HC Deb 22 May 1979 vol 967 cc853-5
4. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the teachers' pay claim.

16. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress he is making on the statement of the teachers' pay dispute.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

The House will be pleased to learn that agreement was reached yesterday on a pay settlement for primary and secondary teachers in England and Wales. Details of the settlement will be circulated by the Local Authorities Conditions of Service Advisory Board.

The Burnham Further Education Committee resumes its discussions tomorrow.

Mr. Latham

Is the Secretary of State aware that all parents will welcome this sensible and honourable settlement? May we now expect normal working to be resumed at once by all unions in the interests of the children?

Mr. Carlisle

I am glad to say that the executive committee of the National Union of Teachers met yesterday and agreed to stop its withdrawal of good will, as it had called it. As for the National Association of Schoolmasters and the Union of Women Teachers, its executive committee is meeting at the moment, and I hope that it will also decide to call off any action.

Mr. Renton

Can my right hon. and learned Friend tell us rather more about the terms of reference to the Standing Commission on Pay Comparability? Are they such that the favourable relativities established by the 1974 Houghton report will necessarily be enshrined in the findings of the commission?

Mr. Carlisle

The terms of reference to the Standing Commission ask it to look at the pay of teachers in the light of their terms and conditions of employment. In those terms of reference, there is a reference to the Houghton report which asks it to take into account the matters referred to in the Houghton report together with all other relevant and practical matters.

Mr. Skinner

Will the Minister be a little more specific on this matter? Will he state categorically that, whatever report is made by the comparability and relativities Standing Commission, the Houghton recommendations will be stuck to by this Government, not necessarily just in this year but throughout their period in office?

Mr. Carlisle

The position is that the Government, at the request of both sides of the Burnham committee, have referred the matter to the Standing Commission. The conclusions of that Standing Commission then have to be returned to the Burnham committee because only that committee can make the final decisions.

Mr. David Price

In my right hon. and learned Friend's reference to the Standing Commission, will he ask it to look at the anomalous position whereby senior teachers get the top salary only when they leave the classroom and go into administration? This must be wrong.

Mr. Carlisle

That is a matter for the Burnham committee rather than for the Standing Commission.

Mr. Oakes

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that Labour Members welcome the fact that at long last a settlement has been reached and express the hope that all industrial action at schools by all unions will now cease?

Mr. Carlisle

I am most grateful for what the hon. Gentleman says and I thank him for it. I would add this. I have always said—I know that the hon. Gentleman shares this view—that the children in the schools of this country have already suffered enough disruption to their education this year. Like him, I very much hope that the various actions that were being taken by different unions will cease forthwith so that there will be no further interference with children's education.