§ Order for Second Reading read.5.25 pm
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I reported to you that the terms of the Bill are so far removed from the Act which it seeks to amend that it cannot in practice or in equity be called an amending Bill. Perhaps you would consider that point. The Bill bears no resemblance to the concept of education support grants which were introduced so that curriculum training could be brought in. The original Act is being distorted to tackle the problem of lunchtime supervision.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not have responsibility for the drafting of Bills. This is a Government Bill, and the purposes of it are set out in the Bill. It is a matter for debate in the Chamber. If the hon. Gentleman does not like the Bill, he has his remedy.
§ The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Two years ago I introduced to the House a Bill to empower the holder of my office and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales to pay specific grants, known as education support grants, to local education authorities. That Bill became the Education (Grants and Awards) Act 1984, and gave my right hon. Friend and me power to promote expenditure for or in connection with educational purposes which it appeared to me or to my right hon. Friend that local education authorities should be encouraged to incur in the interests of education in England and Wales.
The regulations made with the approval of this House—the Education Support Grants Regulations 1984 and their amendments—prescribe a variety of purposes for which education support grant may be paid. All local education authorities have responded positively to invitations to put forward proposals for approval for grant support. Their bids have greatly exceeded the resources available. In the 1985–86 financial year, about £30 million of expenditure has been approved for support in England and £2 million in Wales. I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales sitting by my side. We expect later this month to announce approvals for a programme of £40 million in England and £2.6 million in Wales for 1986–87.
The 1984 Act included, in section 2(1), a provision that the total of expenditure approved for education support grant in any one year should not exceed one half of 1 per cent. of the amount determined by the holder of my office as representing, in his opinion, the appropriate amount of expenditure for local education authorities to incur in the year in question for educational purposes. We thought it right at that time to impose such a limit.
Some local authorities were anxious about the amount of expenditure which the Government might expect to redeploy to the specific purposes prescribed for education support grant. We wished to reassure them that the amount would be small, and deliberately arranged that the limit could be increased only through primary legislation.
460 Clause 1 raises the limit in section 2(1) of the 1984 Act to 1 per cent. This will allow an additional £52 million of expenditure to be approved next year in England and £3 million in Wales. We have a specific purpose in seeking that increase, namely, securing the supervision of pupils in schools at midday.
As I informed the House on 8 November, the Government intend to make available additional resources to assist local education authorities to achieve their longstanding aim of securing reliable and adequate supervision of pupils at midday in the interests of the orderly and efficient conduct of schools. In 1985–86 there is sufficient headroom within the existing limit to pay grant on this new activity. However, for later years we need the headroom which will be created by the amendment in clause 1.
Clause 2 excludes remuneration paid to teachers exclusively for midday supervision from the remuneration which is the subject of the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965. The principal effect of the clause is to make it quite clear that remuneration for midday supervision is not to be subject to review by the Burnham committee or determination by the holder of my office.
The increase in the limit on expenditure for education support grant purposes from 0.5 per cent. to 1 per cent. of the planned total will permit my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and me to use the additional headroom for any purpose prescribed in regulations. However, we recognise the continuing concern of many in the House and in local government about the balance between the power of Ministers to pay specific grant for purposes of national importance and the discretion of local authorities to meet local needs as they believe best.
My right hon. Friend and I intend, pending the outcome of the review of local government finance, to keep expenditure approved for education support grant in respect of activities other than midday supervision within the original limit of one half of 1 per cent. We intend to increase relevant expenditure for local authorities by £40 million next year in England and Wales to provide for midday supervision. This is "new" money, over and above our existing plans for education for that year. The Government will also add £28 million to aggregate Exchequer grant for 1986–87 to cover the 70 per cent. of that expenditure which they propose to reimburse through education support grants. I say "aggregate Exchequer grant" advisedly: I fear that the memorandum to the Bill makes a technical error in referring to this sum as addedto the aggregate amount of Rate Support Grants.Thus 70 per cent. of the cost of new arrangements will be met by the taxpayer and 30 per cent. by the ratepayer. We will also increase relevant expenditure by £10 million and aggregate Exchequer grant by £7 million in 1985–86 to cover the cost of new arrangements for midday supervision where these can be introduced within this financial year.
The additional money will come from the £1,250 million envelope which the Government have said they are willing to make available if a satisfactory agreement can be reached on teachers' duties and on a new salary structure. I made it clear in August when I announced the Government's conditional offer of more resources for a new salary structure that part of those resources might be used to pay for midday supervision.
Teachers have long clamoured to have midday supervision removed from their duties. This duty was never popular with teachers. In 1967, a working party was set up to consider, and make recommendations on, the 461 position of teachers in relation to all aspects of the school meals service. Its recommendations for change were accepted by the then Secretary of State and by the local authority associations and teachers' unions, which were represented on the working party.
The 1945 regulations were amended in 1968 to remove the provision which authorised LEAs to require teachers to supervise pupils taking school meals. Since 1968 teachers have undertaken midday supervision in schools, but have insisted that they did so voluntarily and were free at any time to withdraw their services. That withdrawal of goodwill, as they called it, has come to be used as a weapon of disruption available at almost no cost to the teachers, but which can cause disruption to education in schools. It has been the source of sporadic difficulties for many years, but the current dispute over teachers' pay has led to escalation to the point where few secondary schools are unaffected. The work of schools has been seriously disturbed.
§ Mr. Jack Dormand (Easington)
I would not normally intervene, but this is an important point. The Secretary of State has explained the circumstances that arose in 1968. He has made it clear that, in law, teachers have no necessity—the right hon. Gentleman called it duty—to undertake supervision. He cannot say that it is a withdrawal of goodwill, because they are not required to undertake that supervision. The hon. Gentleman should say that the teachers have shown goodwill since 1968 by undertaking to carry out these duties.
§ Sir Keith Joseph
The regulations were amended by the then Government. However, it is not for the hon. Gentleman or for the holder of my office to pronounce on what a court would find was implied by the contract between a local education authority and a teacher. That matter is for a court to decide if an employer wishes to test the case. I simply state that the regulations were amended in 1968.
Our principal and overriding aim in offering additional resources through education support grant is to ensure that pupils are effectively supervised at midday. We expect that these resources will be used to employ supervisors charged with that responsibility, under the overall authority of the head teacher or his deputy. These supervisors will be employed under separate contracts relating exclusively to midday supervision, under which no payment will be made if the contract is not honoured. These arrangements will not rely on the voluntary participation of teachers.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
A teacher in my constituency came to me and made the point that teachers are not only responsible for teaching in class, but have other responsibilities as well. In his view, it is important that teachers are there during the lunch period, because that is part of the school, and their presence forms part of the impact that teachers can make on pupils. Why does my right hon. Friend not require teachers to be there at lunchtime? Many teachers have relatively short days and very long holidays. Why can they not take responsibility for lunchtime supervision as well?
§ Sir Keith Joseph
I respect the view of my hon. Friend's constituent. It will be for teachers to choose to do so if the local education authority wishes to offer them the opportunity to become paid supervisors of the midday period.
462 We do not intend to prescribe the details of new arrangements beyond what I have said. Individual authorities are best placed to determine matters such as staffing numbers and rates of pay in the light of their local needs and circumstances. The local education authorities have considered these matters, and a few of them have introduced, or are about to introduce, arrangements along the lines that we envisage. Moreover, authorities already employ many assistants to share in the task of midday supervision.
New arrangements will bring clarity to a long-confused situation for teachers. It will be for LEAs to decide whether teachers should be given the opportunity to participate, and up to teachers to decide whether to accept that opportunity by entering into a separate contract for midday supervision in addition to a normal teaching contract. At all events, those teachers who feel that they need a break to come fresh to their classes in the afternoon will not be pressed to participate in supervision. Teaching is often stressful, and I am sure that many teachers will be pleased to be relieved of that burden.
In conclusion, I believe that it is in the interests of all concerned with education in our schools—teachers and parents, but most especially pupils—to secure more effective arrangements for supervision at midday. The Bill will enable education support grants to be used to that end, and I commend it to the House.
§ Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)
We oppose the Bill for three reasons. As I made clear on Second Reading of the Education (Grants and Awards) Bill 1984, we are not against the principle of specific grants, but we are against the way in which the education support grants are being funded. We are opposed to the Secretary of State removing money that the local authorities previously spent as they thought fit in the light of local circumstances and to the Secretary of State using that money for the purposes that he thinks fit.
The Secretary of State said that for 1986–87 the Government will be adding £28 million to the rate support grant to support the payment of supervision of pupils at midday. However, the right hon. Gentleman must accept that the LEAs will have to provide £12 million out of their resources. To receive a 70 per cent. grant, they must provide 30 per cent. from their money. In addition, because the Bill increases the amount of educational support from 0.5 per cent. of the total education grant to 1 per cent., the local education authorities will lose control over a further £12 million of what would otherwise have been their money.
As the Secretary of State reminded us, he said on 8 November in answer to a written question that he did not intend to use the extra 0.5 per cent. for anything other than midday supervision, but that was pending the outcome of the present review of local government finance. There is no guarantee that the payment for midday supervision will continue to be covered, for the most part, by additional rate support money. Knowing the Government, it is highly likely that it will have to come from the resources of local education authorities.
As the Secretary of State knows, local education authorities are financially hard pressed. The right hon. Gentleman said in a press release that the autumn statement will allow local authorities an extra 5 per cent. in cash over the sum allocated to the service in 1985–86. 463 That is one way of putting it, but it is misleading. We should consider what LEAs are spending in 1985–86. The Government are planning to reduce expenditure from the £11,000 million which the LEAs are spending in the current year to £10,935 million. They are planning a cash cut of £65 million which, allowing for inflation, is a real cut of 4.5 per cent.
The Secretary of State should provide local education authorities with additional resources to do something about the alarming deficiencies in educational provision, the shortages of books and equipment, the mismatch of teaching skills, and the inadequate repair and maintenance of so many schools, about which the Government's advisers—Her Majesty's inspectors—have so frequently warned. In previous years, when I made similar criticisms, the Secretary of State has made much play with the so-called unallocated margin available to LEAs to spend on education. But there is no unallocated margin for 1986–87; at least, one has not been announced. The truth—it is fully recognised by parents—is that the Secretary of State is doing little or nothing to tackle the growing crisis of provision in our classrooms. Against that background, and the tightening of educational resources, we condemn the Government's failure to provide new money to cover all education support grants.
The second main reason for our opposition to the Bill is its timing. Of course, there is a strong case for a fully staffed ancillary service for lunchtime supervision. The Secretary of State was right to say that teachers' unions have called for this in the past. We recognise that many head teachers have been under great pressure during the teachers' dispute, because in many schools they must cope almost singlehandedly with supervising duties. We also recognise that some LEAs are anxious to introduce schemes to pay for separate midday supervisors under separate contracts. But the fact that the Secretary of State is rushing through a Bill during the dispute, and without consulting teachers, is bound to be considered provocative. Teachers are also likely to resent the fact that the £40 million approved expenditure will come from the new money which the Secretary of State said was available, under certain conditions, for teachers' pay.
Our third reason for opposing the Bill is that we reject the Government's priorities. There is a glaring contrast between the Secretary of State's eagerness to rush through Parliament the Bill to pay for lunchtime supervision and his complete inactivity in solving the teachers' dispute. Since the right hon. Gentleman's initiative in early August, when he revealed at last the sum of money—it was inadequate—behind his structure package, he has confined himself to wringing his hands.
The Government have recently made strenuous efforts to improve their presentation. In October, we had the Prime Minister's extraordinary one-day conference at Downing street, to which she invited, among others, the controversial Ray Honeyford and those educational reactionaries, Baroness Cox and Dr. John Marks. In November, there was a widely leaked meeting of senior Ministers, including Lord Whitelaw and the chairman of the Tory party, to discuss tactics. According to newspaper reports, they decided to sit it out, hoping that parents would turn against the teachers and forget about the Government's inactivity.
464 Thirdly, there was the appointment of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten) as Minister of State, Department of Education and Science. I congratulate him on that appointment. However, I must say that his duties are somewhat ill-defined. It seems to many observers that the hon. Gentleman has been appointed as a glorified public relations consultant to the Secretary of State. He has been hired to put a more attractive gloss on the Government's education policies, especially in relation to the teachers' dispute.
We all know that the Secretary of State could do with a facelift, but I must tell the Minister and the Secretary of State that no amount of fancy presentation can make up for lack of policy and action. The teachers' dispute has lasted for more than 10 months—
§ Mr. Radice
—and parents and teachers alike are crying out for the Government to take action that will result in a just solution. I very much hope that the meeting of the teachers—
§ Mr. Radice
I am in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am discussing the reasons why we shall oppose the Bill, and I am explaining—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
Order. The Chair will decide when an hon. Member is out of order. The hon. Gentleman should not take note of comments made from a sedentary position.
§ Mr. Radice
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your extremely wise advice. I shall remember that in future.
I very much hope that the meeting of the teachers' panel today will lead to the reopening of negotiations with employers—
§ Mr. Radice
I do not know whether the hon. Lady has been following the dispute. I suspect that she has not.
§ Mrs. Kellett-Bowman
The hon. Lady has been following this dispute with the greatest possible care because she is extremely interested in education, but she regrets very much that the monopoly power of the NUT has prevented the other unions from getting a word in edgeways and discussing the package put forward by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Radice
The hon. Lady is not entirely up to date with events. The NUT has lost its overall majority on the teachers' panel, and I understand that at today's meeting there was a decision to reopen negotiations—
§ Mr. Radice
—not on the structure package, but on the previous informal offer by the employers. I must tell the hon. Lady and the House that, even if there is a settlement before Christmas, as I hope, no one can seriously believe that such an agreement can be more than an interim solution. The main teachers' unions have already drawn up plans—or are in the process of doing so—for a new claim for next year which the LEAs will be unable to satisfy from their resources.
The dispute could continue to disrupt our schools during next year. It is because I view that prospect with 465 such dismay—I hope that the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) does, too—that I make no apology for urging the Government yet again to set up an inquiry into teachers' pay. The Government and the Secretary of State have continually ducked or avoided my requests for such an inquiry. They may be doing that because they wish to keep the option open. If that is the case, why not set up the inquiry now instead of waiting until our education system crumbles? Perhaps the Secretary of State finds it embarrassing to appear to give way to an Opposition demand. I promise that if he sets up an inquiry I shall stop asking for it.
The Bill is not only ill-timed; it does nothing to tackle the desperate shortage of money and crisis of provision in our schools. Above all, it will do nothing to bring an end to the teachers' dispute, which should be the Secretary of State's top priority. For those reasons, we shall oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden)
I recognise that the Bill is undoubtedly overshadowed by the teachers' dispute, but the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) seemed to have to wallow considerably in that dispute in order to make any kind of reason for the Opposition's intention to vote against the Bill. When one examines the Bill, it is rather difficult to justify that.
The Bill touches upon the dispute; there can be no argument about that. The fact that the problem of lunchtime supervision is being addressed in this way says a lot about the ineffectiveness of the usual machinery for resolving what might be thought to be a fairly routine matter. It also seems to say even more about the nature of the teachers' contract that such an ingredient should be missing from it. The Bill is obviously tied up with the teachers' dispute to some extent, but it reinforces my view that the Government are right to insist that pay and conditions of service must be brought together. Simply because that combination has not yet been achieved does not mean that there is something so unique about the teaching profession that it is an unattainable combination.
Any professional person used to negotiation can find a way of bringing those matters together in a sensible manner. Therefore, if there is continuing reluctance on the teachers' part to admit of that possibility, it may have something to do with the fact that they recognise that their rule book may be being bought out.
There may be a lesson for teachers in the Bill. I should have thought that today demonstrated to them that the Government are prepared to buy and are prepared to put good money on the table—money which is new to teachers. Forget whether it is new money in the sense of the total education budget; this is new money that is being offered to teachers. At the same time, the Government are prepared not only to tackle that matter but, in so doing, to deal with an issue which, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, has been a bone of contention with the teaching profession for a long time.
Teachers should note that and recognise for a change that there is some goodwill on the part of the Government. They seem so utterly disbelieving of the fact that the Government are capable of any genuine or generous act towards them and that is extremely worrying. Many in the profession will recognise that much of the work to which my right hon. Friend has set his hand is educationally valuable. But when it comes to teachers' remuneration and 466 conditions of service, they seem unable to see any good whatever in what the Government say. It is about time that they began to recognise that there is some goodwill and they should be negotiating in that spirit.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
Does my hon. Friend agree that pay and conditions of service are vital and much under discussion and that the problem of pay brings us to the centre of the argument? Should not there now be an inquiry into pay provided that it is linked with conditions of service? If the two can come together, will he join me in urging our right hon. Friend towards such an inquiry?
§ Mr. Haselhurst
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I shall answer that in a slightly different way from the manner in which he has raised it.
I am disturbed that teachers are not even prepared to negotiate despite the willingness on the part of the Government to put money on the table, and the Bill represents a part of the money which the Government are prepared to put on the table.
I do not speak with the responsibility which my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have to carry, so I can advert to other ways in which the dispute may go. I would be inclined to say that if teachers would for one moment suspend their disbelief and look at the possibilities of what is being offered, it might well be that through negotiations about new money directed towards certain purposes an outcome could be reached which might be more generous in 1985 terms than they previously believed.
I would not say right from the start of negotiations that there could be any concessions on the main elements which the Government are seeking. There should not be. It would not be realistic for extra money to be put up front from 1985 simply in order to get that dispute out of the way. We would not have advanced the cause of the teachers' profession in any way by such an exercise.
We must get matters right in the long term. If teachers went into negotiations with the Government, they might, as the price of the final settlement, find a package which was agreeable to them now as well as in the medium and long term. Therefore, I can only say to them that they should not exclude any possible results of a negotiation when there is such evidence of the Government's willingness to negotiate with a sizeable sum of money available for all to see.
If there is a lesson for the teachers in the Bill, the Government might also derive a lesson from what they themselves are doing. Here we have an instrument of primary legislation being used to tackle an aspect of a complex dispute. My right hon. Friend might begin to see that there might be merits in that method of proceeding in connection with other aspects of the dispute. It might be that, if appraisal were to be pursued by legislation, the costs associated with a system of appraisal might also be tackled by primary legislation.
Other aspects in the dispute could be tackled by primary legislation, if that is the only way that the Government can impact upon what is proving to be a most intractable problem. That may be a lesson for the Government or for the teachers.
Legislation might be time-consuming, but it can do what the Government want it to do with the approval of the House. Teachers might conclude that it was better for 467 everyone's sake, not least their own, if they got on with the negotiations and there would then be less need for us to consider recourse to legislation.
As I have said, it is hard to see what, in terms of the sheer mechanics of the Bill, the Opposition can be arguing about. There is a problem and it is a problem of lunchtime supervision, and there is a means through education support grants to deal with that problem. I can see nothing wrong in using the ESG system in that way. We are still talking of a maximum ceiling of 1 per cent. of educational expenditure.
The question arises whether the Government are right to tackle the problem separate from a dispute of which it forms part. I can say only that if the Opposition seek to divide the House it must be an illustration that they are fully behind the teachers in the dispute. If they were just concerned with dealing with this problem, they could not possibly object to the measure. Quite apart from the urgent need to overcome the problems flowing from unsupervised lunch periods, the measure is to be welcomed if its effect is to remove one of the obstacles on the road towards a settlement of the pay dispute. If only the teachers recognised that that is the Government's approach—an attempt to remove the obstacles—perhaps they would join hands with the negotiators and the Government to ensure that the other obstacles were removed as well.
§ 6 pm
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)
Unlike the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), I can see very good reasons for opposing the Bill. I believe that it is an abuse of education support grant funding. The Bill is depressingly irrelevant and illogical, and its title is a deception in that the measure bears no resemblance to the concept of education support grants.
The Select Committee report on which the notion of such support grants is supposed to be based stated that there were two possible justifications for the amount of centralisation involved. I remind the Secretary of State that the Select Committee never envisaged that the money would be found by withdrawing funds from the local education authorities but thought that this would be new money to give the Secretary of State the power that he needed to invoke innovation.
The Committee's first suggestion was legitimate pump priming, which it described as:Such experimental or innovative schemes which it"—that is, the Department of Education and Science—considers of potential national importance".I would argue that lunchtime supervision is not covered by that.
The second justification was the removal of some elements of educational expenditure from the block grant, justifiable where short-term exigencies have resulted in what the Committee described asA dangerously inequitable distribution of activity in an area which has important medium and long term implications".I remember well that the Committee had in mind the disparity in the provision of teacher training from one area to another; it was certainly not lunchtime supervision.
The DES consultative document issued in March 1983 which launched the Government's proposals for these grants stated that the powers involved were:To assist LEAs to innovate and respond swiftly to new demands on the education service, to promote qualitative 468 changes and improvements in standards of provision in areas of particular importance and to encourage them to redeploy their expenditure".That does not include lunchtime supervision.
During the Second Reading of the Education (Grants and Awards) Bill the Secretary of State summed up the purposes of the Bill asassisting in the financing of pilot projects within a limited number of authorities, the results of which could be of potential benefit to all authorities".—[Official Report, 14 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 630.]The clear implication was—this is borne out by the kind of projects since funded and about which so many of us have asked questions that have been properly answered—that ESGs were to fund curriculum developments. I seriously question whether lunchtime supervision can be discussed in the same terms.
It seems to me that the problem of the midday break has, at least as the Minister understands it, about as much to do with curriculum developments as with parking parents' cars in the school car park. Both functions are probably necessary, but I do not believe that they qualify under ESG.
The situation is made worse by increasing the proportion of LEA money reclaimed for use at the Secretary of State's own discretion, especially as the actual proportion of the budget—excluding teachers' pay—over which the LEA has control is only about 30 per cent. As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, most of that money is already committed.
The Secretary of State is thus asking for control over a larger piece of the education cake to be used for an entirely different purpose than was intended by the Act that he is seeking to amend. As well as having very little to do with curriculum development, this Bill has nothing to do with what actually goes on in schools at lunchtime. It deals with supervision in isolation from the other activities that take p[...]e, or do not take place, when there is no dispute. We are at risk in finding schools in which the teachers will be on strike when it comes to teaching, but will be available and working when it comes to lunchtime supervision.
For the past few years, the Government's expenditure plans have picked out school meals as the area of the largest target saving. Those plans have been proved to be unrealistic, largely as a result of the increase in poverty among families with school age children. The school meals service is being systematically undermined.
The Black report was unequivocal about the importance of school meals to the poorest children, as was the NACNE report about the role of diet in health. There are also questions about food allergies and children's behaviour. For example, there seems to be a relationship between some additives and hyperactivity, and those additives are found in precisely the foods that children will choose if unguided. However, no element in lunchtime supervision will be educative.
Now we have the Fowler report that threatens the entitlement of children of poorly paid families to a full school meal by giving the school meal element of family credit to the working parents. We could redeem the irrelevance of this Bill by doing something about health education, and that would count as curriculum development. However, the Bill does not make clear the sort of supervision that the Government want to see.
The DES working party to which reference has already been made was clear that variety would be essential. It 469 says that there were certainly schools where provision would have to be more generous than the norm, for instance,because of special problems arising from the school buildings or school organisation, or in a secondary school where there is an unusually low proportion of older children".What sort of ratios are the Government thinking about, and what role do they envisage for head teachers? What does the Secretary of State feel about the need for national agreement such as the head teachers have called for? In choosing the mechanism of ESG, presumably he has rejected this. It would be interesting to know.
Does the right hon. Gentleman envisage supervision by teachers or non-teachers? If predominantly the latter, is he satisfied that lunchtimes can legitimately be taken out of the context of the school day as a whole and that non-teachers will be able to command the authority of children as do the teachers? The head teachers do not believe that that will be so.
§ Mr. Freud
I shall not give way, because I am trying to finish within my allotted time.
If this Bill is the first recognition that pay and conditions must go together, or if at the very least it is intended as a slightly clearer definition of teachers' duties—as the alliance has been arguing since the start of the dispute—why not tackle that issue rather than play around by amending an Act and changing its substance in a way that is hard to understand? This measure does not tackle the issue of low pay among teachers. Will the payment of lunchtime duties be used as an excuse to keep basic rates of pay down, along the lines of, "If you want more money you have only to supervise school lunches"? If that is so, we are falling into the trap of merit money to which the alliance is so opposed.
This is the Secretary of State taking direct action because LEAs have not managed an agreement on his terms and by his deadline, when in fact his interventions are the main cause of that failure.
The biggest criticism of the Bill is that it does not make sense. The Secretary of State is in an untenable position. On the one hand, he tells us that he will pay for lunchtime supervision for this financial year from the money that is still spare from existing ESG, but that prompts one to ask what he would have done had this not occurred. On the other hand, he is telling us that for the next financial year lunchtime supervision will be paid out of the £1.25 billion that he has made available.
To start with, it looks as if those two facts are explained by the different years to which the two sums apply, but that is not the case. The Secretary of State is indulging in double counting, because he is also increasing the ESG for the next financial year—the same year that is to be paid for from the extra money. Lunchtime money is either new and comes out of the £1.25 billion, or it is not and comes from LEA money via the ESG precept. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is actually taking LEA money to pay for lunchtimes but he is telling us—and I refer to his written answer of 8 November—that payment for lunchtimes is coming from his new money.
We have an amending Bill that destroys the concept of the original Act. It is irrelevant to the main issue of low pay in the education service. It has been drawn up without consulting the teachers, and the heads have said that the 470 Government have seriously underestimated the sums needed, and it does not make any sense. For these reasons, my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)
I am disappointed but not surprised that both Opposition speakers could not find a single word of welcome for a measure that teachers have wanted for years. I welcome the Bill and believe that it takes from teachers a burden which they have grumbled about for years. Dinner duties have been as unwanted as they have been unpaid. For the first time, teachers will be able to have a lunch break away from school and pupils, and, like many other employees, they will be able to move away from their place of work and have a reasonable break. Those who wish to supervise—and I hope many will choose to do so—will henceforth be remunerated.
I strike a gentle note of caution, however. At a meeting of the National Association of Head Teachers yesterday concern was expressed about the mechanics of the payments that will be made to teachers for supervising dinner duties. It would seem that this requires some clarification. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister will mention that in his summing-up. It is important that we ensure considerable teacher participation in these duties.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has obtained £10 million for midday supervision for the balance of the year and £40 million for next, and his action should be applauded. I am disappointed that Opposition Members could find no word of commendation for an action that has been wanted for a long time. The funding comes from the £1.25 billion that is on offer to teachers. If nothing else, this measure proves the tangible existence of that money, a point that appears to be doubted by some members of the profession.
Parents will welcome the Bill. Children will not be sent home at midday because of inadequate or insufficient supervision and that will remove a major source of worry from parents, particularly now that winter is with us. Parents will be assured that children will not be locked out of schools during inclement weather. That has to be a substantial benefit. What is more, children will not be getting into mischief at lunchtimes. A further aspect that will commend itself to many hon. Members is that working mothers will not have to take time off from work and lose earnings to ensure that they will be available to look after their children should they be sent home from school.
When enacted, the Bill will enable local authorities to recruit staff, and that includes teachers. If local authorities do not and schools close, parents will know where the responsibility for that action lies. They will know exactly who to blame should that happen. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has ensured an important safeguard for children, and one that will certainly be appreciated by their parents.
If the dispute has to continue, the Bill will help to ensure that it does not bear so heavily on the children, particularly young children. It should be welcomed for that reason, if for no other, by both sides of the House. I have the utmost respect for the majority of teachers. I am aware that theirs is not the easiest of jobs. Teaching teenagers in some schools must be difficult, and in some cases it must be purgatory.
§ Mr. Pawsey
My hon. Friend will have an opportunity to say his piece. Many teachers do a most worthwhile job, but it is not always the easiest of jobs. When he reflects on that, I am sure that my hon. Friend will not quarrel with it.
I am familiar with teachers' work. I was educated within the state system, as were my children, and I visit schools regularly, as I am sure do the majority of hon. Members. I am aware that a teacher's job is much more than long holidays and free periods. I am aware of the additional work that is done at home at nights and in teachers' free time. I also recognise the voluntary work they do in school societies. That knowledge adds to my welcome to the Bill. It enhances the professional part of a teacher's work and removes from teachers a disagreeable chore.
The Bill should be seen as an outrider to the best package ever offered to the teaching profession. That £1.25 billion is the largest sum ever obtained from the Treasury for the nation's teachers. It is £1.25 billion spread over four years and for teachers' pay, not buildings or books. It is on top of the increments that teachers may quite properly expect over those four years. It improves promotion prospects and helps to reduce the problems caused by falling rolls. I find it surprising that this measure is not more widely welcomed by Opposition Members and by members of the profession. Some uninformed comments about the Bill, which gives teachers what they have desired for years, seem to suggest that it is a cross between a Trojan horse and a poisoned chalice. It is neither; it is nothing of the sort.
For years teachers' unions have been concerned that their members have been asked to do voluntary duties supervising school dinners. The cry has been, "Either pay us or remove the duties." The unions have complained that this unpaid work was unconnected with a teacher's job. In short, it was unpopular, unwanted and unpaid. One would have thought that my right hon. Friend's decision to make available £10 million in this year and £40 million in the next four years would have been welcomed with paeans of praise, but, sadly, no such luck. The unions now appear to be complaining that the Bill knocks the knives and forks from their hands. They accuse my right hon. Friend of foul play because he is giving them what they have asked for for years. This Bill is a clear commitment to a hardworking profession.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)
I start by declaring an interest as a consultant to the National Union of Teachers. Having listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), I am sure that many teachers in his constituency, and no doubt many others who read his words, will be pleased by the praise that he has heaped on the heads of teachers and on their dedication to their work. It was clear from what he said about visiting many schools that he enjoys close contact with the teaching profession in the state system, which is not true of all Conservative Members.
Given that the hon. Gentleman feels that way, he must be puzzled by the anger throughout the teaching profession about the Secretary of State and his behaviour towards it. He must ask himself, because he has such obvious respect for members of the profession, why there is such enormous anger. A month or two ago I went to a well-attended march 472 through the centre of London. It was full of dedicated teachers who felt deeply angry about the Secretary of State's actions.
It is not our job this evening to discuss the dispute. However, the Bill comes before the House with the background of the dispute behind it. There has been no consultation with the trade unions. One would have thought that it would be normal for the Government to consult trade unions on a matter of this kind. — [Interruption.] Consultation with the employers was also important but, because of the current dispute, consultation with the unions about the Bill was very important.
I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth that dinner duties are very unpopular. They were very unpopular with me. It is extremely hard work. I knew that the quality of the lessons that I had to teach in the afternoon suffered because of the nervous energy that went into the supervision of not just midday school meals but the playground, too. The fact that there was no respite meant that one's performance as a teacher was not as good as it should have been.
In addition to causing nervous strain and being very tiring for a full-time teacher, midday supervision needs great skill. People need to be well qualified to carry out that duty. One of the National Union of Teachers' complaints about the sum of money that is to be made available for this purpose is that it is inadequate. Local education authorities will be unable to recruit and employ people who are competent to do this difficult job. I speak from first hand experience. The importance of this job should not be underestimated. If the Secretary of State genuinely wants to answer the demand of teachers that this job should be done by those who have no teaching responsibilities, it is important that it should be funded properly.
The action that the Secretary of State is taking is highly provocative. My hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) made it clear that the Secretary of State could have spent this money upon many other things. The dispute is not just about pay or the treatment of individual teachers. The profession is genuinely concerned about the way in which the state education system is being treated by the Government. I do not need to go through the factors that are causing concern. Buildings and school books are just two examples of the way in which the education service is being starved of money.
We know why the Secretary of State is introducing this Bill as his top priority. He sees it as a weapon in the dispute, without answering the demands of teachers or recognising that the profession is dedicated to the needs of those whom it is its job to serve. When one hears the speeches of Conservative Members, one gets the impression that they feel that teachers must have a new contract of service because they are not doing enough. However, since I was a member of the teaching profession, teachers have voluntarily taken on more and more duties. That is the sign not of a profession that is trying to get rid of responsibilities but of a profession that is anxious to take them on.
The answer to the problem is not legislation of this kind, which is designed to weaken the hand of teachers in the current dispute. The answer to the settlement of the dispute lies with the Secretary of State. I receive many letters from parents in my constituency who demand that the Secretary of State should accept his responsibilities. They recognise that the Secretary of State must resolve this 473 dispute. The blame does not lie with the teachers, as is so often suggested by Conservative Members. That is the reason why the union is opposed to the Bill, why I shall be voting against it, and why I fully support the opposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North to the Bill.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
All right hon. and hon. Members respect the professional experience of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett). I, too, was a teacher for many years. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the afternoon performance of teachers suffers if they have to perform lunchtime duties. However, if children are not properly supervised at lunchtime, they are less receptive to education in the afternoon. It is a difficult question of swings and roundabouts. If I had to choose, on balance I would always prefer supervision, even if I had to carry it out myself.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) was speaking, I chiacked slightly when, as somebody who is not a member of the profession, he referred to teaching. He said that it must sometimes be purgatory to teach teenagers. Although it is very difficult to teach teenagers, I would ask my hon. Friend to think again about that.
§ Mr. Greenway
May I just make my point? It is a difficult, challenging and demanding job, but to the dedicated teacher it is never purgatory.
§ Mr. Greenway
No. I am interested to hear that my hon. Friend, who is not a qualified teacher, may have found it difficult.
§ Mr. Greenway
My hon. Friend may have found it difficult because he is not a qualified teacher. The £50 million that has been set aside for a full year needs to be re-examined. I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State when he replies to the debate to reassure the House that this sum will be enough. Lunchtime supervision covers not only school meals, but the running of clubs and libraries. Playground supervision is enormously demanding. Supervision of that kind must also be provided and paid for.
Supervision is also needed in the area around schools. One cannot expect secondary schoolchildren to stay on the premises throughout the lunch break. When they leave school premises, difficult children might enter blocks of flats or other buildings and cause trouble. Consequently, suitable supervisors need to be in the area around schools so that they can deal with trouble if it should arise and get the children back on to the school premises. I wonder, therefore, whether £50 million will be sufficient. I wonder, too, whether this matter has been thought through in the way that I have described.
A substantial element of supervision by teachers at lunchtime is essential. Supervision of the kind that I have described can be managed if there is a strong teacher 474 element, or if it is managed entirely by teachers but it cannot be managed without any teacher help at all, even though head teachers and their deputies would, I know, do a noble job. Teacher supervision is required, because they alone have the expertise to handle children. They alone can provide the educational opportunities that ought to be available at lunch time in any school. Very few people who are not teachers would be able to provide the expertise and educational opportunities that ought to be available in a good school at lunch time.
In my school, 1,500 school meals were provided each day. This meant that at any one time there would be 500 or 600 children in the dining hall, either queueing for lunch or eating lunch. If suddenly a crisis or quarrel erupted, it required enormous expertise to sort it out and prevent its escalation. It will be difficult for people who are not well qualified to provide that necessary expertise. There is a complete mix of children of all levels of intelligence, from all sorts of social backgrounds and ethnic minorities, as well as from the indigenous community. They should he relaxed, but if there is trouble, as there certainly will be, notably on rainy and windy days, it takes some handling. I hope that the supervision will be adequate.
School dinners are good for children. It is a good time for extra education in social mores and extra learning in clubs and other areas. Often it is the only square meal a child has in a day, which should also be remembered. I disagree with some Opposition Members, notably the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), who said that school meals were under serious attack. They have never been better As children have much more choice, there is much less waste. In the past I have seen buckets and lorry loads of good food taken from schools where it was thrown at children who did not want it.
The teachers' dispute undoubtedly influences the position. The teaching profession is the greatest profession of all, and it is what counts. To settle the dispute we may need to press hard for an inquiry, and the time has come to do so. The inquiry must not be into pay alone, because it will not settle the question for ever. It is essential to link conditions with pay. I hope that we shall have an inquiry before long and settle this miserable dispute.
§ Mr. Jack Dormand (Easington)
It is unfortunate that we had three Government statements today which took up a large part of the time for debating this important measure, so I intend to be brief. I shall omit my words of support for the financial statistics which my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) presented lucidly and forthrightly. They are the main factors in the debate.
The first two Government Back-Bench Members to speak missed the point, but I am glad that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), who has much more practical experience, came to the nub of the matter, and I hope that the Minister will take note of what he said.
The Bill demonstrates yet again the Government's crazy sense of priorities in dealing with education problems The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) dealt with that matter. The best that can be said about the Bill is that it is feeble and inadequate, and the worst is that it lacks understanding, and is malicious and, above all, provocative. For anyone who 475 has any interest in the importance of education it is inconceivable that these proposals should be introduced now, during the teachers' dispute.
Teachers have long pressed for a fully staffed ancillary service for lunchtime supervision. In 1968 the school meals agreement between the Government, local authorities and the teachers' unions recommended minimum levels of supervisory staff. In 1967 during the dispute about school meals supervision I was the education officer for Easington where the dispute was centred. I still have vivid memories of it. One is that the hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) cross-examined me in the High Court. Although it was a hotly contested dispute which ended in a legal decision, I never had any doubt that a fully staffed ancillary service must be the objective.
Since then progress has been undermined by the Government, not least by today's measure. The goodwill and co-operation of teachers is continually demonstrated in many ways. It is proper, therefore, to recall that, despite the court's decision 17 years ago, a large number of teachers voluntarily supervised pupils at lunchtime. That is why I intervened when the Secretary of State kindly gave way while introducing the Bill. That is a measure of teachers' concern. It must never be forgotten that supervision is voluntary, and the withdrawal by teachers of that work during the present dispute is perfectly proper and, what is more, perfectly understandable.
Some innocents on the Conservative Benches—we have not heard any of them today—and, I was about to say, devious characters, but I shall absolve them of that accusation, will say, and have said, "Why are the teachers grumbling? We are proposing to provide the ancillary staff for which they are asking." The answer is that the £40 million allocated is completely inadequate for funding a fully staffed service. That was the burden of the argument of the hon. Member from Ealing, North. It shows that the Government are not taking the matter sufficiently seriously. Moreover—some of my hon. Friends may disagree with me on this—it will be no easy task to find staff of the right calibre. They will have to possess the right kind of personality, be sympathetic to and knowledgeable about children, and, above all—
§ Mr. Dormand
I shall come to that point in a moment—have an authority which will make lunchtime the orderly, civilised and pleasant occasion that it should be. Such people are few and far between, as I know from the difficulties that I had in recruiting them many years ago.
To recruit such people will require adequate financing and training. If we do not face that fact, we shall not meet the desired objectives. Anything short of that will be self-defeating. It is essential that the scheme should include the training of supervisory personnel, which will also require money. It is obvious to everyone except the Government that, if lunchtime supervision by ancillary staff is to succeed, it must meet two criteria. First, there must be sufficient money for it, and, secondly, it must be separate from any moneys identified as being available for teachers' salaries. The proposals in the Bill do not meet those criteria. That is another sign of the Government's hasty and ill-considered attitude towards an important part of the education of our children.
476 When historians come to write the story of present-day Tory Governments, two words will be used more than any others—confrontation and provocation. We have a perfect example of those two attitudes in the Bill. The £10 million for this financial year and the £40 million for the next financial year are to be clawed back from the new money that the Secretary of State has made available for teachers' salaries between 1986 and 1990.
I have to tell the Secretary of State, as if he did not already know, that to take £50 million for the payment of meals supervisors will increase not just the anger but the determination of the teachers in the present dispute. Such provocation will do nothing to resolve the present salary dispute; it will exacerbate it. Not just teachers, but parents will see through the Government's transparently sham gesture.
I am one of those people who believe that few things in this life are of more importance than education. From my many years' experience, I know that, however good the facilities, the equipment and the buildings, the ultimate success rests with the teachers. The Government have consistently failed to recognise that, and they are compounding that with the Bill. If they insist on carrying it through, they will increase the antagonism of the teaching profession, it will create a distrust which will take years to eradicate and, perhaps more importantly, leave a mark on thousands of children in our schools. For the Government to indulge in what I can only describe as the sleight of hand shown in the Bill is not just a disgrace: it is a demonstration once again of the low priority that they place on education. I urge the Government to think again.
§ Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)
I shall concentrate on two points because many of the other issues that I wished to mention have been discussed by my hon. Friends. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) made a substantial point when he talked about an inquiry into the teachers' pay dispute. I am sure that that would receive a great deal of sympathy from my hon. Friends.
I share the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) that the Bill shows where the Government's priorities lie. The National Confederation of Parent-Teachers Associations has just presented to us a damaging report on education in terms of classroom relationships and the fabric of education. If the Government have money to spend, it should be spent on dealing with some of the problems to which the report drew so much attention.
At best, the timing of the Bill is inept. The Government have not gone in for the necessary consultation with the teachers and the employers. My hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) said that when the Government's history comes to be written, terms such as "confrontation" and "provocation" will be used. One word that will never be used about the Government is "consultation".
The Government have introduced a measure that does not seem to give much thought to dealing with many of the detailed problems related to the midday supervision. It might be useful if the Government were to listen to the hon. Member for Ealing, North on this occasion. He talked about many of those problems. Who will train the supervisors? What will the relationship be between them 477 and the teachers? What will be the nature of the disciplinary relationship? None of those questions has been answered by the Secretary of State.
At worst, the Bill's timing is provocative because the Secretary of State is saying that this measure will weaken the bargaining position of the teachers' unions. That is the Bill's purpose. The parents have the right to ask the Secretary of State one simple question: what are the Government doing to protect our children's education? I speak as a parent who has suffered because his children cannot enjoy a regular education. I want to know what the Government will do to ensure that my children and many others will receive a regular education.
I shall remind the Secretary of State of the position in the city that we both have the pleasure to represent in the House of Commons. In Leeds, 21,000 pupil half-day sessions have been lost between September and mid-November. Not one child or school has not suffered from the dispute. What is the Secretary of State doing about that? The Bill will not resolve the problems. It will exacerbate them and make the difficulties that much greater.
On many occasions, the Secretary of State has claimed that he is the friend of parents and children. His action in introducing the Bill points to the opposite conclusion. The Government are not worried about parents or children. They merely want to use them as pawns in the teachers' dispute and in a confrontation with the teachers' unions. For those reasons, I shall vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)
I am pleased to be taking part in the debate, but I am a little sad that I had to cancel a meeting with Tameside teachers to be here. They made it clear that they were happy to rearrange that meeting on the basis that I would strongly express their views to the Government. They feel bitter because the Government have done nothing to solve the dispute in the nine months that it has continued. The Secretary of State has made any resolution of the dispute more difficult by making frequent provocative statements.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), I welcome the Minister of State to his new position. I hope that his appointment is not just cosmetic and a facelift, but that he will introduce a new policy and a new way of solving the dispute. If he manages that, I hope that he has the same success as the Secretary of State for the Environment who went in to bolster up the image of a Department and soon took it over.
Will the Minister explain why the Government are seeking to amend the Education (Grants and Awards) Act 1984 to bring in this proposal? It is muddling the legislation, and it is a parliamentary device to avoid scrutiny. The Government want Second Reading today. I gather that they want the Committee stage of the Bill to be taken on the Floor of the House. They want to rush the Bill through late at night in the week before Christmas.
§ Mr. Bennett
Not now, but the hon. Gentleman should wait for Committee and Report.
It is unfortunate, because there are important issues to consider. We must consider how head teachers and their deputies will organise supervision at lunchtime. I hope that the Minister will tell us what will happen about choir 478 practices, preparing children for the Duke of Edinburgh's award, and all the other things that take place at lunchtime. Do they come down to teaching or supervision? The tragedy of the past nine months has not been that a little more custard has been spilt on the floor in the dining rooms or one or two more spoons have been twisted by the pupils; it is all the other lunchtime activities, which I regard not as supervision but as an essential part of education.
The activities that I have mentioned have disappeared. What will be the relationship between the sums of money provided for in the Bill and those activities? Will there be national pay rates and conditions of service for lunchtime supervision, or are the Government trying to pick off areas of high unemployment where people are desperate for jobs in the hope that those people will take the work at extremely low rates of pay?
What will happen in those areas where over recent years the lunchtime has been reduced? It has become almost a lunchtime gobble. The food is eaten, but little else happens. Many schools would be better with a much longer lunchtime. Will the legislation make it possible to bring back many of the things that went on during the lunchtime? When will the Minister stand up for education and obtain a little more public expenditure for it? Since 1979, as a proportion of GDP, spending on education has decreased each year. If we were spending now on education the same as we were in 1979 as a proportion of GDP, we should be spending about £2.2 billion extra. Such money would go a long way not just towards solving the dispute, but towards helping many other education issues.
I ask the Government to consider carefully how they should try to solve this dispute. Digging their heels in and insisting that they will not move from their position will not solve the problem.
This measure is an insult to teachers. The Government have totally destroyed the morale of teachers, and they now have a major task to rebuild that morale. The first thing they must do is to find a means of settling the dispute with honour and to the satisfaction of teachers. Until the Government do that, the Opposition will vote against miserable little measures like this Bill.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Chris Patten)
I shall on this occasion be mercifully brief. I remind the House that the main aim of this small but valuable Bill is to secure adequate and reliable supervision at midday in our schools and so safeguard the education of pupils. The Government hope, through the Bill and associated proposals, to bring art end to the disruption at midday that has plagued our schools in recent months.
In taking this action the Government are responding to an argument which has been put by teachers increasingly forcefully—except perhaps in recent days—for the best part of the past 40 years. I am therefore surprised that the Bill should be seen as being vindictive, and all the other words associated with "vindictive" in "Roget's Thesaurus".
I am also surprised that the Bill should be seen as an attack on allegedly helpless teachers. I do not deny that we are seeking to remove from the teachers a weapon which they have deliberately used during the dispute at virtually no cost to themselves. They have been able to use this weapon only because it is something which they now do 479 voluntarily. The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) made an important point, and the Government are responding to that and placing the teachers' right to a break at midday beyond debate.
The hon. Members for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) and for Easington (Mr. Dormand) said that the Government's action was provocative. They did not mix their metaphors to the extent that my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) did when he called the proposal a cross between a Trojan horse and a poisoned chalice. I was delighted with my hon. Friend's metaphor. Opposition Members have said that the teachers wish to continue doing the work voluntarily, so that they can stop doing it whenever they wish. That is an extraordinary proposition, and there is not much principle or professionalism about that. The Government cannot accept that argument, nor could any local education authority employer.
It is not sensible to suggest, as the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) did, that the supervision can be carried out only by teachers. More than 80,000 people who are not teachers are already employed to assist in supervising children and many adults are responsible for the safety and welfare of children in other situations.
The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East claimed that the money in the proposals was not new money. I can put his mind at rest and say that it is new money, as it is additional to our existing plans for educational spending. As from next year it will be new money, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that.
The hon. Gentleman also referred to the education support grant. I am afraid that, unusually, he was slightly selective in his quotation. One of the purposes of ESG when it was introduced was to helpLEAs to respond swiftly to new demands on the education service".—[Official Report, 14 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 630.]That is what the Secretary of State said on the Second Reading of the Education (Grants and Awards) Bill. The need to substitute for the help which teachers are no longer willing to give is a new demand to which local education authorities need to make a swift response.
I should like to echo the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth and commend the very hard work and sterling efforts of many head teachers over recent months which have helped to keep many schools open. I realise the strain that they have suffered and acknowledge that they have behaved with great commitment. The new arrangements should provide head teachers with sufficient assistance at midday to discharge this responsibility without undue fuss. In future they will have staff whose contractual duty is to supervise at midday. This should greatly ease their position, but they will naturally retain overall responsibility for the running of the school.
The head teachers have been offered the opportunity to comment on the draft of the circular that is in the Library. The Government intend to send that circular to all education authorities outlining the arrangements if the legislation is passed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) wondered whether £40 million would be 480 sufficient in the circumstances. Even if one compares that sum with what is spent at present, or with the proposals put forward following the Rossetti committee, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, the figure of £40 million seems adequate. The additions were arrived at after careful consideration of the number of extra supervisors who might be required in schools of different sizes and the likely range of costs implied. The £10 million to be made available for the remainder of this year and the £40 million for 1986–87 will suffice to allow adequate new arrangements to be introduced.
In response to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), I confirm that the arrangements will be worked out by local education authorities. If the Government had decided to introduce a national scheme, the hon. Gentleman would doubtless have criticised us for centralising the education service. The Government are proceeding in a very sensible way.
The main thrust of the argument from the Opposition, as recounted by the hon. Member for Durham, North, is that the Bill is the Government's only response to the distressing dispute which has done and is doing so much damage to the education service. That argument is a travesty of the truth. For over a year the Government have been pressing for a new deal for teachers based on higher pay in return for a definition of teachers' duties and a new salary structure. Negotiations have consistently been blocked by the leadership of one union, which talks grimly of keeping the disruption going until the next election. So much for professionalism.
Last August the Government put £1.25 billion on the table to facilitate a new deal. If that is inflexibility, all I can say is that that is the sort of inflexibility which most other professional groups and public sector pay workers would be very happy to endure.
The Government's offer to the unions in September, which unlocked the £1.25 billion of new additional money, was rightly described by one of the local authority employers—not a Conservative employer—as the most radical and imaginative ever for teachers. It was a deal which would have given teachers two increases this year and an average end-of-year increase of 8 per cent. That deal would have given two out of three teachers a very substantial amount of extra money indeed on top of their normal pay awards.
Even allowing for the margin of linguistic excess to which Oppositions are committed by ancient tradition—one could call that the Kaufman factor—to describe the offer made last August, in view of the way the National Union of Teachers has behaved, and the whole history of the dispute, as examples of a hardhearted Government acting inflexibly, is ludicrously intemperate and ludicrously wide of the mark.
We want to see the teachers get back to negotiation. We want to see an early end to this bitter, damaging and totally unnecessary dispute, on terms which are fair and honourable all round and on terms which will last and which will ensure that we do not go through all this again. I wish I were convinced that that was the view of the leadership of the National Union of Teachers. In the meantime, until we get such a settlement, we are acting in the Bill to remove a long-standing grievance. The Bill, therefore, like the Government's behaviour throughout the dispute, deserves the support of the House.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—481
§ The House divided: Ayes 195, Noes 87.482
|Division No. 18]||[7 pm|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)|
|Amess, David||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Ancram, Michael||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Arnold, Tom||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Ashby, David||Hunter, Andrew|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Jackson, Robert|
|Best, Keith||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Body, Richard||Jones, Robert (Herts W)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Key, Robert|
|Bright, Graham||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Budgen, Nick||Knowles, Michael|
|Burt, Alistair||Knox, David|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Lang, Ian|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Latham, Michael|
|Cash, William||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Chapman, Sydney||Lester, Jim|
|Chope, Christopher||Lightbown, David|
|Churchill, W. S.||Lilley, Peter|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Coombs, Simon||Lord, Michael|
|Cope, John||Luce, Richard|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Critchley, Julian||McCrindle, Robert|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Dorrell, Stephen||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Dover, Den||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Durant, Tony||Maclean, David John|
|Emery, Sir Peter||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Eyre, Sir Reginald||Madel, David|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Major, John|
|Farr, Sir John||Malone, Gerald|
|Favell, Anthony||Maples, John|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Marlow, Antony|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Forman, Nigel||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Forth, Eric||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Fox, Marcus||Moore, John|
|Franks, Cecil||Murphy, Christopher|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Freeman, Roger||Nelson, Anthony|
|Galley, Roy||Normanton, Tom|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Norris, Steven|
|Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Gow, Ian||Ottaway, Richard|
|Greenway, Harry||Parris, Matthew|
|Gregory, Conal||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Pawsey, James|
|Ground, Patrick||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Portillo, Michael|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Powley, John|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Price, Sir David|
|Hayward, Robert||Raffan, Keith|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Heddle, John||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Henderson, Barry||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Hickmet, Richard||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Hind, Kenneth||Rowe, Andrew|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Holt, Richard||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratfd-on-A)||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Shersby, Michael||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Speller, Tony||Waller, Gary|
|Spencer, Derek||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Watts, John|
|Stanley, John||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Steen, Anthony||Whitney, Raymond|
|Stern, Michael||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Stevens, Martin (Fulham)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Stradling Thomas, Sir John||Wood, Timothy|
|Sumberg, David||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Terlezki, Stefan||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.||Mr. Michael Neubert and|
|Thompson, Donald (Calder V)||Mr. Francis Maude|
|Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Alton, David||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Barnett, Guy||Leighton, Ronald|
|Barron, Kevin||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||McCartney, Hugh|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||McKelvey, William|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||McNamara, Kevin|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Marek, Dr John|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)||Meacher, Michael|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Michie, William|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Cohen, Harry||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Corbett, Robin||O'Brien, William|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Park, George|
|Crowther, Stan||Pike, Peter|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Radice, Giles|
|Deakins, Eric||Randall, Stuart|
|Dormand, Jack||Redmond, M.|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Eastham, Ken||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Fatchett, Derek||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Rogers, Allan|
|Flannery, Martin||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Sheerman, Barry|
|Foster, Derek||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Foulkes, George||Short, Mrs R.(Whampt'n NE)|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Soley, Clive|
|Freud, Clement||Spearing, Nigel|
|George, Bruce||Tinn, James|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Wallace, James|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)||Welsh, Michael|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Winnick, David|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Home Robertson, John||Mr. Frank Haynes and|
|Howells, Geraint||Mr. Mark Fisher.|
§ Questions accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Lang.]
§ Committee tomorrow.