§ Mr. Speaker
I remind the House that this debate is starting rather late. I have no authority to limit the length of speeches, but I hope that they will be brief, because a large number of right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part. I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)
I beg to move,That this House, deeply concerned about the inadequate supply of books and equipment, the overcrowded classrooms, the poor maintenance and repair in too many of our schools, and the alienation and demoralisation of the teaching profession, calls on the Government to provide extra resources in order to improve educational standards in the United Kingdom and secure a long term settlement of the teachers' claim for proper, professional levels of pay.
The Labour party has chosen this subject for debate in Opposition time because there is now a major crisis in our schools, a crisis for which the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Government are largely responsible. As we know from recent events, including a lobby of Parliament today, parents all over the country are deeply disturbed and worried about what is happening, about the shortage of books and equipment, about the shabbiness and disrepair of many schools, and above all about the impact that the prolonged pay dispute is having on their children's education.
Understandably, parents want to know what the Government are doing to resolve the crisis and when the Secretary of State will take his responsibilities seriously. It is a question that parents are constitutionally and legally entitled to ask. The right hon. Gentleman is drawing a salary as Secretary of State for Education and Science, so it must be he and the Government of which he is a member who in the final analysis are responsible for the state of education in Britain.
I remind the House of the Secretary of State's position, because the right hon. Gentleman now seems to be so remote from the reality of what is happening that he gives the impression that the crisis in our schools has nothing to do with him. Most observers would agree that the high point of the right hon. Gentleman's term of office was in January 1984 when he made his Sheffield speech about raising the level of achievement in our schools. On behalf of the Labour party I welcomed the main thrust of that speech. I said that we shared the objecive of raising standards, but I made it quite clear that a strategy to improve standards would not succeed without extra resources. I emphasised that standards could be improved only with the co-operation and support of teachers, and I concluded by saying that we would judge him not only by his words but by his actions.
Two years after that speech, the Secretary of State's fine words and promises have a hollow ring. Far from having laid the foundations for major advances, our schools are in desperate straits. By any standards, the record of the right hon. Gentleman is a disastrous one. Reports from his own advisers, Her Majesty's inspectorate, repeatedly warned the Secretary of State of the damage that inadequate levels of resources were doing to standards and to standards of provision.
The inspectorate's last report presents a depressing picture. More or better books are judged to be necessary 511 in just over one quarter of schools visited. More or better equipment is needed in about a quarter of both primary and secondary schools. In a quarter of the schools the inspectorate assesses that more or more appropriately qualified teachers are required. The latest information is that 1,250,000 pupils are in classes of over 30.
The inspectorate is particularly worried about the state of the repair, maintenance and decoration of school buildings. It says:The continued neglect of the school building stock is not only storing up potentially enormous bills for the future but is also seriously affecting the quality of work and achievement of many pupils and providing a grim evironment for them and their teachers.
Matters would be even worse were it not for parental contributions. The inspectorate emphasises that these tend towiden the differences in the level of resources available to individual schools and, by their nature, cannot be relied upon when planning future developments.
Summing up, Her Majesty's inspectorate says that, contrary to what the Secretary of State has complacently told us,there is a statistically significant association between satisfactory or better levels of resource provision and work of sound quality, and between unsatisfactory levels of provision and poor quality of work.The inspectorate concludes by warning the Secretary of State thatit seems unlikely that present levels (of provision) will be sufficient to enable schools to respond successfully to the national and local calls for improvements in pupils' achievements and in the curriculum.
The simple truth, understood by parents, pupils and teachers, is that when resources are in short supply it is difficult to maintain existing standards, let alone improve them.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
In attacking the Government, is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Labour party has no responsibility in the matter? If he is saying that, does he remember that it is only a few months since Liverpool education authority, which is Labour and Militant controlled, locked the teachers out of their schools and the children were kept out on the streets and addressed by two Labour Militant MPs? The hon. Gentleman sat in a London town hall with the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers militant teachers, and Labour Left-wing councillors, and allowed him to say, "I am delighted that teachers in the schools are on strike in this area, including two special schools."
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
Order. I remind the House that this is a short debate. Interventions make speeches longer, particularly interventions from hon. Members who are waiting to catch my eye.
§ Mr. Radice
The hon. Gentleman would do better to make his own speech when the time comes. The Labour party nationally has made its position quite clear about Liverpool, and Liverpool is not running the country—it is the Secretary of State and the Government who are doing that, and that is what we are debating.
It is depressing that the Secretary of State is planning to continue the cuts in school spending. According to the White Paper, over the next three years the Secretary of State plans to cut spending on primary schools by 7 per cent. in real terms, and on secondary schools by 10 per cent. Overall, spending on education is estimated to be a tenth less in 1988–89 than it is in 1985–86. The 512 Government's order of priorities is demonstrated by the fact that we are spending on education only four fifths of what we spend on defence. The education share of total spending continues to decline. If the Secretary of State was putting up a better fight in the Cabinet for education, we might have sympathy for him. What we, and I think parents, too, find so hard to take is the enthusiasm with which the Secretary of State offers up the education budget for Treasury surgery.
§ Mr. William Cash (Stafford)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that since 1979 there has been a reduction of 1 million pupils in schools, and that within the next few years there will be a further reduction of 750,000, yet in real terms there is a reduction of only 0.2 per cent. in resources? Against that background, it is up to the authorities, including Labour-controlled education authorities, of which my constituency, Stafford, happens to be one, to allocate priorities. In the constituency of Stafford the district auditor has just stated—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Radice
The hon. Gentleman has made the case for me not to give way. By two long interventions, he and the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) will have prevented other Conservative Members from getting in tonight.
It is true that at a time when the numbers of pupils are falling spending per pupil has risen, because the fall in spending has not been so rapid. However, if we consider the difference between 1983–84 and 1984–85, we find that spending per pupil is falling. In any case, the Government should have been taking the opportunity of falling rolls to use the extra resources to try to tackle some of the problems to which the inspectorate has been drawing attention.
As for the teachers' dispute, from the Government's complacent inaction I can only presume that they do not fully understand the damage that the dispute is doing to the education of the nation's children. Already millions of pupils have had their schooling disrupted for 50 weeks, and in Scotland, which will be covered by my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing), the dispute has lasted for 14 months. For many secondary school pupils, one fifth of their education has been affected. If there is not a settlement soon, attitudes are likely to harden even further. As we saw at the conferences of the two biggest teachers' unions last week, proposals to disrupt examinations were defeated only narrowly. It would be a tragedy if later this year examinations were disturbed.
§ Mr. Radice
I am not encouraging them. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear my last sentence. I accept that he does not listen carefully.
Many parents are also anxious about the impact which the dispute is having on the new general certificate of secondary education examination, which informed obervers believed in any case is working to an unrealistic timetable. The longer the dispute goes on, the more lasting will be the damage. The Secretary of State's handling of the teachers has been disastrously inept. Indeed, he is one of the main reasons why the dispute has lasted so long. It is time that he had the honesty to acknowledge that. 513 There have been appalling blunders. It was typical of the Government's sense of timing and fairness that at a critical moment in the negotiations last July they announced massive increases for top people while telling teachers to hold back. As I know from personal experience, that announcement effectively scuppered the talks. It was also typical of the Secretary of State that he should have been such an enthusiastic supporter of the Government's decision on top salaries.
It was characteristic of the Government that they refused to fund the local authority employers' structure package and only revealed how much they were prepared to offer at the beginning of August, six months into the dispute. Also, of course, the sum of money was significantly less than the amount behind the local authority package. Since his initiative five months ago the Secretary of State has been content to go on repeating his offer—an offer which the unions, of whatever sort, have rejected.
We have had the appointment of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten) as a kind of public relations consultant in residence to the Secretary of State, but slick presentation cannot make up for a failure of policy.
There have also been leaked reports, authorised or otherwise, of Cabinet Committee meetings to discuss the teachers' dispute, but nothing but leaks have come out of the meetings. The only intervention from the Government in recent weeks was the extraordinary briefing by the celebrated Bernard Ingham to Sunday newspaper correspondents outlining a Prime Ministerial "get tough" plan. The local authorities were told to take teachers to court. Not surprisingly, that met with an almost uniformly hostile reception, even from some Conservative councillors. I must give the Department of Education and Science credit, even it was embarrassed. A DES official was reported as saying that that was not the Department's view.
Throughout the dispute it has been the Labour party which has worked to bring peace. With my active support, Labour took the chair of Burnham and made improved offers in July and in October. As we speak, the Labour local authorities, using the good offices of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, are trying desperately to reach a settlement, but with a conspicuous lack of assistance from the Government.
The problem of the local authorities throughout the dispute has been that the Government refused to provide enough extra resources to meet the legitimate aspirations of the teachers. Indeed, the Government's unfair public sector pay policy and their policies on local government expenditure are at the heart of the dispute. It is no good Conservative Members expressing sympathy for the teachers, as I understand many of them have, and badgering the Secretary of State for action—apparently at a meeting last night they did that—if at the same time they back levels of rate support grant which make a settlement almost impossible to achieve.
The position of the Labour party is clear. We know that the teaching force is one of the main determinants of the quality of education. We know that good teaching involves great commitment, energy and skill. We fully understand that many of the reforms that are needed will not only 514 make fresh demands on the teachers, but cannot be effectively implemented unless they have the support of teachers.
There is a strong case for assessment to improve teacher performance. A Labour Government would strongly support such a development. We are right to expect much from our teachers, but we should know by now that we will not get the best from the teaching profession unless teachers are paid a proper professional salary. It is no good asking teachers to behave as professionals unless they are paid as professionals. It is a widely accepted fact, even inside the DES, that teachers have fallen behind significantly.
The Secretary of State told the House in 1984 that good candidates were still coming forward at the existing salary levels. I remember that famous remark. If that is the case, how is it that applications for teacher training courses are down by nearly 30 per cent.? It is a tragedy for the nation when, as I know—I am sure other hon. Members know also—potential candidates are being advised by teachers not to go into teaching. A Labour Government would make a new long-term deal for the profession a priority. If we were in power we would provide the extra resources—and it would not be a great deal extra—to enable the negotiators to reach an honourable settlement of the 1985 claim. We would then immediately set up a quick-acting, independent inquiry, whose findings the Government would be committed to fund.
§ Mr. Radice
Such an inquiry—if the hon. Member will be patient—would look at how teachers' pay had fallen behind that of comparable professions. It would take account of the changing demands on the profession since the Houghton report, and it would propose mechanisms—and I know that the right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) has said sensible things about that—for ensuring that the real value of the new salary levels were maintained because we cannot have this kind of disruption every two years. It just is not good enough for our children. We have said that, because the salary increases are likely to be substantial, they would need to be phased in over the first few years of the next Labour Government.
We are proposing a new deal for teachers and a new deal for education. Parents and teachers know that the school system is in crisis. They know that the Government are responsible, and have the main responsibility for resolving the crisis. They will no longer accept—nor should the House—the worn excuses and tired alibis of the Government and of the Secretary of State. The Government must now provide the extra investment in schools which is so desperately needed if educational standards are to be raised and if there is to be a long-term settlement of the teaching dispute. Investing in the future of our children makes good sense. If the Secretary of State does not understand that simple fact, he should make way for one who does.
§ The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:'welcomes Her Majesty's Government's policies to improve the standards and quality of school education for children of all 515 abilities; notes that expenditure per pupil is at record levels; support the Government's efforts to secure better value for money from that expenditure in future; and urges Her Majesty's Government to continue to work for a lasting reform covering teachers' pay, pay structure and duties, facilitating the recruitment, retention and motivation of teachers of the quality needed to underpin these policies.'
The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) supported his party's motion by listing a series of shortcomings that are also referred to in the motion. I want to remind the House that the facts are that spending per child in real terms in schools is at a record high level, that the pupil-teacher ratio is at a record low level, and that the proportion of over-sized classes—still regrettably too large—is at its lowest level ever and had been coming down.
I should like the hon. Gentleman to be more honest even in quoting shortcomings, as he did, from HMI's annual report. I do not contradict his references to HMI's cataloguing of some shortcomings. It is not the practice of Members of the Government Benches to deny what is true. The hon. Gentleman would, however, have been more honest if he had also mentioned the references by HMI, in precisely the same report, to the reason for many of the shortcomings—that many local education authorities choose to deploy the large sums of money available to them for schools in relatively wasteful ways.
I refer the hon. Member to the HMI report. What HMI says is that better management of resources by a number of local education authorities would enable the shortage of equipment and of books and the backlog of maintenance to be subtantially reduced. I am not saying that it could be totally removed, nor am I saying that that is true of all local education authorities, but I certainly accept some shortcomings and I hope that Opposition Members—
§ Sir Keith Joseph
No, I am sorry; I must make progress to leave time for hon. Members to make their speeches.
I should be grateful if Opposition Members would recognise from the same HMI report that there is scope for redeployment in many local education authorities through better management of resources.
The hon. Member for Durham, North teased me with not fulfilling any of the tangible implications of my speech on behalf of the Government at Sheffield two years ago. I remind the House that the Government have maintained real spending per child at record levels, that we have improved the pupil-teacher ratio, and that we have reduced the number of over-sized classes. As further evidence of the acceptance of the implications of that Sheffield speech, I will quote the substantial increases in money for in-service training—an indispensable part of the improvement of career prospects and of professional development that we offer to teachers—and will call in witness the very large sum that we have conditionally made available for the increase of teachers' pay.
The hon. Gentleman has once again taken only part of the evidence when he refers to the declining trend which he identifies in future spending plans for schools. The fact is that after this coming year the Government have, in their public spending plans, made no decision yet on the allocation of money between the different services, including education. So the hon. Gentleman cannot draw any conclusions from that.
516 The immediate issue behind our present debate is the tragic dispute affecting so many of our schools. It centres not only on pay but on what pay is for. The whole House will surely accept that it is tragic that so much damage is being done to pupils, to parents and to head teachers who have the extra burden placed upon them, and in terms of the strain in many classrooms, as some teachers seem militant and without a care for the pupils while many others must be in agony of mind about the disruption that they are helping to cause.
I want to pay tribute to those many teachers who, whether grouped in one union or members of other unions, are refusing to disrupt. I want to pay tribute to the heads and their deputies who are bearing such an intense burden of responsibility.
One of the main ingredients of the dispute is pay. Up to two years ago—I understand that this is common ground—there was an abundance of candidates of the right quality for teacher training. Even at that time, there had been for many yars a shortage of candidates with certain skills—mathematics, physics, craft, design and technology, and, in some cases, religious education and business studies. Moreover, two years ago there were very few, if any, anecdotes of good teachers quitting the classroom.
Sadly, I have to say that during the past two years those three factors have deteriorated sharply. There is an adequacy of candidates of the right quality for teacher training vacancies, but and adequacy in numbers only rather than the abundance of two or more years ago. The shortage of certain teaching skills is even more serious. There are ample anecdotes about good teachers quitting the classroom.
The Government, however, recognised early on in the past two years that it would be necessary for the total pay of teachers to be increased in real terms, to enable local education authorities to recruit, to retain and to motivate people of the right quality as teachers.
In 1984, on behalf of the Government, I offered local education authorities and the teachers an opportunity to put together a bargain that I should find good for children's education and that could be afforded by the nation. I promised that if such a bargain were offered to me I should take it to my Cabinet colleagues and ask for the money. The local education authorities honourably tried to put together such a bargain, not every detail of which pleased me, but it was possible that during negotiations it could have been improved. Alas, in December 1984 the National Union of Teachers walked out of the negotiations.
In 1985 I filled the gap in the quantity and offered a specific sum of additional money for teachers' pay on condition that the teachers' unions accepted terms on duties and a new career structure, coupled with much more promotion. When the local education authorities embodied that extra conditional money in their offer, the National Union of Teachers led the teachers' unions in rejecting the offer after a mere 20 minutes.
Let it be understood, therefore—I say this in response to the challenge by the hon. Member for Durham, North that the Government should act—that the Government have acted. They have shaped that request into a bargain that would benefit the children. The Government were ready to recommend that the additional money involved should be paid two years ago. For more than half a year the Government have offered further 517 additional money, but the teachers' unions led by the National Union of Teachers, have refused even to discuss it.
The Government have acted. Extra conditional money is available. The Government recognise, by this conditional offer, that more money is needed in real terms. We made an offer that would be in addition to the annual negotiated pay award. However, we have deliberately made the additional money available only on condition, because we believe that it is essential that if education is to be effective teachers should accept a defined range of duties in return for decent pay.
When the hon. Member for Durham, North said that his party's policy would include the setting up of an inquiry, I was interested to note that the catalogue of items to be dealt with by the inquiry did not include teachers' duties. Does the hon. Gentleman accept on behalf of his party that in return for a reasonable pay structure, a promotion structure and in-service training, teachers should accept a range of duties associated with their contracts, or is he at one with Mr. Jarvis, who was recently reported by the Press Association as saying that the employers were seeking to persuade the teachers to "surrender their weapons"? Does the hon. Gentleman believe that acceptance by the teaching profession of duties in return for reasonable pay is not correct? Does he challenge the Government's request for a range of duties to be accepted by the teaching profession in return for reasonable pay, or is he at one with Mr. Jarvis in viewing the duties of the teaching profession as merely weapons of disruption?
§ Mr. Radice
The Opposition are not in government, although some people believe that we are because the Secretary of State has been doing too little. The inquiry ought to concentrate upon teachers' pay. That is the main reason for teachers being so alienated. That is why they feel so demoralised. The Secretary of State would be well advised to follow that advice. I am not the mouthpiece of the NUT or of any other teaching union. The Opposition speak up on behalf of education.
§ Sir Keith Joseph
We must all hope that the discussions that are being held under the auspices of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service are able to help the local education authorities and the teachers' unions to reach a satisfactory conclusion. ACAS, the employers and the teachers' unions know what is the Government's position.
Many right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I hope the House will reject the motion and support the amendment.
§ 8.5 pm
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)
I am not going to trade figures tonight. We are going to have, I fear, the usual debate, with this side repeating what are by now well-known facts about Her Majesty's Inspectorate, the NCPTA reports, and so on. From the other side there will be well-worn excuses to the effect that spending per pupil is higher than ever. We accept that, but we also realise—and the Secretary of State must realise it, too—that the expectations of parents are higher now than they were. There seems to be a genuine gap between perceptions and statistics. This may partly be because falling school rolls cannot be translated as quickly as the 518 Secretary of State for Education and Science would like into savings. The economies of scale in the classrooms just do not work like that.
It is ironic that in this situation the Government should be happy to boast about high per capita expenditure and lower pupil-teacher ratios when these facts not only go against the whole of their previously declared economic policy but when many of the facts that make up their statistics are created by local education authorities whose policies are officially disapproved of—
§ Mr. Freud
No, I shall not give way, so that the hon. Gentleman will have time to make his own speech. But a more significant reason for the disparity between the two sorts of information coming out of the education service is that expectations have been rising. Sometimes it seems as if we expect our schools to solve all our other problems virtually single handed. Certainly many Conservative Members would be prepared to blame our schools for what they perceive to be the problems and the evils of modern society. It is more than the fact that many people now regard schools as a complete child minding service, or that the demands on teachers, for instance, to be able to teach computing have grown. The pressures that are thus loaded on to the education service are therefore immense. The scale of the crisis to which the motion refers is well known to the hundreds of parents who came today to central Hall, Westminster. Their pressing concern, and ours, is for a resolution to the teachers' dispute.
Let me say first of all that this problem has been almost wholly self inflicted by the Government. The dispute is a product of the assault on local government which has restricted the freedom of the employers to negotiate and of the erratically enforced and unfair public sector pay policy. there will be counties that will be unable to afford the 30 per cent. contribution on education support grant. They will be unable to afford to bid for their own money to supervise school meals or they go into penalty. I should like to know what the Secretary of State has to say about this.
Cash limits are not some immutable law. They reflect the political priorities of the Government. They say clearly to me, as they said to those London parents and to all of us this afternoon, that this Government do not value the education service. I do not want to say a great deal about the dispute—
§ Mr. Skinner
The hon. Gentleman is backing both sides. That is typical Liberalism—backing every horse in the race.
§ Mr. Freud
I believe that it would be wrong to say too much about the dispute other than to wish all parties in it well. I hope that what ACAS is doing will give us a short period of stability in which we can arrive at a long term settlement.
I wish to tell the Secretary of State that, on free market criteria alone, teachers' pay is too low. He knows it and he accepts it, and something will have to be done. There 519 is increasing evidence that the problems of recruitment, retention and motivation, which were said to explain the top people's award, are true of teachers.
The Secretary of State talked of the adequacy of supply. I ask him to read the advertisements in The Times Educational Supplement any week if he does not believe that teachers are being tempted out of the profession. In the last few weeks the paper has reported that, for the first time, ILEA primary headships are going to be advertised outside the area. In the Midlands a respected tertiary college—a place where people think it is good and interesting to teach—is having enormous trouble recruiting its teaching staff.
I wish to quote from a few letters which I have received from people in the last week. The first is from a teacher in Cambridge whose children are receiving free school meals and who writes:It is bad enough having to struggle week in and week out, not being able to afford ordinary things for the family. But when people, with no conception of the demoralising and deliberating struggle to make ends meet in private and put on a brave face in public, take advantage of their privileged position and easy access to the media to tell the country that I am better off than I actually am, it hurts.
§ Mr. Freud
The hon. Lady asks who wrote my speech. A constituent wrote the letter to me about what her Government are doing to education.
A teacher in Hertford writes:The children are being down graded…I respect children. Their future needs everything we can put into it.The head of a primary school in Oldham writes:To express my sense of frustration through the written word is extremely difficult…It is going to take us months if not one or two years to catch up on lost work.The head of a special school in Southampton writes:When teachers who normally give freely and unstintingly of their time (and I can vouch that mine always have) begin to take action which is so detrimental to a school, something is drastically wrong … When a leader fails to appreciate the value of those in the team, the team collapses. This is happening in education…The Government has lost the trust and respect of teachers.The chairman of a Northampton parents association writes:The sufferers in all this, of course, are our children, and ultimately the rest of us who depend upon an educated population to drive this country forward over the next few years.
It is not Opposition hyperbole to say that the crrisis has never been worse, yet the Secretary of State did have one good, essential idea, to try to make comprehensives genuinely that, by merging the examination at 16-plus and making it a certificate of what a child can do rather that what he or she cannot do. But I say to him now that that good idea is also threatened. Even without the strike, the timetable was too short and the resources too measly. With the strike, the whole scheme is threatened, and a generation of our children is at risk.
We urge the Secretary of State to think again about this.
§ Mr. Freud
I will not give way, as I told the hon. Lady. All the vision and grand design will never get off the ground unless the basic commitment, the bottom line, is there first.
The right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office will leave a legacy of lost opportunities—of the Government and 520 of the children whom, as the 1944 Act makes clear, it is his duty to educate. Just as he will not solve the teachers' dispute by bludgeoning them back to work, so he will not solve the other problems of our educational system by abrogating power and dictating terms.
I believe that to have any chance of functioning effectively and fairly, the education service must be collegial and co-operative, and this applies above al1 in this Government's handling of the teachers dispute. We ask the right hon. Gentleman to think again before the crisis grows out of all human proportion.
I said to the parents of ILEA pupils in Westminster Central Hall today "Only the Government can provide the conditions necessary for a long term solution. Only they have the cash." I say now to the Secretary of State that there has to be a lasting deal, via an inquiry—and our amendment, as the Secretary of State will see, links pay and conditions under the terms of that inquiry—via a commitment of central Government money and via a recognition of the worth of teachers.
§ Mr. Mark Carlisle (Warrington, South)
I shall be brief, as many hon. Members wish to speak in the debate.
The motion is very wide. With regard to the first part, I do not think that the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) advances his case if he attempts to exaggerate it or to suggest that it is all due to what has happened since 1969. The fact is that more money is being spent per pupil today than when I became Secretary of State in 1979, and there is a lower pupil-teacher ratio. I think a lot of what the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) said stems from the fact that parental expectations have risen. There is other equipment in schools—audio visual equipment computers—which was not there hitherto. Of course, there are problems in schools. I repeat that I do not think that the hon. Member for Durham, North advances his case if he suggests that the problem ought to be laid at the door of the present Government.
I want to come immediately to the second half of the motion concerning the teachers' dispute. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that this strike is doing much damage to children's education. It is doing damage directly by affecting their opportunities for education. Time lost and opportunities missed at school can never be recovered. It is doing damage perhaps even more seriously indirectly by the example that it is giving. I believe that the blame for that must very fairly and firmly be put mainly on the leadership of the National Union of Teachers. I believe—I have said this before, and I repeat—that the teachers are totally wrong in the way that they have chosen to go about this matter. Teachers ask to be treated as professionals.
§ Mr. Carlisle
I shall come to that in a moment. As I said, the blame must be put very largely on the leadership of the NUT. The union asks that teachers be treated as professionals. I believe that teachers should be so treated. I do not believe that the language of industrial action and strife is the language of the classroom or the language of 521 the professional. I believe that the teachers' claim, limited to the re-indexing of Houghton is, as it stands, unrealistic. I believe that the teachers are wrong to have pulled out of talks on the re-forming of the structure. I believe that they must accept that pay and conditions must go together. I believe that they are totally wrong to refuse to go to arbitration.
It is ironic that when in 1981, as Secretary of State, I changed the conditions of arbitration by requiring both parties to take part—until then one party had been allowed to go individually—I was attacked and opposed by the NUT for so doing. However, the NUT is now taking advantage of that change in the rules to prevent its own claim going to arbitration. I think that it has much to answer for. The NUT leadership is not only damaging but harming those whom it represents.
Having said that, our real concern must be that we cannot allow actions such as this to drag on. Some definitive proposal must be put forward. We must get away from ann anual dispute over teachers' pay, and the damage that that has done. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agrees that it is vital that teachers should feel secure and that they are fairly and properly remunerated for what they do. I know that the Government accept that teachers need an increase in salary, because they have proposed a package of £1.25 billion.
Clearly, teachers feel that they have a grievance, which I believe is that they feel that they are receiving less remuneration than their qualifications and work deserve and would receive elsewhere. While I fully support the need to restrain public expenditure, it is not possible to achieve savings in public expenditure at the cost of the individual employed in the public service. I have always believed, and still do, that it is reasonable that those in the public service should have a system to examine their remuneration that takes account of comparable salaries paid to people of comparable qualifications and work elsewhere.
Therefore, no doubt to the surprise of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), I go on to say that one way in which that may be achieved would be by having a review body for teachers. We have one each for doctors, nurses, police and top salaries, and those review bodies can take account of all considerations. I accept my right hon. Friend's point that either that review body must be able to look at conditions of service as well as pay, or that at least there must be agreement on the conditions of service on which the review body is asked to adjudicate the salary. In the end, the review body does not have the final word—the Government have the right to decide the implementation of the review body awards.
We must have a permanent body that teachers can genuinely feel will take account, in its decision, of what they believe are the legitimate interests in the salaries that they fear are slipping. I urge my right hon. Friend to think carefully of the possibility of such an approach being made.
§ Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)
The right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) said that the teachers' dispute cannot go on as it has in the past 12 months, and I am sure that there will be broad 522 agreement on that. However, he avoided the consequencies of his argument. If the industrial action had not taken place, would we have had such broad agreement on some of the parameters of the dispute? For instance, would we have had broad agreement about the decline in take home pay for teachers or about the collapse in morale not just for teachers but for college lecturers and university teachers? Would the Government have been prepared to listen to some of the arguments from Tory benches? We would not, and it is sad that only through industrial action have the teachers been able to move the Government or the Tory Benches towards a settlement.
We have driven a group of workers who regard themselves as professionals—
§ Mr. Fatchett
My right hon. Friend is right. The Government have driven a group of professionals, people who aim to make a contribution to our society, into taking action that is out of character. The Government must bear the consequences of this. They have the ability to settle this dispute, but sadly they do not have the will. I fear, and I suspect that many patients fear, that the reason why the Government have allowed the dispute to continue is that they feel that they will gain some short-term politial popularity from doing so. They may be desperate for that, but, while they play political games, children are suffering from the Government's lack of activity. It is about time that the Government showed that they have the will as well as the ability to settle the dispute, and made sure that our children enjoy the education that they deserve. There is a way to settle the dispute, and I ask the Secretary of Stte to look for it.
It may also be worthwhile to broaden the debate away from the immediate crisis in our schools and in teachers' pay to the issue of the collapse of morale in education. All those who work in education or who have children in education sense that the collapse is taking place. It manifests itself in various concrete forms such as buildings in need of repair, books in short supply—all the problems that we see in inner city schools as well as others. That has been evidenced by the report of the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations and by the Government's inspectors' reports. That much is clear.
Whatever the Government say, there is damage to the education of our children. I cannot understand an argument to the effect that, if somehow we control the supply of money going into education, children will benefit. It never happens in private education where money seems to be readily available. The state system suffers and therefore the majority of children suffer.
The consequences of that are at last becoming clear to some Tory Members, not just the right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South who asked for a settlement of the dispute and made some suggestions about how it could be done. Other hon. Members are beginning to realise that the Government's education philosophy is causing irreparable damage. This week, the leader of the Tory group on ILEA resigned, complaining about the Government's policies. Perhaps even more interestingly, the director of education for the London borough of Hillingdon, which is Tory-controlled, also resigned. He said that he was giving up his job because he was expected to become a damage control contractor and that his job in education was no longer about advancing the service or 523 furthering children's requirements but simply about preventing and forestalling further damage. That is an indictment not from the Labour party but from people who have been members of the Conservative party and have supported the Government's policies. That is damaging for the Government.
§ Mrs. McCurley
The hon. Gentleman should not place too much emphasis on the fabric of schools. My school, which I left in 1961, was condemned in 1929. At the end of the sixth form, 95 per cent. of the pupils went on to higher education. It is the quality of teaching that matters and not where one teaches.
§ Mr. Fatchett
That is a strange philosophy. The logic of the hon. Lady's argument is that we allow schools to fall down around us, which is not one of the most sensible arguments. The image of education is worrying to parents and the prospects are that it will get worse. I hope that those Tories who rebelled against the rate support grant did not do so simply because they were worried about their electoral prospects. They must realise that the RSG will make further inroads into the education system. I believe that some, although not all, voted out of altruistic motives and a belief in the educational system.
Public spending plans will make our education system worse in the future. We have to fight for education. The Government are putting to us the economic doctrine that by making cut after cut in education provision, we are performing a service that will put the country back on its feet economically. That is nonsensical because the best form of expenditure is to invest in our future generations and make sure that they have the right to a good education. Given their philosophy, the Government do not seem able to offer that. I would say that what divides us in this debate is our view of society and the role of our children in it. I believe in the importance of education. Education is fundamental to a civilised society, and has to be provided by a properly funded and supported public sector, not by any other means.
I fear that many people see the Government as having no time, respect or affinity for public education. The Government are in the business of undermining public education to allow the growth of private education and the private sector. We must in the country as a whole get the argument for education and state education back on the political agenda. We believe in education, and it must be given a high priority. That is what divides Labour Members from Conservative Members, who see in education a means of saving money and supporting a particular political doctrine.
My hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) said that what we would expect is a Secretary of State to fight for the education system. That is what parents expect. They are not getting it at the moment, and that is why, if we believe in education, we need a change of Government.
§ Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)
The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) is mistaken if he believes that there is any political capital in the teachers' dispute. It is bad news for parents, bad news for children and bad news for teachers.
I shall refer to two issues: first, the teachers' dispute; and, secondly, to a matter of more continuing importance 524 which was highlighted by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) when he was Prime Minister.
In 1976 the right hon. Member called for a great debate on education. At that time—the period of the last Labour Government—it was recognised that education was facing a crisis.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has detailed the Government's response to the teachers' demands. I believe that there are few Secretaries of State who could have extracted from the Treasury £;1.25 billion to be made available over four years for teachers' pay. That gives the lie to those who say that the Secretary of State does not stand up in Cabinet for education. That amount is in addition to all the normal increments that teachers might have expected during those four years.
I am anxious for this dispute to end. I believe that the offer represents a fair deal for teachers. It would enable the introduction of a salary system that would reward better teachers. A fair offer is on the table, and I am convinced that it should be taken up.
My experience of education is confined to the state sector. I therefore understand the importance of providing what my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) described as a ladder of opportunity. It is important that such a ladder is provided for parents who have limited means. In the past, that ladder of opportunity was provided by technical schools and grammar schools. Technical schools have gone, and such grammar schools as remain are under threat. That ladder has now been kicked away. Five of my sons attended Lawrence Sheriff grammar school in Rugby. I therefore have firsthand experience of the positive force for good that comes from a first-rate school.
We should seek to raise the level of schools to that of the best. I do not believe that that can be achieved simply by voting more and more millions of pounds. If it were that easy, the problem would have been solved, because over the past 20 years spending on education has doubled. It is not so much the money that matters, but what is done with it, and despite doubling the money, standards have not improved. As my hon. Friend the Member Dartford (Mr. Dunn), the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, said in a recent speech, despite the fact that funding has increased, the number of young people from blue collar families attending university has fallen. Increased funding does not of itself mean improved standards. It does not guarantee better education.
I am convinced that more parental involvement will help, because nothing so concentrates a parental mind on schools as having a child at school. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has introduced a number of measures to improve standards in schools. For example, he has introduced improvements in teacher training and measures to restructure examinations. Teacher appraisal, with appropriate rewards and parental involvement, will help, but do they go far enough?
There is an interesting benchmark available to us to judge performance. In the past, results in Northern Ireland were less good than in other home counties, but that situation has been reversed, and in Ireland, despite the bombings and the terrorists, examination results are steadily improving and have become some of the best within the United Kingdom. Therefore, I think that the House should ask itself what is going right in the Province. Why do they alone swim against the tide? Can it be— 525 shock horror—that it is due to the retention of selective education? Can that be the difference? Judged by the quality of examination results, it certainly could well be.
I wonder whether the House has the courage to accept that perhaps selective schools—and remember they exist in France, Germany and the Soviet Union—hold the key to excellence in education? Perhaps my right hon. Friend should consider positive discrimination to enable the emergence of centres of excellence throughout the United Kingdom. Mainland standards might then stand more favourable comparison with those in Northern Ireland.
Is this, then, the real crisis? Is the problem facing us one of money, or one of method? My hon. Friend the Member for Dartford has referred to this point, saying that there appears to be more interest in what resources go into education than in what actually comes out. It would therefore seem that, despite the best ever pupil-teacher ratio, the best per capitation ever, the added year's education and the doubling of spending, education still causes us great concern, and rightly so.
If the Northern Ireland example is any guide, perhaps a child is most likely to progress in a selective system where there is a variety of schools. More choice is needed. I read only yesterday in The Guardian that the Department of Education and Science might be seeking to obtain greater control of educational funding. If that is the case, and if it is able to direct 10 to 15 per cent. of educational funding into new areas, I suggest that centres of excellence represent new areas to which that funding could be directed. That would assist the more academic pupils, and it would help those who have a technical bias. In 1976 performance failed to match the rhetoric, and I trust that that will not be the case on 1986.
§ Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)
About 10 days ago, a new Secretary of State for Scotland was appointed. The right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) came to the Scottish Office with the reputation of a man who thrives on crises. During his political career he has benefited from various Government crises. The Falklands crisis in 1982 catapulted him out of the Scottish Office into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Westland crisis has helicoptered him back to the Scottish Office. The right hon. Gentleman has come back to a Department that seems to stagger from one crisis to another.
I said publicly at the time of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's appointment that a new Secretary of State would present an opportunity for someone to take a fresh look at these crises and to solve some. Earlier today, he shirked his responsibilities with regard to the crisis facing the Scottish steel industry. He is now attempting to wash his hands completely of the gravest crisis that Scottish education has ever faced.
The teachers' dispute in Scotland has been dragging on for about 18 months—even longer than the miners' strike. Although it is not all-out strike action, selective strike action has reduced the learning week of some children from five days to two or three days. Work-to-contract action has had an adverse effect also, resulting in a lack, or even the non-existence, of curriculum 526 development, threatening examinations and limiting sports, recreational and the extra-curricula activities that enrich a school.
§ Mrs. McCurley
The hon. Gentleman talked about curriculum development. Is not the union that is prolonging the strike the same union that encouraged the Government to accelerate the introduction of the new system in Scotland and is now grumbling about it?
§ Mr. Canavan
The blame must lie with the Government. A partnership between local education authorities, teachers' unions and the Government is needed in curriculum development, as well as in other aspects of education. The major fault must rest at the Government's door.
Many parents are worried about the damage done to their children's education by the dispute. I blame not the teachers but the Government. The Secretary of State for Scotland has responsibility for education in Scotland. The intransigence of the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State—the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram)—are largely to blame for the crisis in Scottish education.
It is more than 11 years since the last major independent review of teachers' salaries. A Labour Government implemented the Houghton report, giving teachers the largest salary increases that they have ever been awarded. For most teachers, the increase was about 30 per cent. Since then, teachers have fallen massively behind in the earnings league table. It must be frustrating for young people who, after leaving school, spend four or five years at a college or university studying to be teachers to find that if they had gone straight from school into the police force they would have been earning more. It must have been even more frustrating for young teachers to note, a few months ago, that the Government were handing out increases of 17 per cent. or more to the so-called "top" people, none of whom do a day's work as valuable as a teacher's.
I have always claimed that one of a Government's prime duties is to ensure not just the maintenance but the improvement of educational standards. It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that adequate resources are channelled into education. The most valuable education resource—I may be in at least partial agreement with the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mrs. McCurley)—is not the bricks and mortar that make up a school, or chalk, blackboards, books, audio-visual aids and computers. The most valuable educational resource is a good teacher.
An adequate supply of good teachers will not enter the profession unless there is a reasonable degree of job satisfaction and remuneration. Teachers rightly feel that that is not the case at present, so there is great dissatisfaction and low morale in the profession. That is why there is an overwhelming demand in Scotland for an independent review of teachers' salaries. The majority of Scottish teachers, Scottish people, representatives of Scottish local education authorities and Scottish Members of Parliament want such a review.
The Secretary of State is firmly against such an independent review. Scotland is lumbered with a Secretary of State who does not represent the views of the people of Scotland. He is just a puppet, with no mandate from the Scottish people to implement his policies on education or 527 anything else, as he was rejected by more than 70 per cent. of the Scottish people at the last general election. Since then, his support has dwindled to an irrelevent rump. If this puppet of a Secretary of State and his colleague the Under-Secretary of State—the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South—are too afraid to stand up and fight for Scottish jobs, industry and education, the honourable course is to do what the former Secretary of State for Defence did. The future of Scottish education and Scottish children is much more important and precious than the future of all the helicopter companies in the world.
§ Mr. Alan Howarth (Stratford-on-Avon)
The Labour party invites us to accept the proposition that there is a crisis in our schools, and I think that all of us can readily do that. We are witnessing a disruption in schools that has been continuing for 11 months in England and Wales and for longer north of the border. We are witnessing a sharp decline in the respect in which the teaching profession is held. We are witnessing acute anxiety by parents and pupils. The leaders of the National Union of Teachers are engaged in a kind of self-caricature, sulking in their tents, refusing even to sit in the same room with their fellow teaching unions in the negotiations.
It is curious that the Warwickshire representatives of the NUT declined to allow me to see the ballot papers the union had used in balloting its members on the 12 September offer and this January. It is difficult to believe that all the NUT's members have been made objectively and fairly aware of what has been put on offer.
§ Mr. Hunter
Will the hon. Gentleman concede that the propaganda issued by the NUT about £1.25 billion being a non-sum has been the height of dishonesty?
§ Mr. Howarth
It is extraordinarily unrealistic.
We are witnessing an appalling example to pupils by those charged with the responsibility for educating them. We are seeing militancy, aggressive self-interest at the expense of others and hypocrisy. The British people are rather good at hypocrisy, but this is the worst case yet. Teachers' representatives are arguing that it is in the interests of the education service that they should disrupt pupils' education.
It is not only a crisis in education but in politics, because the Labour Party refuse to condemn the disruption in unambiguous terms. It is extraordinary that the official education spokesmen for the Labour Party have tabled an early-day motion explicitly supporting disruption in universities.
It is a crisis of passivity on the part of the British people that they are prepared so meekly to put up with the disruption. It is extraordinary and disappointing. It is unimaginable that such a crisis would have been allowed to persist in France or Germany.
All these events are a manifestation of a more profound crisis in education in the country. I believe that the crisis dates from a time when the Labour Party and the Left decided to subordinate educational values to political purposes.
At the north of England education conference in 1966 Tony Crosland urged in favour of comprehensive schools that the central and irresistible argument against the 11-plus lies in the field of social justice and equality of opportunity. I think that both sides of the House would 528 strongly believe in social justice and equality of opportunity but we would not accept that an ideology or theory should be allowed to ride roughshod over the immediate interests of the children in our schools.
§ Mr. Howarth
I would like to continue, because we are short of time. The strategy of the Left has been to exploit that bridgehead and it continues to unfold. Mr. Peter Hain told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in 1982 that the Left must go into the community, into the estates. We have seen how they have done that in Tottenham and Handsworth. He said the Le ft must go into the schools—we saw how they did that at William Tyndale and recently at Daneford—and they must go into the work place. We have seen that in the coalmines and News International.
Mr. George Nicholson, Labour member of the Inner London education authority, and designated as authorised member for political education, has written:I regard my job as mainly an organisational one. It's like a subversive campaign…we are not just talking about History or Geography, we are talking about subjects right the way across, from Music to Maths to English. I don't believe there is any subject untouched by politics…I don't believe in neutrality…people who think that they can be devil's advocates and think that they can present all sides of the argument and be objective are just hiding behind their own political values…as a socialist education authority…the starting point is that we live in an unequal society and political education is about organising and thinking critically for change … I think everyone has a big hang up about bias and indoctrination.
The journal Education, a trade journal of local education authority officers and administrators, describes the 1985 elections to the Inner London Teachers' Association, the largest branch of the National Union of Teachers—the largest teachers' union in the country:For the first time in the turbulent history of the union in London a member of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party is unopposed as treasurer and the choice for the other offices lies between two groups, Rank and File '83 and the so-called Socialist Teachers Alliance, whose members are composed of either Trotskyists, Maoists, ultra left, hard left or near anarchist…(some of them in the Labour party) and between these groups alone. No candidate of more moderate complexion, even Communist party, let alone ordinary left or right wing Labour or Alliance or Tory is standing.
The Times Educational Supplement had a remarkable and disturbing feature in its edition on 10 January. In an article entitled "Ultra Left tightens grips on ILEA schools" Hilary Wilce wrote:Heads agree that there are up to a dozen schools in the city which are virtually in the hands of extremists…A number of moderate teachers who work in highly militant schools have spoken to The TES about the situation they work in. All refuse to be named … They say there is an atmosphere of daily intimidation, verbal abuse and professional harassment for anyone who does not fall in with the prevailing political line…In one school a militant NUT representative told the staff room he wanted to see the head 'gassed in his bog'; in another a staff room notice was pinned up after strike action saying 'We feel a great sense of power and excitement at being able to disrupt the school'.I do not want to get this out of proportion. We are talking about a minority, but they have captured the Inner London Teachers Association and they have a significant voice in the National Union of Teachers.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was right to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and skill of the great majority of teachers. However, I think all of us, I hope the Opposition agree, will be disturbed by what 529 I have recounted. Over the past 20 years we have seen centuries of slowly nurtured educational tradition uprooted. We have seen the abolition of the grammar schools. Since the recent county council elections when I am afraid some of the citizens of south Warwickshire were soft-headed enough to vote Liberal and let Labour into control in shire hall, even the grammar school that Shakespeare attended is under threat because they propose to abolish it.
There are only 150 grammar schools left in the country and how enormously important it is to preserve them and their sixth forms. The old sixth form tradition is being eroded. For example, we have seen the development of the teaching of peace studies. We have seen organisations such as Teachers for Peace and Schools against the Bomb increasing their influence in schools. They argue some extraordinary things. There is a theory about structural violence. It is not just about banning the bomb. The scope of peace studies is extended to suggest to children that the structures of our society are violent because they are oppressive. All that is intended to inculcate an attitude of, to use the term of the Labour party motion, "alienation" from our society. It is not a matter of responsible open debate based on facts. It is a matter of subversively seeking to influence the perceptions of children and it is the antithesis of genuine education.
The proponents of peace studies ignore history. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was right to emphasise the importance of the study of history in our schools, because it is only by studying history that we can gain a profound sense of why certain groups within a society or even countries themselves reach the point of antagonism at which peace breaks down. Do the teachers of peace studies tell the children about the history of the peace movement in the 1930s? Do they teach them about the contemporary history of eastern Europe and the Gulag Archipelago? If Opposition Members can cite any instances where they do, I will be relieved and I will certainly be surprised. Do they ever put the case for having an army or a police force? I think not. In the document "Teaching London Kids" there are a series of articles by lesbian and male homosexual teachers who have, using the jargon, come out. They argue that it is their duty to encourage children to challenge society's norms of sexuality. I do not think the parents of those children see that as the duty of teachers.
We have multi-cultural education. We have seen the disgraceful hounding of Mr. Honeyford in Bradford. Educational values and honest analysis were subordinated to aggressive political ideology. He was the victim of abuse, vilification and intimidation. It was his persecutors who intruded politics into the education of the children at Drummond middle school, not Mr. Honeyford, who had the intolerable courage actually to challenge some of the orthodoxies and nostrums of the Left.
What has happened to educational standards over the past 20 years, against this background? One of the disturbing developments is that people do not read any more. A Euro Monitor survey found that even in the so-called A-B category, 64 per cent. acknowledged that they did not read books. That is portentous for the future.
We are appalling linguists in this country. As for mathematics, it is interesting to contrast the experience of Germany with that of this country. By now, only some 3 530 per cent. of German school children are in the equivalent of comprehensive schools. Some 50 per cent. are in technical schools. In Britain, there has been a movement in the reverse direction. Technical schools were developing promisingly and successfully in the late 1960s. They were then destroyed in the name of a social theory, and the consequence is that the average German school leaver is now two years ahead of the British school leaver in mathematical attainment. That does not stop us from continuing to award ourselves pay increases very much larger than the Germans in relation to our productivity. I welcome the initiative by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), in proposing that some technology schools should be established in the urban centres. However, much has been destroyed that we could ill afford to lose.
Complaints about the paintwork are superficial. Complaints about money, even if they were justified, miss the point. The amount of cash input is an extraordinarily crude measure of an education system. By that measure, the Government have done well. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State justifiably explained, expenditure per pupil is at speak, and an extra £1.25 billion, which rightly has been made conditional, has been offered for teachers' salaries. By other crude criteria—by Mr. Crosland's criteria—the system has failed. In 1968, 31 per cent. of working class children went on to university. In 1981, only 19.4 per cent. did, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary recently told us.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has led a true debate about the real questions to which we should be addressing ourselves. Other hon. Members have referred to his Sheffield speech two years ago. However, how has the profession responded to the propositions and challenges that my right hon. Friend has put to its members? In the past year, it has responded by abdicating responsibility and undermining the principle of authority, which is profoundly damaging to our children's education. It tempts one to the conclusion that education is too fragile and precious to be left to educationalists.
I hope that we shall have a reasonable, honourably negotiated solution to the dispute in the near future. However, if the teachers representatives are not willing to come to a reasonable and honourable settlement, we might have to consider much more radical reforms. I hope very much that those reforms will move in the direction of making schools more directly accountable to parents. That will be the mark of a mature society in which parents can exercise proper choice and influence on schools.
It is interesting that Professor Halsey, Tony Crosland's political adviser, who was closely associated with him when circular 10/65 was issued, by 1981 was recanting and arguing at the north of England education conference and later in an article in New Society that the way forward had to be to strip away a great deal of the bureaucratic superstructure of the education system and go for a direct grant system, whereby schools would receive a direct grant related to the numbers of pupils that the school attracted. That way, parents would be allowed to bring to bear the pressure, which they long to bring to bear, of their aspirations for better standards of learning for their children.
§ 9.3 pm
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
It would not need much skill to link the prejudices of the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth), which he has just aired at length, with the amendment on the Order Paper. I could not tell what he was talking about, except that he seemed to expect the Russians to attack at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
Let me get back to the reality of why we are here and try to forgot the nonsense to which we have just been listening. In yesterday's edition of The Guardian there was a leading article entitled "Tighter rein on cash for schools". When one reads the article, one realises how much centralisation there is under the Government and how dangerous they are becoming, especially in what they are doing with the rates. In today's edition of The Guardian, John Carvel says:Sir Keith Joseph, the Education Secretary, yesterday faced a barrage of protest from Tory MPs that he should act quickly to settle the teachers' dispute.Sir Keith attended a private meeting of the Tory backbench education committee at which about 100 MPs made it clear that opinion is mounting in their constituencies against the Government's refusal to make further concessions to the teaching unions.
A question has been asked about tying teachers' conditions of service to the Government's offers. The answer has been given to the Secretary of State by me at least 20 times. This is a routine wage demand by teachers and the teachers are not willing to delay it by having it tied to new conditions of service. They are willing to discuss conditions and service after the present wage demand is fulfilled.
§ Mr. Flannery
I shall not give way as I want to make certain points and time is getting on.
The teachers are a moderate, middle-class section of the community. They have had a union for about 115 years and the Prime Minister, as well as my lowly self, attended the teachers' union centenary when she was Secretary of State for Education and Science in the Heath Government. It was almost 100 years before the teachers who are being attacked took any action.
Teachers have been provoked beyond measure by the wretched Government. The extent of that provocation is shown by the fact that such a group of middle-class, white-collar people have stuck out for such a long time and have, whether the Conservative party likes it or not, absolutely massive support from parents throughout the country.
§ Mr. Flannery
I am sorry, but I will not give way. I want to finish my remarks.
What has happened? It is pointless to ask Conservative Members or the Minister as they have no correct answers. The Opposition have been asking questions for some time. The Government fear that if they open the floodgates with money for the teachers, no matter how impecunious the teachers are, it will cause a lot of trouble.
The Government continue to say like an incantation that there is no money and that the wicked teachers are doing dreadful things to the children and education. There is the biggest ever crisis in education and it has been caused by the Government's parsimony and their refusal to give enough money to allow the schools to be run properly.
532 Meanwhile, the teachers have watched the major Houghton increase of 10 years ago being steadily eroded and their standard of living deteriorating. Teachers are well-qualified, professional people who have been grossly undervalued, and they have raised and improved academic standards enormously, despite the endless draconian cuts in education.—
§ Mr. Flannery
—that are becoming more and more deadly all the time.
Let us be clear. The reason why there are not more children entering universities—I have asked the Secretary of State to explain that over and over again is that the Secretary of State has cut on a grand scale the numbers of young people entering universities. Higher qualified young people who have the right to enter university have been prevented from doing so by the Secretary of State. However, many have gone into the polytechnics to be educated no matter what. That will worsen as time goes on, although education is expanding and examination results are splendid compared with what they were.
Nevertheless, it is our children, the children in state schools, who are suffering. The children of Conservative Members are not suffering; their children are in private schools. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) has told me at least 20 times in the Chamber, not only about his virility but about all the children he has in different schools.
At the same time as the Government are holding our children down, they have their assisted places scheme where by they siphon off taxpayers' money, as they call it—the public's money—and give it to their private schools while cutting down on our schools. They have cut down on building improvements, on books of which there are now insufficient, and on equipment which we cannot buy because of the low capitation allowances. We therefore do not need lectures from the Conservative party which knows everything about making money and which will have the best for its children. It is not interested—except for its prejudices—in the education of ordinary children.
The Secretary of State admits that teachers are leaving schools and not entering the profession because of the pitiful wages. We are short of maths, music, science and many other teachers because of the Tory Government, and that fact is coming home to roost.
There were 3,000 teachers in Sheffield city hall today. Parents were there on a grand scale complaining bitterly and supporting the teachers. It is not true that the parents do not support the teachers. The local education authority supports the teachers, but it does not have enough money to pay them. The Secretary of State will not give it money in the rate support grant to increase teachers' pay. LEAs want to give the teachers more money.
Education is in deep crisis, although not as deep a crisis as the one in which the Government are, as they revealed earlier. When the Secretary of State said that the Government are acting, he is right. I wish that the Government would come off the stage, stop acting and face reality.
Teachers have no overtime. They do voluntary duties. There are clubs and groups of every kind for which they stay behind for hours. There are lunchtime choirs. They 533 do voluntary lunchtime duties, although they have withdrawn from them. They cover for sick and absent colleagues by taking more children into their classes. They take part in Saturday sports and events of all kinds. Teachers have withdrawn their good will. They are desperate because their standard of living is so low.
Teachers, as I do, regard the Secretary of State as a disaster. He is the most unpopular Secretary of State for Education and Science in the country's history. He lacks knowledge of the state education system. He reveals his ignorance in nearly every speech. He is obdurate, intransigent and doctrinaire. He is a worthy representative of a Government and a parliamentary party whose members nearly all went to private schools and the so-called public schools. They even name them incorrectly.
The teachers want an increase in the 1985 settlement at least equal to the increase in the cost of living. That will leave them in the same pitifully low position.
Secondly, teachers want an increase which does not further erode their salary levels. Thirdly, they want more new money from central Government. Let us stop the nonsense about the £1.25 billion. That is for four years. It is well below the rate of inflation and will not solve the problem. Teachers also want a commitment to a move towards the Houghton relativity, which has been completely eroded.
Teachers in England and Wales are completely opposed to an inquiry during the dispute. Those people who put forward that suggestion as a panacea are wrong. Teachers would fight such an inquiry. English and Welsh teachers deeply appreciate the Scottish teachers' struggle. They support the English and Welsh teachers, but have a separate demand. They are in turn supported by their English and Welsh colleagues.
This debate is too short. We cannot do full justice to the problem. It is the Government and not the teachers who are attacking the children in the state sector. They would never do it to their own children. They are doing it to the 7 million children whom we want back at school. The Secretary of State could get them back tommorow morning if only he would pay the money. The struggle will continue unless the Government give more new money. I call on the Secretary of State—it is a pity that he is not here—and the Government to act responsibly. They have grossly underestimated the determination and misery of the teachers who have the low living standards which were caused by the Government.
The teachers ask only for a just settlement. The 1985 and 1986 salary claims must be settled honourably with more new money from central Government. That is the only just and fair way to help our children, the teachers and education.
The teachers' morale is low, but they are determined to fight for an honourable and just solution against this wretched Government and to get the children back into the classrooms where they can teach them. That determination is paramount. The Government should take it into account or the struggle will drag on and on, because the public is moving towards support of the teachers.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) could possibly be forgiven for forgetting that the Houghton award to teachers in 1974 was totally eroded in value by 534 the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979. By the time that that wicked, wretched, miserable Government went out of office, teachers were worse paid than when Labour came into government. Although teachers are not paid at a level at which we should like to see, they are better paid now than they were under the last Labour Government.
May I disclaim the myth about public schools. I gave 27 years devoted service to teaching in comprehensive schools at all levels. Conservative Members have children in state schools. The debate was opened by a Wykehamist and sitting one along from him is an Old Etonian—we do not need lectures about public schools.
§ Mr. Hunter
Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) is either deliberately misleading the House—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. No hon. Member deliberately misleads the House. Will the hon. Gentleman withdraw that?
§ Mr. Hunter
I will re-phrase that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw it."] I will certainly withdraw it, and apologise to the hon. Member for Hillsborough. The hon. Member said that the 12 September offer was less than the rate of inflation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is utterly misleading?
§ Mr. Greenway
Yes. Many Labour Members have children at public, independent or private schools. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name them."] The main ingredient in improving schools which the Labour party motion has chosen to ignore is the tremendous improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio. The official figures show that improvement. In nursery schools the pupil-teacher ratio was 26.6 in 1970 and 21.7 in 1983–84; in primary schools the ratio was 27.1 in 1970 and in 1983–84 it was 22; and in secondary schools it was 17.8 in 1970 and 16 in 1983–84. These are substantial figures of improvement.
These figures have three substantial and beneficial effects upon the schools and pupils. The more teachers there are in a school, the more contact there is between teachers and pupils. There is less pressure on teachers which must release them to work more effectively. It gives teachers more time for in-service training, lesson preparation and marking. It is enormously to the credit of this Government that the pupil-teacher ratio has improved so substantially.
The main problem and reason for the current dispute in our schools is that the Labour Government, way back in 1964, chose to take away the discussions on teachers conditions of service. Has one ever heard of anything more lunatic or more calculated? It was a political calculation of the wickedest kind to damage schools. The Labour Government said that they would discuss teachers pay but not the conditions of service or how the schools were run. That has not been beneficial to teachers. I was in a school for 15 years between 1964 and 1979 and during that time schools were progressively damaged. We have now reached this position with a tragic strike and children out on the streets. In London, schools were shut for Christmas for three weeks because the teachers had called for lightning strikes of 20 minutes. The children were sent home, but the teachers went in to mark books or prepare lessons on fully pay. That was tragic for the children and no good for teachers.
§ Mr. Greenway
The Labour Front Bench is trying to shout me down, so I shall take this opportunity to say that Labour's Wykehamist education spokesman went to a London borough town hall a few months ago where he addressed about 40 people. He shared a platform with Labour Militant, Left-wing Labour councillors and the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers. The hon. Gentleman did not restrain the general secretary of the NUT when he said:I am delighted that 14 schools—including 2 special schools—in this area are closed by striking teachers.The hon. Gentleman accepted and liked that. The Labour party has a lot to answer for in the present strike. I condemn it and it condemns itself.
Improvements in the curriculum in primary and secondary schools is of enormous potential value. I am certain that teachers will co-operate more and more with its implementation and with the improvement of schools. However, there is many a school where there have been no games for two or three years. There is many a school where there has been no prize giving, which is useful for children, for two or three years. There is many a school where there are no team games and no teaching of children out of school hours. That is a great tragedy and the reason for it must go back to the separation of pay and conditions in 1964. Those two issues, which are central to schools, to teachers' organisation and to their motivation, have gradually fallen apart. The Labour party must take responsibility for that.
Team games are being stamped out in many Labour-controlled authority areas because it is said that they foster a competitive instinct in children. When will the Labour politicians come to some sense of reality? It is enormously serious that the Labour party does not accept its responsibility and tackle extremists in some parts of London. It does nothing because it can do nothing. It has no control over its supporters who are driving schools into extreme problems and seriously damaging children.
It is time that Labour Members forgot their rhetoric and went into the constituencies of London, Liverpool and the rest and got some realistic thinking into employees in local authorities who are damaging children's education and should be persuaded to do better.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)
I should like to draw attention to the appalling complacency of the Secretary of State's speech. He congratulated the Government on spending more per child than in 1979 and on the fact that the teacher:pupil ratio is better than when they came to power. He knows that school rolls have fallen. He must also recognise that the fact that there are fewer children in schools does not mean that the costs of education have fallen proportionately. Half-empty buildings have stayed open and fixed costs remain. Moreover, parental expectations have risen in the past five or six years, as have the expectations of children. He should respond to that.
There is an even more serious problem. I am convinced that a comparison of expenditure on education or of pupil-teacher ratios with other industrialised countries would show Britain falling seriously behind. The other day I 536 heard some interesting evidence that compared performance in Britain with that in Germany. The research was undertaken under the auspices of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. That evidence is deeply disturbing for the future of our industrial competence and our success in competing with other industrialised countries.
Much has been said about the teachers' dispute. I wish only to quote from two letters that I have recived in my mail bag from constituents, which are typical of hundreds of letters that I am sure other hon. Members are receiving. The first letter is from a parent. What he writes typifies the mood of the meeting that many of us attended in Central hall. He states:As a constituent of yours with three children in state education, I am increasingly concerned at the failure of the Government to provide adequate resources to resolve the present strike by teachers.I am sure that the parents at the meeting, which took place under the auspices of the All London Parents Action Group, would have agreed with that view. A letter from a teacher in my constituency is even more disturbing. This is the second letter that my constituent has written to the Secretary of State and he has not yet received a reply to either letter. He writes:I work in an SPA in what would generally be termed a 'tough school'. But I am beginning to believe that it is useless to have any commitment to children and the profession at present because my commitment is undermined by the actions of you and your colleagues. The temptation to leave the profession is getting stronger every week.
Many years ago I was a teacher. In the schools where my children have been taught, teachers are giving more in terms of service than I or the average teacher gave when I was an active teacher. The amount of work that is done out of school hours is exceptional. Many teachers, justifiably, regard the trade-off between a pay increase, and terms and conditions of service as an insult to the devotion and commitment that they have to their jobs and the amount of voluntary service that they give on the children's behalf.
The Secretary of State repeatedly refers to the misleading way in which the National Union of Teachers is led and the way in which the leadership leads teachers to do what they should not do. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) I was present at the Wembley conference centre last Saturday. I witnessed the debate in which the conference overwhelmingly carried a motion to stage a one-day strike at the earliest opportunity in defiance of the National Executive committee of that union. The union is moderately led, but the teachers' anger and frustration has led to that decision. The fact that the NUT and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers had a relatively narrow vote on the possibility of withdrawing co-operation in examinations shows the desperate position that we are facing. My children are about to take their 0 and A-level examinations this year. Many hon. Members could point to similar pieces of evidence. The teachers in the staffroom, in their anger and frustration, believe that that is the only way in which to go forward. Ford workers are refusing a wage increase of 15.5 per cent. If one compares the increasing wages in private industry with the way in which public sector workers are being squeezed out one can understand the anger that is felt by teachers when they see their comparability with other jobs being adversely affected. 537 Teachers work in buildings which are deteriorating. Some hon. Members may have read the report in The Standard today about the position in Brent. It stated:Schools in a London Borough (Brent) could close unless millions of pounds are found for repairs, education chiefs have warned.Although £6.5 million is needed, Brent seems capable of affording only £1 million. The Inner London Education Authority, which has a considerable bill for repairs, improvements and extensions, again had its budget severely cut.
Those factors lie behind the dispute. My constituent feels that his work and commitment is being undermined by the Secretary of State, and that is the reason for the desperate position that our schools face.
§ Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke)
With only a few minutes to go, I shall leave unsaid most of what I hoped to say. I shall briefly comment only on the teachers' dispute.
First, I must confess that 14 years before I became a Member of Parliament I was a school teacher, admittedly in the private sector. That may earn me some derision from Opposition Members, but they will discover the irrelevancy of that derision if they bear with me. During that time my wife taught in a primary school. My experience has led me to accept utterly and unequivocally that the level of teachers' pay is unacceptable. Historically and traditionally we have undervalued and underpaid our teachers. That must be put right.
I accept and applaud much of what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been trying to do since he came to office. The three basic principles of his policy have been: to improve standards and quality in education; to increase parental involvement in schools; and to achieve greater cost-efficiency. These are acceptable to all reasoning people. Sadly, there is one inner flaw, which is that we have suffered from a lack of a perceived acknowledgement that the providers of education are the supremely important entity within the provision of education. The "work force" of teachers started in 1979 and again in 1983 broadly in sympathy with the objectives of the Secretary of State, and it is a tragedy that over the years ill will has replaced good will.
Opposition Members will be disappointed if they expect me to continue criticising my right hon. Friend. On 12 September—a significant date—the teachers lost my support. There were inadequacies in the 12 September offer, but they do not justify the strike action that is being taken. The National Union of Teachers is primarily responsible for that. During the past month I have come to despise the NUT national leadership. It is a catalyst for disaster within our education system, and much of the responsibility for the present position lies with that union.
For me, 12 September was the breaking point. My latent sympathy for the teachers was severed. I agree with my right hon. Friend about the fundamental principle that is at stake, and on this point I beg to differ, with respect, from the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett). The Government acknowledge that teachers are underpaid and that there should be an injection of more money into teachers' salaries. The principle of greater contractual obligation and appraisal stands absolutely. That is the 538 inner flaw in the case made by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) and his hon. Friends. It is not unreasonable to demand greater contractual obligations from teachers for improved performance.
Clearly much is wrong and has gone wrong over the years. It would be easy for the Secretary of State to give way, to concede, to buy peace for a short time. If he concedes to a demand for more pay with no terms attached, but an agreement to talk later, he will inflict not on another generation but on parents and children next year exactly the same trauma as is being suffered now. I support and admire my right hon. Friend for his stand and for his endeavours.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)
The weakness in the speech of the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) and in speeches by other hon. Members on the Government side is that they fail to appreciate that teachers in England, Scotland and Wales have been pushed beyond the limit of endurance by this Government. The Government are not dealing with the legitimate grievances presented to the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Secretary of State for Scotland. It is against that background that we face a crisis in schools.
It is not in my nature to be unkind, but seldom during 15 years in the House of Commons have I heard a more complacent speech from a Secretary of State that the speech made today by the right hon. Gentleman who has responsibility for education in England and Wales. The Secretary of State did not even do the House the courtesy of listening to a major part of the debate. How on earth he can expect to comprehend the anxiety in the constituencies if he does not take the time to listen to the debate is completely beyond me.
I condemn the Secretary of State for the content, tenor and complacency of his speech, and for the insult he delivered to the House in absenting himself from great parts of the debate, but there is one speech I will not criticse the right hon. Gentleman for missing. His Under-Secretary had the good sense to miss it as well. I am talking about the speech of their hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) who from the beginning to the end of his speech tried to smear the teaching profession. The Secretary of State and his Under-Secretary are to be complimented for missing that speech, because if all of us had been wise we would have gone out and refused to listen to it. The Secretary of State has missed parts of what has been an important debate and he must accept criticism for that.
§ Sir Keith Joseph
I missed 40 minutes out of 140 minutes. I shall carefully read the speeches that I missed and I am quite sure that I shall find the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon well worth reading.
§ Mr. Ewing
Knowing the Secretary of State's background and track record, I am quite sure he will find his hon. Friend's speech worth reading. There are similarities between what is happening in Scotland and what is happening in England and Wales over this crisis in our schools. We both suffer the same accommodation problems. There are schools throughout Great Britain that were built in the last century and were expected to last throughout the present century and, no doubt, well into the 539 next century. There is little capital available for much-needed modernisation of our school accommodation. In Scotland the criterion for accommodation is based on a report that is eight years old. The accommodation discussion document was published in 1978. Yet in 1986 the Government, who have been in power since 1979, have not published their own accommodation discussion document and we are still working on the basis of the 1978 document.
The other similarity between Scotland and England and Wales has been the constant reference to the fact that more is being spent per pupil. I note that the former Secretary of State for Education and Science, the right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle), did not say that more per head was being spent on education. I suspect that in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's case it was deliberate although in other cases it was accidental. I issue a challenge to the Secretary of State for Education and Science and also to the Under-Secretary of State who is responsible for education in Scotland to publish the details of the increase in the educational content of the spending per pupil in schools. I suggest that if we had a breakdown of the figures it would show that less was being spent on the education element. Everyone knows that it costs just as much to heat, clean and light a schoolroom for 30 children as for 10, 15 or 20 children. I suspect that the Government will not want to publish the figures, because they would show that less is being spent per pupil on the education element than was spent in 1979.
§ Mr. Ewing
As my hon. Friend says, we will have to get them leaked.
That is part, but only part, of the crisis in education. The Government's public expenditure survey forecasts that the pupil-teacher ratio will get worse between now and 1988 or 1989. The ratio has been deteriorating over the last few years, though not to any great extent, but it is significant that the Government public expenditure survey is budgeting in the rate support grant for a reduction—if that is the correct expression—of 5,000 teachers in England and Wales by the end of 1986.
§ Mr. Ewing
If I may say so, that is not the best educational comment I have heard; it is a good mathematical comment, but it has little to do with education. At a time when we have an opportunity not only to maintain but to increase resources and take advantage of the reduction in the number of children at school, all the Secretary of State can do is sit with his arms folded and mouth, "How many fewer children?", as if somehow that was relevant to education.
The history of the teachers' dispute in Scotland reveals a disgraceful and appalling story. In June 1984 an application was submitted by the teaching unions in Scotland for the establishment of an independent pay review because in the eyes of all the teaching unions, and not just the main union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, there had been an erosion of 31 per cent. in teacher's salary levels since Clegg in 1979—not since Houghton.
Between June 1984 and November 1984, a period of six months, the then Secretary of State, now Secretary of State 540 for Defence, dillied and dallied and gave hints that the Government would agree to set up this independent inquiry. Suddenly from nowhere, in answer to a written question one Friday afternoon in November 1984, after six months' deliberation, the then Secretary of State for Scotland announced that he was not going to establish an independent inquiry. Then the Secretary of State asks why teachers are angry. Teachers have a right to be angry because of the way in which the Government have treated them.
If the Under-Secretary would care, when replying, to say something about the position that will prevail as we go into the examination period later on this year, I for one, and parents throughout Scotland, would be very grateful. The Government are, in my view, deliberately misleading parents and pupils—and the new Secretary of State for Scotland was at it again last Friday—by continually giving the impression that, somehow or other, these examinations—and the new Secretary of State says that the 1986 examinations will be on the standard grades—[Interruption.] The Under-Secretary seems to think not. Perhaps he had better check what the Secretary of State said, that they are going to go ahead with the new standard grade examinations.
I do not believe that even the old grade examinations can go ahead uninterrupted. Certainly, the examination papers can be prepared. Certainly, the pupils can be presented. But the Under-Secretary knows that, because of the different qualifications for marking papers in Scottish examinations from those which prevail in England and Wales, the papers simply cannot be marked. That is a disruption of the examinations in anyone's terms. Once the children have taken the examinations, their ability to go on to higher education or to enter employment, if they can find it, depends almost entirely om the outcome of their examinations. As the Under-Secretary must be aware, they will not be in a position to know the outcome of the examinations for a very long time indeed.
The Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary really ought to be a bit more forthcoming on this point. The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association has only today expressed most serious concern about the examination programme as we go into the examination period.
The Under-Secretary will rightly chastise me if I say nothing about our position in relation to the teachers and the need for a settlement. Our position is quite clear. The sooner this dispute is settled, the better for all concerned. The Secretary of State says that the Government's position is quite clear. It is that they have made practically no attempt to do anything. They did make an attempt towards the end of last year. The Secretary of State keeps talking about the £125 million which is ten per cent. of this year's salary bill only, but not ten per cent. of the salary bil1 for the next four years. Nevertheless, I repeat that it is for the Government to take the initiative in getting the teachers to the negotiating table. I doubt that the Under-Secretary will concede this tonight, but I understand that overtures are being made. We hope that they succeed, and that the Government, who are wholly responsible for the crisis in education, will respond to these overtures and bring about a settlement. I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby to condemn this Government's entire education policy against the background of the crisis in our schools.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Allan Stewart)
This is a debate on education in both England and Wales and in Scotland. I was therefore astonished that the Scottish Labour Opposition thought so little of the debate and of the motion that when it was tabled yesterday not one Scottish Labour Member signed it. It was only today, as an afterthought, that the hon. Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) added their names to the motion.
I listened carefully to the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) and to those of my hon. Friends the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) and for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) who made the very important point that the major erosion of teachers' pay took place under the last Labour Government between 1974 and 1979.
I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will expect me to concentrate upon Scotland. The Opposition have generally blamed the Government's expenditure policies for the inadequacies that they perceive in schools. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has already demonstrated that the facts do not bear this out either in England or in Scotland where expenditure per pupil has increased substantially under this Government, where pupil-teacher ratios have improved, where we have offered extra money for standard grade and where we have offered extra money for Action Plan.
I agree with the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) that pupil numbers are declining. They will decline by 100,000 in Scotland. This means that authorities must face the need for rationalisation.
In the few minutes left for this debate, I wish to deal with the dispute. We fully recognise teachers' concern and their key, important role. That is why the Government have offered additional resources for a sensible settlement both north and south of the border. A tribute should also be paid to the considerable number of teachers who have continued to work and carry out their professional duties.
The hon. Member for Falkirk, East accuses my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland of not making every effort to resolve the dispute. We have tried to do so again and again. The hon. Gentleman's friends in the Labour-led education authorities put forward a package in the summer of 1985 that was rejected out of hand by the Educational Institute of Scotland, despite the fact that the Government were prepared to provide help for that package. We offered to provide an additional £125 million for four years over and above normal pay settlements. The EIS has even rejected the formula offered by the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) to help to resolve the dispute. Most recently, a personal formula was put forward by Mr. John Pollock, the general secretary of the EIS, but it was rejected by his executive. The EIS has not even put in a pay claim. Some of the members of the EIS say that they are prepared, if necessary, to carry on until the next general election without putting in a pay claim . In theory, that could be until June 1988. All one can say about that is that it shows commendable faith in the success of the counter-inflation policy of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
542 The view of the Government, The employers and many teachers, including the other associations apart from the EIS, is that a lasting settlement of the dispute must involve both pay and conditions. They believe that that is crucial.
May I suggest to the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) that the Labour party ought to get its act together on its education policy. The hon. Gentleman was shot down in flames when he was asked a simple question about the inquiry. He was asked what it should inquire into, but he did not know. I offer him the policies of the Labour party in Scotland. There are at least three. First, there is the policy of the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) as reported in The Times Educational Supplement for Scotland:If the dispute is still runningand the Labour party is in powerwe will seek to negotiate a settlement and if that is impossible then you can have your independent pay review.
The policy of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) was reported in a separate edition under the headingLabour won't sign blank pay cheques".This reports him as refusingto give an unequivocal commitment that a future Labour Government would implement the findings of an independent pay review for teachers, which he supports.At least the hon. Member for Garscadden had the honesty to say what the hon. Member for Durham, North did not, that it is the easiest thing in the world in opposition to promise everything to everybody.
The third policy is the one put forward by some education authorities in Scotland. The Labour-led education authorities in Scotland have been consistent in their view that a settlement must involve pay and conditions. The Government's position is that a settlement must be a basis for the long term. It is wholly unacceptable for the EIS to claim that it is right for teachers on full pay to boycott examination procedures.
We do not seek to impose more onerous conditions and duties on teachers. We recognise the burdens which teachers bear, their hours and their responsibilities. We have no wish to add unreasonably to them. We simply want to see a proper recognition that teachers have duties other than teaching which they have always necessarily had. I am not talking about their voluntary and extracurricular activities, which indeed are valued, but essential jobs like preparing pupils for examinations and giving progress reports to parents.
There is nothing unique or extraordinary in the idea of linking pay with conditions, as some teachers' representatives would have us think. Rather, it is extraordinary to suppose that they cannot be linked. It is no more than standard practice in other occupations. If this fact could be recognised, the teachers would have the key to unlock the extra resources which the Government have offered with the real prospect of resolving the long and painful disputes.
The hon. Member for Falkirk, East asked me about the position on examinations. The EIS decision to disrupt the 1986 examinations is one of the most damaging aspects of the dispute. Teachers cannot pretend that they have no wish to damage the interests of pupils when the SCE examinations are probably the single most important qualification that a number of them will attain.
The Scottish Examination Board has intimated its resolve to proceed with the examinations. That is its legal duty. It does not underestimate the potential difficulties at 543 every stage at which teacher participation is normally given and expected. The board has met today to discuss its contingency plans, and will be making a statement.
I think that the hon. Member for Falkirk, East should have made clear that the Labour party does not support the boycott of examinations which is being conducted by the EIS. The debate has been overshadowed by these wholly unnecessary disputes. The Government have however, put forward constructive proposals for resolving them.
§ Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)
rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 194, Noes 259.546
|Division No. 47]||[10 pm|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)|
|Alton, David||Deakins, Eric|
|Anderson, Donald||Dewar, Donald|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Dixon, Donald|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Dobson, Frank|
|Ashton, Joe||Dormand, Jack|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Douglas, Dick|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Dubs, Alfred|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.|
|Barnett, Guy||Eadie, Alex|
|Barron, Kevin||Eastham, Ken|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)|
|Beith, A. J.||Evans, John (St. Helens N)|
|Bell, Stuart||Ewing, Harry|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Fatchett, Derek|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Faulds, Andrew|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)|
|Blair, Anthony||Fisher, Mark|
|Boyes, Roland||Flannery, Martin|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Forrester, John|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Foster, Derek|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Foulkes, George|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Freud, Clement|
|Buchan, Norman||Garrett, W. E.|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||George, Bruce|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Campbell, Ian||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Gould, Bryan|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)||Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)|
|Cartwright, John||Hancock, Michael|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Clarke, Thomas||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Clay, Robert||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith|
|Clelland, David Gordon||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Haynes, Frank|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Cohen, Harry||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Coleman, Donald||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Home Robertson, John|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Corbett, Robin||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Craigen, J. M.||John, Brynmor|
|Crowther, Stan||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Kennedy, Charles|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Redmond, Martin.|
|Lambie, David||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Lamond, James||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Leighton, Ronald||Robertson, George|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Litherland, Robert||Rogers, Allan|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Loyden, Edward||Rowlands, Ted|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Ryman, John|
|McKelvey, William||Sedgemore, Brian|
|MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Sheerman, Barry|
|McNamara, Kevin||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|McTaggart, Robert||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|McWilliam, John||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Madden, Max||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Marek, Dr John||Skinner, Dennis|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Martin, Michael||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds, E)|
|Maxton, John||Soley, Clive|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Spearing, Nigel|
|Meacher, Michael||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|Michie, William||Stott, Roger|
|Mikardo, Ian||Strang, Gavin|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Straw, Jack|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Tinn, James|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Torney, Tom|
|Nellist, David||Wallace, James|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Wareing, Robert|
|O'Brien, William||Weetch, Ken|
|O'Neill, Martin||Welsh, Michael|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||White, James|
|Parry, Robert||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Patchett, Terry||Wilson, Gordon|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Winnick, David|
|Pendry, Tom||Woodall, Alec|
|Pike, Peter||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Radice, Giles||Mr. Ron Davies and|
|Randall, Stuart||Mr. Ray Powell.|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Fallon, Michael|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Favell, Anthony|
|Ancram, Michael||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Fletcher, Alexander|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Batiste, Spencer||Forman, Nigel|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Best, Keith||Forth, Eric|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Fox, Marcus|
|Body, Sir Richard||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Freeman, Roger|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Fry, Peter|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Gale, Roger|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Galley, Roy|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Burt, Alistair||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Gow, Ian|
|Cash, William||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Chapman, Sydney||Greenway, Harry|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Gregory, Conal|
|Coombs, Simon||Griffiths, Sir Eldon|
|Cope, John||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Grist, Ian|
|Couchman, James||Ground, Patrick|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Grylls, Michael|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Durant, Tony||Hannam, John|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Harris, David||Mates, Michael|
|Harvey, Robert||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Hawksley, Warren||Mellor, David|
|Hayes, J.||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Hayward, Robert||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Moate, Roger|
|Heddle, John||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Henderson, Barry||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Hickmet, Richard||Moore, Rt Hon John|
|Hicks, Robert||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Holt, Richard||Murphy, Christopher|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Neale, Gerrard|
|Howard, Michael||Nelson, Anthony|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Newton, Tony|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)||Norris, Steven|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Hubbard-Miles, Peter||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Hunt, David (Wirral, W)||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hunter, Andrew||Page, Sir John (Harrow W)|
|Jackson, Robert||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Jessel, Toby||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Jones, Robert (Herts W)||Parris, Matthew|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)|
|Key, Robert||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Pawsey, James|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Knowles, Michael||Pollock, Alexander|
|Knox, David||Porter, Barry|
|Lamont, Norman||Portillo, Michael|
|Lang, Ian||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Latham, Michael||Powley, John|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Price, Sir David|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Lester, Jim||Rathbone, Tim|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|Lightbown, David||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Lilley, Peter||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|McCrindle, Robert||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Rost, Peter|
|Maclean, David John||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Ryder, Richard|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Madel, David||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Malins, Humfrey||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Malone, Gerald||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Marlow, Antony||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Trotter, Neville|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Shersby, Michael||Waddington, David|
|Silvester, Fred||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Sims, Roger||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Walden, George|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
|Speed, Keith||Waller, Gary|
|Spencer, Derek||Ward, John|
|Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Squire, Robin||Warren, Kenneth|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Watts, John|
|Stanley, Rt Hon John||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Steen, Anthony||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Stern, Michael||Wheeler, John|
|Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)||Whitfield, John|
|Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)||Wilkinson, John|
|Stokes, John||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Stradling Thomas, Sir John||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Sumberg, David||Wolfson, Mark|
|Taylor, John (Solihull)||Wood, Timothy|
|Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)||Woodcock, Michael|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Yeo, Tim|
|Thomas, Rt Hon Peter||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Thompson, Donald (Calder V)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)||Mr. Archie Hamilton and|
|Tracey, Richard||Mr. Michael Neubert.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.
§ Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
That this House welcomes Her Majesty's Government's policies to improve the standards and quality of school education for children of all abilities; notes that expenditure per pupil is at record levels; supports the Government's efforts to secure better value for money from that expenditure in future; and urges Her Majesty's Government to continue to work for a lasting reform covering teachers' pay, pay structure and duties, facilitating the recruitment, retention and motivation of teachers of the quality needed to underpin these policies.