§ 12.47 a.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)
I am glad at this early stage to have the opportunity of raising the subject of the redundancies that are taking place in colleges of education all over the country, including my own constituency. I begin by making it clear that the redundancies that are about to take place arise out of the policy begun by the previous Government and continued by the present one of reducing the number of teacher training places in colleges of education and amalgamating the reduced colleges of education with other institutions of higher education to give a wider range of subject-matter and syllabus in the amalgamated larger polytechnics and other institutions.
I agreed with that policy when it was instituted. It seemed a regrettable necessity to have to reduce the number of teacher training places to avoid oversupply, and I continue to agree with that policy and the welcome diversification that is taking place in colleges of education where former teacher training colleges are acquiring other courses or being amalgamated with other institutions.
My anxiety is to ensure that that policy, when put into practice, is not carried out in such a way as to cause confusion and serious difficulties for those who have made their careers as lecturers and as staff in colleges of education. I raise this matter, which I think will have wider national implications, because my constituency happens to be particularly affected in the early stages.
This is because although at the moment few precise details have emerged about the way in which individual institutions will be affected, my constituency contains many members of staff of the large Nottingham College of Education, at Clifton, which is to be much reduced in size. The staff is concerned with problems, the details of which I have put to the Minister in letters. The staff is particularly seeking to maintain the high quality and supply of teachers of shortage subjects that are greatly needed in our schools.
469 In my constituency there is also one of the first two colleges which has been marked for complete closure. That is a Roman Catholic college of education— the Mary Ward College, at Keyworth, in Nottinghamshire. The closure of that college was agreed to in October 1974, after I and others had made representations against closure to the Minister. After the Minister had consulted the Roman Catholic heirarchy it was agreed by those responsible for the administration of the college that its closure was inevitable. That has continued to give rise to some problems in the college.
Students and staff are anxious that they should be allowed a full three-year rundown period until 1977, so that all students at the college can complete their courses. At the moment I am in the middle of an exchange of correspondence with Lord Crowther-Hunt, the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science. I am trying to get a quick assurance from him that the full three-year rundown period will be guaranteed.
At the moment there are other matters with which the Minister can deal. I am content to leave that problem to the discussions which Lord Crowther-Hunt will be having. I hope he will soon be able to give me a reassuring reply. The unrest being created at Mary Ward College illustrates some other weaknesses in the preparation for the rundown and closure of a college of this kind. There is considerable unrest, particularly among the staff, who realise that as a result of the decision their jobs cannot continue after 1977. The staff at Mary Ward College, in particular, will be among the first to be affected by this nation-wide policy.
This situation has implications for reassuring both staff and students and for making the position of both clear. A full three-year guarantee period is needed. That means that the staff must be persuaded that they are well provided for in redundancy terms and can feel secure, so that they do not have to look for alternative employment during the three-year period and the college runs as effectively as possible until the last moment and the students get the education to which they are entitled.
I recently met most of the staff at the Mary Ward College. It was as a result of the fears and doubts which they expressed to me then that I was induced 470 to apply to Mr. Speaker for this debate. I am afraid that, far from feeling secure or reassured about their position when the college closes, the staff have grave doubts about their position.
They were beginning to become suspicious about the bona fides of the Department because of the way in which they were being treated. There were great gaps in their understanding of the precise terms of their redundancy arrangements. I have given the Minister notice of some of the detailed questions that I would like him to answer for the benefit of my constituents and others. If there are gaps in my understanding of the position and the way in which I express these questions, this is simply a reflection of the fact that the complete staff of the college was not able to spell out to me in detail what their position is—despite all their efforts to get guidance from the Department and the appropriate union.
I have some specific questions about the Crombie Code as applied to teacher training and those who are to leave education altogether, as well as about the Burnham situation on salary safeguarding for those who remain in education and are entitled to such safeguarding under the Burnham-Pelham arrangements.
As I understand it, the Crombie Code is to be applied to teacher training for those who are going out of education altogether. Crombie was devised for 9 civil servants and was applied particularly to local government redundancies. It has not yet been re-phrased and interpreted for application to colleges of education. As redundancies are now facing the staff in this college the time has come when the exact application of Crombie ought to be made clear. The suspicion has been voiced to me that the difficulty is that the civil servants trying to do this in the Department of Education and Science are so burdened down by the problems of implementing the Houghton recommendations that they do not have the time to apply themselves to clarifying the Crombie Code with the urgency required.
The points that I should like clarified — I know that the Minister will be helpful— are concerned, first, with the issue of long-term compensation for those who will go out of education because of these 471 redundancies. The first problem relates to the calculation of reckonable service for the purpose of this long-term compensation. My understanding is that the Department's present proposals are that the only period to be taken into account is the period of years when a lecturer has been contributing to the superannuation scheme that is available to him.
It has been expressed clearly to me in a persuasive way that this is a very narrow interpretation of what reckonable service might mean. When one looks at how the Burnham and Pelham scales are applied for the purpose of increments, one sees that the teaching world is used to taking years of overseas teaching experience, industrial experience and war service as well into account in reaching a definition of recognised teaching service for certain periods under the salary scales. I trust that the Minister will say that the Department is prepared to take a more flexible view and will take a generous approach in deciding what is the reckonable service of a teacher for the purposet of long-term compensation.
When long-term compensation is arrived at, I urge the Minister to look at inflation-proofing of long-term compensation, particularly for those who will be under 55 when they are made redundant and will not get the protection of the pension increase Acts. The Minister will know of my interest on other occasions in this House in the subject of pensions and long-term provisions of that kind. In present inflationary circumstances, to look at long-term compensation or long-term provisions of any kind without regard to inflation-proofing is to offer someone a meaningless protection in his later years.
The second item under Crombie is resettlement compensation. This I take, from its description, to be compensation in a case where someone has to move to another part of the country in order to take up some alternative employment. I should like to know whether it is available only to those going out of education. I hope the Minister can say whether it can be paid in what will be numerous cases when a lecturer has to move out of his area where he has been lecturing to a job in education in another part of the country. Will he receive resettlement compensation in addition to the salary 472 safeguarding that is available under the Burnham-Pelham arrangements?
On the question of safeguarding under the Burnham-Pelham arrangement, I put to the Minister some specific questions. First, will he define continuity of service for the purpose of qualifying? In present circumstances some people will find that they cannot get another job in education straight away. I trust that if they have a short period in another job they will not be debarred from salary safeguarding.
I should like to know the range of employment in education to which salary safeguarding applies and how narrowly education will be defined. Will teacher centres and advisory teaching posts on Burnham scales provide safeguarded employment?
Likewise, why does safeguarding seen, to apply only to the first job taken after moving from a college of education, and not to subsequent jobs, even if they are in education?
I should also like the Minister to reassure me that, as I believe to be the case, the wording of the appropriate Statutory Instrument 747/1974, that a lecturer isdeemed for all salary purposes to hold the post that he held immediately before the closure and reorganisation,means that he also is deemed to receive any increment or regrading given subsequent to his leaving.
I hope that on the question of salary safeguarding those points are not too detailed for the Minister to shed a little light on them.
Finally, I should like the Minister to tell me what assurance, if any, can be given to the non-academic staff who appear to have none of this protection at colleges such as Mary Ward College, because their future seems very uncertain.
I apologise if I seem to be setting out a negotiating case which is normally conducted with the Department. I know that discussions are taking place with the ATCDE. However, not all my constituents concerned are members of ATCDE, nor are all those in colleges of education, nor are all those who are members in touch with their association's negotiators. The details should be produced now and be publicly available. 473 These people need to know now, when they are making plans to decide whether to stay in the college for a three-year rundown period, precisely what their position is.
I ask the Under-Secretary to take this opportunity to describe with the maximum of clarity and detail the precise position of lecturers and others in colleges of education who face redundancy.
§ 1.1 a.m.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) and to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for agreeing to allow me two minutes on this problem. It directly affects my constituency, which has two training colleges in it. One— Anthony Training College— will probably go out of existence and the other will probably be absorbed into a new form of educational institute under the Hull education authority.
The points I wish to make are supplementary to those made by the hon. Member for Rushcliffe. Although our colleges are those which are most threatened, there is nevertheless, over the whole sphere of further education for teacher training, this same threat. If we cut down the number of students by 40 per cent.— a policy imposed not so much by this Government as by the previous Government— those who will be affected to the greatest degree will be parents and students.
Lecturers declared redundant from one college do not know whether it is safe to apply to another college, because the coherence of the plan of closures has not come out. There is, secondly, a feeling amongst lecturers that the colleges are being picked off one by one by the Department of Education and Science and that there has been little consultation with the staff and college authorities involved.
Equally, lecturers are unsure of many aspects of the Crombie Code. They have a feeling that this document will not be seen by the majority of lecturers until it is laid before the House some time in June or July.
Lecturers hope that they will get the same sort of protection as local government 474 officers got. Amongst the things they demand are that no further vacancies in colleges of education should be advertised until staff declared redundant have been taken up. Also, they are wondering whether early retirement could be encouraged amongst more senior staff in terms of years, thus making vacancies for the younger redundant staff. In particular, they are concerned about the need for retraining of members of staff who may wish to go back into teaching but who, because of the work they have been doing in colleges, do not have the necessary skills. There is the problem, as the hon. Member for Rushcliffe said, of non-academic staff— administrators—who in general circumstances would be employed by local authorities but who in this case will not be.
Finally, what will happen to lecturers who, out of loyalty to students, particularly on divinity courses, remain to the end of the life of their college and then find that there are no vacancies for them when the time comes for them to seek employment elsewhere?
§ 1.4 a.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) for the very reasoned way in which he raised this serious problem and for the notice that he gave me of the subjects that he wanted to raise. I shall try to deal with the points raised by the hon. Member and with those raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara). I know the interest of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). Over the past few months we have had talks about Alnwick.
The total national requirement for teacher training places will have declined sharply by the end of the decade. It is the Government's policy that, wherever possible, colleges should develop new courses outside teacher training in order to make the fullest possible use of the places no longer required for the training of teachers.
Changes of the magnitude that we have in mind, involving a major reorganisation of the teacher training system, will unfortunately, but inevitably, mean that some individual members of staff will be displaced.
475 The reorganisation will be taking place over a period of years so that large numbers are unlikely to be made redundant at any one time. It is not possible at this stage to say what the total will be. Some will be absorbed to replace natural wastage due to retirement. Others, no doubt, will seek posts elsewhere in the education service— in other establishments of higher and further education, in schools, or in educational administration, depending upon their qualifications and experience.
I think that it would be helpful in responding to the various points raised by the hon. Member if I set them in context by outlining briefly the measures which have been taken to protect the interests of both teaching and non-teaching staffs in the colleges of education who are affected by the current reorganisation of higher education. I would stress this has been a joint effort by the Department, the local authority associations and the teacher associations, to whom I pay tribute.
The first main measure is safeguarding. This means that a teacher in a college of education who loses his post as a result of the closure or reorganisation of the college will, subject to certain conditions, continue to receive the salary for the post he has lost where his new post in teaching carries a lower salary. Previously, the only safeguarding available to a college of education teacher related to a post in another college of education. Now the management and teacher panels of the Burnham Committees have agreed that it shall apply to a college of education teacher obtaining a post in a school or a college of further education. This extension of safeguarding will be specially valuable for those college of education teachers who lose their posts but decide, as I hope most of them will, to remain in teaching service.
Secondly, on the initiative of the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education, a staff redepolyment bureau has been set up to assist and advise college of education staff seeking other employment. No charge will be made for its services. The greater part of the costs will be met by a grant from the Department.
Thirdly, the Government have agreed to provide compensation, on the basis of what is familiarly known as the Crombie 476 Code, to any teaching or non-teaching staff, full-time or part-time, who are made redundant directly as a result of the current reorganisation. The Crombie Code represents the most generous and comprehensive compensation available in the public service. It is applied only where there has been a statutory intervention with established expectations of employment. The statutory intervention in this case will be a direction given by the Secretary of State requiring a college to discontinue its courses or to reduce its intake of students. The direction will be given under new further education regulations which are currently being prepared.
The compensation payable under the Crombie Code is of three kinds: resettlement compensation, long-term compensation and retirement compensation.
Resettlement compensation consists of a lump sum calculated on the basis either of the applicant's length of service or his age. It can be equivalent to six months' pay, and is never less than three months' pay.
Long-term compensation is paid to staff of 5 years' standing who have not reached retiring age. They may be compensated for complete loss of employment or reduction in pay. Compensation is based on length of service and age and can amount at maximum to two-thirds of former pay.
Retirement compensation is payable from normal retirement age on the same terms as long-term compensation. It consists of a payment equal to the pension benefits to which the person is entitled, plus an addition related to the period between the date of loss and normal retiring age. There are also provisions for payments on death and payments of retirement compensation to people who have no pension rights.
I turn now to the detailed points raised by the hon. Gentleman. If there are any that I do not have time to reach and the hon. Gentleman follows them up, I shall be only too willing to discuss them with him. The Department will apply the Crombie Code to college of education staff by making regulations under Section 24 of the Superannuation Act 1972. The regulations are at present being drafted. They will be circulated in draft to the interested bodies in April, and the Secretary of State expects to lay them before Parliament in June.
477 Safeguarding applies to the teacher who — here I quote from the Burnham Salaries Documents—loses that post as a result of the closure or reorganisation of the college but continues in full time teaching service in an educational establishment ".Although the Secretary of State is represented on the Burnham Management Panel, the provisions in the salaries documents embody agreements reached in negotiation between the management and teacher panels. It is not for me to interpret these provisions, but I must say that, in the light of the passage I have quoted, I would have thought that a teacher who had a break in his teaching service would not be entitled to a safeguarded salary on his return to teaching. The hon. Member can take that up with me afterwards if he so wishes.
Equally, the Burnham safeguarding provisions would not statutorily apply to employment in teachers' centres or advisory work. The salary paid in such employment is a matter for the local education authority, who could decide that the post justified a salary equal to that the teacher received in a college of education.
Safeguarding is not restricted to the first post obtained after the loss of the college of education post. The salaries document says that safeguarding will cease to apply to a teacher— here again I quote—who leaves a post to which appointed after the closure or reorganisation except on movement to another teaching post under arrangements approved by the employing authority, such approval not being unreasonably withheld ".On the scope of safeguarding, the answer is that a teacher is treated exactly as he would have been treated had he remained in his previous post. He receives increments and pay increases and any other benefits relating to his former post. This assumes, of course, that he does not get a teaching post which itself has a higher salary than his previous post.
Resettlement compensation is payable to a member of staff who loses his post as a result of a direction from the Secretary of State if he has worked in the college for two years and satisfies certain conditions in the regulations, such as, that he has not been offered a post comparable 478 to the one lost, or a suitable post in the same locality.
Teaching overseas or service in the forces would count for the purpose of assessing compensation if such service is accepted as contributory service under the teachers superannuation scheme.
The compensation regulations will not themselves include provision for inflation proofing, but the Pensions Increase Act 1971 applies to long-term and retirement compensation. Increases under the Act would apply to staff aged 55 or over. If a member of staff was made redundant, say at 50, then at 55, the increases relating to the previous five years are then applied to his compensation. Thereafter a review is made annually.
Non-academic staff will be covered by the compensation regulations. I believe I have covered most of the hon. Member's points.
We appreciate that the redundancy of one individual is a serious matter, that is why I value the co-operation we have had. The Department will continue to keep in close touch with all interests concerned, and particularly with the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education, the executive of which has expressed unanimously its appreciation of the efforts we are making. They work closely with us. If there is any matter which hon. Members wish to probe further it will be seriously and sympathetically considered by my Department.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
If I might with leave, Mr. Murton, I should like to thank the Minister for that helpful reply. Some points were cleared up satisfactorily and to others the replies were disappointing, but I am grateful for the explanation.
I want to raise one point: when the draft of the Crombie Code is made available to interested parties, will it be so to individual lecturers or to staff, college by college, and not necessarily only to the association? Not all are members of the association, but they would be interested in seeing the draft before it is laid before this House.
§ Mr. Armstrong
I take that point on board. I shall certainly consider it, but I should not like to give a complete assurance.
§ Mr. McNamara
I should like to say, quickly, that that is a very good reply, and that a lot of suspicions have been cleared away.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at thirteen minutes past One o'clock.