HC Deb 25 June 1974 vol 875 cc1182-4
4. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent discussions he has had with local education authorities in counties near London such as Bedfordshire on the subject of converting the London teacher allowance into a South-East allowance; and if he will make a statement.

10. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, as part of his review of the weighting allowance, he will investigate and make a statement on the staff teaching situation in Greater London.

29. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, as part of his review of London weighting allowance for teachers, he will give consideration to revising the boundaries for allowances for teachers to ensure that teachers working in the same town will receive the same allowance.

43. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the current position on the payment of an increased London allowance to school teachers.

Mr. Prentice

The Pay Board was asked as part of its review of London weighting to consider the present boundaries. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment expects to receive its report at the end of this week and will arrange for its early publication. It will then be for the Burnham Committees to review the London allowance for teachers, including the boundaries of the allowance, in the light of the Pay Board's report.

Mr. Madel

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that reply. Does he agree that if the London allowance is increased on the basis of the existing boundaries it might bring more teachers into the capital from counties such as Bedfordshire, which are trying to help solve London's education problems? Since the cost of living in those counties is the same as in London, however, does he not feel that the allowance should become a South-East allowance? In that way we might attract more teachers into the South-East as a whole.

Mr. Prentice

This is a complex problem, because wherever a boundary is drawn for an allowance of this kind there will almost inevitably be difficulties. I had better not comment on the merits of any particular solution because the Pay Board's report will be available in a few days' time and will be considered in the appropriate committees.

Mr. Molloy

Over the last few years the London allowance and teachers' sala ries have been sources of great discontent. Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is now being reflected in the difficulties of London education authorities to recruit and hold their staffs because of the way those staffs have been treated? Will he give some assurance that he will act swiftly to remedy some of these grievances?

Mr. Prentice

I can certainly assure my hon. Friend that there will be speedy action after we receive the Pay Board's report. I am glad that my hon. Friend referred to the matter in the context of the problem of teachers' pay. Teachers have fallen behind for some years, which is why we have appointed a review body on the whole question.

Mr. Tuck

I thank my right hon. Friend for his original answer, but is he aware that teachers in one part of Watford get the London allowance whereas those in another part do not? This is creating great consternation among teachers, which means that the town is unable to recruit them and is in fact losing them. Will he do his best to remedy that situation?

Mr. Prentice

I am aware of the problem to which my hon. Friend refers. He explained it graphically to me last week. As I said earlier, this is one aspect of the problem which will be a subject of the Pay Board's report.

Mr. William Shelton

Is the Minister aware that substantial leaks about the report appeared in the Press last week? Will he comment on their accuracy? Is he aware that many teachers were led to believe that the improved London weighting allowance would start during June? Will he confirm that this will be so?

Mr. Prentice

I noticed the leaks. I would prefer not to comment on their accuracy. The starting date of any improved allowance is one of the matters on which the Pay Board could report and is open for negotiation within the Burham Committees.