HC Deb 23 July 1974 vol 877 cc1272-4
4. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now increase the global sum available to the Burnham Committee in the negotiations for the London allowance.

18. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what responses he has received from teachers' organisations concerning the proposed London weighting allowances; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Prentice

It is for the management panel of the Burnham Committee to negotiate with the teachers' panel. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has indicated, public service employers will be responding to claims in the light of their particular circumstances. I met representatives of the teachers' panel of the Burnham Primary and Secondary Committee on 9th July, noted that the offer made by the management panel was in accordance with the Pay Board report and reminded them that there were two sides to negotiations.

Mr. Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Burnham negotiations are dominated by the global sum which he and the Government impose on the management panel? Has he seen some of the recent settlements by the banks and other organisations in the private sector in London going well above the Pay Board norm? In view of his responsibilities to maintain the fabric of a full-time and efficient teaching force in London, does he feel that he has responsibility to create some movement of the global sum so that we can get a settlement in London before the inevitable disruption which will otherwise take place as term beings in September?

Mr. Prentice

I have noted what my hon. Friend said about the banks and other employers. I believe that the whole country is directly or by implication involved in the social contract and I do not believe that employers such as banks should now be making movements of that kind. My hon. Friend, with all his experience, will not expect me to make a unilateral statement on the position of Burnham on behalf of the management panel. Any move made in negotiations would have to be discussed within the management panel, on which the local authorities as well as my Department are represented.

Mr. Sims

Is my right hon. Friend aware that teachers living in outer London constituencies such as mine believe that their living expenses are just as high as those living in inner London and that they deplore any distinction being made between inner and outer London? Will he take this into account?

Mr. Prentice

I am aware of that point of view. It has been put to me rather forcibly by representations from the teachers' organisations. On the other hand, I think that there was a great deal of merit in the argument for a two-tier solution. Without anticipating the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck), I believe that the problem to which he may draw attention may lend force to that pant of the argument.

Mr. Hamilton

I have a vested interest in this matter because my son and daughter-in-law, both teachers, are in the outer London area. The Pay Board's recommendation will do nothing for their housing problem and nothing, I suspect, to solve the housing problems of thousands of other teachers in both the outer and inner London areas. It is this which seems to many of us to be the main point. Will my right hon. Friend undertake not only to look at the global sum but also to consult local housing authorities to see what they can do to help teachers to be housed?

Mr. Prentice

The Pay Board recognised that very severe difficulty is imposed on people in London who are buying their first home. It suggested that measures should be taken to try to deal with the problem. It went on to say, rightly, that the pay of all public employees in London could not be raised to such an extent as to compensate fully the first-home buyer.