HC Deb 12 February 1991 vol 185 cc726-7
12. Mr. Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make it his policy fully to fund the award by the Interim Advisory Committee on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions through central Government.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The cost of the Government's proposals for implementing the Interim Advisory Committee's recommendations in 1991–92 has already been fully funded by the Government's decisions made last year on local government expenditure. The 1991–92 education standard spending totals announced last autumn allow for the full cost of these proposals, as well as for the follow-through cost of the 1990–91 teachers' pay award, and also include an element for the exercise of local pay discretions.

Mr. Turner

Why are the Government watering down the award when the IAC—a Government-appointed body—has reported to them that teachers' morale is at rock bottom and that vacancy levels have deteriorated appreciably over the past four years? When will the Government recognise that there is a serious crisis in our education system?

Mr. Clarke

We have accepted in full the recommendations of the Interim Advisory Committee and we are phasing them in. [Interruption.] The result will be that by this time next year teachers will have a 9.5 per cent. increase and head teachers will have an increase of over 12 per cent. at a time when inflation is expected by all commentators to be 6 per cent. or below. As a result of this award, teachers will receive a much greater increase in their annual income than other groups are likely to receive in the coming year. That is a good thing. It is especially good that the IAC has introduced new incentives and discretions to enable us to concentrate on classroom performance, shortage subjects and other aspects involved in creating a good career structure for the teachers in our schools.

Mr. Thornton

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that this will do much to improve morale in the teaching profession? Will he look particularly at one of the recommendations of the Select Committee report, which urged that all teacher awards in future should keep pace with inflation and not allow us to return to a position in which we have to have the hikes such as we had under the Houghton and Clegg awards?

Mr. Clarke

As I have already said, everybody expects inflation to fall to 6 or 5.5 per cent. by the end of next year. A general pay increase of 9.5 per cent., with 12.75 per cent. for heads and deputies, is far ahead of inflation. Teachers are already 30 per cent. ahead of inflation during the lifetime of this Government. They have already enjoyed an increase in their real living standards and that will obviously increase substantially as a result of the Government's decisions for next year.

Mr. Fatchett

Can the Secretary of State explain to teachers why, when the Prime Minister says that education is such an important issue and when Conservative Members say that the country is enjoying some form of economic miracle, teachers' pay increases are being "phased", to use the Secretary of State's words? Is not that a further indication that the Government do not value education or teachers?

Mr. Clarke

The Government have phased the increases to take into account the inflation assumptions for the relevant year—next year—and also the pay expectations of other groups in the population. The increase in real terms of teacher's income, which is already 30 per cent. ahead of inflation, will go up substantially next year. The money is being distributed in such a way as to reward especially the good classroom teachers, those in shortage subjects and those who take responsibilities in our education system. The pay award is far ahead of the pay awards likely to go to those in equivalent occupations and it is right that teachers should get that preferential treatment.

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