HC Deb 23 July 1974 vol 877 cc1274-5
5. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now give further consideration to granting a local allowance to teachers in areas such as Watford.

Mr. Prentice

This is a matter for the Burnham Committee.

Mr. Tuck

Does my right hon. Friend realise that unless something is done about this the result will be an educational green belt—or perhaps I should call it an educational black belt—around London, with schools closing for lack of teachers, children getting half-time education, increasing illiteracy and classroom chaos? What factors govern the pay boundaries set for different groups of public sector employees? For example, the workers at the town hall in Watford get a local weighting allowance while teachers in Watford do not.

Mr. Prentice

My hon. Friend's supplementary question underlines the point wherever boundaries are drawn for this purpose there are bound to be anomalies, grievances and problems among those who live on the wrong side of the line. Those who are urging that there should be a bigger award of the London allowance for teachers should be aware that in the last two weeks I have had representations from teachers in Kent and Berkshire against an over-generous settlement of the London allowance because of the kind of problem to which my hon. Friend has referred.

Mr. Wells

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman look far more sympathetically at the housing problem than his earlier reply indicated? It is not only a matter of private sector housing. Council flats for spinster and young bachelor teachers are desperately needed. All local authorities, whether they be county and education or borough and housing, have a common purpose in this, and for the right hon. Gentleman to shovel it off saying that it is a matter for the Burnham Committee is unrealistic.

Mr. Prentice

I did not say that the housing problem was a matter for the Burnham Committee. I said that the problem raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck) was for Burnham. The Pay Board has recommended that there should be a further look at the housing problem, and this is a matter for central and local government. Some local authorities are making special housing provision for their teachers, and I would like to see that extended. But those of us representing London constituencies recognise that there are already long waiting lists in London, and therefore the problem of the teachers is part of a larger housing problem which is not capable of easy solution.