Mr. Newens

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement on the teachers' pay dispute.

63 and 64. Sir J. Rodgers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will now consider the request by the National Association of Schoolmasters to set up a body to examine the need for the restructuring of teachers' salary scales independent of the existing Burnham Committee;

(2) if he will take steps to speed up an interim agreement in the basic pay of schoolteachers.

67. Mr. John Wells

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now establish a wide-ranging inquiry into the salary structure, status and supply of the teaching profession.

Mr. Edward Short

I am glad to be able to say that the Burnham Committee reached provisional agreement on Tuesday on an interim increase for school teachers in England and Wales at a flat annual rate of £120 from 1st April, 1970. The two sides will begin talks as soon as possible on a review of the salaries structure based on 1969 salary levels, to be partially implemented from 1st January, 1971, the phasing of full implementation thereafter to be the subject of negotiation.

The Government are not committed to a cost for the two proposals in the financial year 1970–71 in excess of £42 million for full-time qualified teachers whose total salary bill in that year would rise to an estimated £563 million, and in 1971–72 in excess of £84 million.

The teachers' associations have given an assurance to take steps to terminate as quickly as possible all forms of industrial action and sanctions.

Mr. Barnes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, contrary to the carping criticism made in some sections of the Press, there is widespread relief throughout the country at the very satisfactory and wise intervention which he made? Would he agree that, in the long-term, it is not enough for teachers' salaries just to keep pace with the cost of living or with other wage earners but that the position of teachers should improve in relation to the rest of us to ensure that they get a much fairer salary for the work they do?

Mr. Short

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's kind words. This, together with the steps that we are taking in regard to qualified teachers, the raising of qualifications and so on, is part of a pattern to try to raise the status of the teaching profession.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Would my right hon. Friend accept the warm-hearted congratulation of not only hon. Members but the general public, whose children have been suffering as a result of teachers' strikes? Is he aware that the activities of his Department have laid the foundation for a great step forward to be made by the profession and that the increased salaries which have been awarded on this and previous occasions under his administration have been a clear indication of the tremendous importance the Government under Labour give to education and teachers' salaries?

Mr. Mitchell

While endorsing everything that has been said about the part that has been played by my right hon. Friend, may I ask him to say whether he has any plans to look at the whole Burnham machinery and, in particular, whether he thinks that his two representatives on the Committee are necessary?

Mr. Short

I told both sides of the Burnham Committee that if they both wished it I would be quite willing to enter into discussions about the whole Burnham machinery. I would not wish to comment on the last point made in my hon. Friend's supplementary question.

Mr. Montgomery

Would the right hon. Gentleman please say whether he instructed his representatives on the Burnham Committee that he would be prepared to accept a rise of £120 and, if not, why not? Would he also say why, if he found it possible to intervene last Tuesday, he could not have intervened in this dispute at an earlier stage and thus avoid a great deal of disruption to the education service?

Mr. Short

On Tuesday I accepted an invitation, in the middle of negotiations, from the Teachers' Panel to meet them. The first comment I made to them was that I could not negotiate, but that I would convey what they said to the other side. That is precisely what I did.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies hope that a similar happy result will occur in Scotland?

Mrs. Thatcher

May I question the right hon. Gentleman about the amount of money that will be available for restructuring, since it is difficult to judge the position from the figures that have been given in the Press? Is it true that in 1970–71 only £3 million out of the £42 million will be available for restructuring and that, as the interim settlement goes beyond that date, in the following year, 1971–72, of the total amount up to £42 million which is available, an unknown proportion will be available for restructuring? Is that the position?

Mr. Short

It is precisely because the flat-rate increase of 1st April is rather high that there will clearly be only £3 million of the £42 million left in the first year. For this reason I said that the negotiations would also involve deciding on staging the restructuring programme into 1971–72.