HC Deb 29 April 1991 vol 190 cc33-117

Order for Second Reading read.

Several Hon. Members

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that hon. Members who want to raise points of order do not wish to complain because they were not called on the private notice question.

I have an obligation to protect the business of the House, and I shall have to put a 10-minute limit on speeches.

Mr. John Evans (St. Helens, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You referred at the outset to the importance of the subject when you said that you would allow questions to run until 4.15 pm. May I gently draw it to your attention that you did not call one hon. Member from one of the most impoverished regions in England—Merseyside? Do you think that that was fair?

Mr. Speaker

I was not aware that any hospital trusts were closing on Merseyside. If I am wrong, I am sorry, but I was not aware of it. I have called all those hon. Members who I thought had a direct interest, and I regret if I missed the hon. Gentleman, but I shall bear him in mind in the future.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any intimation from the Home Secretary that he intends to make a statement banning one of the world's most odious men—General Pinochet—from visiting this country to take part in an arms exhibition? You must be aware that thousands of people have sought refuge in this country from his regime of terror who lost relatives in the secret prisons and torture chambers under his fascist regime.

Mr. Speaker

I have had no such intimation, but the hon. Gentleman has made his point, and I am sure that it will have been heard by those responsible.

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

Further to the point of order made by the hon. Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans). Were you not aware, Mr. Speaker, that not only do my hon. Friend and I have in our constituencies the most underfunded hospital trusts, but that our mental hospital and its grounds were sold while the patients were still in it? It is not fair if you do not recognise that Merseyside—and especially St. Helens—has the biggest problems.

Mr. Speaker

I am sure that many hospitals have problems, especially the one to which the hon. Gentleman referred. However, he must find other ways to raise the issue.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

I fully understand that you did not call me, Mr. Speaker, because it was the English Health Secretary who was making a statement. In Scotland, we are a year behind. Proposals have just been introduced in Ayrshire, against the wishes of all the consultants, by an unelected group of people. In Scotland we want to ensure that we learn from the English disasters as England did not learn from the Scottish poll tax disaster. If I apply for an Adjournment debate, will you consider my application sympathetically?

Mr. Speaker

I always look sympathetically at the hon. Gentleman's requests, but not at bogus points of order.

Many hon. Members wish to participate in the debate, and I shall put a 10-minute limit on speeches between 6 o'clock and 8 o'clock. I hope that hon. Members who are called before 6 o'clock will take that into account to enable me possibly to relax that limit. I should like to call all hon. Members who are anxious to participate.

I have selected the reasoned amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

4.19 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I look forward to producing before the House many proposals on the education service, but it is extremely unlikely that I shall introduce at any stage a more significant step than the proposal that we are discussing today. We are addressing the most vital thing of all in considering the quality of our education service. The quality of the education that we give young people in our schools depends above all on the quality of the teaching profession that provides it.

In the House, we can debate at great length the problems of the curriculum, of testing, and of buildings and equipment in schools. We can debate the qualifications they give and many other subjects. In the end, the real determinant of a good education system is that the teaching should be carried out by people who are good, dedicated and of the right intellectual quality, and who have the right commitment to the job. In an education service like our own state education service, the teaching staff need to be organised and respected as a profession. We all hope to see a teaching profession that cares for and enhances the professional values that it has sought to defend over the years.

I also realise that, to get the high-quality, well motivated and professional group of teachers, that we require, teachers need a fair level of remuneration to reward ability and good performance. They also need a worthwhile career structure to be developed for them, so that they can see a progression to the top of the profession in line with their achievements as their career goes on.

With the establishment of a review body to determine the pay and conditions of teachers, the Bill will pave the way for that aim, and it opens the period in which we shall see enhanced professionalism being encouraged among our teachers.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

I may be anticipating my right hon. and learned Friend's remarks, but will the pay review body anticipate better rewards for heads and deputies who have such major responsibilities in schools? Above all, will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind as the Bill goes through the House, and in subsequent efforts, the fact that the career teacher in the classroom is the person who should be better rewarded commensurately than anyone else, and that he should be kept in the classroom and not constantly promoted out of it?

Mr. Clarke

My hon. Friend touches on some extremely important points. I trust that, given its remit for pay, terms and conditions, the new review body will address itself not only to the overall level of remuneration of teachers but to the serious question of responsibility which my hon. Friend has raised. I hope that it will consider the question of proper differentials for headmasters and deputy heads, and for those who get to the top of the profession.

I agree strongly with my hon. Friend that, when one considers the profession at present, one realises that it is the really successful classroom teacher, whose performance in front of the class is good, who has the best claim of all in remuneration and reward. I agree that, in the teaching profession, as in others, it is quite important that we cater for those who know that their personal talents lie above all in teaching in front of a class and who know that that is the way in which they would prefer to pursue their career to the day of their retirement.

It cannot be right in teaching, any more than it is in nursing, in medicine or in a number of other professions, that to get to the top of the profession, one has to give up the vocation that has attracted one to the profession, and that one has to go into the realms of management. An excellent classroom teacher may not have the same abilities for that and may get considerably less satisfaction from it.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Clarke

I will move on a little.

The review body will have to address the matters to which I have referred to get the right answers on pay, terms and conditions. As I have made clear, it is equally important that it should produce an atmosphere in determining those matters which will enhance the professionalism of teaching.

In aid of that argument, I point to our experience with the other review bodies. They have produced a fair level of remuneration for the professions they cover, and they have also reinforced the professionalism of those professions. We have well established review bodies for doctors and dentists. Moreover, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) was Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, he established a new review body for nurses and midwives, which has transformed the atmosphere in which pay and conditions are determined—as compared with that which prevailed under the Whitley system—and enhanced professionalism. We may not yet have reached the levels of remuneration which all nurses would wish, but their pay and conditions have certainly been transformed.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield may have noted a public comment last week by the current general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Miss Christine Hancock, who is a formidable advocate of the interests of nurses within the health service—sometimes against the Government—who commended the notion of a review body to her fellow professionals in the teaching profession, saying that, in her opinion, the system had transformed the position of nurses.

The Royal College of Nursing shares with the Professional Association of Teachers a commitment not to take industrial action and a desire for matters to be settled in a professional way, away from the world of industrial action. I believe that many teachers share the view of many nurses that that is the right direction in which to go.

Mr. Flannery

Does the Secretary of State realise that the way things have turned out has caused a great deal of confusion not merely among Conservative and Labour Members but in his own mind? The Government promised to give negotiating rights back to teachers. The matter was taken up by the International Labour Organisation of the United Nations, and finally agreed. The first School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill went through Committee and everyone awaited its implementation. Why did the Secretary of State suddenly change his mind at that stage? Does it not show a degree of chaos among the Government that they can go so far and then change their mind just like that?

Mr. Clarke

There is great clarity of purpose among Conservative Members. As I shall seek to show in a moment, the confusion continues to lie with the Labour party. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) asks a fair question, although his recollection of recent events seems to be at fault. It almost sounded as though he had welcomed the original Bill, but I do not believe he did. Complaints were made to the ILO—if not with the hon. Gentleman's support, certainly with that of one of the unions with which he is closely associated—claiming that the Bill that the Government have now withdrawn——

Mr. Flannery


Mr. Clarke

Clearly, with hindsight, the hon. Gentleman begins to find qualities in it. I hope that he will be persuaded, however, that the present Bill represents an improvement.

In July last year, we brought forward proposals for the new machinery contained in the Bill that completed its Committee stage. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, then Secretary of State for Education and Science, introduced those proposals after the Government had anxiously considered what we should do next, following the long period after 1987 when' we had failed to reach agreement with the teaching profession on how to move away from the interim advisory committee and sort out teachers' pay, terms and conditions. At that time, my right hon. Friend was quite attracted by the idea of a review body, as were quite a large number of members of the Government but the concept was heartily opposed by many teachers, and there was still more than a suggestion of industrial militancy in the air.

As we proceeded, it became clear that circumstances had changed significantly. I remind the hon. Member for Hillsborough and others that, while we were preparing for a return to a system of negotiations with a Government override, the six trade unions concerned were finding it impossible to agree on the allocation of seats on the employees' side of the committee. That was an extremely bad omen when it came to looking forward to the smooth progress of negotiations. Two of the trade unions were in conflict with the other four about the status of the sub-committee that was to be established for head teachers and deputies Conservative Members on the Standing Committee were divided on that subject, and the trade unions certainly were.

In my opinion, it became ever clearer that large numbers of members of the teaching profession did not relish going back to collective bargaining—certainly if it were to be accompanied by industrial action of a kind which, in my opinion, a minority of the members of one large trade union still hanker after. This was underlined at the teachers' Easter conferences. A faction of the National Union of Teachers, who had got hold of the hall in whatever seaside town they were ensconced, passed all kinds of wild motions. These were disowned as much as possible by their own executive, as it knew that the teaching profession outside did not want this kind of return to industrial action.

The situation today is different from that which prevailed last July. Now, five of the six teaching trade unions support the notion of a review body. Some have been campaigning for it. Indeed, I believe that the opposition within the NUT is more muted than some of its militants would wish.

Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham)

The information that the Secretary of State has just given the House is simply untrue. The fact is that he received from the teachers' organisations a letter telling him the number of seats that each union had agreed should represent teachers on the negotiating body. I received a copy of that letter. It is not true to say that teachers could not agree among themselves.

Mr. Clarke

I shall certainly search for that letter. My hon. Friend the Minister of State tells me that we certainly had not reached that stage by the end of the Committee's deliberations. Certainly, the contents of the letter were not communicated to me personally. My understanding is that teachers had not so agreed.

There were all the warning signs of the dangers of going back to the difficulties of Burnham. Members of this House have sat on Burnham committees—some representing the employers, and some the employees. Those who remember Burnham may recall that on only three occasions in 20 years did that machinery result in a negotiated agreement between employees and employers. I believe that the preparations for the new negotiating process had begun to show all the warning signs of its being unlikely to produce easy agreement on either structure or progress, and of its being inferior, as a means of going about the settlement of teachers' pay, to the review body process that I now advocate.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

I must press the Secretary of State on the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg). I see that the answer is coming straight from the officials' Box. I shall continue while the Secretary of State attempts to read the official's writing. Was the Secretary of State accurate when, a moment ago, he claimed that the trade unions had been unable to agree about composition? On this point, there is complete disagreement between the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend.

Mr. Clarke

I am glad that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), like me, needs a little reminding of the exact situation. The Professional Association of Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association were in disagreement with the other unions on the number of seats that each union should have on the negotiating committee. In addition, the Secondary Heads Association was in disagreement with the others on the number of votes that each union should have. All they had done was reach agreement in principle on counting relevant numbers of members as part of the negotiations. I do not think that there is agreement about the number of relevant members that each of them claims. Those who guard my correspondence continue to share my view that two unions still disagreed with the other four on the number of seats on the bargaining council, and one union disagreed with the others on the number of votes. I have already reminded the House of the history of Burnham. We were in serious danger of going back down that road.

I have described all the circumstances that have changed since the summer of last year. For some time now, the Government have been contemplating this change. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, on taking office and previously, underlined his personal commitment to tackling the problem of the morale of teachers—raising the self-esteem of the profession—and addressing questions of professional status. The Prime Minister's commitment underlines the change between the proposals that were before the House and the review body to which we are now committed.

Mr. Straw

A report appeared in The Times Educational Supplement on Friday—as far as I am aware, no disclaimer has been issued by the Department—that, in the course of an interview, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that, when the present Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had opposed a pay review body. Is that correct?

Mr. Clarke

I was not involved in the discussions with the Treasury last summer, so the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is that I have no idea. I know that, in discussions to which I was party, during the summer of 1990, the Government agreed to put forward the proposals that took the form of the Bill. As I have recounted, matters moved on. My right hon. Friend who is now the Prime Minister was firmly of the intent to raise the status of the profession and to consider again remuneration within it. That was the position at the end of last year. The Government have decided to introduce the Bill and to recommend a review body, for the reasons that I have set out.

As we are clearly set on that course, the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has the opportunity to clarify the Labour party's reaction and its preference. I have been comparing the so-called reasoned amendment with the hon. Gentleman's first response on behalf of the Labour party when I made my announcement on 17 April. Most of those who are in the Chamber will remember his outrage and indignation when he leapt to his feet in response to my statement. He sought passionately to defend teachers' right to strike. He opposed root and branch the proposals that have now become the Bill, because he claimed that they went behind the principles of collective bargaining and the right to industrial action. He thought that important principles were being undermined, to the disadvantage of teachers.

The hon. Gentleman's reaction should not have surprised me as much as it did. The Labour party's attitude towards the public services has been dominated by its approach to industrial action. It is my recollection that, for as long as I have been a Member of this place, the Labour party has always supported every strike or every example of industrial action that has been taken by any group of public service workers against a Conservative Government. When the Labour party is in opposition, it supports each and every strike by teachers, hospital workers or whoever. When the party is in government, however, it gives in to them—sometimes with good grace and sometimes with bad, sometimes quickly and sometimes after a winter of discontent, but in the end, they always give in to them.

The Labour party's approach to these matters is best epitomised by the fact that the Chamber usually fills when there is a threat in the air of "good" industrial action by the public service. The Chamber was more crowded than I have seen it for many a long year for exchanges on the health service because the National Union of Public Employees was worried about redundancies at overmanned hospitals in both London and Bradford. No question of patient health ever brings Labour Members to the Chamber in such numbers.

As the Labour party is usually committed to the right to strike, it seems that the reasoned amendment moves away a little from that approach, although not too far. The reasoned amendment tries slightly to alter the tone; it does not refer to the right to strike. I hope that that means that the Opposition accept that industrial action against pupils is something to which groups of teachers should never have recourse. I trust that that will be underlined with clarity today.

The Government are proceeding with the appointment of a review body on the basis that it will bring an end to industrial action in our classrooms. If industrial action were to be taken, or to be threatened, on the pay or terms of conditions of teachers within the remit of the review body, there would be no commencement order under the Bill, and the interim advisory committee would have to continue in existence for some time, and for some considerable time more, until common sense prevailed.

The reasoned amendment goes to other matters. Perhaps I pay the amendment a bit of a compliment by describing it as reasoned. I am not sure whether its contents contain much rhyme or reason when they are related to the principal subject matter of the Bill. On 17 April, I asked the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) and his colleague the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) whether the Labour party was in favour of or against establishing a pay review body for teachers. That may have been a difficult question on 17 April, but it should now be capable of an answer. There is no such answer in the reasoned amendment. That minor detail of the Bill is not referred to by the Opposition.

The reasoned amendment criticises the Government for failing to meet its own deadline to restore pay settlement machinery by 1990". Does the Labour party remain in favour of restoring collective bargaining? Is the Labour party lined up against five out of six of the teaching unions and also against the silent majority of the NUT in wanting to return to Burnham and not have a review body? Anything else that the hon. Member for Blackburn may say on this subject will be beside the point if he attempts once again to discuss the matter without telling us whether Labour favours a review body.

Mr. Christopher Hawkins (High Peak)

I completely support the proposals of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and his comments about strikes. However, does he agree that pay review bodies are a better and more important defence for groups which typically do not have political clout and do not go on strike? In a recent written answer to me, it was revealed that university teachers have not received a real pay increase for more than 20 years. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is possible and certainly desirable to set up a similar pay review body for university staff as well?

Mr. Clarke

I will probably have an opportunity on another occasion to debate with my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) whether university lecturers have received a real pay rise in the past 20 years. Their real-terms pay is now considerably higher than it was when this Government came to office.

As a former university teacher, my hon. Friend asks his question at a singularly inapposite time. The Association of University Teachers is at the moment balloting its members on whether they should take industrial action in support of their pay claim, and no doubt the Labour party would egg them on. However, my hon. Friend is right: those who take such industrial action tend to be less successful than those who have a review body.

The Government have established review bodies for only a comparatively small and discrete number of professions affecting a large number of people because of the particular role of those professions in delivering a particular service. There are other non-striking professional groups in the health service and others in local government, central Government and elsewhere. The Government have identified doctors with dentists and nurses with midwives and also parts of the judiciary and the armed forces, and we have resolutely said that review bodies should not automatically extend beyond those groups.

The teaching profession is at the heart of providing a service intended to raise educational standards of people of statutory age. I am certain that many other groups will envy the review body status that we are giving schoolteachers. Many other groups would prefer to have their pay settled in that way. I regret to say that the reply to most of them will be that the Government cannot contemplate their claims. It is only because of the particular status of school teaching and the Government's particular desire to enhance the status of schoolteachers vis-a-vis the general population that we are prepared to establish a review body for that group and not to contemplate applications to extend the principle to any other group.

The AUT has strayed off side, at least with regard to this Government if not with regard to the Opposition, by balloting on strike action. Perhaps by contemplating strike action, the union believes that it will cause the Labour party to look favourably upon it.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has referred to the critical importance of schoolteachers in delivering skills and the basic education required in a modern economy. However, I should have thought that those in higher education, particularly those in universities, play just as important a role in terms of a modern economy. As the central point for the support of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers for my right hon. and learned Friend's proposals was that the very question of industrial action would recede into the mists of history does my right hon. and learned Friend not realise that there is an unfortunate trend in higher education in that we are constantly talking about industrial action? Would not a review body for higher education ensure that industrial action would recede into the mists of history? My right hon. and learned Friend should ask the Opposition whether they favour review bodies for higher education. One suspects that they do.

Mr. Clarke

The Labour party's view on such matters usually depends on what the trade unions recommend. The Opposition become a little baffled when five trade unions out of six are prepared to accept a no industrial action agreement, but that normally does not arise and, so far as I am aware, it does not arise with regard to the AUT.

For some years now, the Government have resisted applications for review bodies from many different groups. Many people would advocate giving up collective bargaining and industrial action if they could have review body status. By its very nature, review body status must be selective. It would not be possible to finance and manage public services if the vast majority of public servants had their status determined by review bodies. I believe that two thirds of the civil service would happily settle tomorrow for review body status governing their pay.

The professions that have been granted review body status including doctors and dentists by a previous Government, nurses and midwives by this Government and the armed forces——

Mr. Straw

What about Members of Parliament?

Mr. Clarke

We had a Members' review body, but it was never followed and we have now abandoned it. Hon. Members are not held in such high regard by the public or even by themselves, it would seem, judging by voting patterns on Members' salaries. Only a small and select group of professions have their pay determined by review bodies and it is my duty to resist any applications to extend it.

What is the Labour party's view about a review body? That is the only unanswered question today. The public are in favour of the Government's recommendation, as are the vast majority of teachers. There is no serious question mark left over the proposal except why on earth the Opposition cannot bring themselves to support it without hesitation or conditions.

Mr. Steinberg

The Secretary of State has made much play of no industrial action. Is the pay review body to be imposed or granted on the condition that there will be no industrial action? Will that be written into the legislation? I can see no reference to that in the Bill, and if it is not written into the Bill, how is he going to enforce it?

Mr. Clarke

The intention to set up a review body is on condition that there is no industrial action with regard to matters within the remit of the review body. The condition is not in the Bill and I am not going to be bogged down in the internal procedures of trade unions by asking them to send me letters to confirm such conditions. The best way to judge matters is by their actions.

When the Bill has received its Second Reading, passed through its parliamentary stages and received Royal Assent, we will hear no more about industrial action from any section of the teaching profession. We will have rendered it extinct. We are proceeding on condition of no industrial action, and obviously, circumstances would change so far as the Government are concerned if industrial action was taken or threatened again.

We are following a perfectly good precedent. I worked with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield when he established the review body for nurses and midwives. We had exactly the same discussions. We would never have convinced the Confederation of Health Service Employees or the National Union of Public Employees to sign a no-strike agreement. They would have been drummed out of the brownies by the Labour movement if they had signed one, and they would have been expelled from the Trades Union Congress and disowned at Labour party conferences.

My right hon. Friend, supported by myself and the Government, set up a review body and declared it to be on the basis that there was to be no industrial action. We have not heard a word from any section of the nursing profession about industrial action from that day to this. The Royal College of Nursing has actually grown in strength, because the basis on which that profession proceeds is that industrial action is out of the question for nurses who deal with patients.

That, in my opinion, is the atmosphere inside the teaching profession as well. Five unions, as it happens, will tell us—and will even sign it—that they will not take industrial action again. The sixth, in practice, I guarantee will follow that pattern exactly. However, if industrial action were ever taken or threatened, the review body basis for setting their pay would be off. How could we face the AUT? Its members might even be prepared to give up industrial action if they were offered review body status, which is much coveted by public sector employees.

Clause 1 sets up the review body. One controversial point in it for the hon. Member for Blackburn is that it gives the Secretary of State power to give directions to the review body. That is described in his reasoned amendment as unacceptable. He will probably start drawing comparisons between this and the financial remit which used to be given to the interim advisory committee before it produced its four reports.

It is not a power to set a financial remit of that kind. It actually sets out in statutory form the power of the Secretary of State to tell the review body to have regard to affordability and the need to recruit and retain people of adequate motivation. It exists in the Bill because that direction or request is given by the Government to the other review bodies. They are non-statutory review bodies, so the power to give that kind of guidance must be put in statute on the face of the Bill. It is on all fours with the other review bodies, and does not justify the Opposition's complaint in their reasoned amendment.

Clause 1 also underlines the fact that appointment to the review body should be made by the Prime Minister, and that the review body will report to the Prime Minister. That is an important difference between the review body and the interim advisory committee. Great stress was always placed upon that to me by representatives of the medical profession. Doctors and dentists insisted that, if they were to have that arrangement, it was to be an independent body set up by the head of the Government—the Prime Minister—that it should report to the Prime Minister, and that the Prime Minister should preside over the decision taken in the light of the review body's recommendations.

Clause 2 covers the making of orders in the light of the review body's recommendations, and provides for some consultation with local authorities and with other employers and trade unions before making those orders. That gives me the opportunity of repeating what I have said before, as is always said in respect of other review bodies—that the Government will be committed to implementing the recommendations of the review body unless there are clear and compelling reasons to the contrary.

Clause 3 has only one feature of interest to the House, which is that it allows grant-maintained schools not to be bound by the orders that follow the review body recommendation if they so wish. I very much doubt whether many grant-maintained schools will choose to settle their own pay and conditions in a hurry. My advice to them would be to go cautiously. They are small units, and they work within the same financial envelope as other schools. I do not expect that many grant-maintained schools will set themselves up as totally autonomous negotiating bodies, working out wholly separate levels of pay for their staff.

However, they would be well advised, as time goes on, after consultation with their own teachers, to consider the prospects of making variations, opting for additional payments for particular local patterns of work, perhaps additional payments for longer school hours of the kind that city technology colleges work, perhaps some payments for extra-curricular activities that are beyond those that we normally expect a teacher to engage in, and so on. I advise grant-maintained schools with some care to contemplate using as a management tool, in the best sense of those words, the provision in clause 3 which would enable them to opt out, and therefore to vary the terms and conditions of their staff.

Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

On opting out, in view of the caution that the Secretary of State has expressed and the obvious impact that it may have elsewhere, why has he given himself no discretion to consider whether such a proposal is satisfactory? When a proposal is made to him, under the terms of the Bill he is compelled to accept it, even if he feels that there are strong reasons why it should be referred back.

Mr. Clarke

I do not think that that is necessary. We have taken on board the point that was strongly urged on my hon. Friend the Minister of State in Standing Committee. This Bill, unlike the former one, gives grant-maintained schools the ability to opt out of national arrangements if they wish, but it stipulates that they should do so only after consultation with their own staff—their own teachers. That is some caution against a school suddenly doing something that is in nobody's interests in the locality concerned.

The Bill finally makes provision that it will come into force by order. I have already made it clear that that commencement order would not be made if threats of industrial action are made by those who would otherwise be covered by the arrangements.

I commend the Bill to the House. Of course, it leaves in the minds of most schoolteachers in particular, I should imagine, one large unanswered question: exactly what levels of pay and remuneration for the teaching profession will emerge as a result of this new machinery, which we hope to have in place in time to determine the settlement for April of next year? Of course we have no means of knowing. It is the essence of this machinery that we are setting up an independent body that will give advice to the Government in the light of all the evidence that it gets.

Undoubtedly, my duty on behalf of the Government will be to preside over the giving of evidence to the review body, which will stress the advances that have been made by teachers in recent years, stress the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves, talk about the need to concentrate principally on the need to recruit and retain people of the right ability, and so on. Employers and trade unions may submit evidence that has a strikingly different emphasis on what should determine pay for next year and beyond. At the end of that process, the review body will determine matters objectively.

I can only point to the history of what has happened to review body groups compared with other public sector workers in recent years. Some quite good tables have been produced. I use ones by the Treasury, but the BBC commissioned some that came to the same conclusion recently, showing what has happened to various groups and public sector workers over the 10 years of this Government's existence compared with the economy as a whole.

Two groups of public servants stand out above any others in terms of increases in their earnings. They are, first, nurses and midwives and, secondly, doctors and dentists. When one says that, people tend to say, "You have forgotten the police force. Surely the police force has had a big percentage increase in its earnings." It is fourth in the table. Doctors and nurses are well ahead.

The missing third are schoolteachers, who have not done as badly over the past 10 years as many of them or as some of the public sometimes believe. The rest of the public service comes nowhere—going down the table below. I believe that that reflects the respect that university teachers—[Interruption.] I am glad to say that university teachers do not appear on my copious list of examples.

In addition to having done better than other groups, the review bodies have one other marked success to chalk up when one considers how those professions have been compared since they have had review bodies, compared with the past and other groups. The review body system has tended to ensure a steady progression in the pay of the professions. The history of the pay of nurses, doctors, teachers and many others shows a pattern of progression which shows that, after something of a hiccup of a dramatic increase—a Halsbury, a Clegg, or something of that kind—a decline takes place while tensions build, and then there is another big hiccup when another big increase comes along.

One of the advantages of a review body is that it tends to produce a smoother line because, year in and year out, the same review body takes an independent look at the right level of settlement. I happily submit the Government to that. We need an independent body for schoolteachers which will tell us what the levels of pay need to be in the light of affordability and the need to recruit arid retain good people.

We shall implement the recommendations unless there are clear and compelling reasons why we should not. By doing that, I believe that we shall forge a new relationship between the Government and our teachers. We shall be giving teachers the professional status that they deserve. They will be in the ranks of genuine professionals and treated like other professionals as far as remuneration and terms and conditions are concerned. They will be rewarded for the professional dedication they show towards their pupils.

A society that treats the occupation of teaching children with that kind of respect is a society that shows that it is treating the educational standards of its children with the same proper respect. That is the attitude towards educational standards and the teaching profession which the Prime Minister proposes that his Government should take and which the Government are determined to take in the interests of achieving the education service that we all want. I commend the Bill to the House.

5 Pm

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

I beg to move, That this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which gives unacceptable powers to the Secretary of State to issue directions to the Pay Review Body, undermining its independence of judgement; which contains no proposals to raise teachers' professionalism by the establishment of a General Teachers' Council; which makes clear that Her Majesty's Government has broken faith with the profession by failing to meet its own deadline to restore pay settlement machinery by 1990 and has broken faith with honourable and Right honourable Members by giving explanations as to the reasons for the delay in securing a Report stage of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill which were disingenous; and because the policies of Her Majesty's Government have led to a serious decline in the morale, motivation, recruitment and retention of teachers, and in their relative pay. I begin with a quotation: There is a crisis of confidence amongst teachers of such growing magnitude that it now threatens the entire spectrum of the Government's educational reforms. So marked is the decline of status, and self-esteem of the teaching profession, that unless the Conservative Government address the root causes of this problem: The educational system as a whole will face a prolonged period of steady deterioration. The Government will, ultimately, and sooner rather than later, be forced to compromise on the implementation of its recent reforms … From all sides the Conservative Government is being assailed and challenged on its education reforms and for failing the Nation's children, parents and teachers. That quotation comes from the Carlton Club paper, which is marked "strictly private and confidential"—I am not surprised about that—and which is headed "Education in the 1990s—A Current Assessment—Requirements for the Manifesto". It is based upon what is described as an "investigative seminar" which was called by the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield. (Sir N. Fowler) and attended by the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) and by the Secretary of State's special adviser. The paper contains admission after admission by leading Conservative education policy makers about the parlous state of our education service. It provides a much more accurate backdrop for today's debate than the claims that were made earlier in the debate by the Secretary of State.

There is certainly a deep crisis of confidence among teachers. The first question to ask is why there is such a crisis. It is widely agreed that in no other period—certainly not in this century—has the morale and self-esteem of the teaching profession, and its standing in the eyes of the public, been lower. Part of the explanation for that crisis of confidence is simple and relates to pay. As last April's report of the Select Committee on Education and Science showed, there has been no real-terms increase in teachers' pay since 1987. More importantly, teachers' pay relative to that of other non-manual workers has been declining consistently since 1974, with the hiccups to which the Secretary of State referred, and is still falling further and further behind. As the Secretary of State acknowledged, those differences are particularly marked for those whose career ambition is to teach rather than to administer. I am glad to hear that the Secretary of State now regards as his overwhelming priority the proper rewarding of those who make a career out of teaching, not out of administration.

The Secretary of State commented on my remarks about the Interim Advisory Committee on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions following his statement on 17 April, and said that I had commended its work. I have commended the work of the IAC which, among other things, has made some pertinent remarks about teachers' morale. However, one of the truths about the IAC is that, because of the constraints on its terms of reference, and despite its best judgments, it has not been able to secure a single percentage increase in teachers' real pay.

Although the decline in teachers' relative pay is important in explaining the decline in morale, it has served to reinforce—and has been reinforced by—two other things. The first is the long-standing anti-intellectual, anti-education culture that has been so marked in England, but not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, for a century or more. I have always found Bernard Shaw's jibe, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" depressing not only because he said it, but because it has had such resonance across society and down the generations.

No blame directly attaches to the Government for that anti-intellectual and anti-education culture in our society, but blame does attach to them for the fact that, over the past 12 years, they have made the climate in which teachers have to work so much more difficult. They have constantly demeaned and diminished the value of teachers and the value placed on them by society. There are plenty of illustrations of that, such as the national curriculum.

There was no consultation in 1987 with the people who would have to put the national curriculum into practice. A so-called "consultative document" was issued three months after the general election. Comments were invited over a short period, but no notice was taken of what was said by the teachers' organisations or anybody else—not about whether the national curriculum was desirable, but simply about whether it would work. The consequence has been that it does not work and that, almost from the day when it was formally established, it has had to be unpicked. That lack of consultation led to what Prince Charles referred to last week as "innovation fatigue" as a result of half-baked measures being introduced and then retreated from.

There has been a similar saga on testing. Again, there has not been any proper consultation—not about whether there should be testing, but about how it should be operated effectively. The ludicrously complicated standard assessment tasks were piloted last year. Because proper note was not taken of the feelings of the profession on whether that weight of SATs would serve any purpose, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State now describe what was supposed to be the introduction of national testing as "national pilots". Have the Secretary of State and his colleagues ever stopped to think about how those constant changes—that "innovation fatigue"—have affected teachers' morale and their view of how they are regarded by Ministers?

Ministers have repeatedly insinuated that teachers cannot be trusted. I shall discuss the changes that have been made in the history and geography national curriculum orders later, but the Secretary of State must bear in mind that by suddenly and impetuously forcing on the profession changes for which no ground had been laid, he has challenged the professionalism and integrity of the history and geography teachers in our secondary schools. That is not only my view; it is the view of those teachers who feel bitter about the way in which they have been treated.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I hesitated to interrupt the hon. Gentleman's somewhat wild historical theories earlier, but I have been listening with amazement to his account of how the national curriculum and testing have been introduced without any consultation. He knows that the whole process is heavily laden with consultation. For the curriculum orders, for example, a working party is first set up to produce an interim report. That is published and excites a lot of comment. In the light of those comments, the working party then produces a final report, which is then passed to the National Curriculum Council, which consults on it before recommending draft orders to me. I produce the draft orders and we then consult upon them. In the light of that consultation, we make final orders, and those are what we are debating tonight.

Does the hon. Gentleman describe that as a process of non-consultation, which holds the teaching profession in contempt? There was an enormous amount of consultation, at the end of which the hon. Gentleman winds up arguing that, as Secretary of State, I should not make any changes. If he adopted his own procedures, he would find himself rubber-stamping an endless process of consultation built into the arrangements.

Mr. Straw

If the Secretary of State had listened carefully to what I was saying, he would know that I was referring to the way in which the national curriculum was constructed in the first place. He was not a Minister in the Department of Education and Science at the time, and neither were any of his colleagues. A consultative document was issued a month after the general election in July 1987, with a deadline of a few weeks for comments. Despite the fact that all the professional organisations submitted comments and said, for example, that key stage 4 would not work as the previous Secretary of State had planned, their comments were ignored.

All the efforts that we and the organisations made to try to get some sense into Ministers and to make them realise that the curriculum was being overloaded for 14-year-olds, were simply ignored. The integrity of the teaching profession was challenged not only by the history and geography orders that we shall debate later but by the way in which they were introduced. The Secretary of State gave the profession no notice of those changes, thereby suggesting that he lacked confidence in the profession.

Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South)

Is the reason that the hon. Gentleman has totally failed to address himself to the Bill that he has been totally deserted by his erstwhile troops? Is he aware of the letter from Nigel de Gruchy of the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers, in which he expresses strong support for today's proposals: But hopefully with a fairer system than ever pertained in the past for determining teachers' pay and conditions, the profession will be left free to get on with the all-important job of teaching in the classroom and raising standards to the level everyone appears to want"— with the sole exception of the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Straw

I am well aware of that letter, and I shall deal with the attitude of teachers in a moment. I was speaking directly to the reasoned amendment that Mr. Speaker has been pleased to call, and I was saying why the Conservative party is so windy about the professionalism and morale of teachers, and why it has had to devote paragraph after paragraph in its draft manifesto scraping around for measures that might dig it out of the hole into which it has got its reputation on education.

One reason was the challenge to teachers' professionalism and the second is that teachers have a strong sense that Ministers regard the education service as one for other people's children and not for their own. This has everything to do with teachers' professionalism and their morale, because the Government have been leading the profession, or seeking to lead the education system for the past 12 years and, as the Carlton Club accepts, they have failed to do so.

The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) wrote a good pamphlet which was published by the Tory Reform Group in December, called "The Blocked Society". He said of Ministers and hon. Members, among others, in relation to the state education service: They are neither in it nor of it. They patronise it in words … but not by attendance. That is the truth.

Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)


Mr. Straw

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not realise quite what a truth he was telling when he said of the Secretary of State that he patronised the state education service in words but not by attendance. I wonder whether the Secretary of State realises how damaging it is to his authority that, in six months as Secretary of State, he has spent less than one day visiting state schools. He may groan but, given his lack of a background in the state education service, as he is now the leader of state schools does he not think that it would have been a good idea to visit a few schools before pontificating about them?

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I attended one for my education, unlike the hon. Gentleman, who attended a minor public school. The hon. Gentleman has been speaking for 14 minutes. Is he in favour of a review body for teachers? He does not seem to wish to move towards that question.

Mr. Straw

I am coming to that. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will have to wait his turn. I am making my speech in my own way.

Mr. Walden

I am grateful for the additional publicity that the hon. Gentleman has given to my pamphlet, but, no doubt inadvertently, he has quoted me completely out of context. When I said: They patronise it in words … but not by attendance", I was not referring to Ministers, although in another part of the pamphlet I pointed out that Ministers make the choice of sending their children to private schools, as I do. The reason that I do so is so that my children will not be subjected to the egalitarian philosophy of teaching which has flooded the profession and for which the Opposition are responsible. I entirely understand the choice of any of my right hon. Friends in the Cabinet who behave in the same way. I got the impression that the hon. Gentleman was trying to drive a wedge between myself and the Front Bench. Therefore, I should like to say that I support my right hon. and learned Friend's measure today 100 per cent. It is courageous, energetic and imaginative, and exactly the sort of thing that I would expect from an imaginative and energetic Secretary of State.

Mr. Straw

I am not surprised that the hon. Gentleman feels the need to retrieve his position. He opened the paragraph by saying: This Conservative Government does its best for the children of others", Then he goes on to say: They are neither in it, nor of it". In another paragraph, which will be in lots of Labour party pamphlets, it says: It used to be a cheap parliamentary jibe for Labour to ask why it was that so few Tory Ministers used the state schools. There was a time when there were answers, but there are no answers now, because the question has been subtly adjusted: when the Government claim that the state sector has changed out of all recognition as a result of their policies, why do Government ministers still steer clear of it? The only answer now is the truth, and the truth is scarcely sayable by any Government Minister. That may be so, but the truth will certainly be "sayable" by us.

Mr. Clarke

The state system ought to attract many of those people who send their children to independent schools. What would make the state system more attractive, and what we ought to be agreeing on, would be if the enhanced professional status of teachers reduced the risk of strike action in state classrooms. That is why the hon. Gentleman should soon move on to say whether he is in favour of a review body, or whether he thinks it is more important that strike action should be kept open as a possibility in classrooms.

Mr. Straw

The Secretary of State is right about that, and I shall return to it in more detail. However, I can tell him something else that would make state education more attractive—if he did not come out with the sort of ludicrous statements that are quoted in Woman[Laughter.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman may think that it is a joke, but he is quoted as saying: I have never met anybody who did not wish to send their children into independent education if they could afford it.

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Straw

I shall give way in a moment when I have finished the quote.

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman is quoting the Daily Mirror, a newspaper that only a buffoon would quote. The Daily Mirror, which is read by morons, produced that sentence. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the article in Woman, he will see the sentence that he quoted, followed by my saying that that is a sad state of affairs and that it is necessary to improve the state education system to stop that being the case.

Mr. Straw

He is very windy. As far as I understood it, the Secretary of State is admitting that he said it. He may have said something else as well, but he said: I have never met anybody who did not wish to send their children into independent education if they could afford it. I do not know whether he approved it, but I know that he said it, and it happens not to be my experience. As even The Northern Echo pointed out today, the Secretary of State must live in a closed world if he thinks that everyone who sends their children into state education does so only because they cannot get them into private schools. That is an utter calumny, and it is insulting to all the good aspects of the state education service.

Of the attacks on the professionalism of teachers that I have described, perhaps the greatest of all was the unilateral withdrawal of teachers' negotiating rights in 1987. That deeply damaged teachers' self-esteem, as did the way in which Ministers have prevaricated over new negotiating machinery. On Second Reading of the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill in December 1986, the then Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker)—referring to the power to grant extensions under the Bill—sought to make much of the fact that the advisory committee should be established on an interim basis only—until 1990"—[Official Report, 8 December 1986; Vol. 107, c. 43.] Not three years, but at least five years will have elapsed before any pay negotiating machinery can be restored to replace that of the interim advisory committee. That represents a breach of faith with the profession, and one for which teachers have not lightly forgiven the Government or the Secretary of State.

Restoring the morale of the teaching profession requires much more than new and agreed negotiating machinery, or even the sort of pre-election pay increase that no doubt the Secretary of State will have in mind if the election is delayed. It requires a Government with a real commitment to state education—a Government who honour and value teachers. That plainly does not apply to this Government. However, a proposal supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House would give a clear signal of the renewed importance attached to the teaching profession: the proposal for the establishment of a general teaching council. Such a council would hold a register of the profession, help to determine entry to and exit from the profession and give advice on a wide range of matters relating to supply and training.

The cost of establishing the council would be relatively low. It could be done easily if the will were there. It was backed by the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts, chaired by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton). I am sorry to say that the Secretary of State has not supported that proposal. To coin a phrase, he patronises the profession in words but not in deeds.

The Secretary of State keeps asking me whether the Labour party supports review bodies. I was intrigued that, just after he had asked me to give a "yes or no" answer to that question, he was posed a similar question by his hon. Friends the Members for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins), and for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson).

Mr. Ken Eastham (Manchester, Blackley)


Mr. Straw

Technically, at least, they are hon. Friends.

The Secretary of State was unable to give a "yes or no" answer, because the answer depends on the circumstances. Neither, as I recall, was he able to give a clear "yes or no" answer when he was being pressed to establish a review body for the ambulance personnel during their dispute 18 months ago.

The Labour party has long supported the establishment of independent review bodies when that is agreed between the parties. I referred to that—I am surprised that the Secretary of State has not quoted me—during the debate on teachers' pay and conditions on 6 June 1990, when we were dealing with the pay and conditions order for last year. We are sceptical about the proposals in the Bill. They do not seem to be consistent with a fully independent review body. That view is gaining increasing currency among those who the Secretary of State claims support the Bill. For example, the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association has said of the Government's proposals: we must seriously, and perhaps fundamentally, question their adequacy".

Dr. Hampson

I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's remarks, because I scrutinised with care what he said on 17 April. He very carefully did not accept the principle of a review body for schoolteachers. Does he now accept the principle of a review body for schoolteachers and a review body for university teachers, whatever the specifics?

Mr. Straw

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman read what I said on 17 April. If so, he ought to read it again. I have just explained that we are in favour of not only the principle but the practice of review bodies when they are agreed between the parties. We are sceptical about whether the proposals in the Bill will meet our requirement that the review body be independent.

Mr. Hampson


Mr. Straw

If the hon. Gentleman will hold on, I will explain that for him.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have some sympathy with the criticisms in the reasoned amendment. However, he is not being clear. If the reasoned amendment were passed and the Bill withdrawn, would he ask the Government to come back to the House—or would he do so himself—with a differently worded measure introducing a review body; or would he regard the opposition of one of the teachers' trade unions as a block, no matter how the review body was set up?

Mr. Straw

No. I would not regard that as a block for a moment. I would have sought proper consultation with the parties about the proposal. One of the truths about the proposal, as the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) knows, is that consultation on review bodies was ruled out in the Green Paper published by the Government in 1987. The idea of a review body simply was not on the table from that day until the Secretary of State made his announcement on 17 April 1991.

As I said, AMMA, which supports the principle of a review body, has serious doubts about the practice of the proposed review body. I want to come to the part of the argument about the direction-making power in clause 1. As the Secretary of State made clear on 17 April, the usual procedure is for the Government first to establish its terms of reference, then to give evidence to the review body, including evidence on the economic circumstances that the Government think should be taken into account. The Government have a reserve position; they will accept the recommendations of the review body unless there are clear and compelling grounds for not doing so.

We accept that practice and would not depart from it. However, a question arises—why does the Secretary of State feel it necessary to include in the Bill powers of direction that do not exist for other review bodies, even in this non-statutory form? The wording of clause 1(4) is almost identical to the wording of section 2(4) of the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Act 1987, which gave the Secretary of State substantial powers of direction to the interim advisory committee. Those powers were used, and were the principal reason why the interim advisory committee was unable to follow its own conclusions and recommend increases which it judged necessary to maintain recruitment, retention and morale.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

It said so.

Mr. Straw

As my hon. Friend said, it said so. In case the Secretary of State has missed it, section 2(4) of the 1987 Act says: The Secretary of State may give directions to the Committee with respect to matters referred to them as to considerations to which they are to have regard and financial or other constraints to which their recommendations are to be subject". Clause 1(4) of the Bill says: With respect to matters referred to the review body by him, the Secretary of State may give directions to the review body as to considerations to which they are to have regard". The only words that are different are the words "and financial or other constraints". The Secretary of State knows that those words are wide enough for him to give directions in practice as to the financial and other constraints that are to be imposed on the review body.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke


Mr. Straw

I shall give way to the Secretary of State in a minute, because this is an important point. Clause 1(1) allows the Prime Minister to establish the review body and the Secretary of State to refer to it such matters relating to the statutory conditions of the employment of school teachers as he may from time to time decide. Therefore, he determines the terms of reference. I cannot for the life of me understand why that directional power is necessary unless it is to be used to constrain the review body, in the same way as the interim advisory committee has been constrained, on matters of affordability.

Mr. Clarke

In his analysis of what is really a Committee point, the hon. Gentleman pointed out that the 1987 Act contains a reference to the financial constraints to which the independent advisory committee was to be subject when making its recommendations. This is merely a general power to give directions to review bodies as to considerations to which they are to have regard. I have already said that they are to be asked to have regard to affordability—as evidenced, among other things, by the standard spending assessments for education—and also to the need to recruit and retain people of adequate motivation. That is not the same as having a financial limit given to them. The 1987 Act made the interim advisory committee subject to a financial remit.

Mr. Straw

With great respect, this cannot be dismissed as a Committee point. Central to the operation of the Bill is whether the review body will be able to exercise independence of judgment. It will not be exactly the same as other review bodies. Their terms of reference are established. The Government give evidence about issues such as affordability and the standard spending assessment and then reserve their position. In this case, there will be a statutory power to give directions. The Bill does not say that the review body "can" have regard to the directions; it "must" have regard to them.

The Secretary of State knows full well that, when words such as that are used in a measure, the review body will have to pay regard to those considerations; it will not be given the opportunity to weigh the evidence. Instead, it is being told that its starting point on any issue regarding which the Government have given directions must be that. When the teachers's unions understand the point in more detail, they will say that this is unacceptable and is likely to undermine faith in the review body's independence.

If the Secretary of State wants this arrangement to be successful, between now and the Committee stage he ought to look carefully into whether it is necessary. My guess is that it was inserted by the Treasury as a belt and braces provision. It is not needed if this body is to operate as an ordinary review body. The fact from which we do not resile is that, on the basis of clear and compelling grounds, the Government can change or phase in a review body recommendation and can give evidence. That ought to provide sufficient protection. The similarity of the wording in this Bill and the 1987 Act regarding the direction-making power must lead to the review body's practice being closely related to that of the interim advisory committee.

Mr. Clarke

To repeat what I said before, the Government will not be giving the review body a financial remit of the type that the interim advisory committee had. We shall reject recommendations only for clear and compelling reasons. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the review body should be established on that basis? The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) asked the hon. Gentleman the same question, and, interestingly, he asked him whether he would he in favour of that, if one of the unions disagreed. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) seems to be wandering off to every other point that he can think of without answering perfectly clear questions. Does he agree with my statement of policy? Would he be put off, as the hon. Member for Truro asked him, if one union disagreed?

Mr. Straw

I have already answered emphatically the question about one union. As for the Secretary of State's question, an explanation has still to be offered to me as to why direction-making powers should be included in the Bill. If they are unnecessary, they should not be there. They would be a temptation to Ministers, a temptation that they would use.

Mr. Walden

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Straw

With great respect to the hon. Gentleman, I do not intend to give way to him. I have been speaking for 33 minutes and have already allowed a great many interventions. I want to get to the end of my speech.

The Secretary of State referred to industrial action. He said that the Labour party has already supported every strike by public sector workers. He must know that that is a calumny. If we are to have a serious debate about how to raise the professionalism and self-esteem of teachers, he must know that that is untrue. There have been many occasions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Name one."]—I shall name one: the NUT conference at Easter took the decision to threaten strike action.—[HON. MEMBERS: "You supported that."] That is literally untrue.

I defer to nobody in my view that, so far as humanly possible, industrial action should be avoided inside schools. Even The Sun managed to see the distinction. That is a completely different point from the suggestion that the right to strike should be removed. On 17 April, the Secretary of State tried to bluster his way through. He suggested that this policy would go ahead only if the unions agreed to remove the right to strike. That turned out to be a fig leaf, but a transparent one. The Bill says nothing at all about that. There have just been a few words from the Secretary of State. He has insinuated that, somehow, all this depends upon the removal of the right to strike. It does not.

All hon. Members want education to be free from industrial action, but the Government must recognise that they bear a heavy responsibility for any disruption that has taken place in the past. Moreover, they bear a heavy responsibility in the future.

Mrs. Currie

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Straw

No. I want to come to the end of my remarks.

Mrs. Currie

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Surely we need to know, in view of what the hon. Gentleman says, whether he intends to vote for or against the Bill, or to abstain.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

The way that hon. Members vote in the House has nothing whatsoever to do with the Chair.

Mr. Straw

Our reasoned amendment speaks of the Secretary of State breaking faith with the teaching profession and also breaking faith with the House. Our view is that the way that he conducted himself in relation to the first School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill was a breach of faith and that the Secretary of State's conduct was unacceptable.

When he spoke on 17 April, the Secretary of State said that, if we looked back to the Second Reading debate, we should realise that the Government were careful to keep their options open. We find nothing of the kind. If we look back to the debate on 27 November 1990 we find that the Secretary of State said: The Bill contains the agreed policy of this Government. I can certainly speak for two of the candidates for the position of Prime Minister who are committed to the Bill". At the end of his speech he said: I therefore commend the Bill to the House."—[Official Report, 27 November 1990; Vo. 181, c. 743–56.] There were no "ifs" or "buts" in his Second Reading speech, and there were no "ifs" or "buts" in Committee.

The Secretary of State pretends that there has been a change of climate since November. That is a bogus explanation. What has happened since November is that there has been a change of Prime Minister. The new Prime Minister says that he wants to do something about education, but he has also said that he is not quite sure what, according to The Times. Since November, he has been scrubbing about trying to find out what it is that he should do. He has come up with this inadequate proposal. The Secretary of State has a duty to be honest with the House.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Tim Eggar)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman who speaks on education matters for the Opposition——

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. It is quite clear that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) is not giving way. This is totally irresponsible and undisciplined behaviour.

Mr. Straw

When I wrote to the Secretary of State asking him what had happened to the Bill, he said to me: As you know, there is considerable pressure of business in the House. We are of course looking at the timetable for this Bill alongside competing priorities for Parliamentary time. That explanation was simply untrue. The Secretary of State owes an apology to the House for offering hon. Members statements that are completely inconsistent with the facts.

As the draft Conservative education manifesto says, there is a crisis of confidence among teachers. The bill, in the hands of the Government, is the cause of that crisis and not its solution. I commend our amendment to the House.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Before proceeding further, I have an announcement for the House. In his wisdom, Mr. Speaker has now lifted the 10-minute limit on speeches, leaving it to the common sense and self-discipline of Members to see that all those wishing to be called are able to speak before the House divides at 10 o'clock.

5.40 pm
Sir Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)

I shall be brief and shall keep within the 10-minute limit that was previously in force.

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, I introduced the review body for nurses, and there are one or two lessons to be learned from that. I listened with mounting disbelief to the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). As I understand it, his policy on the review body is that, if the NUT agrees, he will agree, and if the NUT does not agree, he will not agree. It is demeaning for a major political party simply to wait to be told what position to take. The hon. Gentleman's speech was disappointing and thin, and was attended pretty thinly by an Opposition on a three-line Whip. In my view, the hon. Gentleman is leading his own party down the wrong road and it would be a tragedy if he succeeded in doing the same with the teaching profession.

There is no question but that, over the past 20 or 30 years, Governments of all parties have faced substantial difficulties in finding the right mechanism for determining the pay of large public service professions. Any Government would need to balance a number of demands. There is a need to be fair to the particular profession when the Government are ultimately the employer or provide the finance for the salaries; there is also a need to be fair to the taxpayer and the public, because large settlements are expensive for the public and can pre-empt money to other public services.

Education is no more an island than the health service, and one has to take all those considerations into account. It is crucial to be fair to the public who are intended to benefit from any public service—in this case, education, but it also applies to the health service. It is clear that the public do not benefit from a public service suffering from industrial action and strikes. Nothing can be worse for health or education than strike action, which scars those services.

Getting the balance right is a problem for the Government. It was a problem for the last Labour Government and for previous Conservative and Labour Governments. Only a party bigot would argue otherwise. The issue is not simple, but the problem occurs in a large profession when the Government are the employer or finance it. It is much simpler in practical terms in an individual school or hospital and can be settled on that level, but all experience shows that problems arise in large professional groups.

No system of pay determination is perfect, but in education, the pay review body is the best hope and has worked out most fairly for all. All experience shows that the last thing that leaders of professions covered by pay review bodies want to do is give up those pay review bodies. The last thing that the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, the director-general of the British Medical Association or whoever represents the top civil servants would want to do is give up their pay review bodies. They value them and consider them most important. That is why I find the Opposition's position on pay review bodies so extraordinary and incomprehensible. They have a three-line Whip against the award of a pay review body, which is probably the best thing that has happened to the teaching profession for many years.

The usual criticism of pay review bodies does not normally come from the left. The classic opposition comes from the right, and is along the lines that review bodies get in the way of the market and we should not interfere with the running of the market. I was presented with that criticism when I introduced the pay review body for nurses. It is not what I imagine Labour clubs throughout the country to discuss every Friday and Saturday. Opposition to pay review bodies can also come from Treasury Ministers—under Labour or Conservative Governments—who will probably say for the next 30 years, as they have said for the past 30 years, that a review body limits the Government's freedom. To be frank, anyone who has had to deal with a review body knows that it limits the Government's freedom. That is the price that the Government have to pay.

I know that things have changed since I left the Government just over 12 months ago. I have no knowledge of the negotiations that took place to provide a review body on teachers' pay, but the idea that, in all the discussions and debates on the matter, Treasury Ministers were saying that the country and the profession needed a review body is quite comical. I cannot imagine that Treasury Ministers were going up and down Whitehall with placards in favour of a review body for the teaching profession. Unless Chief Secretaries have changed in the past 12 months, that is an entirely fanciful idea.

Anyone who has sat round the Cabinet table considering the outcome of review body reports knows perfectly well that they limit the freedom of the Government. It is certainly possible to stage reports, and in the past we have done precisely that, but one would think three or four times before rejecting such a report. The power to do so exists, but it is rarely used—for the good reason that, having set up a review body, the last thing the Government would want is for that review body to resign, pack up and disappear.

If the only thing that worries and concerns the Opposition is the independence of the pay review body, I stress that a 11 experience is that once a pay review body is established, its independence is taken for granted. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State and I were negotiating with the Treasury on public spending, he regularly used the expression, "If the Chief Secretary offered me that deal, I would bite his hand off." That sums up my view on what the teachers should do presented with the proposition that my right hon. and learned Friend is offering them this afternoon. If the teachers want to make comparisons, they should look at the nursing profession and compare the experience of the nursing profession before and after the review body was set up.

The hon. Member for Blackburn made an extraordinarily weak speech, but he knows more than most about what happened to the nursing profession before and after the review body was set up. The hon. Gentleman was the special adviser to Lady Castle who hammered the nurses into the ground in the mid-1970s. If the hon. Gentleman wants the figures, I can provide them.

In 1974–75, nurses and midwives were given a 20 per cent. increase. That sounds all very well, but the retail prices index was 26.3 per cent. and the index of average earnings was 27.6 per cent. Next year, the figure was 8 per cent., the RPI was 12 per cent. and the index of average earnings was almost 14 per cent. In 1976–77, the award was 5 per cent., the RPI was 17.6 per cent. and the index of average earnings was 8.5 per cent. Under the review body, in 1983–84 the increase for nurses was 7.5 per cent., the RPI was 4 per cent. and the index of average earnings was 5 per cent. In 1984–85, the increase was 8.6 per cent., the RPI was 6.9 per cent. and the figure for average earnings was 5.3 per cent. In 1988–89, the increase was 17.9 per cent., the RPI was 4.8 per cent. and average earnings were 8.5 per cent.

Nurses have done spectacularly well under their review body. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State rightly said, for that reason professional leaders who have experience of the system value it very much. If one said to the BMA, "We are going to take away the review body," the health service would grind to a halt.

My advice to teachers is that, by rejecting a pay review body, they would be missing an historic opportunity. It is the one step that could do the most to meet their professional aspirations. If they do not want a review body, they can simply reject it by taking strike action. The Government: are limiting their freedom in pay determination; the quid pro quo is that there should be no strike action. Every review body operates under that condition, and I very much hope that that will always be so.

The vast majority of the teaching profession want not to take industrial action but to have a sensible and fair method of determining their pay, which is the purpose of the pay review body. It is the best deal for teachers.

Children are crucial to this debate. They cannot benefit from a system that can lead to industrial action, which is so against their best interests.

Only one group can oppose the proposal on logical grounds—union activists whose raison d'etre is being able to threaten industrial action to get their way. There is no doubt that there is a role for trade unions in the review body system. They must give evidence to the review body, which will be questioned. Their skill and the quality of their evidence will determine much.

There is no role for the threatener—the NUT delegate we see on our television screen each Easter. Most of the public and the profession will not shed tears if such a character disappears into the background, where he belongs.

By opposing the Bill with a three-line Whip, the Labour party has made one of the worst mistakes of this Paliament. It has shown that its true interests are not the public, children or teachers, and that it remains the prisoner of the big public service unions. In a sense, that is why the Government were elected in 1979. The most revealing aspect of the debate—the hon. Member for Blackburn did not mention this—is that the Labour party remains in a—I was going to say "equivocal" but it is worse that that—subservient position to the big public service unions.

Education, the classroom and the pay of professional teachers should not be an industrial battlefield. The Bill gives us the best hope of moving from that prospect to a much fairer and better way of determining teachers' pay. For that reason, I support the Bill, but above all I hope that the teaching profession will respond to it. I believe that the Government are right and that the Labour party has been disastrously wrong in its tactics this afternoon.

5.54 pm
Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) lectured us about making the worst mistake in this Parliament, but he knows much about bad mistakes in this Parliament. He was one of the people behind the poll tax. Was that not a mistake? Is it not a continuing mistake? Son of poll tax is in the background. We shall see whether that is a mistake. We do not need lectures from the right hon. Gentleman about bad mistakes in this Parliament. We have seen such mistakes in the past 12 years, never mind in one Parliament, so let us not have that nonsense. If the right hon. Gentleman prefers that nonsense, he is welcome to it.

A glaring omission from the debate has been the fact that, in the past few years, teachers have had neither a review body nor any pre-negotiation. Their negotiating rights were taken away. I oppose the Bill, and I hope that Labour Members will oppose it. I have faith that they will, but when negotiations—[Interruption.] The Minister constantly mutters, but I never know what he is saying. Would he like me to give way?

Mr. Eggar

It is clear to the hon. Gentleman, as it was to Conservative Members, that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has not made his position clear. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask the hon. Member for Blackburn whether the Labour party favours the review body.

Mr. Flannery

I do not need to do so; my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) stated bluntly that he opposes the Bill, and it needs opposing. It is one of the most serious things that the teaching profession has faced since the last war.

Conservative Members send their children to private schools. Education is in the hands of people who hate the state sector. It is no good them smiling, because that is the reality. The Bill strikes a blow at the reason——

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)


Mr. Flannery

We want to allow every hon. Member who is present to speak, and I want to contribute my little bit. I shall not go on too long—I promise.

The Bill strikes a blow at the fundamental principles of trade unionism. Trade unions were created for two fundamental reasons—for the free negotiation of pay, and for the free negotiation of conditions of service. They came into being after Tolpuddle, and they exist today for the same reason.

Unions that support the pay review body have expressed profound reservations. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn quoted from a document issued by the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association. It says: Second Reading: Monday 29th April 1991", which I believe is today. [Interruption.] I am trying to show Conservative Members that this is an up-to-date document. It continues: The Association regrets the haste with which the Government has brought forward this pivotal debate. That statement was made by AMMA, not by me or the National Union of Teachers. The association continued: it is less than two weeks since the first announcement by the Secretary of State for Education and Science"— the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not in his seat— that it has become the Government's intention to give teachers a Review Body. There has been no opportunity for consultation to have yet taken place and we are therefore necessarily limited in our understanding of the Government's full proposals. We very much hope that Ministers will explain their plans more clearly in the course of the Second Reading debate. Why have the Government suddenly changed their mind? I have been a member of almost every Standing Committee on education matters since I became a Member, but I was ill during the discussion of the first School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill. For six or seven weeks, the Government were determined to give negotiating rights back to teachers. That decision was not made out of thin air. They were repeatedly told by the International Labour Organisation, a United Nations body, that they were breaking international law by taking away teachers' negotiating rights. If hon. Members want to see the record of that statement, they can get hold of it. Most Labour Members have seen it.

AMMA stated: Members will recall that, in November 1990, the Association urged rejection of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill at Second Reading. Our view was then based on two grounds, that

  1. '(1) new procedures and powers in the Bill for the local determination of teachers' pay and conditions of employment are, at the least, ill-judged and premature; and
  2. (2) the reserve powers accruing to the Secretary of State are so excessive as to jeopardise the success of negotiating machinery established under the Bill.'"
The association welcomed the fact that teachers' negotiating machinery would be restored and is surprised as anyone that the Government have decided not to do so. Referring to the latest Bill, the association stated: The Bill as drafted would empower the Secretary of State to 'give directions to the review body as to considerations to which they are to have regard."' The association—not the NUT or the Labour Front Bench—referred to other review bodies. It did not mean the review body that is offered to the teaching profession now. The association stated: Other review bodies, which have achieved success over a long period, operate instead within concise standing terms of reference `to advise the Prime Minister on the remuneration' of a named group of employees. The other review bodies did not exist to act as negotiators and to tell teachers that they must accept what is offered whether they like it or not.

It is true that offers to other professions have been reasonable, but there is not much faith in the idea that an offer from the Government to teachers will be reasonable. Teachers, like NUT leaders and the Labour party, do not want anything to upset teaching in the classroom. They made it clear that they were putting the matter to a poll. I am confident—I know a thing or two about it—that teachers would refuse to take strike action. The NUT leadership, including me, have been struggling for a different system.

AMMA stated: The additional considerations to which the Government wishes a review body to have regard, year by year, are submitted only in the form of evidence from the relevant Department. We see no justification for the proposed departure from this precedent of evidence, which is essentially reasoned in its nature, being the medium of communication to a genuinely independent body. The association does not want any action to be taken, although it would have liked negotiating rights to be established. It proposes substituting a review body for negotiating rights. I believe that the association is making a mistake, but only time will tell. The NUT, of which I am a member, wants teachers' negotiating rights to be restored and is opposed to the review body.

The International Labour Organisation made it clear that the Government should restore negotiating rights. Even the Government repeatedly stated that the withdrawal of those rights was only temporary and that they would be given back. The Government are violating international law by taking away those rights. Teachers have no negotiating rights and no review body.

Article 4 of ILO convention 98 contains crucial words, which I underline in my mind: machinery for voluntary negotiation between employers' organisations and workers' organisations with a view to the regulation of terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements. That is what the ILO wants, whether the Government like it or not.

Teachers are eagerly making concessions to the Government in the belief that the Government will make some concessions to them. The teachers are mistaken. They are taking the Government on trust. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn referred to clause 2. The explanatory and financial memorandum states that clause 2 enables the Secretary of State, in certain circumstances, to make an order without having received a report from the review body; provides that the remuneration of school teachers is to be determined and paid by local education authorities and the governors of grant-maintained schools in accordance with the provisions of such orders". The Secretary of State can make a wide-ranging order without having heard a word from the review body. Is that the way in which the review body will be used at the beginning? I hope not. There are more disquieting measures in the Bill.

None of us wants anything to upset classrooms. Many Labour Members were teachers, as were some Conservative Members. I believe that the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) was a science teacher and that he did not want his classrooms disrupted. The Government have made a mess of the entire education system. Some years ago, a gentleman in the Tory party spoke about democracy. He said that it was untidy, ponderous and slow but was the best thing we had. Those were the words of Winston Churchill at about the beginning of the war.

Conservatives Members are characterised by gross impatience. Instead of negotiating with teachers on pay and conditions, they took away negotiating rights and precipitated all the trouble that we are experiencing. If they had not done that, there would have been no need for two Bills to restore negotiating rights. Our children would have been taught, possibly without regular testing for seven-year-olds. I said that I was backing the Bill in one sense only. The purpose of the first Bill was to return negotiating rights to teachers. Labour Members struggled to achieve certain conditions within those negotiating rights. I do not believe that any real conditions were offered, but at least negotiating rights were expected to follow then.

The argument that the review body is a negotiating organisation is nonsense. It can impose what it wishes, and teachers believe, from their experience, that that is what it will do. Those unions and parties that believe that the review body is a negotiating organisation and that have abandoned the fundamental right to free negotiation are relinquishing a right for which our ancestors fought hard over a couple of hundred years. I would not want it to be given up easily. All other European nations have freedom of negotiation.

Mr. Hawkins

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by "returning to negotiating rights?" I do not believe that he means returning to Burnham. If my memory serves me rightly, the Burnham negotiating machinery agreed on a settlement only about three times in a couple of decades. It was a major forum for disagreement. I should have thought that a review body was a better way of solving problems.

Mr. Flannery

I should not dream of lecturing the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) on what I mean by negotiating rights. He knows that I mean free negotiations between employers and teachers. I said nothing about going back to Burnham—only he has that leaning, which is nonsense. I do not want to go back to Burnham; it is dead and gone and we have since come a long way. The hon. Gentleman accuses us of wanting to go back to Burnham as he accuses us of wanting strike action. Both ideas are nonsense, and he knows that.

Mr. Hawkins

Then what?

Mr. Flannery

We shall have a review body, whether we want one or not. The Government took away negotiating rights without giving us any say in the matter. They promised to restore them, but did not do so.

The Government will impose a review body, and I only hope that it is honourable, not like the words that I read from the Bill. The Education Reform Act 1988—which should have been called the Education Deform Act—gave about 400 new powers to the Secretary of State. We were appalled, and we can see the chaos that resulted in schools.

Mrs. Maureen Hicks (Wolverhampton, North-East)

If the hon. Member does not want a pay review body or a return to Burnham, what does he want?

Mr. Flannery

I made it clear to the hon. Member for High Peak. I told him that I wanted negotating rights. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks) cannot have been listening. I read out what the International Labour Organisation said. Shall I read it again? Hon. Members should stop telling me to do what I have already done. Conservative Members are hard pressed.

On Second Reading——

Mrs. Hicks


Sir Norman Fowler


Mr. Flannery

There is a queue. The hon. Lady was a member of the Select Committee, so I shall give way to her.

Mrs. Hicks

I heard what the hon. Gentleman said perfectly clearly, but, perhaps like my colleagues, I do not understand his interpretation of negotiating rights. What will it mean in practice in terms of achieving a solution to the problem of teachers who naturally want an annual increase in salary?

Mr. Flannery

Does the hon. Lady really want me to tell her? There is a table: employers sit on one side and union representatives sit on the other. They talk to each other and put forward arguments. Sometimes it changes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Burnham."] Whenever anybody negotiates, Conservative Members say that it is like Burnham. That is their opinion. They are old-fashioned. They do not seem to be in the present age. I know that the Government are in a mess—a 12-year-old dilemma. They do not know where they are, but I thought that they would understand some simple matters, such as negotiating rights.

Mr. Steinberg


Mr. Flannery

I shall give way to my hon. Friend, as he was also a member of the Select Committee.

Mr. Steinberg

I am enjoying my hon. Friend's contribution. We desperately missed him from the Committee on the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill.

Mr. Flannery

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Steinberg

I will accept a drink tonight.

In answer to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks), may I say that Ministers—one of whom is sitting on the Front Bench—argued vehemently in Committee for negotiating rights between trade union representatives and employers. That is exactly what we want. The Minister who is sitting with his hands in his pockets—I think they are in his pockets—argued vehemently for those rights no more than two or three months ago.

Mr. Flannery

That was not so much an inquiry as an attempt to help me along. I agree with all that my hon. Friend has said.

We are dealing with a serious issue. I want not a review body but a right to free negotiation such as that held by every teacher body in all democratic nations. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for High Peak keeps interrupting me from a sedentary position. If he is not clear about what negotiating rights mean, we should have a talk. God help anyone who negotiates with the Tory party for an increase in pay and conditions, because he will not get it.

The Government are offering a bribe. It would stick in their craw to give us the right to honourable negotiation, so they are thinking of something else, and that something else is a review body. They have promised all sorts of things, but I want to ask a serious question. They make promises about what they will do for teachers, but can we believe that the party that imposed the poll tax will keep its promises to help teachers?

The Conservative party has played havoc with almost every section of working people by splitting them—such as the ambulance men and nurses—and by attacking them—as it is still doing—and by imposing the poll tax, and now the son of poll tax, and by attacking our health service. Let me make it clear once again that the Conservatives voted against the health service. I do not want to pursue that idea, but the Conservatives said that we should not have a health service. [Interruption.] Yes, they voted against it, but that is a big theme.

The teaching unions and anyone who follows the same lines as those taken by the five unions will discover that they are barking up the wrong tree and that this ruthless Government, who are in the last phases of office, are, in desperation, getting up to all types of tricks. They are offering bribes—the review body is a bribe to teachers. I am sad that five unions have accepted it, although my own union—the National Union of Teachers—has not. I hope that the Labour party will not accept it.

6.16 pm
Mr. Malcolm Thornton (Crosby)

I have been looking forward to making this speech for a long time. As one who has consistently supported the concept of a pay review body for teachers, I am delighted to support the Bill. It marks a watershed for the teaching profession and for the future of education, because, if we are to learn anything from history, we must learn from its mistakes.

We have heard much about negotiating rights. I first became involved in national education in 1974 and, as many hon. Members know, the Houghton award to teachers was made in the same year. It was a recognition that, in spite of negotiating rights, which existed in a form that we know—or knew—as Burnham, teachers' pay had been allowed to fall behind. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) said, it had fallen under successive Governments. The Houghton award was a massive hike, but it was significant that it referred to what came to be known in the jargon of negotiations between teacher employers and teaching unions as the "Houghton teacher".

The Houghton teacher was a teacher whom the report regarded as someone who would receive a professional salary while exercising a professional commitment which, I am bound to say, has been shown by the vast majority of teachers, regardless of some of the nonsense—such as strike action—that we have seen during the past decade.

My involvement went further than merely becoming a member of a national education body. I had the dubious privilege—privilege because to deal with anything to do with education is a privilege and dubious because any contact with Burnham must be regarded in that way—of becoming a member of the Burnham committee. I was the deputy leader of the employers' side of the management panel.

To talk about meaningful negotiations during the period of the Burnham committee is nonsense and a contradiction in terms. While one union was negotiating across the table, the leader of another union was outside, giving his press conference and explaining how much better he could do. It was a shambles, which had a further complication. I know that because I trod the path from Church house to the office of the Secretary of State in Elizabeth house to see whether the employers could get an extra 0.5 per cent. to try to conclude the negotiations. Burnham had few friends then, and it has even fewer friends today.

During that period, an opportunity was offered to the unions in 1974. It was lost not because it was thrown away by the vast majority of teachers, who responded well, but because of the internecine disputes between trade unions that would not accept the opportunity.

We must recognise that the Bill is an acceptance that we have come a long way. As my hon. Friend the Minister knows, I did not favour the original School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill, because I felt that it was a move backwards to a sort of son of Burnham. I could see nothing in that Bill which would move us significantly forward. I have been a long-time supporter of a pay review body. Things have been changing for a long time. We have seen a far more progressive and foward-looking attitude from many of the teacher unions which is far more in touch, and far more in keeping, with the aspirations of their members.

The changes have brought us to where we are today. Five of the teacher unions support the Bill. They may have qualifications and reservations, but one of the great strengths of the Bill is that it is buttressed by an absence of a statutory requirement not to strike. That is an acceptance of the changes that have taken place. I have been greatly encouraged during the past month by many of the statements from the second largest teacher union which have been supportive of the concept. The unions were looking forwards, not backwards, and recognising that the problems that bedevilled Burnham and its negotiations had to be abandoned for ever, and that a new mechanism and a new opportunity had to be seized. The Bill is that new opportunity.

To turn our backs on the Bill now would deny teachers what all members of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts acknowledged. We may have had different reasons and we could support some of the proposals wholeheartedly, and some less so. We recognised the problem that teachers faced and we recognised the considerable problem of lack of morale which teachers expressed to us. Over and over again, their view came across to us. It was not just a matter of pay, although that was fundamentally important; it was a matter of status and of esteem.

Teachers were conscious that they had slipped in public esteem. They were conscious that whether parents were sympathetic to some of their broad aims begged the question. They were conscious that parents were fed up to the back teeth with their children's education being disrupted. The unions have recognised that. They realise that to go again down the road of disruption would be the final nail in the coffin of esteem for teachers and of teachers' morale. The Bill is the way forward and the opportunity.

From figures that have been put before the House today, we have learnt that groups of people who are covered by a pay review body will, in general terms, do far better than those who are not. That clearly signals the Government's intention to raise the morale of teachers, to give them the professional standing they deserve and to say to parents that the Government's commitment to a strong, well-paid and esteemed teaching profession lies at the centre of their education policies.

Governments can legislate until they are blue in the face on the national curriculum, but the success of the reforms depends solely on the teacher delivering them in the classroom. If we can get the teachers behind us--I believe that the Bill will do so in a way that has not been possible before—we shall do an enormous service to education.

I find it incomprehensible that Opposition Front Bench Members have taken their view today. I have had many conversations about education with the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). I am broadly in agreement with many points that he has made, as I am with many of the points made by Opposition members of the Select Committee. I had respect for many of their views. I listened today with a sense of disbelief, because all that we have heard shows that the Labour party is firmly wedded to the past rather than looking forward very much to the future.

I have said that I believe that the Bill is a watershed—I do not believe that I can overstate that point. However, if not only the Labour party, but any of the teacher unions—one is standing out at the moment—reject this opportunity, they are doing a grave disservice to teachers and to education, and an even greater disservice to children.

The delivery of education to our children must be central to any education policy. That is at the heart of our debate. I urge Opposition Members and the members of the National Union of Teachers who stand against the Bill to recognise it as an opportunity. The failure to do so will mean that they stand condemned as wedded to the past and entrenched in a culture that signally failed to deliver what teachers wanted and what education needed, and which deprived many of our children in the past year. I will now finish my speech; I am astonished by my moderation.

6.27 pm
Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

To ensure that there is no doubt, and to save interventions in the early part of my speech—I have no intention of speaking for as long as the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) did—I must tell the House that I and my party unequivocally support the move towards a review body, although we have reservations about the way in which the move was made and about the details of the proposal. We take that view for many of the reasons given by Conservative Members who support the implementation of a review body.

Above all, we take that view because the last thing that is needed now—just as it was the last thing that was needed five months ago when we discussed similar provisions here—is further delay and confusion. The main problem for teachers today is not the level of pay, although there are problems, but morale in the profession and the way in which teachers feel that they have been treated.

One big step towards correcting that problem is to sort out the way in which teachers' pay and conditions are determined. The status that should come with a review body, provided that it is made to work, which will require support not only from teachers, but from the Government, will be, as the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) said, a turning point for teachers. I certainly hope it is.

The Government would have commanded more support for their position had they shown a little more humility in their presentation. There is no question but that the Government's position has changed dramatically since they presented the original Bill five months ago. It is difficult for them to justify dressing the present Bill up as merely a reaction to changed circumstances. The truth is that many of those in the ministerial team favoured a review body in the first place but were prevented from advocating such a move. With a change of Minister and a change of Prime Minister, they found it rather easier to persuade their colleagues of the merits of their case. A little humility would not have gone amiss. Ministers should have said that the Government did not have it right in the first place but have now taken a large step forward.

At least the Government's position has the benefit of some clarity, which is more than can be said for that of the Labour party. I think that the Labour party is split. I say that because, although it is clear what some Labour Back Benchers think, we cannot be altogether certain what the Front-Bench spokesmen think. I think that the Front-Bench spokesmen are broadly in favour of the principle of a review body, but not on the terms that the Government now propose. That is our position, too, although we state it more clearly than Labour Members have so far managed to do.

In the debate on the original Bill—five months ago almost to the day—the Secretary of State told us that all the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative party were united in their support for the Bill and that there was no doubt about the party's position on it. Presumably the right hon. and learned Gentleman wanted to alleviate any doubt about whether the Bill would make normal progress regardless of the musical chairs at the top. I queried whether that was the case, and suggested that, in view of the arguments that candidates in the leadership contest were advancing, it might be wise to pause for reflection—to have a breathing space—before reaching a decision. I suggested that, in view of what the candidates were saying, a review body might be more appropriate than the arrangements that Ministers were then pressing upon us.

That was not to be. The Secretary of State said: it is time now to put more permanent arrangements into place."—[Official Report, 27 November 1990; Vol. 181, c. 743.] At the second sitting of the Standing Committee, the Minister of State said: We want to proceed as rapidly as possible. That is why we want to make good progress in the Committee."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 11 December 1990; c. 40.] I expressed my doubts and warned him that he might live to regret it. We then suffered many weeks of discussions on the Bill.

Mr. Eggar

The hon. Gentleman enjoyed it.

Mr. Taylor

I enjoyed it, but I am not sure that all of us enjoyed all of the Committee's proceedings. Now that the Government have withdrawn the Bill, I suspect that many of us feel that we might have found better things to do than engaging in wasted work. Moreover, I wonder what our proceedings on the Bill cost.

Despite my criticism of the Labour party's response to the proposal and of Opposition Members' cloudy approach today, and despite my support for the broad principle of a review body, I must express considerable support for the reasoned amendment, principally because of the appalling way in which Ministers have treated the House. There can be no excuse whatever for Ministers, who knew that they were engaged in a process that could lead to the tearing up of the original Bill and the presentation of another Bill, not to have informed politicians and the general public of what was going on so that they could contribute to the process and so that time and money were not wasted.

We should compare the secrecy that prevailed until the final announcement was made with the professions of consultations that preceded the original Bill. We were told that the reason why, for five years, teachers had gone without satisfactory pay machinery, was that consultation needed to be undertaken and plans laid, and that everyone needed to be involved in making the decision. The Government finally came up with the original Bill and, even as we were debating it, they were writing without any consultation a completely different Bill—the Bill that we are debating today.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the principle of the Bill, there is no doubt whatever in my mind that the way in which the matter was handled was entirely wrong. Worst of all, once the Bill left Committee, we had a long delay, with no explanation, and Ministers were engaged in clear deceit, claiming that the only reason for the delay was the lack of parliamentary time. At one stage, when I asked the Secretary of State what was going on, he ducked into the toilet in the Lobby. Having discussed the matter with the hon. Member for Blackburn, I understand that he had exactly the same experience.

Perhaps the Secretary of State has a weak bladder, in which case I am sure we all sympathise, but it seems extraordinary that, in each case, his complaint should have been brought on by inquiries about what was happening to the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill. We were deliberately misled. There are not many ways in which we can express our concern in this place and, in my view, that is good enough reason to support the reasoned amendment—to express our dissatisfaction with the way in which the decisions have been taken.

Let me raise a few specific points about the Bill. Are Ministers considering extending benefits to teachers in other sectors of education—for example, university teachers—who suffer from low pay and poor morale? In particular, what thought has been given to teachers in sixth form colleges and colleges of tertiary education, who have been opted out of the marvellous review system that the Government are establishing, with no real explanation of what is to take its place in their case? They are in an invidious position.

That is especially true of some teachers in my constituency, who work in a sixth form attached to a school in respect of which a move to tertiary status was approved the day before the Secretary of State made the announcement. They are hardly likely to be pleased with the circumstances into which they have been cast. I suspect that Ministers have not thought the matter through. In any case, those teachers' position is wholly invidious.

I hope that it will be possible to make quick progress and that the matter can be resolved without the need to extend the operation of the interim advisory committee for another year. I know that Ministers want to make progress, but that may not be easy given the present time scale. I should appreciate it if Ministers would spell out the timetable that they envisage end, in particular, when they expect the review body to start its work. Will it be early this autumn or not until next year? At what stage can we expect the review body and Ministers to lay down a timetable within which they expect to work? A measure of consultation earlier in the process would undoubtedly have helped the Government to get the legislation through and, given the way in which they have proceeded, Ministers have only themselves to blame if they experience difficulties.

My concern for speed arises not simply from a desire to try to help the Government to fulfil promises that they have already missed by a couple of years. It seems to me that if the present Bill is a turning point it is because of the benefits that will flow from the establishment of a review body, and no one will want those benefits to be unnecessarily delayed. The sooner teachers get the professional status, financial backing and moral support they deserve, the better it will be for children in schools.

Mr. Steinberg

Will the hon. Gentleman explain what he sees as the difference between a pay review body and the interim advisory committee?

Mr. Taylor

It is not my intention to go into a rather long peroration. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be on the Standing Committee. At that stage, the matter that he raises can be debated in detail.

Mr. Steinberg

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Taylor

There are several points that I want to raise, and I do not want to delay the debate unnecessarily. Let us hope that we shall get some answers.

Teachers need to be convinced that the Government recognise the problems they face in their day-to-day work—rundown buildings, insufficient equipment, large classes, mounting bureaucracy, the rapid introduction of the national curriculum and assessment. The list is endless. It is a debate that we have rehearsed. I hope that the introduction of a review body will go some way towards solving the problems, but by no stretch of the imagination should we see it as a final solution.

In view of the status and the pay machinery that the Government want to introduce for teachers, they ought to consider again the creation of a general teaching council. This would be an appropriate time to introduce just that. Such a body would link very well into the review system. There is no doubt that a general teaching council would have things to say. I hope that, in the current climate, Ministers will feel more able to consider taking such a course.

We need clarification, too, of what is meant by the Secretary of State's assertion that the proposals are made on the basis that teachers will not take industrial action. Clearly, there is room for one trade union, or for individuals in the profession, to take ad hoc action that is not supported by the vast majority. While a state of chaos is hardly likely to encourage the good operation of the review body, I hope that the Minister will confirm that the Government are no more inclined than is the Labour party to be swayed off course by the individual actions of a handful of teachers, or even of one trade union, particularly in the early days, when there may be inter-union and other political reasons for trying to rock the boat with a view to preventing this proposal from working.

Should such a situation arise, I would regret it most deeply, but I see the potential. It is important that Ministers should say that they would not allow it to distract them from the process on which they are now embarked.

There remains the further important issue of how much direction will be given to what must be a fully independent body and must be seen as such. The Bill as it stands gives the Secretary of State strong powers of direction that other review bodies do not have. This point has been referred to by several hon. Members. I listened carefully to the comments of the Secretary of State, and was glad to hear him make it clear that he does not intend to use those powers. In the nature of events, of course, he may not be in office very long, and whoever succeeds him may have different views.

It is not apparent to me why stronger powers than the Secretary of State says he wants should have been written into the Bill. I therefore hope that, in Committee, Ministers will look carefully at the amendments that will no doubt be tabled. I myself shall seek to introduce amendments to bring the provisions into line with the powers that the Secretary of State says he wants, as distinct from those that, currently, he seems intent on giving himself.

The rush with which this Bill has been introduced disguises another major change that the Government have undertaken to make. I refer to the removal of the power of the local education authorities to opt out of the national settlement. That is a very important and constructive move, which will facilitate the work of the review body. In this regard, Ministers ought to have the humility to confess that they have accepted the arguments, put forward by myself and by Labour Members, stressing that opting out would not be an appropriate course, particularly at the time of the introduction of a whole new structure. Indeed, the two things are contradictory. This time, Ministers avoided the contradiction, and that is to be welcomed.

But there is still the question of the opting out of grant-maintained schools. In this regard, the point that I put to the Secretary of State was not fully answered. The point to which I refer is that, given that the Secretary of State believes that there are real reasons why grant-maintained schools should not wish to opt out of the review body settlements, and that there are serious and genuine concerns about what would happen were they to do so—within a school and, indeed, bearing in mind the knock-on effect outside—it is extraordinary that this Bill requires the Secretary of State automatically to accept a proposal by the governing body of a grant-maintained school, even if the Minister has serious doubts about the way in which it is drawn up, about whether it has been properly considered, and about all its ramifications.

It is most important, at this stage, that Ministers have a reserve power to use their discretion. If the Secretary of State wants to accept a proposal, he may do so, but why should he not be provided with this power? It is not often that I argue that a Secretary of State ought to have more power than he has given himself, but in this case the protection of teachers and, more important, of pupils and future pupils is a most important consideration.

What is most important of all is that this legislation, after amendment, should provide a review body containing the basis of a teacher pay machinery that is permanent and acceptable, commands widespread support—we may yet get there with the Labour party—and has the confidence of the overwhelming majority of teachers. That will call for the greatest open-mindedness and the widest consultation. In that respect, the Government's record could not be worse. However, the future could be very good indeed if Ministers were prepared to open their minds to suggestions. Perhaps the best thing that could emerge from this debate is a statement of the willingness of Ministers to go into Committee with something that is absent from Minister in most Committees—open minds and a willingness to accept changes such as have been suggested today.

6.47 pm
Mrs. Maureen Hicks (Wolverhampton, North-East)

Essential to any modern debate on education reform must surely be the quality of our teachers and the remuneration of the profession, yet it seems to have taken a very long time to get to the stage we have now reached. The responsibility for that delay is, in large part, a result of the fact that are six different teaching unions representing one profession, and of the inability of those unions, particularly in the mid-1980s, to achieve any consensus on negotiated pay settlements. The result was a strike-ridden profession with warring factions which has damaged not only pupils but also the profession. Many teachers have had difficulty recovering from this damage.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) seemed almost to advocate such a lack of consensus—a return to the problems that we saw in the mid-1980s. That would be a retrograde step. If the unions have not been able to agree between themselves, it is hardly surprising that the Government have been faced with a dilemma in deciding how best to approach the settlement of teachers' pay and conditions, and to restore teachers to their rightful place in the community, where the majority will command the respect that they deserve. That is undoubtedly the aim of this Bill. It is not before time, and I welcome it.

Three key factors are vital if our education standards are to be improved. We have heard a lot lately about education. One of the key factors must be an improvement in teachers' morale and an emphasis on professionalism. Secondly, there must be recognition of the benefits of traditional teaching methods, not least in respect of reading, writing and arithmetic. We ought to be able to take these essential foundations for granted. Alas, reports still show that we cannot assume that all teachers are providing them.

The third ingredient is the regular assessment of pupils throughout their school life. Our children are the country's future, and we entrust their future to the capable hands of well-qualified teachers. What is Britain's future in a fiercely competitive Europe if we fail to guarantee all our pupils the best teachers and the best state education?

Over the past 10 years, the Government have examined teaching methods and the assessment of pupils, despite continuous Labour opposition and opposition from some teachers. We Conservatives understand what teachers want and what parents want. We have been determined to act in the best interests of parents and their children. We have not considered sufficiently, and nor have previous Governments, how best to recognise the essential role that is played by teachers in achieving the aims that we have set for them. I agree that in the past few years these aims have been various but vital to our reforms, and have invariably necessitated change.

For too long, declining standards in our schools were ignored, and the rot was allowed to set in. I am sure that we all recognise that a mammoth force was required to bring about change. We could not allow a vociferous minority of militant teachers to try to undermine proposals and to stand in the way of the better future of our pupils that the Government are determined to implement.

Only this Easter, the National Union of Teachers again raised its ugly head and threatened to ensure that our children would not have the assessments that they require, but the falling membership of the NUT—from 259,000 in 1984 to 213,000 in 1989—speaks volumes on behalf of the disenchanted professionals who, I believe, share our sentiments. They have not wished to be shown in the bad light of the NUT. We have heard the NUT's verdicts on the pay review body— We are totally opposed. It is quite terrifying. I find it terrifying that it sees the pay review body as terrifying. I am worried that its members are in charge of our children.

The verdicts of the NUT must be compared with those of the Professional Association of Teachers. The association stated: Burying pay bargaining for teachers"— I hope that the hon. Member for Hillsborough will listen to this carefully— is the best news since slavery was abolished in this country. Annual pay bargaining has never done anything for the professional image of teachers. Teachers want to be treated as professionals. That is now going to happen. Allied to the debate on teachers' pay and the review body must be the debate on appraisal. We must be guaranteed that teachers deserve the review body and in fairness to our competent and dedicated teachers—I have thousands of them in my constituency—I would have introduced teacher assessment long before pupil assessment. It is essential that we identify teachers who need more assistance. If we fail to do so, pupils will suffer unnecessarily.

At last a Government have recognised the need for a review body and the compulsory appraisal of all teachers. To have left the decision in the hands of local authorities—some of them are in favour of appraisal, and some are not—would have been folly. Despite teacher shortages in some subjects, we should be mindful that we must recruit and retain the best teachers. We must not hang on to teachers merely for the sake of keeping up numbers. My experience in many aspects of education has taught me all too often that the teachers who have so much about them are the very ones who are motivated to get out of the profession and to stay out. We must retain the competent teachers, and we must recognise the merits of advising the incompetent. We do no favours by turning a blind eye to someone who is not cut out for teaching.

If we are to examine the payment of teachers and their terms and conditions, parents will want to be reassured that we shall continue to scrutinise teacher training methods in our colleges to ensure that the "progressives" no longer teach our teachers, who then teach our children, in a rather "progessive" way that does not lead to the best results, as we have seen.

We must be assured that those who want to become teachers have their aptitude for teaching closely and carefully assessed. The question that is still being asked is whether it is too easy to become a teacher. Only in the ways that I have outlined can we raise the status of the profession, and that is the aim of the review body.

The true professionals will surely recognise and welcome the new pay review body, which will not work within any predetermined financial constraints. In addition to pay settlements, it will consider terms and conditions of service. Such a body will recognise for the first time, I believe, the status of teachers. Those of us who visit schools regularly know how demoralised teachers have felt. The Government have kept to their word, and have said that they will give recognition to the value that they place in them.

It is almost unbelievable that the Opposition do not wish to put teachers on a par with other professionals. Surely teachers will be staggered when they learn that the Opposition think that they, teachers, should not be given equal treatment with dentists, doctors, nurses, architects and judges, for example, who all have their own pay review body. What is wrong with teachers? Do they not deserve the same treatment? The Government's proposals will take teachers back to where they belong.

How often have we heard Labour Members criticising us for reducing the morale of teachers? When we are given the opportunity to improve teachers' morale, the Opposition choose to oppose the introduction and implementation of a pay review body. I should like to see a return to the days when teachers were seen as pillars of the community, people who should be applauded and respected. I look forward to the time when a parent can be proud to say that his child will become a teacher. Nowadays, we hear people reject that ambition, and that is a sad reflection of the state that we have reached.

Five out of six teaching unions have recognised the opportunity offered them by the Government. The Bill paves the way by recognising that motivated and good classroom teachers should be rewarded. Seven out of every 10 secondary teachers and half of all primary teachers receive an incentive allowance of some sort. With our reforms of local management of schools and grant-maintained status, we are introducing much greater flexibility. Last week, for example, we heard of a comprehensive school in Bromley that wants to reward its good teachers. In other words, it wishes to ensure that its teachers maintain a standard, which will ensure a certain level of motivation and dedication. Provided that each teacher comes up to standard, I hope that he or she will receive £1,000 in performance-related pay on top of his or her incentive allowances and basic salary.

What is wrong with that? For too long we have worked within too narrow a framework. I am pleased that the Government are opening so many opportunities, but progress could be increased by an examination of inner-city areas. We used to encourage teachers into areas where they would work under a great deal of stress, and it is sad that the educational priority allowances are no longer paid. I recognise that teachers working in socially deprived areas are often some of our best teachers. If they worked in a school two or three miles away in the greener suburbs, they would receive the same salary as they are receiving in the deprived area. The pay review body should consider whether we should give greater rewards to teachers working in socially deprived areas.

I had hoped tonight to hear what the Labour party intends to do. The Labour party has told us on many occasions that it will place education high on its agenda. I despair of the Labour party, because it has opposed every reform to improve standards and to give parents greater choice and it now opposes a pay review body for teachers. I pray to God that the Labour Government never get their hands on my children. If there were a Labour Government, people would be remortgaging their homes to ensure that they could take their children out of state schools and get them into independent schools. That is a frightening prospect.

The Labour party has said much about the right to strike. What about the right to professionalism? In their opposition to this Bill, the Opposition are out of date and out of touch with the aspirations and desires of the majority of our teachers. The Opposition also talk about spending. We are all aware of the Labour Government's record on spending. Under Labour, teachers' pay rose by a measly 6 per cent. We have increased teachers' pay by 30 per cent. although I hope that the pay review body will recognise that there is room for improvement.

Teachers know that under a Labour Government they would not have the opportunity of a pay review body and would not receive more money or improved conditions. The Labour party has learnt nothing. I am delighted to say that we are now topping off our reforms with one of the most vital ingredients to restore the status of teachers. I shall be proud to support the Bill in the Lobby tonight. Opposition Members will trail across the Floor of the House towards the No Lobby.

Because I believe in our teaching profession, I shall vote for the pay review body, and I believe that the majority of teachers will recognise the Government's good sense.

7.2 pm

Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham)

The speech by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks) just about sums up the Tory party and its attitude to education and why the teaching profession is so depressed and has such low morale today.

The Bill is more about the level of local taxes and in particular the poll tax over the next few years, and the review of local government structure, than it is about teachers' pay and conditions. The Government, and in particular the present Secretary of State for Education and Science, frankly do not give a damn about state education, the teachers or their pay and conditions. I wonder whether the Secretary of State cares about state education at all.

I prepared my speech last night. However, I was amazed when I read an account of the recent statement made by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to a women's magazine, reported in this morning's Northern Echo. Now I know that he does not give a damn about education.

The Bill is simple in comparison to the first Bill that was rushed through Committee earlier this year. It was rushed through because we were told that the Government were keen to introduce machinery to give negotiating rights back to teachers. Like the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor), I believe that the Government have handled teachers' pay and conditions in a shoddy way. They have deceived Parliament.

Education, like everything else, is in a mess. The profession is demoralised. It is working its fingers to the bone, but it is being kicked in the teeth by the Government. I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) and I agree that the Government are doing a grave disservice to education. The Government are trying to destroy comprehensive education and the state system.

I want to quote the editorial of the Northern Echo—which is not often supportive of the Labour Party—because I believe that it sums up education under the Tories, particularly under the present Secretary of State for Education and Science. It states: Mr. Clarke has managed to whip up one controversy after another over Britain's schools. First it was the `date-capping' of history, a nonsensical move to stop the teaching of anything which has happened during a child's own lifetime. Recently he dropped the rules introduced by Kenneth Baker in 1988 which prevented opted-out schools becoming grammar schools within five years. Now they can become selective as soon as they want. His theory is that it gives parents a choice of what school they want for their children. In practice, it will doubtless allow the governors a choice of whose children they don't want in their schools. Now Mr. Clarke has launched an attack on those Members of Parliament who send their children to state schools to further their own careers—in other words, he reckons that the state system cannot hold a candle to the independent sector and his opponents should realise it. Mr. Clarke thus reveals deep hostility to the notion of a universal and free education system of which he is the custodian. He says that he has never met anyone who would not have sent their child to an independent school if they could afford it. Such comments show the extent to which the head of our state school system is out of touch with the state. It is true that many parents are considering giving their children a private education—and more in the North are doing so. But this has as much to do with their growing concern about the quality of state education as their alleged confidence in the private sector. And that concern is hardly surprising when the minister responsible for our schools writes them off as second rate. That just about sums up the Secretary of State's attitude to education.

Mr. John Marshall

The hon. Member is developing a thesis in which he claims that Conservative Members do not use the state education system, and that is of course nonsense. I for one use it. Does he accept that Conservative local education authorities such as Harrow and Barnet produce decent results, while Labour authorities such as the late and unlamented Inner London education authority produce pretty awful results?

Mr. Steinberg

I can speak only for my local education authority and the authorities about which I am aware. I am proud to send my kids to a state school. I do not need the independent sector. A headline in the press this morning read "Labour Children are Sacrificed." My kids have never been sacrificed. My daughter went to Belmont school, the local comprehensive. She then went to Framwellgate Moor, which is a good school in Durham. where she took her O and A-levels. She is now studying law at Nottingham. That is not failure, and my daughter was not sacrificed for the sake of the independent sector.

I have no qualms about sending my children to the state system, but I wonder how many Government Front-Bench Members have qualms about sending theirs to the state system.

Because the Government are putting the dogma of the marketplace into education, schools are being forced to compete with one another for students. They are getting less and less money—unless, of course, they opt out of local education control or they are city technology colleges. The private sector has been expanded both openly through the assisted places scheme and deviously with schools being encouraged to be selective by back-door methods.

The whole country is worried about our education system, which has become a major political issue, and naturally and rightly so. Without a well-educated population, we cannot compete with our European counterparts. While our European partners and rivals invest in education and training, what do our Government do? They test seven-year-olds. It is vital that more resources are devoted to education in our schools. Higher standards can be achieved only by having high-quality teachers. What do we have? We have schools that are falling down, severe teacher shortages with few high-quality people entering the profession, and many good teachers leaving the profession.

Many teachers are demoralised by the poor esteem in which they are held. Many work under great pressure in under-resourced schools. Their professional competence is questioned time and again by the Government and by members of the Conservative party. The work load of teachers has increased dramatically with the introduction of the national curriculum and standard assessment tasks. The lack of time and resources only adds to the pressure on teachers. Teachers feel absolutely overwhelmed.

Very recently, I received a letter from Mrs. Warburton, the head teacher of an infant school in Durham, Belmont County infants school. She said: When I was appointed as Head Teacher of this school in 1989 I was given to understand that LMS would not concern schools of this size until after 1994. 'Good'—I thought—`Time to implement the National Curriculum, get used to Assessment, then when all this is up and running I'll have time to devote to managing a budget.' Alas, it was not to be. The work load is almost unmanageable. One feels that one cannot do one job properly because there are so many other urgent demands. The most unfortunate effect I feel is that I am losing touch with what is happening in the classrooms—I have so very little time to spend there—I know it is not my job to teach as such, yet how can I make decisions and advise the staff if I do not have contact with the children? … We are more than happy to accept extra relevant work which will enable our pupils to realise their full potential. But is spending my time in an office with mountains of paperwork and insufficient clerical staff hours relevant to the education of these pupils? I'm afraid I feel that some sort of it is not, and that my training is being wasted. She said that in the past couple of weeks she and her staff have felt depressed. They wonder what is the point. They cannot see the credit for the good job that they are doing. That is typical of virtually every teacher in the country today. Every teacher feels overworked, underpaid and depressed because of the Government.

To add to all that, most telling is the way in which teachers' pay has fallen in relation to average earnings. The Government claim that teachers' pay has risen dramatically. The earnings of other occupations with which teaching must compete have risen far faster. The Government point to the period since the abolition of teachers' negotiating rights and the introduction of the interim advisory committee in 1987. According to evidence that was given by the Department of Education and Science to the Select Committee, teachers' salaries were 116 per cent. of average non-manual earnings. The first phase of implementation of the 1990 pay award saw it fall to 104 per cent. By the end of the second stage of the award, it had fallen to 97 per cent.

To reinstate the position that teachers had in 1987 would have required an additional 13.8 per cent. To bring it back to the levels that were laid down by Houghton in 1974 would have needed an extra 40 per cent. However, in 1991, what do teachers actually receive? The IAC recommended a pay increase of 8.4 to 10.1 per cent. for the teaching profession and that teachers should receive 9 per cent. from 1 April 1991. The Secretary of State said that he accepted that in full. As we all know, that is a con because he has implemented the rise from 1 April at 7.5 per cent. and a further 1.5 per cent. from 1 December. In other words, not only have teachers not caught up to the 1987 or 1974 levels but they are now £1.50 a week worse off for every £100 that they earn until 1 December. That is a further erosion of their salaries and the result of a pay settlement that has been imposed on teachers.

Mr. John Marshall

I suspect that the hon. Gentleman has lost not only me but all hon. Members in his comments about absolutes and relativities. However, does he accept that teachers' pay has gone up substantially in real terms? If he says that other professions have done even better, does not that underline the fact that all real incomes in this country have risen substantially since 1979?

Mr. Steinberg

I ask the hon. Gentleman to ask many people in the teaching profession, and in many other professions for that matter, whether their wages have increased in real terms since 1987 or 1979. We have only to ask them how much more they pay for their mortgages in 1991 than they paid in 1979. Teachers and members of other professions in the public sector have dropped further and further behind, with teachers being in a worse position than the majority of other workers.

We cannot recruit and retain teachers, either now or in future, when their salaries are so uncompetitive. In that context, great importance attaches to the way in which teachers' remuneration and conditions of service will be determined in future. The original School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill was bad, and I said so on many occasions on Second Reading and in Committee. However, at least it provided teachers with the opportunity to negotiate with their employers. This Bill takes that right from them.

The No. 2 Bill is appalling. It introduces a pay review body which by definition denies the right to free collective bargaining between employers and employees. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and I have said, the International Labour Organisation has twice upheld complaints from the National Union of Teachers that the Government's withdrawal of teachers' negotiating rights breached its convention on free collective bargaining to which the British Government are a signatory.

Despite the ILO's call for the Government to make arrangements for teachers' pay to be determined by collective bargaining, the Government have refused to comply with that international ruling. The Bill makes it absolutely clear that the Government have no intention of restoring schoolteachers' negotiating rights. To address the current problems of recruitment, retention and the work load of the teacher, it is vital for direct negotiations to take place between employers and teachers.

Employers have experience and understanding of the implications of changes to teachers' pay and conditions that would be lacking in a Government-appointed body. I completely reject the principle of a review body at the expense of negotiating rights. There cannot be any confidence in pay review bodies when the findings of similar bodies for nurses, doctors, dentists, paramedical staff, the armed forces, senior civil servants and members of the judiciary have been modified in seven out of the past eight years. The only time the Government made no variations in the recommendations or findings of the review bodies was in 1987—and we all know what happened in 1987.

Under the Bill, the Prime Minister is to appoint the review body and its chairman. How can that be seen as independent? To make matters worse, the Secretary of State for Education and Science then directs the review body and determines what can be referred to it, giving the teachers and their employers no opportunity to raise matters of national importance or significance to the profession. How can that be independent? Having set up the body, the Secretary of State reserves the right to ignore its recommendations and then, independently, autocratically and autonomously, makes other provision "as he thinks fit".

To make matters worse, and just in case all that has not castrated the review body sufficiently, in consultation with the chairman—remember, he has been appointed by the Prime Minister—the Secretary of State can bypass the procedure completely; and all that after the Secretary of State told the Select Committee on Education and Science a few weeks ago that he did not meddle in the running of schools. He has now given himself the power to intervene in any school on staffing matters, payments for teachers or changes in teachers' conditions of service.

Clause 3 builds in what I suspect is the real purpose of the Bill—the encouragement of school-by-school arrangements. With continual Government pressure for schools to opt out, I suspect that it is intended that the review body shall be an interim body, with local education authorities eventually disappearing from sight.

Thus I find the Bill dishonest—the hidden agenda remains totally hidden. The Bill is about the control of education. It is about giving the opportunity for central control of strategic policy, coupled with a denial of the right of proper negotiation at any level on pay and conditions. Despite what Conservative Members have said, that can lead only to continued frustration for the teaching profession, causing greater recruitment and retention problems in the long run.

Where are the real changes in the proposals from what happens now with the present interim advisory committee? Frankly, as I read the Bill, there are no changes at all. Everything will be exactly the same, but given a different name. Yet again, the Government have broken their promises.

The consultations of the past three years on the restoration of negotiating rights have meant absolutely nothing. As I said earlier in an intervention, only a few months ago Ministers were arguing for the restoration of negotiating rights—albeit that it was flawed—but now, presumably next week when the Bill is in Committee, Ministers will argue against the restoration of negotiating rights. They do not know where they are.

Like the entire Government and the majority of Conservative Members, Ministers are absolutely shell-shocked. We have had Bill No. 1 on this and Bill No. 2 on that. We have had so many U-turns over the past 12 months that this place looks more like Brands Hatch or Silverstone than the place from which the Government run the country. The truth is that this Government are no longer fit to govern. They continually get things wrong. They do one thing, but shortly afterwards have to change it because of the mess that they made.

Whatever the Secretary of State may say, this is a time of severe teacher shortages. Recruitment and retention are crucial and the profession's morale is at an all-time low. How many of us have visited schools in our constituencies only to hear teachers say, "Thank God I have reached the age when I can apply for early retirement"? Only last week, a group of sixth formers came down to visit me from a school in Durham. The teacher with them said that he had now reached the age of 50 and, thank God, was leaving the profession. He said that he was sick to death of it and glad to get out. He knew that there was about to be a review body because I reminded him of it, but it did not seem to make him want to change his opinion.

The Bill serves to undermine education still further. The proposed legislation is totally unacceptable. We live in a society that subscribes to the principle of free collective bargaining between employer and employee, where a worker has the right to withdraw his labour and to take industrial action. The Secretary of State implied that the pay review body would be dependent on a no-strike agreement. If I were still a teacher, I would never have given that guarantee. I would not forfeit my democratic rights, and I believe that many teachers will agree with my sentiment. I totally reject the proposal for a pay review body at the expense of free collective bargaining and the restoration of teachers's negotiating rights.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South-West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to detain you, but we have just heard a rather long speech. Do you agree that there may be a case for imposing the 10-minute rule between now and 9 o'clock to allow more of us to speak? [Interruption.] The Opposition have had their say.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I am getting slightly anxious about the length of speeches and the number of hon. Members who still wish to speak. I hope that those who are fortunate enough to be called will bear that in mind.

7.25 pm
Mr. Alan Amos (Hexham)

I shall endeavour to avoid causing you any anxiety, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The Bill is very good for the teaching profession and therefore for education. It is eminently reasonable and fair, and it is sad but significant to see the Opposition thrashing about rather unconvincingly to try to find reasons to oppose it. What do the Opposition put first—the right of one union to undertake industrial actions, or the educational future of our youngsters?

With the many other hon. Members who have welcomed the Government's proposals in the Bill, I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State on the flexibility, insight and common sense that he has shown in responding to a changed situation, and having the guts to put into effect a measure that deserves to be welcomed by everybody who genuinely has the best interests of both teachers and school children at heart.

Let there be no doubt—this is a watershed in our educational system. The main thrust of the new proposals is to bestow a level of professionalism and status on teachers that they totally deserve. What could be more laudable than to raise the professional status of the teaching force by determining their pay and conditions via an independent review body—I stress the word "independent"—reporting direct to the Prime Minister, in exactly the same way as we handle doctors, dentists, nurses, the armed forces, senior civil servants, and judges?

The review body will be comprehensive in its scope and impartial in its decisions. Its main task will be to establish a system that will recruit and retain good teachers and thereby build upon the already much improved career structure introduced by the Government in recent years. There will be no cash limit or predetermined financial constraint upon the deliberations of the review body, but the Secretary of State must, of course, lay down certain guidelines and other considerations in the national interest. All interested bodies, including the employers, will be consulted and evidence taken from a very wide range of organisations. There will not even have to be a 'no strike agreement'.

I do not believe that any reasonable group of people could seriously argue that these conditions are in any way onerous or unfair, or against their interests. The fact is that the other review bodies work very well and the staff involved have never expressed any desire to get rid of them. All the groups covered in this way are professions and I maintain that strike action is inherently incompatible with the status of professionals. Strikes and other forms of action are the proper and legitimate tools of industrial unions, not of groups such as teachers. We want teachers to be professionals, and we intend to treat them as such.

The other reason why all teachers should welcome the establishment of an independent review body is that review body recommendations are usually implemented in full, although occasionally phased in over a short transitional period. Under clause 2, the Secretary of State will also have a fair amount of flexibility in the way in which he can give effect to the body's recommendations.

In addition, I commend clause 5(3), which will sensibly avoid any misunderstanding about what are, and what are not, extra-curricular responsibilities. In any case, the Bill makes it clear that negotiations between local education authorities and teachers can still take place on non-statutory conditions of employment.

A review body will raise the importance of any settlement on pay and conditions to a higher level than any amount of collective bargaining could. In taking evidence from all interested bodies, a full hearing and full consideration will be given to the complete spectrum of teaching concerns. The days when not only the country but the future of our children was held to ransom by the whims and prejudices of the more militant teaching unions is at an end. It has been claimed that the right to strike has been removed from the teaching profession, and the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) referred to the … removal of the right to strike which the statement implies. The facts do not bear that out. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman would realise if he were in his seat, there is no intention to write a no strike clause into the Bill. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State said earlier that that was the case, and when he responded to the hon. Member for Blackburn on 17 April he said of the right to strike: We are not going to take away that right by law."—[Official Report, 17 April 1991; Vol. 189, c. 435–36.] So let us squash that bogus argument once and for all.

In any case, why can Opposition Members not accept that, in treating teachers as a profession, it is fair to expect them to reciprocate? By insisting on an absolute right to take industrial action, they are refusing to accept that sensible and professional decisions can be reached by an independent body. The Opposition must accept that teachers can make intelligent decisions that do not rely on the fear and destructive nature of industrial action. Let there be no doubt that the only people who suffer from industrial action are the children who are too often left to cope with public exams and decisions on their future without the help and backing from the striking teachers who are more concerned with obtaining a few more pounds in their pay packets than helping the children in their care. I am proud to say that, when I was a teacher in a state comprehensive, I refused to take any form of industrial action.

Indeed, the unions and most teachers have had a pay review body for a long time. Pay review is supported by five out of the six recognised teacher bodies. The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers has warmly welcomed the proposals and has given them strong support, as has the Secondary Heads Association, the Professional Association of Teachers and the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association. In a letter sent to a number of my colleagues today, AMMA says that it welcomes the recognition of school teachers' professional commitment now offered by Ministers". It also says that AMMA greatly welcome the basis upon which the Secretary of State has brought forward this new proposal. Only NUT officials seem to be opposed to the plans. Why can the Opposition not accept that these proposals are what the teachers themselves want, and that Labour can no longer impose strike action, through its union friends, on teachers who do not want it? Those days are over. Why do the Opposition insist on refusing to listen to what teachers want, and what is in their best interests?

It is significant that the teacher organisations that support a review body are all associations: NAS, SHA, PAT and AM MA. It is opposed only by the National Union of Teachers, which shows a difference of emphasis and outlook by the unions.

The Opposition are obsessed with collective bargaining and with industrial action. They want to impose the negotiating rights of an industrial trade union onto a professional body. The teaching profession will gain much more from an independent review body than any number of negotiating rights. In the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill, the Government have shown the desire to reconsider new proposals. It would have been easier for the Government to have pressed ahead with the original Bill. There is no reason to stick to the original proposals when the opportunity for a better one comes along, and especially one that the teachers themselves want. Most important of all, the work of the existing review bodies has ensured that the other professions have kept up in real terms. That is an essential fact.

When one looks at the Government's proud record on education during the past 12 years, one can clearly see that, in any case, there is absolutely no need for industrial action and strikes. Between 1979 and 1990, the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools improved from 23.1 to 22.0 and in secondary schools from 16.7 to 15.3. Government spending over the same period in real terms is up from £22.2 billion to £25.1 billion; spending per capita in nursery and primary schools, again in real terms, is up from £943 to £1,100, an increase of 15 per cent.; in secondary schools it is up from £1,327 to £1,690, a significant increase of 22 per cent.; and the number of school leavers with five or more GCSEs, or equivalents, is the highest ever at 31.9 per cent., and the figure for the percentage of 18-year-olds achieving one or more A-level passes, at 17.6 per cent. is also the highest yet.

What the independent pay review body offers is exactly what teachers want—a recognition of their status and a commensurate financial reward—a professional means of dealing with pay and conditions. As a teacher in a state comprehensive school for eight years, I know that to be the case. The nature of a teacher's job is of necessity undergoing a fundamental and long overdue change, both in what is taught and how it is taught: the national curriculum, local management, standardised testing, teacher appraisal and so on. All these place extra burdens and responsibilities on the teaching force. We are asking them to be more professional, better trained and more highly qualified, skilled and flexible. I am therefore pleased that we are now setting up the machinery by which we will recognise that fact. As a former chairman of an education committee, I remember only too well the regular, predictable prolonged chaos and uncertainty under the old free-for-all negotiating chaos of the Burnham committee. It was an absolute shambles. The interim advisory committee has done a lot of good work, but it was never a full or permanent solution to this matter.

Because local councils run education and spend the money, but central Government pay the bills, we have a structure in which accountability and responsibility are a mess. The review body will elevate teachers' pay and conditions on to a much simpler and more professional level, and that is why I fully support the Bill.

I pay tribute to the vast majority of the teachers in my constituency, whom I have met as I go round visiting the schools, who maintaian a good standard of discipline and produce good public examination results. They are dedicated, want to make a success of the reforms, want to get on with their jobs, and be treated as professionals. They want nothing to do with the trade union-minded militant minority of left-wing trouble makers and union officials who, by their behaviour and repeated industrial action year in and year out in recent years, have undermined the whole profession. That is something that the Government are now putting right.

7.31 pm
Mrs. Rosie Barnes (Greenwich)

I agree with the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) in his warm tribute to teachers, who have, in the main, remained loyal professionals and have continued the difficult task of educating our children through the many changes that they have undergone during a turbulent and difficult period. However, I take issue with him when he describes the Government's record in the past decade as "proud". Teaching has been turbulent and difficult, and it has not been recognised as a profession.

I welcome the change in emphasis towards teachers and the recognition of teaching as a profession. I welcome the implicit commitment to acknowledge their status and to improve their pay. In that spirit, I welcome the pay review body.

Earlier in the debate, hon. Members were vying with one another about their credentials, saying who had experienced state education and whose children were being educated in the state system. My credentials are impeccable. I was educated in the state system and my children are being educated in that system in London, where it has been undergoing an especially difficult time following the break up of the Inner London education authority. Education at both sixth-form secondary level and primary level—as I know from the experience of my three children—has survived only because of the dedication and professionalism of the many teachers who have stayed the course.

That is not to say that I have not observed periods of intense disruption as a result of the industrial action of three or four years ago. I think that some of the problems now experienced by sixth forms in London are a direct consequence. During their second, third and fourth years of secondary education, some children lost contact with their school and their teachers, and have never regained it.

Some parents, of course, have the commitment—and, perhaps, the money—to enable their children to retake their exams, and to stay the course by patching things up with extra French lessons and so forth. Not all of them have the commitment or the wherewithal to do so, however, and other children have paid the price of the appalling disruption that we saw a few years ago. That is why I am wholeheartedly committed to any action that removes teachers from the striking arena: such action can only be to the good.

Many teachers—including many of the better ones—have lost heart and left the profession in recent years. Although I have criticised the Government's education record, I can honestly say that I have seen as many teachers leave as a result of the excesses of the ILEA. I supported reform of the ILEA rather than its abolition, but I know that the task of teachers has been made near-impossible by the pressure imposed by wayward local education authorities in some areas, and by their unacceptable interventions in the form of "isms" from here, there and everywhere. We must devise a suitable pay mechanism, which will attract and retain teachers of the right calibre and ensure that they stay.

The SDP has long been committed to the establishment of a pay review body. As early as 1985, we advocated in a Green Paper that a system should be set up to determine public sector pay, which would be recognised as fair and which would keep public sector groups broadly in line with their private sector counterparts. Our main concern then, as now, was that the system should be independent, and that disagreements should be settled through arbitration. We hoped that that would be accompanied by a no industrial action agreement, into which the teachers would enter freely for recognition of their professional status.

That is the right approach, and it is long overdue. I must emphasise, however, that I believe that it would work much better in the context of a general teaching council, which has already been mentioned this evening. We need a self-regulatory body of teachers and for teachers, to monitor standards, approve training, adjudicate and raise professional standards.

Although I consider the attraction and retention of teachers of the right calibre a vital ingredient, and although I firmly believe that structural changes achieve nothing unless those teachers are in place, I also think that some of the structural changes in the pipeline will prove detrimental.

We did not support the Education Reform Act 1988, for two reasons. First, as I have said, we advocated the reform rather than the abolition of the ILEA. Secondly, for reasons closely connected with today's debate, we had grave reservations about grant-maintained schools—especially because we could not obtain a reassurance from the then Secretary of State that grant-maintained status would not be used as a way of returning to selectivity. The last thing I want is a return to the old secondary modern and grammar school system.

That is not to say, however, that I do not believe that mistakes were made in the comprehensive system. I do not want to stray too far from the subject of the debate, but let me throw an idea into the melting pot. I believe that the comprehensive schools failed because we made them much too large. We did that so that each school would generate a viable sixth form; the old grammar schools attracted less than a third of the pupils.

The comprehensives failed all round. They were too large to accommodate children aged 11, 12 and 13; the children lost contact with their teachers; headmasters did not know individual pupils; and they failed in their essential task of creating viable sixth forms. It is now all too common for London comprehensives, even the largest, to form consortia and seek sixth form college arrangements to try to make their sixth forms work. I think that it would have been much better for the comprehensive system if we had aimed for schools for 11 to 16-year-olds, along with tertiary colleges. Then the comprehensives would not have had to be so large.

Young people change. At 16, they are in many ways too old to want to be schoolchildren, while not being old enough to enter an adult college. A break from school at the age of 16 would allow them to enter an environment that would be halfway between school and college.

I know to my cost—and I have talked to many other parents who feel the same—that it is too much to ask 16 to 19-year-olds to be given too much responsibility. It is too much to expect them always to know where they should be, and to be there when no one else will know whether they are there or not. At that age, young people develop interests outside their studies, and, if they lose track of school or school loses track of them, they have not the motivation or the commitment to complete the A-level or further education studies.

Not only are too few pupils staying on because of the present system; many others are falling by the wayside. It would, I think, be a great pity if the testing that I have tentatively approved were used to reintroduce selectivity at the age of 11, but testing has a vital part to play. If a general teaching council were established, teachers would, as a body, accept the principles entailed in conducting those tests and using them sensibly.

Next week and the week after, I shall see seven-year-olds being tested at school, and shall be able to judge for myself. Judging by my preliminary conversations with teachers, however, I believe that their anxieties focus not on the nature of testing or on whether it is right, but on the fact that they are not receiving the support in their schools that would release them from their duty to teach the rest of the class. For several days—perhaps weeks—they will be dealing with small groups of children, putting them through the tests. Head teachers and supply teachers are having to be diverted.

What else can be done to improve the staying-on rate? That is an important part of the overall question. It is a travesty that we are now lower in the league tables than countries such as Korea and Thailand; there can be no justification for that. I urge the Government to reconsider the introduction of education maintenance allowances for 16 to 19-year-olds, many of whom are in no man's land, where financial support from their parents is uncertain. If the parent is on income support, that dries up for them and young people find it impossible to continue their education.

I welcome the pay review body. I should prefer an independent general teaching council. I should also prefer arbitration. However, we have taken a major step in the right direction.

7.49 pm
Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

I listened with great interest to the balanced speech of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mrs. Barnes). I was particularly interested in what she had to say about education for 16 to 19-year-olds. It is tempting to develop my ideas on that subject. I must admit that, for some time, I have been enthusiastic about a professional teachers' council that would be not too far removed from a general teaching council. That subject has been raised in all parts of the House at various times during the debate. The most important point to come out of the hon. Lady's speech is that she and her colleagues support the idea of a pay review body for teachers. It was perfectly clear from the speech of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) that he and his colleagues also support the idea.

The most extraordinary feature of the debate so far is the total confusion in the ranks of the Labour party. I am not at all clear what the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) meant. Later in the debate, perhaps it will be made clear. However, what is clear is that some Labour Opposition Members are totally opposed to these ideas. In their case, at least I understood their arguments; otherwise, confusion seems to reign.

The main reason for my participation in the debate is to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) said. He said that this is one of the most important developments in education for some time. Since I, together with many of my colleagues, have been arguing for a pay review body for teachers, I can only regard this as one of the pleasantest opportunities to speak in a debate that I can recall. This is a good step, and I support it 100 per cent.

It was extraordinary to hear some Labour Opposition Members—for example, the hon. Members for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) and for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery)—state at great length that they were not arguing for a return to the chaotic Burnham negotiations, but that is precisely what they were arguing for. There is no way in which they or their National Union of Teachers colleagues can pretend otherwise. They want Burnham back.

I taught for 23 years. Burnham was not popular with teachers. It did not deliver a good deal for them. It was also counter-productive. My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby developed that theme, and there is no need for me to develop it further. We do not want to go back to Burnham. That is why I regard the Bill as a major step forward, which I strongly support.

The hon. Member for Truro said that the first School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill was a waste of time. I served on the Standing Committee that considered the Bill, and I do not agree. I remember, together with a few of my colleagues, using the opportunity that the Bill afforded to develop the argument for an independent pay review body when the time was suitable. I must admit that at that time I did not realise that the suitable time would be quite so soon, but I do not complain about that.

What is even more important, in the context of the details of the Bill, is that, together with a number of my colleagues, I remember arguing that provision should be made for a consultation process within grant-maintained schools, if they should decide to dissociate themselves or separate themselves from the pay process. If I read it correctly, that provision is incorporated in clause 3.

What I hope will become clear when the Bill is debated in Committee is whether a measure of local pay bargaining will be allowed. I believe that there should be an independent pay review body, so I support the Bill. However, I see no reason why there should not be an element of local pay bargaining—for example. where special local conditions cause a shortage of teachers, or where there is a shortage of specialist teachers, or where there may be other good reasons for local pay bargaining. I hope that the Minister will say something about that when he winds up the debate.

Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

I am interested in the consistency of the hon. Gentleman's speech. Earlier, he said that national pay negotiations would lead to conflict, and he equated bargaining with industrial action. At local level, however, he does not equate bargaining with industrial action. What is the difference?

Mr. Thompson

Having heard the speeches of some of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues, I doubt whether I shall be able to persuade him that I believe that there is no correspondence between the chaotic Burnham system, so well described by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby who had experience of it before he became a Member of Parliament, and a measure of local pay bargaining at school level. The important point is that I believe that it is right to move towards a pay review body. The other one is icing on the cake. I hope that I shall hear later from the Minister that, by some means or another, local pay bargaining can be introduced.

There is wide support for a pay review body. Individual teachers support it. They have done so for years. Moreover, the majority of the teachers' unions are in favour of the proposal. There is also widespread support for it on both sides of the House. Like my hon. Friends, I believe that this is the best opportunity that teachers have had in my lifetime to be regarded as a truly professional body. I cannot emphasise that point too strongly.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) paid tribute to the many good teachers in his constituency. The majority of teachers are good professional people. They will no doubt welcome his encouragement for their professional status to be further enhanced. Those who do not act professionally will find that the measure helps to put that right, in that it will encourage them to be more professional.

I am delighted that the Bill also enables us to discuss strike action is schools. When I was a member of the teaching profession, many teachers never took industrial action and many who did took it reluctantly. They did not want to take industrial action, but they felt compelled to do so. It must be a good step forward if we can devise a system in which we move away from industrial action in our schools. That is why I so strongly support not just the Bill but the thinking behind it. It has come rather later than I should have liked, but now that it has finally arrived, I welcome it. Children should no longer have to experience strike action in their schools. It does them a disservice, and I support the Secretary of State's proposal.

I hope that one small point will be considered when teachers' pay is debated, either now or later. I support those who have already said that, in considering teachers' pay, we should deal in particular with the pay of experienced classroom teachers. I cannot emphasise too much that it does our schools no good if our system encourages good classroom teachers to believe that they must become head teachers, deputy head teachers, local government officers or HMIs if they are to earn more money. That point was emphasised during an intervention. I strongly support those hon. Members who feel that it should be made worth their while for good teachers to stay in the classroom. They should not have to regard it as natural to get out of the classroom to earn more money for their families.

There has been much talk in the debate about the morale and status of the teaching profession. I do not intend to say a great deal about that, apart from pointing out that other countries have a similar problem. We must not be misled into believing that this is a peculiarly British problem. It is one that we share with our continental neighbours and with the United States of America.

I hope that the Bill is part of a package of measures to address the problem of teachers' morale, status and professionalism, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will use this opportunity to examine teacher training. I recently spoke to one or two young people who have attended teacher training colleges, as a result of which some of them gave up the idea of teaching.

I have always thought that my view of teacher training was rather archaic. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but I still believe that trendy ideas are too much to the fore, that there is political indoctrination in teacher training colleges and that many of the lecturers have an inadequate knowledge of the subject that they are supposed to be teaching. When one hears what goes on in many of our teacher training colleges, it is a shocking indictment. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will take some action.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Does what the hon. Gentleman has just said represent simply his own feelings on the matter, or has he real evidence for his allegations? All the colleges running B.Ed. and postgraduate courses have been approved by the Department of Education and Science. If what the hon. Gentleman says is true, it is a serious matter, and specific colleges should be investigated.

Mr. Thompson

If the hon. Gentleman had listened carefully, he would recall that I was wondering whether it was my own prejudice, although I had spoken to people who had been through the system and attended teacher training colleges over the years. I am not suggesting that all teacher training colleges are the same or that all lecturers are the same, but most people would agree that the overall picture is not good. Hon. Members' views may differ, but I am sure that they will agree that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who I am glad to see in his place, should take the earliest opportunity to examine what is going on in teacher training colleges.

As pay, curriculum reform and other matters that are central to the organisation of our education system are very much under the influence, if not the control, of my right hon. Friend, I suggest that, following the successful transfer to the centre of funding of polytechnics and further education colleges, we should look again at the role of local education authorities.

Since the recent debates on local government finance, the local education authorities expect changes and reform, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will not duck the challenge of that aspect of education. Labour local authorities have certainly failed in their administration of education. Labour Members have failed to explain their attitude to the Bill this evening, and recent statements show that the Labour party is still facing in the wrong direction on education.

The Bill is a breakthrough for those of us who want to enhance the quality, status and professionalism of teachers. I welcome it as a vital step towards a better education system, and I am delighted to give it 100 per cent. support.

8.3 pm

Mrs. Sylvia Heal (Mid-Staffordshire)

Nineteen eighty-eight was certainly a year for teachers to remember. It saw the introduction of the Education Reform Act and the demise of teachers' rights to collective bargaining and pay negotiations. Those two factors, and the decline in their relative pay and conditions of service, have had a considerable effect on teachers.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) referred to the disgraceful way in which Education Ministers treated the House in their handling of the previous Bill on teachers' pay. In endorsing his comments, I add that that was yet another example of the disgraceful way in which the Conservative Government and Education Ministers have treated the teaching profession.

Having spoken to teachers and head teachers in my constituency, I want to talk about the real views, concerns and conditions of those working in education. Low morale related to pay and conditions is a major talking point among the teaching profession. All teachers I met referred to the Education Reform Act and the many demands that it has placed upon class teachers, heads of department, deputies and head teachers. They have all said that the changes have been too many and too fast.

They have all been critical of the mountains of paperwork they receive and their lack of time to cope with the new demands. They complain about the lack of time to prepare and plan for all the extras in the national curriculum as well as the daily demands of teaching—perhaps a class of 32 lively youngsters. The range of subjects and the methods of teaching mean that there are many practical activities which require much more planning and preparation.

Time is also a problem for head teachers. The introduction of local management of schools means that much of the administrative work previously undertaken by the local education authorities now has to be carried out by head teachers. They have to make time available for attending additional meetings of governors and subcommittees. They have to make time to deal with finance, although most of them are not and do not want to be accountants and administrators. Those additional responsibilities mean a reduction in the time available for head teachers to maintain contact with pupils and staff. They receive no additional payment or extra help.

When Labour politicians talk about teachers' morale, they are accurately reflecting what they have been told by those in the front line—the teachers at the chalk face, those working in the classrooms. The teachers I have spoken to are all struggling to maintain morale, and they rely mainly on one another to boost that morale. They feel undervalued and under stress. I make no apology for repeating what has already been said in the debate.

A general practitioner neighbour of mine speaks of diagnosing "Baker depression" among teachers. Regardless of who is the present Secretary of State, the originator of many of the problems was his predecessor, the current Home Secretary. We must now avoid any further lowering of morale as teachers have less control over their conditions of service and more leave the profession as a result.

Those in the profession are keen to maintain and improve the quality of education. Ministers are keen on talking about that, but if it is to be achieved, we require teachers who are professionally trained, who have self-esteem and who feel that they are valued. Conditions of service and working conditions are extremely important. The Labour party has often referred to our crumbling schools, in which the majority of children are taught and the majority of teachers work. Teachers face difficult conditions in the classroom and in what is available to help them to cope with the many problems of children in our schools today. Teachers have to deal not just with practical teaching problems but with the emotional difficulties that children, and therefore teachers themselves, have to face.

State schools are staffed by high-quality teachers and, despite the difficulties under which they work, the results they achieve are good. Teachers in Mid-Staffordshire and throughout the country want proper recognition of their professional training and skills and of the responsibility that we place on them to provide the motivation and education that this country desperately needs for its children.

Teachers have seen their pay decline in recent years, and have had no increase in real terms since 1987. The many teachers who leave the profession show their dissatisfaction with their pay and conditions of service. Issues relating to conditions of service are complicated, but a pay review does not negotiate but merely allocates.

Since 1988, there have been many unresolved problems for the teaching profession such as supply teachers' pay, cover duties and increments. It is therefore understandable that those who accept the review body instead of having their negotiating rights returned do so with reservations. It is understandable, too, when one considers the term "independent review body", but reads in the Bill the intervention powers that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have on composition and on the directives that can be given. Those comments were admirably made by my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg).

The teachers and children of this country deserve a better deal from this Government. The teachers of this country deserve a fair deal—and they certainly have not had one from the Conservative Administration.

8.11 pm
Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South-West)

The hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mrs. Heal) mentioned school buildings. I agree that we need to make more rapid progress in improving them. I hope that the new council tax will lead to a more stable and fairer revenue support grant system that will stop pulling money from counties in the south, such as Bedfordshire, to those in the north without having regard, as the RSG has had, to the need for school buildings. Bedfordshire is somewhat behind, but I hope that the new system of council tax and of allocating resources will lead to the improvement for which Conservative Members and the hon. Lady have called.

I welcome the Bill, as an imaginative attempt to solve the issue of teachers' pay, after an extremely disturbed position in part of the past decade. I hope that the review body will remember that if, as I believe, we are heading for a decade of low inflation, there is no need to recommend a one-year deal for teachers' pay; it should be perfectly possible to recommend a two or three-year deal. Such deals are being made in parts of industry because they lead to greater stability and free management from time and negotiation. If the Government succeed in keeping inflation low, what works effectively for the private sector could easily work well for the public sector.

One of the review body's first tasks should be to consider how teachers' duties have been extended, what is expected of them and how the position has changed in the past 10 years. As has been said many times in the debate, there has been no lack of new initiatives since 1980, and there has been no education drift. There has been GCSE course work, the technical and vocational education initiative, the national curriculum, AS-levels and records of achievement, to name but a few. All those changes need time to show their importance, so we need time to measure thoroughly and accurately how successful they have been. A common thread has been the increase in non-teaching support to ensure that the initiatives succeed.

In deciding what to recommend on teachers' statutory conditions of employment, I hope that the review body will pay particular regard to the need carefully to consider how best to use teachers' time. We all want quality teaching, which includes lesson preparation, teaching, marking, examining and extra-curricular activities, but conditions of employment must recognise that teachers need time to think about the development of the curriculum and how they are planning their work. In the next 10 years, the development of the curriculum will be important for the improvement of education standards.

A modern industrial society will inevitably require the curriculum, particularly the science and technology part, to change. I welcome the fact that business is much more involved in the school curriculum and is putting forward its ideas. However, not only employers but the craft and skill unions have a contribution to make in suggesting how the curriculum should develop, and most certainly have a contribution to make in explaining how changes in the curriculum have affected work on the factory floor, especially in the skills that we need. I want the extension of the partnership between education and business to include the skill and craft trade unions. The pay review body must consider such matters, because at the heart of its work are the conditions of employment for teachers and development of the curriculum.

Clause 2 empowers the Secretary of State to give direction to the review body on the considerations to which they should have regard and the time within which they are required to report. I want to make a point about teachers' hours of work and education duties which, if considered sensibly by the review body, may lead to an improvement in classroom standards. Much evidence shows the importance of homework and that, if it is done properly and regularly, and if it is major aim and ethos of a school, it translates into a much better examination performance and creates improved classroom atmosphere. In many homes, it is simply not possible for young people to have the necessary peace and quiet, and freedom from interruption, to complete homework. Young people should be able voluntarily to stay on after school to do their homework, but that would require teacher-only supervision. It is no good imagining that volunteers could do the job; teachers would be needed.

I hope that, in its recommendations, the review body will recognise that a teachers' contract of employment may include a requirement to supervise homework at school and that we shall not have an argument between the profession, the review body and the Government on how far such duties extend. I stress that that would be voluntary and that it is impossible to say how many schools will take advantage of it, but in some parts of the country pupils are encouraged to stay at school to do their homework.

I hope that there will be increasing recognition that that is a good education practice. Such duties will be included in teachers' pay and conditions only if the review body says, "We recognise that teachers' hours could include such necessary supervision, and we shall therefore make such a recommendation to the Secretary of State."

There have been two main parental worries in the past decade. The first fear is of classroom disruption by teachers taking industrial action. That is now over. The Bill will seal peace among teachers, education authorities and the Government. The second fear is of classroom disruption by rowdy and anti-social pupils, which is a much more difficult problem with which to deal. The chances of dealing with it successfully are mightily improved if the teaching profession works with the community, the Government and interested parties.

Public education is a central civic function. To promote within the local authority sector a sensible balance between good school management and a fair allocation of resources is a central task of Government. The pay review body will ensure that there is a fair allocation of resources, which inevitably includes fair and reasonable salaries for teachers. I wish the Bill well. It will bring industrial peace throughout the education service.

8.20 pm
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

The first point we need to remember as we debate the Bill is that the Conservative party has been in power for 12 years. It has not suddenly been thrust into office, and it did not suddenly find that all these problems were building up because of a previous Administration. During the past decade or so, Conservative Administrations have failed to deal with education problems.

Dr. Hampson

I hesitate to intervene. Having been a Member for so long, I remember when Shirley Williams, the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, talked about national curricula, but nothing was done. Instead, budgets were cut more heavily in 1976 under a Labour Government than at any other time since the war. The hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that there is a long lead time in education. Translating plans into legislation, instituting systems in schools and training teachers probably takes 15 years. If anyone has responsibility, it is the Labour Government for the decisions they did not take and for the rotten decisions they did take.

Mr. Griffiths

I can hardly thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. At that time, I was a teacher. Education problems are far greater now, after 12 years of Conservative rule. I challenge the hon. Gentleman to come with me to any school, in my constituency or his, to ask teachers who have experienced education over that period what they think. The hon. Gentleman will be surprised at the answer, because it will not agree with his comments.

At the end of 12 years of Conservative government, we have chaos in the education system. Although some welcomed some aspects of the Government's reforms—for example, the national curriculum—teachers have been wringing their hands in despair at the way in which they are expected to carry them out and because of difficulties in terms of the number of subjects allocated and the testing originally envisaged. Teachers feel desperate when they consider how to ensure that the children in their charge are properly educated and to meet the demands of the testing which the Government introduced.

No wonder Her Majesty's inspectorate and the interim advisory committee give clear warnings about teachers' pay and conditions. The interim advisory committee's last report stated: We are in no doubt at all that teacher morale is lower than in our first two years". The senior chief inspector of Her Majesty's inspectorate said: too many teachers feel that their profession and its work are misjudged and seriously undervalued". No hon. Member can say that the responsibility lies with decisions made in the mid-1970s. It lies with decisions made during the past decade. The difficulty in facing up to that problem led us to this debate.

During the latter part of the 1980s, teachers' pay lagged behind that of comparable groups. In October 1987, the starting salary of a graduate teacher was £10,330; today, it is £9,990. A teacher on incentive allowance B in October 1987 had a salary worth £17,390; today, it is worth £16,660. The value of a teacher's salary has decreased.

The review of the Government's education record by the infamous Carlton club's political committee stated: To put matters into perspective, teachers' salaries are:—

  • 50 per cent. less than those of Medical Practitioners.
  • 75 per cent. less than Accountants.
  • 80 per cent. less than Civil Engineers.
It is a truism to state that a country only gets those professionals it is prepared to pay for. On the salaries now being paid to teachers it is, frankly, a wonder (and a huge testimony to their sense of vocation) that so many dedicated men and women remain in the profession. That was the view of the people at the heart of the Conservative party, not of Labour local authorities or of those of the Labour Front Bench. If the Government cannot face up to that criticism, they cannot face up to any criticism.

The Carlton club's political committee stated: the Government should also recognise that it will win the respect of the public at large if it errs a little on the side of generosity in rewarding 'the better teacher'. The political committee stated that there was a need for a thorough independent review of teachers' pay with a significant upgrading of teachers' pay". All the evidence from the Opposition and even from the heart of the Tory party shows the need to pay teachers a decent wage so that they feel that the fine words lately showered on them mean something.

At the beginning of the debate, parents' commitment to the state education system was questioned. The Secretary of State said that anyone who read the Daily Mirror was a moron. I am sure that they are the words that the record will show tomorrow.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The hon. Gentleman is quite right to say that they were the words, which were somewhat misguided on my part. I sought to comment on the lack of wisdom of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) in choosing that newspaper as a source for his comments, but it was more a comment on the newspaper and on the user of the quotation than on the readers.

Mr. Griffiths

It was a fit of pique, anger and misjudgment by the Secretary of State to describe readers of the Daily Mirror as morons. I understand his desire to put the record straight. However, it seemed that, during the interview given to Woman, the Secretary of State was saying that, because of the difficulties faced by state schools, he did not know of any parents who wanted to send their children there, or that, at least, if they had the money they would desert wholesale to the private sector.

If the Secretary of State is prepared to listen, I can assure him that the majority of parents in my constituency—and, I am sure, that of almost every hon. Member—are committed to the state education system and want their children to go to schools that are not too far away and where they can be assured that teachers are well-paid, fully committed and happy and have high morale, so that they can contribute to the education of their children, who in their turn will contribute to the economic and social well being of the country.

I mentioned the four comprehensive schools in my constituency such as Brynteg and Bryntirion in Bridgend and Cynffig comprehensive in Kenfig Hill and Porthcawl comprehensive in Porthcawl. Those comprehensive schools have a record of academic achievement and extra-curricular activities such as concerts and musical shows. I am sure that, if the Secretary of State were able to visit a state school, he would be welcome and would applaud those schools for their standards, for the commitment of the parents and for the fact that they are happy for their children to go there. Not all parents are satisfied, because clearly, all parents want schools to do better for their children, hut, nevertheless, the majority are committed to and support schools such as those in my constituency.

One of the problems with the Bill is that of resources and the directions that the Secretary of State might want to apply to the independent review body. It was not clear either from what the Secretary of State said or from some of the exchanges whether the review body for teachers would operate in exactly the same way as those for dentists or doctors. If he were to make it clear that the ground rules would be exactly the same, the misgivings of some teachers' unions could be overcome.

It is a pity that, before introducing the Bill, the Secretary of State did not consult teachers' organisations and the local authorities, which are the employers. If he had done so, it might have been possible to come up with a pay review body which, in principle, had the assent of all parties involved. As the Secretary of State knows, the Labour party is, in principle, in favour of independent review bodies. It has advocated them in the past, and I am sure that if, on this occasion, wide consultation had been carried out, everyone would have been happy to support the Bill. It is the lack of clarity about the Secretary of State's intentions that gives us cause for concern.

The Secretary of State should also bear it in mind on the question of resources that local authorities all too often fail in their task of providing education, either because they do not receive sufficient funding from the Government or because they deliberately choose to use the funding for purposes other than those intended by the Government.

I use the example of nursery education. The 20 leading authorities in the provision of nursery education are Labour-controlled and the 20 worst are largely led by Conservatives. Let us take the specific example of the county of Gwent, where there will shortly be a by-election. That county provides 60 per cent. of its three and four-year-olds with nursery opportunities. In the neighbouring county of Hereford and Worcester, the figure is about 20 per cent., and in Gloucestershire, it is about 30 per cent. What a contrast between a Labour authority and two Conservative authorities.

It is on the question of nursery education that the famous Carlton club report accuses the Government of supplying inaccurate information in Conservative party literature and of not respecting its great importance.

When the Government deal with the pay review body, I hope that they will be prepared to consider the questions which have been raised about the Secretary of State's powers and, even, at this stage, to call in all the unions and the local education authorities to see if there can be general agreement and some changes to the Bill.

8.36 pm
Mr. Michael Irvine (Ipswich)

I followed the remarks of the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) with interest but I am still not clear whether he supports the independent pay review body outlined in the Bill.

The most revealing speech from the Opposition was perhaps that made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). He was in no doubt that he opposed the concept of such a body. He said—I took a careful note—that he really did oppose the Bill. He paused for thought and then said that he hoped that his party did too; the Bill needed opposing. His touching and rather plaintive expression of hope that the Labour party would oppose the Bill clearly showed that he—like the majority of my right hon. and hon. Friends—had been left in the dark by the contortions, the uncertainties and the evasions of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]

I am not responsible for where he is now. He is no doubt soothing himself after the ordeal that he experienced this afternoon. For the record, it was 25 minutes—I was watching the clock carefully—before he even attempted to deal with the Bill. We had 25 minutes of irrelevant preamble, followed by 15 tentative and uncertain minutes during which he gingerly circled the Bill, never coming properly to terms with it. His embarrassment was plain to see.

Dr. Hampson

It was even worse. It became evident that, because he thought that the Association of University Teachers was in favour of a professional review body, he endorsed it,but because the National Union of Teachers was against one for schoolteachers, he was against it.

Mr. Irvine

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has identified with precision one of the appalling contortions in which the hon. Member for Blackburn found himself. I want now to move on from that to the reasons for the difficulties that lay behind his speech.

The embarrassment of the hon. Member for Blackburn almost certainly stemmed from the fact that within hours of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State making his announcement on 17 April, five out of six of the main teaching unions had come out in support of the review body; the exception was the National Union of Teachers. That put the hon. Gentleman fairly and squarely on the spot. Despite the fact that the other teaching unions favoured the concept of an independent pay review body and despite the fact that a majority of members of the National Union of Teachers probably favoured the idea, a powerful element in the NUT leadership is set on a return either to Burnham or to something closely related to it. The hon. Member for Blackburn dares not affront that powerful element—hence his evasions, contortions and uncertainties.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Is my hon. Friend aware that in one excellently run primary school in my constituency, 100 per cent. of teachers were in the NUT? When there was last a strike, all except two came out of the NUT. Teachers do not want the right to strike, that the hon. Member for Hillsborough apparently wants. They want the right to have a professional body to decide their fate.

Mr. Irvine

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reinforcing my point.

We have had enough of the difficulties, uncertainties and miseries of the hon. Member for Blackburn. I will get on to a more positive aspect of the Bill. The status of their profession is naturally of particular concern to the vast majority of teachers. They recognise the damage that was done to the good name of their profession by the breakdown of Burnham and by the industrial disruption undertaken by a minority of teachers in the mid-1980s. The vast majority of teachers are rightly determined to re-establish their status and to emphasise their professionalism. The Bill is a significant step towards them doing so.

It is true that an independent pay review body is one thing and that obtaining from the Government the full implementation of that body's recommendations is another. However, teachers who are cynical or distrustful should remember that the recommendations of their independent pay review body will inevitably carry a great deal of clout and that that clout will be exercised in a highly sensitive and political area on which both main parties have laid great store. It will not be easy for a Government, whatever their political hue, to ride roughshod over the independent pay review body's recommendations.

I hope that, in determining the appropriate pay levels for teachers, the new pay review body will recognise the importance not merely of recruiting and retaining sufficient teachers, but of recruiting and retaining teachers of quality. The problem is not just making the numbers fit, but raising the quality level. That point was made effectively by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) when the House debated the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill in November. I was not present in the Chamber to hear the speech, but I read it in Hansard and I thought that it was excellent.

The need for teachers of quality is especially great nowadays. In a more competitive world, the benefits and skills that children can gain from good teaching are even more at a premium and the task facing teachers is in many ways more daunting than it used to be. There are more behaviour problems with which to deal, and there are far more children from broken homes and unsettled backgrounds. There is generally less respect for authority. All too often, there is not enough interest from parents, and there is a reduced level of attentiveness and application from children who are brought up to expect instant and effortless entertainment from television, videos and the like.

All that puts unprecedented pressure on teachers and makes it that much more important for teachers of quality to be recruited and retained. I very much agreed with what my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) said about the importance of ensuring that the pay of the experienced classroom teacher is given special attention.

The hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mrs. Heal) referred to local management of schools as a burden. In my constituency, local management of schools, far from being a burden, is improving morale among teachers. I know many teachers who had reservations about local management of schools and who now strongly support it. I also know some teachers who opposed it outright and who have now swung round to being in favour of it.

Great credit is due to the Suffolk education authority for the local management of schools formula that it devised and for the effort it put into training and preparing teachers for it. That effort has paid rich dividends. Local management of schools is working well in Suffolk. It has definitely played its part in boosting morale among teachers and school governors.

After going through an intensely difficult period, the teaching profession is now on the way to recovering its morale and self-confidence. This excellent Bill, in giving teachers their own pay review body and emphasising their professional status, will powerfully reinforce the welcome and continuing improvement in the status of the profession.

8.46 pm
Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South)

A succession of Conservative Members have repeated that they are unclear about the Labour party's position. Perhaps they have not read the Order Paper, where we set out with perfect clarity the grounds on which we oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. The reasoned amendment refers to the "unacceptable powers" that the Bill gives the Secretary of State and to the lack of any proposals to raise teachers' professionalism by the establishment of a General Teachers Council. Alternatively, Conservative Members may have developed a blind spot. After 12 years, Conservative Members reject any deviation from counter-productive diktat. In 12 years in government, Conservative Members have lost the habit of listening, not least to what my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) says. They have turned a blind eye to the effects of their actions over those 12 years. That is what our debate is about.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn was entirely correct in listing the series of assaults that successive Conservative Administrations have inflicted on the material and spiritual well-being of the teaching profession. There has been a steady decline in teachers' pay, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn referred, and teachers have been affected by so-called "innovation fatigue". There has been too much innovation, introduced too quickly and always "within current resources". That is the usual incantation. There have been constant challenges to teachers' professionalism and the cumulative effects of drowning in a sea of paper.

A university report, to be published later this year shows that secondary teachers spend an average of 63 hours a week on school work—most of it outside the classroom. They spend only one third of their time on teaching, and have less than 20 minutes a day for breaks and lunch. Teachers' conscientiousness, rather than their salary, status or prescribed working hours, is the critical factor in the excessive and unhealthy amount of time that they devote to their work.

Teachers do all that in slum conditions. My own local authority, Knowsley, can afford only £2.5 million for repair and maintenance work on its schools, although, according to a professional assessment, £8.5 million is needed to bring the school buildings up to scratch. That figure can be multiplied across all the local authorities in the land. That is in stark contrast to the bankrolling of the city technology colleges and the grant-maintained schools, which are the darlings of the Government. It is all stick and no carrot. What a way to handle an intelligent and spohisticated profession.

Mr. John Marshall

The hon. Gentleman referred to the grant-maintained schools as the darlings of the Government. Will he confirm that they are also the darlings of parents, and that the number of pupils applying for entry to them has increased substantially in the past two or three years?

Mr. O'Hara

The statistical evidence shows that there has been a pathetic response to the invitation to opt out. We have the evidence of a school in my own local authority area. When opting out was suggested, there was a 94.7 per cent. vote against, on a turnout of 75 per cent. That represents a pretty conclusive rejection of the notion.

Conservative Member's insensitivity was impressively demonstrated by their supercilious dismissal of the question why they do not patronise the state education system—except, that is, in their demeanour towards it.

During the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, the hon. Member for Buckingharn (Mr. Walden) made a revealing intervention, in which he defended the abandonment of the state sector by Ministers and Conservative Members on the grounds of the egalitarianism for which that sector stands. I hope that the Prime Minister, who advocates the classless society, was not listening at that point.

"Egalitarianism" is an interesting word. It refers both to equality of opportunity and to equity of provision—to "la carriere ouverte aux talents" and to positive discrimination in favour of those in greatest need. If that is not what a classless society means, I do not know what is. On both counts—opportunity and equity—egalitarianism will not do for Conservative Members. They do not want opportunity—except for their own children—and they do not like to allocate resources to the majority who patronise state schools.

That mean thread of dogma runs through so much that the Government have done since 1979. In the early days, the assisted places scheme provided a "ladder out of the state system"—as eloquent an admission as one could get that the state system was second class, was not good enough, was something from which to escape.

The dynamic of the city technology colleges was that success for the minority could be provided only at the expense of the majority. Entry to CTCs must be selective, and they are obscenely stuffed with funding. Grant-maintained schools provide a similar example of bribery and bankrolling. Only this week, grant-maintained schools have been given the mechanism to become selective, if they wish, as soon as possible.

What about the national curriculum? As hon. Members have said, it was on its way. It was an open door, but by running a bulldozer against that open door, the Government did untold damage. They almost ruined a good idea by their insensitive imposition of the national curriculum—although not in the private schools to which so many Conservative Members send their children.

All that was done, and for what? The Government will be judged in part on its perceived achievements and shortcomings in this crucial area"— education, that is. It must be recognised that there is mounting concern that Conservative reforms have yet to produce results"— after 12 years. Hon. Members will recognise my quotation, which comes from the Carlton club political committee report. There is some good stuff in that report. Apparently, we are bottom of the league table of nursery provision, our school governors have excessive powers and we have failed to curb the Church school sector. It is just as well that there are not many votes left for the Conservative party to lose in Knowsley, South, because—who knows—people there may read the meanderings of the Carlton club political committee in bed.

Is it any wonder that the teaching profession feels demoralised or that the Government feel that they must make some concession to those who must be the prime agents in retrieving this desparate situation? Is it any wonder that, after 12 years of iron rations, the demoralised teaching profession is prepared to accept half a cake—albeit with caution, as suggested in the quotation from the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association to which my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) referred, in which that body expressed its regret at the haste with which the Bill has been introduced.

Even this much is offered grudgingly. The Secretary of State reserves intolerable powers of direction in this toothless tiger of a Bill. For the benefit of Conservative Members, I should say, "Watch my lips." This is the point of our opposition to the Bill. If the Bill is not toothless, it will be because it has a set of dentures designed by the Secretary of State. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will assure us that he will not hand-pick the members of the body, and that he will ensure full and fair representation of all the interests affected by the review body.

Why does not the Secretary of State go further and consider allowing the teaching profession its own professional body, as befits its professional importance? Who was it who said: increasing the status of the teaching profession through the endorsement of a Royal College of Teaching is a concept strongly favoured by all advisers"? It was the Carlton club group again. Short of a royal college, which the Labour party would prefer, I support the granting to the teaching profession of a review body. I cannot, however, support the Bill, because of the unacceptable powers of direction that it gives to the Secretary of State. According to the explanatory and financial memorandum, the Bill empowers the Secretary of State, where, following a report from the review body and having consulted associations of local education authorities and others, he decides to make fresh provision as regards the statutory conditions of employment of school teachers, to do so by an order, subject in specified circumstances to the negative resolution procedure". That is the nub of the matter.

I referred earlier to a fundamental difference of ideology between the Labour and Conservative parties in their attitudes towards egalitarianism. There is another fundamental difference. I refer to my party's concern for good industrial relations, for the exercise of professional responsibility—for good psychology, perhaps. In the context of this Bill, it is appropriate to consider what teachers might think. Any decent teacher will tell one of the importance of giving his pupils a sense of being valued and involved in the enterprise of learning. So it is with colleagues in a common enterprise. What enterprise could be more important for the Government, for the country and for those who devote their lives and careers to it than the education of the nation's children?

Before Conservative Members leap up to present a picture of a Labour Government and the teaching profession linked arm in arm, like the Kop choir singing "You'll Never Walk Alone", I hasten to say that that would be a travesty of the truth. We in Liverpool have two football teams. The other is Everton, whose motto is "Nil Satis Nisi Optimum"—"Nothing will do but the best". For the next Labour Government, only the best will do for education. The best cannot be achieved without the full co-operation of a teaching force with a sense of professional respect and responsibility. The Bill is irredeemably flawed in its capacity to provide that essential ingredient for success in our education system throughout the 1990s.

9 pm

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

I could make many comments on the speech of the hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara), but I want to be brief. The hon. Gentleman said that the Bill is flawed. In fact, the flawed point in the Opposition's case is the one to which he referred. The Opposition say that they would not mind having a review body but that the one proposed is inappropriate because of the built-in responsibility of the Secretary of State. In the Standing Committee that considered the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill, the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) said: We accept in principle that the Secretary of State should have the power to propose the final settlement in any pay award."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 24 January 1991; c. 208.] That situation cannot be avoided.

Ms. Hilary Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

I regret that the hon. Gentleman has not read the report of the Standing Committee that considered the Education Reform Bill of 1988. If he had done so, he would realise how flawed is his argument against the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara). Throughout the proceedings of the Standing Committee to which I have just referred, Ministers denied what was really the intention behind the legislation. Our point is that the Government should be honest and straightforward. That is what the hon. Gentleman does not like.

Dr. Hampson

The hon. Lady will have an opportunity to reply for the Opposition. Let me draw her attention to the Official Report of 17 April, in which she will find these words of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State: As the Government face the fare and pay the bill, the Government have to have that power in the last resort"—[Official Report, 17 April 1991; Vol. 189, c. 442.] I thought that we had made that obvious throughout the proceedings.

What we have seen tonight is the total embarrassment—I hesitate to use the word "hypocrisy"—of Labour Members, who know that the course on which the Government are embarked is correct. The Government have changed course, and some of us are delighted about that. Surely Labour Members ought to be equally delighted. Why are they not? They think that the AUT is in favour of a professional pay body. I am not sure that it is.

We all know Labour Members' connections with the NUT. The Labour party and the National Union of Teachers have been hand in glove for decades. The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) is paid by the NUT. She will be slightly embarrassed—[interruption.] If the hon. Lady allows me to continue, she will realise that it is not necessary to interrupt. I am not attacking her; I am merely pointing out that no doubt she is in a dilemma because she is the paid representative of the NUT and has a declared interest in the Royal College of Nursing. It seems to me that she has split loyalties.

Opposition Members have declared themselves as being in favour of the principle of the Bill but have scrabbled around for a way to oppose the precise nature of the Government's proposition. It is a case of wishy-washy dithering. I have been a member of the Carlton club for well over 20 years. By citing the Carlton club as the equivalent of a Government manifesto or a statement of Government policy, Opposition Members are scraping the bottom of the barrel. I was not even a member of the Carlton club group that has been referred to. Immodest as I am, I should not put much store by a situation in which I had not even been asked whether I should like to turn up. I have not even seen the document.

There are hardly any Opposition Members present at the moment, but I should like some of those who referred to the famous Carlton club paper to swear that they have read it. We all know what happens. These days, Labour spokesmen are supplied with a research brief. They have all been referred to the best bits of the Carlton club paper to quote.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Hampson

I shall not give way. I can see that the hon. Gentleman has a copy of the paper.

Mr. Griffiths

And I have read it.

Dr. Hampson

I cannot believe that all those who have spoken from the Opposition Benches this evening had a copy, because——

Mr. John Marshall

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dr. Hampson

I told the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) that I would not give way. If my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) wishes to speak, I shall bring my remarks to an end in about five minutes.

I endorse the part of the paper that states that we must reward the better teacher. Most of us accept that teaching is fundamental to the entire learning process, but who resists that? The answer is the National Union of Teachers. It has never wanted pay differentials, and accordingly the Labour party has resisted the idea, as always. Labour-controlled councils such as Leeds have not accepted the technical and vocational education initiative. That is an example of another major reform on which the Labour party has turned its back.

The Labour party considered the national curriculum. A former Labour Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, thought that it was essential if standards of education were to be raised. None the less, the Labour party turned its back on the concept. Every major education reform has been instinctively rejected by the Labour party because of its relationship with the teaching unions.

The Labour party is grudgingly accepting the national curriculum nowadays, but it talks about upheaval and turbulence in schools. I say to the teachers that there would be a damned sight less turbulence in schools if we had acted earlier during the Labour Administration and dealt with the examination system, a national curriculum and all the other education reforms with which the Government are having to deal.

There is no point in Opposition Members saying that we are faced with the inheritance of the past decade. They know as well as I do that by the time we have educated sixth formers in mathematics and they have graduated, passed through teacher training and become teachers, and a framework for a national curriculum has been formulated, a lead time of about 15 years will have been spent.

The Opposition must bear responsibility for their dithering, their lack of decision making and the lack of funding for the education service when they were in government. They are responsible for what took place a decade or a decade and a half ago. The results with which we are faced are the results of their shortcomings. My right hon. and hon. Friends will be responsible for the standards of the education system in a decade or a decade and a halls time. I am sure that the standards will be much higher than those of today.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) stressed the need for good school management. Leadership is important if a school is to work, and that reflects on the quality of the headmaster. I trust that we shall not turn headmasters into managers. We must consider imaginatively how part-time accountants and others can be introduced to schools to examine financial and management systems rather than to impose such systems on the headmaster.

I entirely endorse the arguments advanced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for introducing a pay review body. There is a case, however, for examining the pay of those who are engaged in higher education. We must have a body that embodies teachers that are involved in further and higher education so that we can have sensible relativities. Schoolteachers have done relatively well compared with teachers in higher education.

I know that it is easy to score points and we all might have wished teachers to have higher pay, but the salaries of schoolteachers have increased five times as quickly under Conservative Governments as under the Labour Government. I will not give the reasons for that, but that is what has happened. Although we might have preferred a further advance, salaries have risen by 30 per cent. in real terms while Labour could not raise them by more than 6 per cent.

We must also consider what has happened to people in higher education. When we consider morale in higher education and the talk of disruption, we should accord to them the professional status which in this Bill we are according to schoolteachers. The record of those in higher education in terms of the number of students passing through the system, the improved productivity and improved student-staff ratios are yardsticks that deserve recognition.

We have one of the tightest degree programmes of any western European higher education system and we are now arguing that degree courses should last two years. We have a very cost-effective higher education system, and its reputation hangs on the quality of the people teaching in it. They deserve the same status that we are seeking to accord to schoolteachers.

9.10 pm
Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

The Secretary of State for Education and Science and several Conservative Members have mouthed phrases about having respect for teachers. However, it seems that that respect does not extend to reinstating teachers' negotiating rights. Nor does it extend to teachers at Culloden school in my constituency, who were witch-hunted by The Mail on Sunday. The Secretary of State joined that witch hunt by failing even to adhere to his Department's requirement that a report by Her Majesty's inspectorate should be sent to the governors, staff and the local education authority at least two weeks before it was made public. The report was leaked to The Mail on Sunday two days before and sent to the governors on the same day that it was sent to the rest of the press. Culloden school is in an area where 68 per cent. of the people are unemployed. Harassing its teachers was not a show of respect, and it certainly will not help to bring about improvements in the school.

Many teachers have supported the idea of a review body as a lesser evil. They thought that they would have to fight for increases in salary school by school. They did not realise that the review body would be loaded with extra powers for the Secretary of State to give directions on pay and conditions of employment.

Several Conservative Members said that good teachers should be rewarded. All teachers should be good teachers, or they should not be teaching. The Government believe that it is cheaper to reward a small group than to give a decent salary to the majority of teachers.

On Saturday, there was a knock on my door and a young lady came to collect my census form. She told me that I must put it in an envelope because she knew me; we used to teach together. She was using her evenings and weekends to collect census forms because she could not afford to pay her mortgage. That is a true reflection of teachers' conditions. That is why so many teachers are taking early retirement and why teachers who can find jobs in other areas are voting with their feet. That is why students will not enter teaching if they have a choice.

If the shortage of teachers worsens and the situation becomes chronic, craven researchers like Bennett will produce evidence to show that children learn better in large classes; but not of course in independent schools, just in schools for working-class—the majority—children.

The Secretary of State showed his ignorance about modern methods of education when he referred to teachers being judged by their performance in front of the class. He was casting his mind back to his own school days and the days of chalk and talk. Those days have long passed. Teachers no longer teach that way. In this modern world, it is not suitable for children who can see the whole world opening up before them on television to be taught by old-fashioned methods.

I might surprise the Secretary of State by telling him that, in my years as a teacher, I was rather conservative in my approach to teaching methods. I used to teach phonics. I annoyed many head teachers by putting an ABC on the wall, and teaching children the sounds and names of letters. I believe in teaching tables. The ready reckoners of the days when people learned tables were not so different from the pocket calculators of today. People still need their tables. I deplore the fact that children are no longer taught poetry by heart. I have spoken to many 80-year-olds who recited with joy verses that they had learnt when they were children.

I am not a faddist. Too many fashions have come and gone. Too many times I have seen the baby thrown out with the bath water. But the Secretary of State is a faddist. He wants to hark back to the phonic method only, and the graded reading system which parents regard as a ladder. They find out what book the child next door is on, and harass their child if she or he is not on the same book. That does not produce good results; it just produces nervous children. The Secretary of State wants a system akin to the monitor system for trained teachers. He really wants payment by results, too. He is harking back to a previous age.

The opposite is needed in this fast-changing world. We need to teach children flexibility. They need to learn to use reference books to find out how to do things. They are not open vessels into which we can pour information for them to regurgitate in tests.

The seven-plus test will do much more harm than good. Teachers will have less time to spend in teaching, and far more administration which is overburdening them already. Although a small percentage of children who would do well will get pleasure and advancement from it, the majority of children will lose their confidence. The main thing that a teacher teaches is self-confidence and improving the self-image. If children are happy and confident, one can teach them. If one introduces systems such as a public examination at seven, one will destroy the self-confidence of vast numbers of children, as the 11-plus did. I taught such children. It took years to restore their self-image and to enable them to learn properly again.

The other day I received a letter from a parent who said, "I do not want my child to take a public examination. The head teacher tells me that, if I send him to school, he has to take it, and if I keep him away I am breaking the law. Where is my choice?" That is a good question which I put to the Minister of State: where is the parental choice? None of those regulations applies to independent schools. The significance of that is not lost on parents. If it is good for state schools, why is it not good for independent schools?

I must conclude because, although I have sat here for six hours, I have only a few minutes to talk. The Secretary of State has been talking to the press about independent schools and about how everyone who can afford it would send their children to them. What they are paying for is small classes. That is what we want for all children. They also pay for social advancement—the contacts they make, the old school tie network—that puts so many nitwits into management that it has been destroying our industry. That is something else that they are paying for.

When I was training, the Butler Act had just come into effect. Many of the good provisions of that Act were never put into practice. I hope that many of the bad provisions of this Government's regulations, including this Bill, will not come into effect because we shall have a rapid change of Government.

9.18 pm
Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

I guess that it is almost unique in parliamentary history to have two opportunities in the same parliamentary year to debate broadly the same issues, with slightly different Bills but very much the same themes. The first of those debates will be remembered for the fact that during it there was the leadership election for the Conservative party. I suspect that it offered a counter-attraction. When I read the Official Report of the Second Reading debate I realised that there were one or two moments when the Benches on the other side of the House were virtually empty.

I suspect that on this occasion, the debate will not be remembered for the election of the new leader of the Conservative party, because obviously that has not taken place today. It is much more likely to be remembered for the Secretary of State's gaff when he commented on a few million of his fellow citizens who read one daily newspaper. That most unfortunate comment leads us to question his ability to behave rationally in certain circumstances.

Let us now see whether we can come to some point of consensus or unanimity across the House. Virtually all hon. Members have wanted to sing the praises of teachers and to talk about their professionalism. Opposition Members welcome that consensus. We recognise that the teachers have enabled the changes in our education system to be made. Without teachers, there would be no delivery of the national curriculum, no seven-plus tests and no successful introduction of the GCSEs. Teachers have done much of that with an increased work load and often in difficult circumstances. It is right that the House should put on record its support for teachers and their professionalism and recognise the job that they have done in the past few years.

In his graphic speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) itemised the increased work load faced by teachers, their patience and their commitment to their pupils. That is something that we all recognise. Incidentally, we missed my hon. Friend's presence on the Standing Committee that considered the first Bill. Indeed, there are those who have spread the rumour that the only reason for the introduction of this No. 2 Bill is that it will give my hon. Friend the opportunity to speak in the Standing Committee that considers it. I am sure that he will take advantage of that opportunity on a number of occasions and speak with great enthusiasm.

Once again, my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough brought to our debate his ability to understand the problems of the classroom, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mrs. Heal) who made the good point that many teachers work in circumstances that are far from convenient or conducive to good quality education. She referred, for example, to crumbling schools. It is a scandal that about £4,000 million-worth of repairs and new build necessary are necessary to bring the quality of our schools up to standard. [Interruption.] I missed what the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) said, but I am probably fortunate in that respect.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

I said that a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer put an embargo on school building because he had to kow-tow to the International Monetary Fund. That led to a backlog in school building and school repairs.

Mr. Fatchett

I am rather sorry that I gave way to the hon. Lady, because, yet again, her point is incorrect. If she looks at the record and compares the statistics, she will see that Labour's record on school building was considerably better than that of this Government. I fear that the hon. Lady never recognises good facts, but always knows good prejudice and peddles it.

We have seen a number of prejudices in the debate. The hon. Members for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks) and for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) talked about the quality of education being subverted by what they called "progressive teaching methods". That is now the theme of the Secretary of State. He has discovered what he too calls "progressive methods" and accuses those responsible for progressive methods of reducing the overall quality of education. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith), I thought that it might be interesting to discover the basis on which the Secretary of State was making those assertions.

The hon. Members for Wolverhampton, North-East and for Norwich, North may well have more detailed experience, but the Secretary of State talks about the quality and direction of teacher education in a way that leads one to assume that he had some practical experience and had visited teacher training colleges throughout the country. We can all remember his comments about teacher training colleges. It was clear that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not paid such visits, other DES Ministers had done so. It seemed clear that the combined expertise of the DES at ministerial level resulted from a number of visits to teacher training colleges to find exactly what happens in them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East tabled a question, which was answered this afternoon, asking the Secretary of State to list the colleges of teacher education and training and the university and polytechnic departments of education that had been visited by all DES Ministers in the past six months. I stress that the question did not refer only to the Secretary of State. When I hold up the answer, the House can see that it is not a long list. It lists four Ministers and between them——

Mr. Kenneth Clarke


Mr. Fatchett

I do them an injustice—there is a growing organisation. Between them, they have been to two colleges of education: the college of Ripon and St. John in York; and the Roehampton institute. Those two institutions have a lot to worry about, as they give grounds for many of the prejudices peddled from the Conservative side of the Chamber.

We have also heard about the argument for increased teacher professionalism. We would certainly support that. The hon. Member for Norwich, North argued that case strongly, as did the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mrs. Barnes). I welcomed her speech. It was almost a history lesson, because she kept talking about her party. I was not quite sure whether there was still a political party or whether she was talking about a social event in Greenwich at the weekend. Nevertheless, she was able to use the royal "we" with great skill on behalf of her two colleagues. I assume that there are still two.

I must confess that I went to Plymouth the other week to take a passing interest in the local election there. I noticed that the Social Democratic party there calls itself the Social Democrats of Plymouth so that it can retain the initials. It has maintained the initials, but I am not sure whether it has maintained the faith and the consensus.

Like virtually all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate, the hon. Member for Greenwich said that she was in favour of professionalism for teachers, and I agree with her. In that context, it would be useful if the Government were prepared to support the notion of a general teaching council, which we have suggested on previous occasions. We think that that would be a good instrument to improve teacher professionalism, to give the profession a sense of purpose and to improve teachers' self-confidence. The Government have made a number of comments tonight about enhancing professionalism and I hope that they will accept the notion of introducing such a council.

Dr. Hampson

What will it do?

Mr. Fatchett

I am always happy to give way to the hon. Gentleman's sedentary interventions. We enjoyed one ealier this afternoon. The general teaching council would set standards of teacher education and in-service training; it would provide the professionalism that is known in other professions, such as medicine and law, which is a crucial and important task, and, it will give teachers the sense of self-confidence and purpose——

Dr. Hampson

What about discipline?

Mr. Fatchett

—and the sense of discipline that is lacking.

Another aspect of professionalism mentioned by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East was the introduction of teacher appraisal, which she favoured. She wanted a national scheme for teacher appraisal. She must talk to the Secretary of State. There is no reason why she cannot do that.

Mr. David Davis (Boothferry)

He might do a runner.

Mr. Fatchett

No, he will not, and he certainly will not do a runner to visit schools and colleges. The Secretary of State will be there and the hon. Lady should pick up the telephone, ring the Department of Education and Science, and have a word with him. Then she will find out that he gave only a quarter of the amount recommended by the independent body to the national appraisal scheme for teachers. If the Secretary of State had been serious about teacher professionalism he would have made the resources available so that the job could be done properly.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) said that the House had reason to criticise Ministers for the appalling way in which the Government had treated the House". He went on to use the word "deceit" about the Government's intentions and referred to the considerable delay between the date that the first Bill came out of Standing Committee to the date that the statement was made on 17 April.

We know that there is not a great deal of consistency between what was said on 27 November and what has been said this evening. It is interesting that, on the previous occasion, eight Conservative Back Benchers spoke. Each and every one of them spoke, with great enthusiasm, in favour of the first Bill, as did the Secretary of State.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

So did you.

Mr. Fatchett

The Secretary of State has already made one big gaff this evening; it is useful for him to keep quiet on occasion. I point out to him that we voted on a reasoned amendment in the previous debate.

Eight Conservative Back Benchers spoke in favour of the earlier Bill with great enthusiasm. It is interesting to note that not one has spoken in tonight's debate.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

They were gagged.

Mr. Fatchett

They were not gagged but embarrassed. Seven of them have not even been in the Chamber. The Secretary of State has no need to check. Unlike him, I do my homework, and I can tell him that there were eight speakers—seven of whom were not in the Chamber tonight—and each supported collective bargaining for teachers and opt-out for schools in individual local education authorities.

It is a distinguished list: the hon. Members for Buckingham (Mr. Walden), for Bury, North (Mr. Burt), for Basildon (Mr. Amess), for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves), for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris), and the two whose contributions I enjoy the most, the hon. Members for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) and for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey)—the Nervo and Knox of education debates. The hon. Member for Dartford said in the previous debate that he had advocated the Bill during his five years as a Minister in the Department of Education and Science. He was so enthusiastic about the first Bill that he felt that all his previous arguments and persuasion of Ministers has at last worked. Sadly, he lost his job in the process.

The Secretary of State is now reading through the report of the proceedings of the debate.

Mr. Clarke

As the hon. Gentleman is familiar with the debate, perhaps he will help me. I am looking for the reasoned amendment to see whether Labour Members gave their views on a review body. He has spoken for a quarter of an hour without mentioning those words, although they are the subject of the debate.

Mr. Fatchett

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman looks at the reasoned amendment, he will see what it says. It was not only the view of the Labour party, but that of the then Secretary of State. The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) may be interested in this point. I asked the Secretary of State whether the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, now the Prime Minister, felt that the teachers should have a pay review body. He will find this at column 749. The Secretary of State's response is clear enough. He said: However, I do not believe that we shall embark on a fresh review of pay arrangements, when the Bill"— that is, the first Bill— contains excellent arrangements that should be enacted and put into force."—[Official Report, 27 November 1990; Vol. 181, c. 749.]

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. I am glad to see that I did not answer the question. The time has now come for him to answer the question. Is the Labour party in favour of a review body?

Mr. Fatchett

The Secretary of State's tactic when he is asked a question is to reply with a question. That is what he did earlier. No one can accuse the Secretary of State of consistency—[Interruption.] I shall deal with all the points; we have enough time.

In the first debate, we heard much right-wing ideology in favour of individual local education authorities opting out of central pay bargaining. That was seen as the answer to teacher shortages and the lack of motivation. Speaker after speaker on Second Reading and in Committee said that opt-out in individual local authorities was the answer to the problems of teacher shortages and pay. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon), who is not with us at the moment, was very enthusiastic about it in relation to clauses 8 and 9. He said that that was the key to greater flexibility and to greater incentive for individual teachers. Those were the arguments that the hon. Gentleman voted for on the previous occasion. We were told that they were important.

Let me say, as I like consensus to be maintained, that I am delighted that the arguments that my hon. Friends and I used in Committee against clauses 8 and 9 and opting out have been listened to and that the Government have dropped that right-wing nonsense from the Bill. I hope that we never again hear of the idea of individual local education authorities being able to opt out of the national pay structure for teachers. That ideology has been buried.

As for this Bill, and our reasoned amendments, our point is that the Bill gives to the Secretary of State extensive powers of direction and detail. He argued on previous occasions that the teachers' organisations favour a pay review body, but he was less than fair to them. He knows that the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association has said that, while it may favour the principle of a pay review body, it is less than happy with the powers that are being given to the Secretary of State. We were told by the Secretary of State that he would not interfere, that powers of direction had to be included in the Bill but that they are not important.

The Secretary of State then relied on an argument that I believe is the thinnest argument of all: that the powers have to be there because this is a statutory body but that they will not be used in any malicious or evil way "because you can trust me and I am a decent bloke." I have heard some weak arguments in the Chamber but that is one of the weakest I have ever heard. We may accept that this Secretary of State is a decent bloke, but we should like those powers to be substantially reduced.

What did the Secretary of State have to offer teachers? He offered them no additional money or resources but promised that the pay review body—I noted his words—could take account of the standard spending assessments for the level of investment in education. If account had been taken of the SSAs in 1989 and 1990, they would have led to a cut of £1.5 billion in education expenditure. That is what would have happened if individual local authorities had operated the Government's imposed, centralised target. Are teachers being offered a cut in resources? Teachers will not find such a offer attractive. Although Conservative Members may believe that the notion of a pay review body is acceptable, they ought to recognise that a pay review body will not be acceptable if it is used, as has happened during the last few years with the interim advisory committee, to reduce the real value of teachers' pay.

There is broad agreement that we need a well-paid and well-motivated professional teacher force. It is also clear that the country needs a Government who believe in and care for state education and who will deliver success in our education system. That is why we need a Labour Government. That is why the people of this country want a Labour Government. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for our amendment.

9.38 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Tim Eggar)

Well, Mr. Speaker, after an hour and 15 minutes of contributions from Opposition Front Bench spokesmen, we still do not know where the Opposition stand. Will they, won't they? The answer is neither: they simply do not know.

Apart from that, we have had a good debate. There have been some excellent contributions. In particular, I welcome my hon. Friend's contributions and almost all those of Opposition Members who drew attention to the important role and the achievements of teachers.

They drew attention to teachers' commitment to improving standards and their solid professionalism in coping with change and implementing the far-reaching educational reforms that have been a feature of the past few years.

The House listened with particular attention to the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler). He knows better than most the difficulties that have faced Ministers in introducing the Bill. I was particularly grateful to him for his support as I am sure was my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) welcomed the Bill with great passion and commitment. He made it clear that he had wanted such a measure for a number of years. The whole House responded to the way in which he put his case.

Second Reading debates exist so that we can debate general principles, the broad thrust of policies and the nature of the proposed legislation. Conservative Members have explained clearly the essential features of the Bill. We have shown how a review body will recognise and strengthen the professional status of teachers. We have pointed to the extensive support for our proposals among teachers' unions and associations, and among teachers at large. We have made it clear that the award of review body status is a milestone in the development of the modern teaching profession.

Conservative Members have played their part in full measure. We have heard today telling examples of what can be achieved through good management and the effective use of resources. We have heard about the commitment of so many teachers to raising standards, and about the genuine desire that teachers show to meet the needs and aspirations of parents and pupils.

The picture of the teaching profession painted by most hon. Members during the debate chimes with my own experience. During my visits to schools, I meet dedicated teachers and enthusiastic pupils. I find it hard to discern the poor standards which others appear to see so readily. However, there are problems. Too many children have lower levels of attainment than they should have. Too many finish their education at 16 and the teaching force in some areas is not as strong as we need it to be. Resources are not always targeted effectively to raise standards and to respond to parents' concern.

Opposition Members insist on talking about the problems in schools. They stress the difficulties and failures and accentuate the negative. They do our teachers and children a grave disservice by ignoring or underplaying teachers' achievements and successes.

It is perhaps not surprising that many teachers believe that their achievements do not gain them the recognition they deserve. The Bill is an essential step in the process of restoring teachers' self-respect. My right hon. Friend and I share wholeheartedly the concern of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to raise the standing of teachers in society. The establishment of the review body is a tangible expression of that commitment.

Mr. Straw

As the Prime Minister is now here, will the Minister take his advice on a question that the Secretary of State felt unable to answer, on the grounds that he was not involved in the discussions? The Times Educational Supplement reported that the Treasury, with the present Prime Minister as Chancellor, had opposed a pay review body. Was that correct? I am happy to continue talking while the Minister takes the advice of his right hon. Friend.

Mr. Eggar

I do not need to take advice from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. We are looking forward. We are introducing a pay review body. That decision would not have been possible without the commitment of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. We expected to hear whether the Opposition support a pay review body. We have had 75 minutes of waffle but no answer to that fundamental question.

We have heard much about teachers' rights. Anyone listening to the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) would think that that amounted to teachers' rights to take industrial action and to send children home. Conservative Members know that the rights teachers hold dear are the rights to respect, to professional status, to fair treatment and to fair pay.

There is a further right that the hon. Member for Blackburn has denied teachers—the right to know the policy of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition. We know the position on the pay review body of all my hon. Friends and all Opposition Members, with the exception of the hon. Members for Blackburn and for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett). Everyone else has made their position absolutely clear.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

At what stage did Ministers decide to review the policy in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill?

Mr. Eggar

Ministers must consider policy in the light of developments. As the Bill progressed, we carefully monitored the attitude of teacher unions and associations and held discussions on the best way forward. We eventually reached the conclusion, with the full support of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, that the best way forward for the teaching profession and our children was the introduction of a pay review body.

Dr. Hampson

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) dithered on whether he could bring himself to oppose a professional review body because the NUT is against it, but the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) did seem to endorse the view expressed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery)—that the Labour party believes in teachers' right to strike. A pay review body will enhance the teaching profession and avoid classroom disruption.

Mr. Eggar

Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen have extolled the virtue of teachers' right to strike, but have forgotten the right of children to learn.

I urge Opposition Members to take immediate steps to make it clear to the teaching profession whether they support a pay review body. The issues are not complicated, and the alternatives are not wide-ranging. The hon. Member for Blackburn does not need a plethora of facts and figures. As a special concession, we shall not ask him to cost his proposed alternative to a pay review body, but will he please let us know what the Opposition's position is?

There has been a torrent of words from the Opposition, but they have said nothing. They should stop dithering and trying the patience of the House, and should make their position clear. They owe that to teachers and to the country. I am willing to give way to the hon. Member for Blackburn. His silence speaks volumes.

Is the answer of the Opposition to the clear and simple question, "What pay machinery do you want?" a simple "Don't know; we shall have to consult the NUT"? The Opposition may not know what they think, but teachers do and will draw their own conclusions from their silence.

At one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn, I thought that we might be getting an answer. He said, yes, he wanted a pay review body for teachers, but, no, he would not support our Bill, which introduces a pay review body: yes, he wants a pay review, but, no, he will not accept our pay review body. That is not a clear policy for the Opposition.

Then the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) entered the fray. In an intervention, he asked the hon. Member for Blackburn whether he believed that a small minority of teachers—presumably members of the NUT—would force the Labour party not to introduce a pay review body. The hon. Member for Blackburn said, "No, we will not be dictated to by a small minority of teachers," but he did not make it clear exactly why and in what circumstances he would have a pay review body. He said that the Labour party needed agreement, but he did not make it clear whether that agreement would be of all teachers, including all or part of the NUT.

I had thought that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) would save his boss, the hon. Member for Blackburn, from the ignominy of not making the position clear, but he did not. The hon. Member for Leeds, Central spoke for 25 minutes before even mentioning a pay review body. Having done so, he simply talked about the virtues of the Labour party. The Labour party may have many virtues, but one of them is not the virtue of making its position about a pay review body clear.

To be fair to the hon. Member for Blackburn——

Mr. Straw


Mr. Eggar

I understand why the hon. Member for Blackburn does not want me to be fair. He made a substantive point, which was picked up by the hon. Member for Truro, when he referred to clause 1(4), especially the power of the Secretary of State to give directions. Because of the way in which teachers are employed, they have statutory pay and conditions. From that point of view, they are unique among those groups that have the benefit of a pay review body.

Because of the nature of teachers' employment, we have introduced a Bill to cover them. The point of the Bill is to ensure that everyone knows that teachers will be placed in the same position as other groups that have the benefit of pay review bodies, such as dentists and doctors. It is michief-making to suggest that the considerations in clause 1(4) are there to do anything more than replicate the existing informal arrangements that govern the review bodies for dentists and doctors.

The important point about clause 1(4) is that, despite what the hon. Member for Leeds, Central said and the hon. Member for Blackburn implied, it does not give the Secretary of State the power to impose a financial constraint on the pay review body. In that sense, it is crucially different from the independent advisory committee, and it is as similar as we can make it to other pay review bodies.

The review body will be free to make up its mind on the basis of all the evidence put to it. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has made it clear that we will implement its recommendations unless there are clear and compelling reasons to do otherwise.

Mr. Straw

On what conceivable authority does the hon. Gentleman justify his claim that the wide power in clause 1(4) for the Secretary of State to give the review body directions to which it must have regard will not include financial directions? There is no point in referring to the fact that the 1987 Act went further. As the hon. Gentleman and the Secretary of State know, if this provision were interpreted by the courts, they would look at the words in the Bill. The Bill gives unqualified powers to the Secretary of State to issue directions as to the considerations to which the review body is to have regard. In what way do those words exclude financial considerations?

Mr. Eggar

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would get the point by now. The review body has to have regard to whatever directions the Secretary of State gives, but it does not have to abide by them. That is the critical difference between the position under the IAC and the position under the review body. That is why the new structure is as identical as we can make it to the existing review bodies.

Mr. Straw

We are making a little progress. We have now established that, as well as the Secretary of State being able to set terms of reference under clause 1(1) and having the reserve power not to accept the recommendations, the directions could include financial directions. The only difference betweeen us and the Minister is that he is saying that the review body could ignore them. Is that correct?

Mr. Eggar

The hon. Gentleman is scrabbling around desperately to find an excuse for not answering the fundamental question, which is, "Do the Opposition support a pay review body?" My right hon. and learned Friend made the answer clear, and so have I. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have plenty of chances to explore the question further in Committee if he still wishes to do so. However, I suspect that, by the time we reach the Committee stage, the Opposition will have realised that they must be clear on the essential question that we are discussing. They cannot continue to obfuscate this issue, which is vital to teachers, to children and to their parents.

Mr. Walden

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in the real world, the most likely outcome of a pay review body for teachers would be a significant rise for teachers? Does not that put the Opposition spokesman on education in an even more ridiculous position because, in the real world, he is opposing—or failing to commend—my right hon. Friend on that move? Is it not true that the decision of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education to set up the new mechanism in the full knowledge that it will in all probability lead to a significant rise for teachers underlines the Government's bold, imaginative and constructive policy?

Mr. Eggar

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. It is extraordinary that the Opposition, who supported a review body for so many public sector bodies, should refuse to support one for teachers. Why? They know that their paymasters—the unions—are divided, and, especially, that the National Union of Teachers cannot make up its mind about the position it should take.

In fairness, the hon. Members for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) and for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) spoke eloquently on behalf of the minority of the NUT. They abide by their desire to have negotiating rights, and are absolutely determined to insist that teachers should be able to take industrial action at the drop of a hat. They are the authentic voice of the Labour party, and they were as uneasy as we were about the obfuscation by their Front Bench. For the sake of teachers and children, we want to know the answer to the basic question. We have still not heard the answer from the hon. Members for Blackburn and for Leeds, Central.

The Bill is a tribute to what the teaching profession has achieved since Burnham went down in chaos. It holds out the prospect of recognition and stability in the years ahead. It is good news for teachers, and it will be good news for children and for their parents. The people who count are the children. They must come first every time. We are concerned to ensure that teachers regain their professional status, that our children are never again threatened by industrial action and that our teachers and children are able to benefit from the introduction of the national curriculum and the other reforms that we have introduced over the past few years.

We have made it clear that we will accept and implement the recommendations of the review body unless there are clear and compelling reasons for doing otherwise. We know that the Opposition agree that, at the end of the day, the Government of the day must have the last word because they are the paymaster.

Mr. Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley)


Mr. Eggar

The Bill is straightforward and its message is simple. That may be what the Opposition find so distressing. The hon. Member for Blackburn and his hon. Friends have nowhere to hide. I cannot imagine that teachers will neglect or reject the offer on the table. Teachers are too level-headed and responsible to let the opportunity of the Bill slip away.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 200, Noes 310.

Division No. 129] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Ashton, Joe
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Allen, Graham Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Barron, Kevin
Armstrong, Hilary Battle, John
Beckett, Margaret Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Beith, A. J. Hoyle, Doug
Bellotti, David Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Benton, Joseph Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Bermingham, Gerald Illsley, Eric
Blair, Tony Ingram, Adam
Boateng, Paul Janner, Greville
Boyes, Roland Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Bradley, Keith Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Kennedy, Charles
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Kirkwood, Archy
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Leadbitter, Ted
Buckley, George J. Leighton, Ron
Caborn, Richard Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Callaghan, Jim Lewis, Terry
Campbell, Menzies (File NE) Livingstone, Ken
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Livsey, Richard
Canavan, Dennis Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Loyden, Eddie
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McAllion, John
Clelland, David McAvoy, Thomas
Cohen, Harry Macdonald, Calum A.
Cook, Robin (Livingston) McFall, John
Corbett, Robin McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Corbyn, Jeremy McKelvey, William
Cousins, Jim McLeish, Henry
Crowther, Stan McMaster, Gordon
Cryer, Bob McNamara, Kevin
Cummings, John McWilliam, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Madden, Max
Dalyell, Tam Mahon, Mrs Alice
Darling, Alistair Marek, Dr John
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Maxton, John
Dewar, Donald Meale, Alan
Dixon, Don Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Doran, Frank Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Duffy, A. E. P. Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Eadie, Alexander Moonie, Dr Lewis
Eastham, Ken Morgan, Rhodri
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fatchett, Derek Mowlam, Marjorie
Faulds, Andrew Mullin, Chris
Fearn, Ronald Nellist, Dave
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fisher, Mark O'Brien, William
Flannery, Martin O'Hara, Edward
Flynn, Paul O'Neill, Martin
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foster, Derek Parry, Robert
Foulkes, George Patchett, Terry
Fyfe, Maria Pendry, Tom
Galloway, George Pike, Peter L.
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
George, Bruce Prescott, John
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Primarolo, Dawn
Golding, Mrs Llin Quin, Ms Joyce
Gordon, Mildred Radice, Giles
Gould, Bryan Randall, Stuart
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Redmond, Martin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Reid, Dr John
Grocott, Bruce Richardson, Jo
Hain, Peter Robertson, George
Hardy, Peter Robinson, Geoffrey
Harman, Ms Harriet Rogers, Allan
Haynes, Frank Rooker, Jeff
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Rooney, Terence
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Henderson, Doug Rowlands, Ted
Hinchliffe, David Ruddock, Joan
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Sedgemore, Brian
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Sheerman, Barry
Hood, Jimmy Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Howells, Geraint Short, Clare
Skinner, Dennis Walley, Joan
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Wareing, Robert N.
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Snape, Peter Wigley, Dafydd
Soley, Clive Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Spearing, Nigel Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Steinberg, Gerry Wilson, Brian
Stott, Roger Winnick, David
Strang, Gavin Worthington, Tony
Straw, Jack Wray, Jimmy
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Tellers for the Ayes:
Turner, Dennis Mr. Martyn Jones and
Wallace, James Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.
Adley, Robert Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Aitken, Jonathan Colvin, Michael
Alexander, Richard Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Allason, Rupert Cope, Rt Hon John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Cormack, Patrick
Amess, David Couchman, James
Amos, Alan Cran, James
Arbuthnot, James Currie, Mrs Edwina
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Curry, David
Arnold, Sir Thomas Davies, Q. (Stamt'd & Spald'g)
Ashby, David Davis, David (Boothferry)
Aspinwall, Jack Day, Stephen
Atkins, Robert Devlin, Tim
Atkinson, David Dicks, Terry
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Dorrell, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Baldry, Tony Dover, Den
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dunn, Bob
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Durant, Sir Anthony
Batiste, Spencer Dykes, Hugh
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Eggar, Tim
Bellingham, Henry Emery, Sir Peter
Bendall, Vivian Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Evennett, David
Benyon, W. Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bevan, David Gilroy Fallon, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Favell, Tony
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fenner, Dame Peggy
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fishburn, John Dudley
Body, Sir Richard Fookes, Dame Janet
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Forth, Eric
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Boswell, Tim Fox, Sir Marcus
Bottomley, Peter Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia French, Douglas
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Fry, Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gardiner, Sir George
Bowis, John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gill, Christopher
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Brazier, Julian Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bright, Graham Goodhart, Sir Philip
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Goodlad, Alastair
Browne, John (Winchester) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Buck, Sir Antony Gorst, John
Burns, Simon Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Butterfill, John Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gregory, Conal
Carrington, Matthew Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Carttiss, Michael Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Cartwright, John Grist, Ian
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Ground, Patrick
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Grylls, Michael
Chapman, Sydney Hague, William
Chope, Christopher Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Churchill, Mr Hampson, Dr Keith
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Hanley, Jeremy
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Hannam, John
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Moss, Malcolm
Harris, David Moynihan, Hon Colin
Haselhurst, Alan Mudd, David
Hawkins, Christopher Neale, Sir Gerrard
Hayes, Jerry Nelson, Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Neubert, Sir Michael
Hayward, Robert Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Nicholls, Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Norris, Steve
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hill, James Page, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Paice, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Patnick, Irvine
Holt, Richard Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hordern, Sir Peter Patten, Rt Hon John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Porter, David (Waveney)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Portillo, Michael
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunter, Andrew Price, Sir David
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Raffan, Keith
Irvine, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Jack, Michael Redwood, John
Jackson, Robert Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Janman, Tim Rhodes James, Robert
Jessel, Toby Riddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Key, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion
Kilfedder, James Rossi, Sir Hugh
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rost, Peter
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Rowe, Andrew
Kirkhope, Timothy Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Sackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Knowles, Michael Sayeed, Jonathan
Knox, David Shaw, David (Dover)
Latham, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lawrence, Ivan Shelton, Sir William
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shersby, Michael
Lord, Michael Sims, Roger
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McCrindle, Sir Robert Soames, Hon Nicholas
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Speed, Keith
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Maclean, David Stanbrook, Ivor
McLoughlin, Patrick Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Steen, Anthony
Madel, David Stern, Michael
Major, Rt Hon John Stevens, Lewis
Malins, Humfrey Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mans, Keith Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Marlow, Tony Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stokes, Sir John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Sumberg, David
Mates, Michael Summerson, Hugo
Maude, Hon Francis Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mellor, Rt Hon David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mills, Iain Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miscampbell, Norman Temple-Morris, Peter
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Moate, Roger Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Thorne, Neil
Monro, Sir Hector Thornton, Malcolm
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thurnham, Peter
Moore, Rt Hon John Townend, John (Bridlington)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Morrison, Sir Charles Tracey, Richard
Tredinnick, David Whitney, Ray
Trippier, David Widdecombe, Ann
Trotter, Neville Wiggin, Jerry
Twinn, Dr Ian Wilkinson, John
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Wilshire, David
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Walden, George Winterton, Nicholas
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Wolfson, Mark
Waller, Gary Wood, Timothy
Walters, Sir Dennis Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Ward, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Younger, Rt Hon George
Warren, Kenneth
Watts, John Tellers for the Noes:
Wells, Bowen Mr. David Lightbown and
Wheeler, Sir John Mr. John M. Taylor.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 60 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).