§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement about school teachers' pay and conditions of service in Scotland.
On 6 March this year I told the House that I intended to set up a committee of inquiry to examine the pay, conditions of service, and management of school teachers in Scotland. The committee was asked to report by the end of the summer. I received the report towards the end of September and it was published on 2 October. I congratulate Sir Peter Main and his colleagues on the speed and thoroughness with which they have discharged a very difficult and important task.
At the core of the committee's report is a set of recommendations which the committee has suggested should be judged as an indivisible package. These relate to pay level and structure, the duties and conditions of service of teachers, staffing standards and negotiating machinery. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that, in general, the Government accept the asterisked recommendations as a package. I shall make the necessary resource provision, backed by additional rate support grant, to allow local authorities to implement in full the salary scales proposed in the report so as to settle teachers' pay for 1986–87 and 1987–88. This will he done on the following time scale—half the further increases recommended by Main will be paid from 1 January 1987, making an average increase of 8.2 per cent. from that date on top of the 5.5 per cent. interim increase paid from 1 April 1986, and the remaining half will be paid from 1 October 1987. Both stages would depend on the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee reaching agreement on a settlement which provides for the full implementation of the asterisked recommendations on pay structure, duties and conditions of service. I must emphasise that my offer is entirely dependent on reaching such agreement, in that it cannot be increased and there can be no question of any part of these resources being made available other than on this basis. The size of the award and the burden that it imposes on the ratepayer and the taxpayer make it sensible to stage implementation, as has been done in the past with other awards of this kind.
My proposals would involve adding £14 million in 1986–87 and £60 million in 1987–88 to planned expenditure on education; this reflects the cost over and above the figures that I have already announced as the basis for rate support grant in 1987–88. Grant will be increased in those two periods by £8 million and £30 million respectively. That would represent a big pay increase for Scottish teachers; it is justified only by the benefits which the package as a whole will bring—the right kind of pay structure for Scottish schools, the necessary clarification of teachers' duties, which parents will find particularly helpful, and a more practical and realistic approach to teachers' conditions of service. In accepting these recommendations, the Government are making clear the importance that they attach to securing the future development of the education service and recognising the contribution that teachers make to our society.
There is one asterisked recommendation on which I will for the time being reserve the Government's position—the recommendation that an independent review body be 476 established to settle the pay and conditions of school teachers. That recommendation has major implications for the future and I wish to give it further thought before reaching a final conclusion on it.
I have concentrated in this statement on the asterisked recommendations which lie at the core of the Main committee's report. There are, of course, many other valuable recommendations —on the role and functions of head teachers, on the professional development of teachers, on the role of parents and on the more effective and economical use of resources within the school system. I intend to pursue all these matters vigorously in consultation with the education authorities and the other interests concerned.
Since August 1984 Scottish schools have suffered disruption as a result of the present teachers' dispute. The Main committee's report offers us an excellent basis not only to end that dispute but to offer our schools and teachers a positive way forward. This is a once and for all opportunity which must be seized with both hands. The Government are prepared to do their part even though the cost to the ratepayer and taxpayer is high; now it is up to the teachers and the employers to do theirs. Meanwhile, I call upon the teachers' unions to call off their continuing boycotts of certain duties and to allow schools to function normally; the immediate resumption of normal working must, of course, be a feature of the agreement that I am asking the SJNC to reach. I am sure that the whole House will join with me in urging teachers and employers to reach speedy and full agreement along the lines I have indicated.
§ 5 pm
§ Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)
By any standards, this is a serious statement which is central to the possibility of settling a long-running, unhappy dispute, and we should be dismayed indeed if the Government were to put at risk, or worse still beyond reach, a just and honourable settlement.
The Minister says that the Government have accepted Main "in general". He will accept that that is an important qualification. He must agree that the report is pre tinted as an indivisible package, an approach which the Government have urged upon teachers. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that he is taking a considerable risk in departing from the report's central recommendations on pay? Does he accept that, over this financial year and the next, his re-jigging of the financial timetable proposed in Main will have a significant impact on individual teachers and what they can expect? Does he accept my calculation that the new phasing would cost a teacher about 10 per cent. of his present salary during that period?
The newly proposed settlement involves the loss of 16.4 per cent. for three months from 1 October 1986 to 1 January 1987 with a further 8.2 per cent. in the nine months from 1 January 1987 to 1 October 1987.
I have not had a great deal of time to calculate the figures, but will the Secretary of State confirm that a teacher on a present salary of £8,000 can expect over the period from October 1986 to October 1987 to get about £800 less than he would have got if the Government had held to the Main timetable? The right hon. and learned Gentleman will recall that the Main committee put the cost of its recommendations on pay for the year 1987–88 at £144 million. What will the figure be for the revised package now before the House? I accept that the 477 Government have found a considerable sum, but is it right or prudent to depart from Main in this way? It is certainly a risk.
I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider whether it would be wise to discuss phasing with the local authorities—the employers who, after all, have to bear a large proportion of the burden of any settlement. Will he confirm that the whole cost of any settlement will be eligible for rate support grant funding and that no authority will suffer penalties because it has spent above the guidelines simply as a result of any settlement that might be reached? In other words, will the guidelines be adopted to take full account of any increase in expenditure following from the teachers' pay settlement?
The Secretary of State will recall the important recommendation in Main, marked with an asterisk, calling for a radical review of overall staffing levels. Is he willing to tackle this matter positively? Teachers will want to know his attitude before they reach their decision.
Can the Secretary of State confirm that these revised proposals will be subject to the agreement of the SJNC —the agreement of the employers and employees? Will he assure the House that if, unfortunately, agreement is not reached on an acceptable package, there is no possibility of legislation to impose the conditions? Will he kill that fear stone dead? Will he make it clear that Main's rejection of that option is a rejection that he unreservedly supports? The Secretary of State's reservations are more than minor presentational changes. It would do no one any favours if those changes were hidden. The Secretary of State's reservations must be assessed by all interested parties. Our fervent hope is that this departure from Main will not fatally undermine the chances for a settlement. The Government have shown a measure of flexibility, to put it kindly, by departing from the central recommendations on pay in the Main report. I trust that they will not now take an unyielding, inflexible stand in the continuing search for a solution.
§ Mr. Rifkind
I thank the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) for recognising that the teachers will be expected to make grave decisions in the weeks to come. It is important that they respond to the present situation in a measured way. The Scottish public— parents, and children — will expect the teachers to respond in a way which will allow our schools to function properly.
The hon. Gentleman asked a number of detailed points to which I shall respond. First, he asked me to give an assurance that local authorities would not suffer penalties as a consequence of any increased expenditure arising out of this settlement. I can confirm that that is so. Local authority funding provision will be increased to ensure that authorities will not suffer penalties.
The hon. Gentleman suggested that phasing should be subject to discussion as it is a new measure which I have announced today. The hon. Gentleman is quite right that this proposal has expenditure implications for local authorities. He will be the first to appreciate that local authorities will be saving resources as a result of phasing, so there will not be any marked additional expense.
The central question which the hon. Gentleman raised is whether it is reasonable that a major increase of 16.4 per cent. should be phased. The hon. Gentleman and the 478 House will be aware that, over the last few years, there have been numerous precedents with regard to phasing settlements in the public sector. The examples range from nurses, doctors, the police, the armed forces and dentists. Such groups have accepted phasing, especially when a settlement has been above the rate of inflation. It is right to make a reasonable recognition of the importance of ensuring reasonable levels of pay settlement in the country and in the public sector. I believe that reasonable people, including teachers, will accept that the proposed phasing is responsible and sensible.
I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that the phasing we are proposing will mean that half of the amount recommended will be paid from 1 January and the other half nine months later. That means that teachers will, during the course of 1986–87, have an increase in their pay, including the interim award agreed some months ago of almost 14 per cent., of a further 8.2 per cent., which will be given in the second stage. By any standards this is a generous proposal to the Scottish teaching profession.
§ Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)
I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on his response to the Main report. Does he accept that the provision of a 16.4 per cent. increase over a year and a 36 per cent. increase over three years is a triumph for the Government? Everyone in Scotland will expect the teachers to welcome this response with enthusiasm and to return to work as soon as possible and without any further argument. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this decision proves that Tories care about education and are prepared to back that commitment with money?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I thank my hon. Friend for the welcome that he has given to this proposal. The emphasis of the Main recommendations and the Government's response is concerned not simply with pay but with the duties and responsibilities of teachers. I strongly believe — I trust that the public share my belief—that it is in the interests of the teaching profession that these matters should be considered as a single package, and that is what we have done.
§ Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)
Does the Secretary of State accept that it must now be recognised that it was a fundamental mistake by the Government to wait for 19 wasting and damaging months before establishing an independent pay review? I associate myself with the congratulations given to Sir Peter Main.
Is the right hon and learned Gentleman aware that the alliance regret the fact that the Secretary of State has been unable to reach a conclusion about an ongoing pay review as recommended in paragraph 58 of the Main report? It is not a new idea and I am surprised that the Secretary of State should suggest that it is. My hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) and I argued it many times with the previous Secretary of State. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we are angry and unhappy at the way in which he has departed from Main on pay? It is still not clear, from his answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), precisely what is the financial loss which emerges from this. However, it is incontestable that there is a loss. Surely it is unreasonable for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to depart from the indivisible package of the Main report and simultaneously require the full implementation from the 479 profession. Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman would agree that that is a dangerous strategy and could well carry the serious risk of teacher rejection.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the unions and local authorities have differing views on the question of an independent pay review. I believe that the announcement I have made today, that we wish to give further thought to the matter, will be widely welcomed. I listened to the hon. Gentleman's remarks on phasing with some interest because I did not hear his hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) raise any objection to phasing of the award proposed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. If the Liberal party believes that it is reasonable and in the public interest for a major increase of 16.4 per cent. to be phased in the way proposed in England and Wales, I await with some curiosity to hear why it should be considered irresponsible north of the border.
§ Mr. Allan Stewart (Eastwood)
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that his statement will be warmly welcomed by parents throughout Scotland and by all reasonable teachers? Against a background where, on my calculations, the average pay increase for Scottish teachers will be 30 per cent. over the three years to next October, will it not he regarded by parents as incomprehensible if disruption should now continue in Scottish schools?
§ Mr. Rifkind
My hon. Friend is right. On the basis of what I have announced today, more than 66 per cent. of teachers in Scotland, over two thirds, will be earning over £12,000 a year and nearly one third of teachers in secondary education will be earning more than £15,000 a year. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] By 1 October 1987. That is less than a year from now. That is in the context of an increase of 16.4 per cent. on top of the 5.5 per cent. they have already been awarded this year, which was on top of the 9 per cent. awarded last year. That will mean that over two to three years teachers in Scotland will be seeing an increase in their salary of almost 30 per cent. My hon. Friend is right in saying that parents and the public in Scotland would be astonished if there was any suggestion of disruption in the schools as a consequence of an offer of that kind.
§ Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Govan)
Is the Secretary of State aware that many of us felt that the Main report provided an excellent basis for a settlement for teachers' salaries and conditions in Scotland, preventing further disruption in schools? However, it is extremely misleading for the Secretary of State to say that he has accepted the asterisked recommendations as a package when the salary increase date of 1 October 1986 was a key recommendation in the report.
Is it not a fact that the phasing, far from being minor, will save about 10 per cent. of the annual salary bill over the next 18 months and therefore reduce teachers' expectations, as compared with Main, by about 10 per cent. of their annual salary? Is it also not a fact that if further disruption does unfortunately occur in Scottish education the Secretary of State will bear a major share of the responsibility for that, just as it was the Government's earlier intransigent attitude over the setting up of the independent pay review that caused so much hardship to Scottish education?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I will do the right hon. Gentleman the credit of saying that I do not think he believes in what he 480 is saying. I genuinely express the view that the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that an award of 16.4 per cent. to teachers, with a nine-month gap between the two phases, is an extremely generous offer to teachers. He knows that the public, including his constituents, would be delighted if they were to receive such an increase. He also knows that there is ample precedent throughout the public sector for phasing of the kind I have proposed. If nurses, doctors, the armed forces and the police are able to accept phasing of that kind, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman believes that it is unreasonable to expect teachers also to accept it.
§ Mrs. Anna McCurley (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)
I add my congratulations to the Secretary of State for the speedy response he has made to the Main report, which has obviously had far-reaching implications over the Scottish border. Would he care to emphasise the ring fence approach to the pay award and the fact that this does not constitute a signal that there can be a free-for-all for pay increases in the public sector?
§ Mr. Rifkind
That is the case. The pay that has been proposed, which is generous, is properly tied to the agreement by the teaching profession in Scotland to the conditions and to other aspects of the non-pay package as recommended.
§ Mr. David Lambie (Cunninghame, South)
I congratulate the Secretary of State on making a statement today as requested by John Pollock and the national executive of the Educational Institute of Scotland before the special general meeting of the EIS on 8 November and the subsequent ballot of EIS members. Those members will now be able to decide on the facts without being in the political vacuum that would have existed had the statement not been made.
If the Secretary of State is prepared to negotiate on the anomalies in the salary scales proposed by Main in the salaries committee, is he also prepared to negotiate on conditions of service within the conditions of service committee, which is unique to Scotland and has no counterpart in England or Wales, in order to allow the Scottish teachers to look at the conditions of service, or have the teachers to accept or reject the statement today as a package?
§ Mr. Rifkind
It would have to be the latter. It is clear that the 16.4 per cent. pay increase is quite properly tied to the other proposals in the report. There may be other matters in the report which are not given the same importance and which may be subject to discussion of the kind to which the hon. Gentleman refers.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for the early part of his question in which he made the fair point that it is reasonable that teachers, when they consider their response, should be aware of the fact that the Government are prepared to fund the report and that we are prepared to devote substantial new resources to it and ensure that local authorities are able to cope with it without any increase in penalties. The hon. Gentleman's contribution, like that of the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, recognised the important matter we are dealing with and the fundamental consequences for parents and education in Scotland if this offer does not lead to a resolution of this difficult problem.
§ Mr. John Corrie (Cunninghame, North)
I also warmly congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on the 481 statement. I assure him that parents throughout Scotland will be delighted. May we now expect that an agreement will have to be reached by 1 January, or will talks go on beyond that date and the backdating of pay take place if an agreement has not been reached?
§ Mr. Rifkind
As long as an agreement has been reached at some stage on the basis that has been proposed, that agreement will be backdated to 1 January.
§ Mr. Willie W. Hamilton (Fife, Central)
Why does it need the imminence of a general election to loosen the public purse strings? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that this package, even if accepted, will lead to the diminution of the drain of science teachers to industry?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman raises two points. First, his timescale about elections is somewhat misplaced. The Government's response arises from the Main inquiry, which was announced nine months ago. We could not respond to the Main inquiry until it had reported, which it did at the beginning of October. Therefore, by all normal criteria, we responded pretty quickly. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will respond to that in his usual generous way.
On the question of science teachers and others of that kind, one of the crucial ingredients of the package proposed by Main and accepted by the Government is that, for the first time for several years, teachers who acquire real responsibility in their schools are being offered substantial salaries. For example, a headmaster in one of Scotland's largest secondary schools will be able to expect to receive a salary of about £28,000 per year. At lower levels, salaries are substantially greater than teachers have been able to expect in recent years. If we are anxious to attract people of real ability to the teaching profession, we now have a far better means of doing so than we have had for some time.
§ Mr. Alexander Pollock (Moray)
Bearing in mind that it was my right hon. and learned Friend who set up the Main committee to try to find a solution to this long-running and unhappy dispute, and mindful of the maxim that he who wills the end must will the means, does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that nothing could be worse than a grudging response from the Government at this stage? Therefore, will he assure the House that, irrespective of the forthcoming autumn statement and other matters of concern to the Treasury, the money is firmly up front and remains on the table, subject only to the teachers having the good sense to accept this package and return to normal working in the classroom?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I can confirm that. However, if the proposals were to be rejected, there is no way that one penny of additional resources would be made available. That is clearly the view, not just of the Government but of local authorities. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has said that it is not interested in a pay settlement which deals with pay alone. The Government and Scottish local authorities speak with a single voice on this.
§ Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)
Is it not the case that the Secretary of State lost the battle in Cabinet and is unwilling to deliver the pay proposals in the Main 482 report? Does he remember saying to the Scottish public, through the medium of the press, that he regarded the Main report as a distinctive entity which should be delivered? Is he not jeopardising our children's education by gambling in that fashion?
§ Mr. Rifkind
For the hon. Gentleman to suggest that the announcement today of a 16.4 per cent. pay increase for teachers represents—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is not."] I am sorry, it does represent a 16.4 per cent. increase for school teachers. Whether phased or not, it is an increase, similar in nature to phased increases for other groups in the public sector. For the hon. Gentleman to suggest that that represents anything other than an excellent offer for the teaching profession in Scotland is extraordinary and misguided.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth (Stirling)
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that many parents who have suffered the effects of the disruption will view these increases as fabulous? As my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) pointed out, the increases amount to about 30 per cent. Is it not remarkable that few Opposition Members will go back to their constituencies and urge teachers to accept it? How can they possibly go back to their constituencies and expect to be treated as though they have been behaving responsibly if their only response to this settlement is to carp and to whine as they have done today?
§ Mr. Rifkind
My hon. Friend is right. It is an extremely generous settlement. The estimated average salary of a teacher in primary education will be £12,300 and it will be £13,745 for a secondary school teacher. If one compares that to the salary levels of two years ago, there will be few people among the general public who will see this as anything other than an extremely generous proposal.
§ Mr. Hugh Brown (Glasgow, Provan)
Many of us recognise that it could not have been easy for the Secretary of State for Scotland and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to screw this settlement out of the Treasury. Nevertheless, I remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the whole ethos of the Main report gave full recognition to all the problems which have been confronted by Scottish teachers over the past two years and, while not justifying the disruption, could understand it. I appeal to the Secretary of State to take a less aggressive approach, and not to threaten the teachers that if they do not accept this in total there will be no money at all on the table.
§ Mr. Rifkind
It is a curious threat to offer a 16.4 per cent. pay increase. As the hon. Gentleman's introductory comments recognised, the offer involves a substantial increase in demand on public resources. He is correct to say that phasing was not recommended by the Main report, but he will be one of the first to appreciate that the Government have a responsibility not only for the teaching profession, but to try to ensure that public sector pay negotiations generally, as well as other matters which affect the wider economy, are taken into account.
It is not unreasonable to say that a massive increase such as this should be phased over a short period, just as it would be for others in the public sector. The Government propose 8.2 per cent. from 1 January and the other 8.2 per cent. nine months later. That is not an absurd degree of phasing extending over two, three or four years. 483 It will ensure that the full award recommended by the Main report will be available to all Scottish teachers within a short period. The vast majority of teachers will accept that that is not unreasonable given the situation affecting the wider community.
§ Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Banff and Buchan)
I associate myself with the initial comments of the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie) that the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State this afternoon will give considerable satisfaction to John Pollock and his executive in the Educational Institute of Scotland. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is deplorable that some members of the EIS, and other unions in Scotland, have decided to condemn the Main report before Mr. Pollock and his executive have had a chance to consider it in a responsible manner as they have done since the Main report was published?
§ Mr. Rifkind
It is regrettable that some individuals believe that they should receive massive pay increases and not accept their responsibility to respond to the other matters recommended by the Main report. I am sure that that is not the view of the vast majority of Scottish teachers, who know that most of the non-pay recommendations with regard to a new contract represent what they currently do in normal circumstances — for example, curriculum development, the presentation of pupils for examinations, and the various other duties suggested by the Main report. None of those will impose a new burden on the teaching profession. I was interested to learn that some leading members of the EIS had been seeking to explain that to their fellow members during the last few days. I hope that they are successful in their effort.
§ Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)
Given that the asterisked comments in the Main report will have serious consequences for the teachers, does the Secretary of State think that it is more likely that teachers would feel inclined to accept the conditions from their employers rather than having a gun put to their heads by the Secretary of State before they had had a chance to discuss them with their employers?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The Government are providing not a gun but money, which ultimately must be paid by the taxpayer, and, through the local authorities, by the ratepayer. The EIS and others have been anxious to hear the Government's view. They have said that they wish to know whether the Government would be prepared to fund the consequences of the Main report's recommendations. I have confirmed today that we shall be able to do just that. That should now lead to a speedy response from the teachers and full endorsement of the proposals put forward.
§ Mr. Michael Hirst (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
I assure my right hon. and learned Friend that his announcement will be warmly welcomed by my constituents who will join me in congratulating him and his ministerial colleagues on their sustained efforts to promote peace and stability in Scottish schools. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the public and the parents, who will finance this deal, are entitled to expect that the leaders of the teaching profession will make a positive response when they meet next week and recommend their members to accept the proposals set out in the Main report, and return to normal working 484 conditions as soon as possible? Can my right hon. and learned Friend tell me what the position is about the disregard for local authorities in respect of the 5.5 per cent. interim award paid for the current year?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I have not commented on my hon. Friend's final point, but I am able to confirm that there will be a disregard with regard to the consequences of the 5.5 per cent. interim award announced earlier this year. Therefore, no local authority will attract penalties as a consequence of that earlier award.
Parents and the public would find any further disruptions in the schools incomprehensible. I think that it would be fair to say that the House would also find it incomprehensible. Whatever reservations hon. Members may have about phasing, few would wish to argue for a return to disruption by teachers in Scotland.
§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)
Will the Secretary of State bow a little to the reality of what is happening in the schools? When the Main report was issued its starred recommendations were treated as an indivisible package and the Main proposals on salaries were immediately circulated in the schools. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will accept that he has moved away from those recommendations and, whether he supplies the figures or not, what will now be circulated in the schools will be the moves, which he thinks are small but which we think are substantial, from the Main recommendations.
We are all concerned about the atmosphere in the schools and, by moving away from Main in his statement today, no matter how little, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is conditioning an atmosphere against the Main proposals. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Malone) sits muttering on the Front Bench, but he knows nothing about it. I speak as the husband of a teacher and the father of a teacher.
I challenge the Secretary of State to publish the difference between what he is proposing and Main. Does he accept starred proposal No. 8 because that has implications for the management of the school and the position of the head teacher?
§ Mr. Rifkind
Yes, we accept the recommendations for head teachers, which seem to be sensible. If the hon. Gentleman is the husband of a teacher who is likely to receive a 16.4 per cent. increase over the next few months, he should have responded in slightly more cheerful tones than he seems to feel capable of. If the hon. Gentleman asks his constituents whether it is reasonable or unreasonable to phase a 16.4 per cent. pay increase over a period of months, I think that he will find that few of them would not like to be in the position of being offered such a pay increase. The hon. Gentleman should take that into account.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)
Will my right hon. and learned Friend modestly accept the claim that it is due to his sensitive, sophisticated and almost singular initiative that this intractable dispute was solved at all, and solved not only for Scotland but for England? Will he remind the House that the teaching profession refused to negotiate on conditions of service and that for them now to say that they object to the phasing of the pay claim and to try to put in the dark the far more important 485 review of conditions of service and teaching would be a betrayal of the initiative with which he has served the teaching profession, the parents and the children so well?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his remarks. I genuinely believe that the vast majority of people in Scotland will see the Government's response as an extremely generous one, guaranteeing, as it will, the implementation of a major pay increase, and, indeed, expecting from teachers no more that what the vast majority of good teachers already do in normal circumstances. That is the context in which it should be judged.
§ Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)
The Main committee costed its pay package at £90 million in 1986–87 and £144 million in 1987–88. As a result of the Secretary of State's tampering with the phasing of the funding, how much will it cost in those financial years? Will the Secretary of State rule out legislation?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman should recall that the Main committee's estimate of the cost included the 5.5 per cent. interim award that was announced earlier this year and that reduces the cost of Main from £144 million to £113 million. In addition to that, there is the 3.75 per cent. increase in the budget which the Government allowed for in determining the rate support grant for next year which reduces the cost of £144 million to £87 million. In addition, there are the resources that I announced in my statement earlier. It is only by taking all those factors into account that a proper comparison can be made.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
One of the worst things that can happen to a child in Scotland, as in the rest of the kingdom, during its education is that it should fall under the tutorship of one of the small minority of bad teachers. What action is my right hon. and learned Friend taking within the package to ensure that we can get rid of bad teachers?
§ Mr. Rifkind
There is no specific proposal within the package, but the Main report said that it had come to the conclusion that the present complicated procedures that are required to be fulfilled before a bad teacher can be dismissed need to be modernised so that the rules governing teachers should be closer to those governing all other employees. That requires further consultation and consideration and does not form part of the specific package announced today.
§ Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)
Will the Secretary of State concede that, in the critical days ahead when the Scottish teachers deliberate and ballot on the report in the context of his response on behalf of the Scottish Office, trust is essential? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has taken an enormous political gamble in saying that the package remains indivisible in relation to the full implementation of an agreement and conditions while seeking to divide that package with the phasing of the pay award.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman finish the critical sentence in his reply to the question from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) when he came to the inbuilt costs or losses associated with his 486 announcement on phasing today? He could not have made that statement unless the Scottish Office had done the costings. What is the net loss?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I said in my original statement that the added provision for 1987–88 is £60 million. I cannot give the exact figure immediately, but one would have to incorporate that in the figures that I announced earlier to work out the difference between what Main announced and the figures that I have given. As I mentioned earlier, the cost that Main announced of £144 million comes down to £113 million because of the interim award and down to £87 million because of the provision that we have already made in the rate support grant. I shall have to check, but it would appear that, given the £60 million that I have announced today for 1987–88, there will be a difference of £27 million for 1987–88.
§ Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)
Does the Secretary of State recall that when he first set up the so-called independent inquiry earlier this year some of us had our doubts about how much an inquiry could be truly independent if its findings were to be subject to the financial straitjacket of Government economic policy? Now that our fears have been realised by the Secretary of State's deplorable failure to deliver the salary timescale recommended by Main and Main's statement that his report is an indivisible package, does the Secretary of State realise that the only honourable course open to him is to go back to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and tell them to come up with a fairer deal for Scottish teachers? Otherwise, there will be a real risk of a continuing crisis in Scottish education for which the Secretary of State must bear full responsibility.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman should not get carried away with that sort of hyperbole. He knows perfectly well that a 16.4 per cent. pay increase, half paid in January and the other half nine months later, is a superb offer for teachers. He knows perfectly well that he would be acting in a grossly irresponsible way if he sought to suggest that any reasonable person would reject such an offer. I know that the hon. Gentleman finds it difficult to be responsible, but he should try occasionally.
§ Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)
Will the Secretary of State come clean with the House and with the teaching profession by stating clearly how much has been saved by postponing the first phase of the pay increase from October to January and by phasing the rest of it?
Will the Secretary of State also explain to the House and to the teaching profession, the members of which must consider their monthly salary in contrast to the enthusiasm that we have heard from Conservative Members, why the Cabinet accepted the Treasury recommendation as against the Main recommendations, themselves considerably diluted? Why has the Secretary of State underestimated the intelligence of the teaching profession and of parents?
Finally, why should teachers have faith in the Secretary of State when he refuses to accept the central recommendation of ensuring that there is an independent pay review body to deal with these matters?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The teaching profession should have faith in what I have said because, as a result of the Main inquiry which I set up earlier this year, teachers are now being offered a 16.4 per cent. pay increase. If that is not a major step towards ensuring peace in schools, it is difficult to imagine what would be.
487 The hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) questioned why the first phase of the pay increase will be paid on 1 January. The Government and the Main report make it clear that such a high pay increase can be justified only by a return to normality within schools. It is equally true that, at this time, there is no normality in schools. There is no curriculum development or parental liaison and in many areas of school life teachers have declined to behave normally. Even if the result of the ballot is what we hope—in favour of the resolution of this issue—it is unlikely that the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee will ratify this agreement much before the middle of December. Therefore, it is reasonable that, if the proposals art approved and ratified, the increase should date from 1 January 1987.
§ Mr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)
The Secretary of State has not answered the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). As with all negotiations involving terms and conditions of employment, concessions must be made by employers and employees. However, if the teachers have an answerable case, as Main has said, for pay increases now, why are the Government not implementing the award from 1 October, as Main recommended?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I have just answered the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) and explained why 1 January is a far more relevant date, given that there is no normality in the schools and that there will not be until the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee ratifies the award.
§ Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)
I understand that the Secretary of State has said two things this afternoon. First, the difference between the Secretary of State's proposals and the Main proposals is approximately £27 million. He is sacrificing the indivisible Main package for £27 million. Secondly, can he confirm that his statement will mean that, during the next 12 months, Scottish teachers will suffer a 10 per cent. loss compared with what they would have received had Main's proposals been implemented?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman should realise—I believe that he does—as his colleague the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) realizes—
§ Mr. Rifkind
No, it is not irrelevant. It would be gravely irresponsible, at a time when inflation is as low as it is, for any Government to implement a pay increase of 16.4 per cent. The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) must realise, as some other hon. 488 Members certainly do, that since in earlier pay settlements phasing has been a natural part of the process, the modest phasing that is proposed here is acceptable. It is not just a matter of £27 million, although the hon. Gentleman is correct to say that that is the sum involved over the year in question. It is also important to ensure that teachers are not considered as living on the moon, separate from other people engaged in wage negotiations.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire can have no interest in an escalation of wage claims. That is why, in many previous cases in the public sector and elsewhere, when a major pay increase has been considered reasonable and responsible, most responsible people have accepted that a phasing of the increase is not unreasonable.
§ Mr. Marlow
On a point order, Mr. Speaker. This is further to the point of order that I raised previously. I believe that it is a substantial point of order.
We had a statement on education in England, which lasted for about 46 minutes. Various English Members of Parliament were not called. I make no complaint about that because I got my question in anyhow on the Scottish statement. We had questions on the Scottish statement for 49 minutes. If we take a minute out of that for myself, that leaves 48 minutes. That is two thirds of a minute for every Scottish Member and less than a tenth of a minute for every English Member. It seems that the Scottish Members get a better crack of the whip than the English Members.
Speaking as an English Member, and knowing that you are an Englishman, Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether in future weeks and months some consideration could be given to the matter so that some of my English colleagues —not myself, because I know the problem that faces you — do not consider themselves as second-class Members.
§ Mr. Wilson
If Scottish statements were taken first and were followed by English statements, Scottish Members would be very pleased.
§ Mr. Speaker
May I say to the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) that I allowed 50 minutes, which is by any standards a long time for a statement, on the first statement and rather less for the Scottish statement. The hon. Member can do his arithmetic. It would be absolutely marvellous from the point of view of the Chair if I could satisfy every hon. Member every day. Unhappily, that is not within my power. I simply try to be as fair as I can.