HC Deb 09 July 1980 vol 988 cc526-8
5. Mr. McQuarrie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to set up a permanent teachers' review body to determine teachers salaries and other related matters.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to set up a new review body for this purpose.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am sure that that reply will not be received with any great glee in Scotland, because the teachers have been suffering under the problems of the Clegg comparability study. It would seem that that had been going out of the window. Does not the Minister realise that there is an urgent need for negotiation? If he suggests that it should be between employers and employees, so long as that works it will be acceptable, but there must be a body or organisation that will give the teachers a fair deal when they are entitled to it.

Mr. Fletcher

As regards the present dispute, the Scottish teachers salaries committee is capable of seeing that negotiations take place between the teachers and their employers. For any change in the procedure, the initiative would lie with the teachers and the local authorities. They have made no approach to us on the matter of the review body or anything else.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is not the reason why the present negotiating machinery has been unable to produce a satisfactory settlement that the Secretary of State's representatives have made it clear that the Government will not make available the money to give the teachers a square deal? Will not the hon. Gentleman admit this and let us know exactly where we stand?

Mr. Fletcher

My right hon. Friend's representatives have made it clear that it is entirely a matter for the local authorities and the teachers to negotiate and reach a settlement.

Mr. John MacKay

Will my hon. Friend consider an amalgamation of the salaries committee and the conditions of service committee, because it is nonsense that they should operate separately? It would be far better for negotiations if they operated together.

Mr. Fletcher

I agree with my hon. Friend. We hope that there will be an opportunity in the next session to do something about that.

Mr. O'Neill

Will the Minister concede that it is not fair to suggest that the Secretary of State's hands are clean in this matter, because he has representatives on the committee and they are not pulling their weight? They are not providing the money to bring about a reasonable settlement.

Mr. Fletcher

My right hon. Friend's representatives on the committee are doing the task that is expected of them. They are allowing both sides to negotiate and endeavour to reach a settlement.