HC Deb 23 July 1985 vol 83 cc856-7
14. Mr. Stern

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on future prospects for education in the light of the continuing teachers' dispute.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government's commitment to improved standards remains firm, and we shall continue to pursue the policies for improvement set out in the White Paper "Better Schools" with vigour and determination.

Mr. Stern

In relation to the continuing dispute, will my right hon. Friend confirm that arbitration has been on offer to both sides since virtually the first day of the dispute and that such arbitration, if it took place, would take place in the light of the current circumstances, and with no predisposition to any offer which is now or might be on the table?

Sir Keith Joseph

My hon. Friend is asking me to agree to that which I cannot immediately accept. Arbitration is available, if both sides agree.

Mr. Leadbitter

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that the future prospects of the teaching profession and of education depend on an acknowledgment in the House by him that, on present available information, teachers' pay in real terms is below that recommended by Houghton in the mid-1970s? Will he confirm that the present offer still places teachers' salaries, in real terms, below the levels of the Houghton recommendations?

Sir Keith Joseph

I totally reject any idea of a return to comparability. The teachers' increase under Houghton was removed entirely within a very few years, before the end of the life of the then Labour Government, by the inflationary storm to which it helped give rise. Therefore, I think that the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong to encourage more inflation which is itself, in the words of his former party Leader, the father and mother of unemployment.