HC Deb 14 March 1979 vol 964 cc426-7
1. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will implement the declaration of intent made by both sides of the Scottish Teachers Salaries Committee to restore as quickly as possible the earnings of teachers which have been eroded; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Millan)

The Scottish Teachers Salaries Committee agreed in April 1978, with my representatives formally dissenting, to set up a working party to look at the structure of teachers' salaries, with particular reference to internal and external relativities. The teachers' side has now submitted a salary claim based in part on the working party's calculations. Any changes in teachers' salaries will, of course, have to be considered in the context of the Government's pay policy.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the Secretary of State aware that teachers' salaries are so inadequate that a fully trained primary teacher in the first year earns £51 per week, whereas a first year trainee caretaker earns £53.65 per week? Ordinary and honours graduate teachers earn £65 and £69 per week respectively, whereas police officers earn £81 per week at the age of 21, plus overtime, free uniform and mortgage allowance. Is it the Secretary of State's intention to restore the value of the Houghton award, updating the salaries in an effort to avoid regrettable industrial action which will result in further chaos in Scottish schools?

Mr. Millan

I shall not negotiate teachers' salaries across the Floor of the House. The negotiating committee meets next Monday.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I allowed the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) to state his argument rather than ask a question, but I hope that other hon. Members will not seek to follow suit.

Mrs. Bain

Will the Secretary of State say when he expects a firm announcement to be made about Scottish teachers' salaries? Is it possible to have a review of the system of negotiations because, invariably, the teachers do not receive the increases in April but have them backdated, usually from August or September?

Mr. Millan

I can only repeat that there is negotiating machinery and that it is meeting next Monday. It would be improper for me to make announcements about teachers' salaries today.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I accept that my right hon. Friend cannot negotiate teachers' salaries across the Floor of the House, but will he give an indication that an offer will be made at the meeting next Monday? The EIS alleges that no offer will be made. My right hon. Friend knows that there have been difficulties with the negotiations. Therefore, can he give us an assurance that an offer will be made?

Mr. Millan

I am afraid that my hon. Friend is asking the same question. The management side of the Scottish Teachers Salaries Committee is not the exclusive property of the Secretary of State. I have representatives there, but so do local authorities. We should leave the negotiations to the committee.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Is the Secretary of State aware that the refusal of the management side to make an offer on previous occasions has led to further serious disruption in our schools? That has been particularly damaging to students studying for examinations. Will the Secretary of State do all that he can to make sure that an offer is made at the meeting, so that we can hold out the prospect of an early settlement to the dispute?

Mr. Millan

I have nothing to add to my previous remarks. There is a meeting on Monday, and if an offer is to be made it will be made there and not here today.

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