HC Deb 06 February 1979 vol 962 cc183-4
2. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, further to her reply to the honourable and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles), what is the estimated membership of the Professional Association of Teachers, whose application for membership of the Burnham committee she has rejected.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Gordon Oakes)

The latest membership figure available from the certification office is 10,896. I understand that the association now claims some 12,000 serving members.

Mr. King

Does it not remain a fact that, whether the membership is 10,000 or 12,000, this fast growing union, pledged as it is never to strike, is denied recognition by the Department whilst a teachers' union of 3,000 is granted recognition? In these difficult times, when one finds a union that is prepared to behave responsibly, as this union is, why on earth does not the Minister encourage it?

Mr. Oakes

We must take into account the fact that there are nearly 300,000 members of the NUT and there are 127,056 members of the NAS and UWT, which will have six representatives. The criterion is whether the PAT represents a separate category of teachers. My right hon. Friend has carefully considered representations from the association—indeed, I met representatives on 17 January—but does not propose to add it to the teachers' panel.

Dr. Boyson

At the present time of industrial disputes, including disputes in schools, will not the Minister welcome the existence of a recognised union in the teaching profession pledged not to strike? Will he inform all local authorities, of whatever colour, that as it is a recognised trade union members of it can be appointed as health and safety representatives in schools?

Mr. Oakes

It is basically a question of the numbers of members of the association. The health and safety aspects are matters for individual local authorities in deciding whether to recognise the association.

Mr. Beith

Does not this case illustrate what a lot there is wrong with the Burnham structure? Even if the PAT were recognised and brought on to the Burnham committee, the single channel system under which all the claims of different unions are put forward by one union, the largest teachers' union, makes the system very ineffective. Is not that particularly noticeable when many teaching organisations regard the NUT's claim as irresponsible?

Mr. Oakes

With regard to the representative character of Burnham, my right hon. Friend has recently reviewed its membership and will be making a determination under the Remuneration of Teachers Act.

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