§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. The Bill deals with the position of British teachers in certain schools which have been established in foreign countries for the benefit of resident British communities. Many members of those communities in Egypt and China and other parts of the world are unable to afford to send their children to be educated at home but they naturally wish to give them a British education. They have, therefore, established schools intended primarily for the education of their own children. I say primarily because a certain number of people of other nationalities take advantage of the facilities thus provided. The schools, however, are thoroughly British in character and the majority of the children attending them are of British extraction. It is unnecessary, I think, to expatiate 1013 on the advantages which accrue to the British communities through the possession of these schools. They also afford valuable opportunities to teachers, who are encouraged by the Board of Education to take positions in these schools, of widening their minds by residing abroad and of improving their professional technique by observing the educational methods of other nations.
But up till now there has been one grave disadvantage which has prevented many teachers who would otherwise have done so from accepting positions in British schools abroad. Until the year 1925 a teacher was not able to count service outside the United Kingdom as service towards pension under the Board of Education superannuation scheme. Naturally teachers very much disliked the idea of losing or of postponing their superannuation rights. By the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1925, and the corresponding Scottish Act which this Bill is intended to amend, the matter was dealt with in this way. A teacher was allowed to count four years in a British Dominion as service for pension and he was allowed to count one year in a British school in a foreign country as service towards pension. So far as the Dominions are concerned that has, I believe, worked very well. There is a system of exchange of teachers between Great Britain and the Dominions which satisfies all concerned. It is of great benefit to all. But as far as British schools in foreign countries are concerned the Act has not worked at all satisfactorily, one year being a period much too short to induce teachers to take up these positions. It is proposed by this Bill to extend that period to four years as in the case of the Dominions.
It is further provided that a teacher shall contribute ten per cent. of his salary to the British pensions scheme. That is necessary in order to ensure the solvency of the fund. In England a teacher has to contribute only five per cent. of his salary, the other five per cent. being contributed by the local authority which employs him, but I am informed that no hardship will be incurred by the teacher by reason of this additional five per cent. which he has to pay because he is able to recover it from his employers. The Bill is warmly supported by the National Union of 1014 Teachers. When it was introduced into another place it was commended from all sides. This is the first Bill I have had the honour of presenting to your Lordships, and I am proud to think it may be of some small benefit to our fellow subjects abroad and to members of the scholastic profession of which I have the honour to be a member.
Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Iddesleigh.)
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, I do not think it is necessary for me to trespass on your Lordships' time for more than a moment of two but I would like to say on behalf of His Majesty's Government and my noble friend the President of the Board of Education that we feel that this Bill, though short and simple, is a very valuable one. We are most grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, for bringing it before your Lordships' House. As he has already stated this Bill in another place has been accepted in all quarters and by all Parties. It had the rather unique experience of passing through all its stages in one sitting in another place. Therefore, I do not think it is necessary for me to do more than ask your Lordships to give your support to the measure the objects and purposes of which have been so ably put by the noble Earl. I should like however, if I may, to impress upon your Lordships two points. The first is that so far as can be seen no further expense will be incurred by this country by reason of the passing of this Bill. That, of course, is a strong point in its favour.
The second point, which has already been mentioned by the noble Earl, is that it is a defect in the existing law that while it provides that teachers should be allowed to count four years' service in the Dominions as pensionable service, it only allows them to count one year in foreign countries as such. That means that as the law now stands a teacher who goes to a foreign country for a longer period than one year imperils his pensionable service. That is certainly a shortsighted policy and it is felt that it will not encourage the best type of teacher to go abroad, while at the same time those of our fellow-citizens who, through no fault of their own, live in foreign countries would, in conse 1015 quence, suffer. Owing to that defect also it is felt that teachers of the right type would be likely to be deprived of the advantages which would accrue to them from going abroad in the general broadening of their outlook by sojourn in a foreign country. The Bill now before your Lordships would remedy this evil. I think it is unnecessary that I should trespass further on your Lordships time, but I would ask you to accord your blessing to a Bill which His Majesty's Government and my noble friend in another place consider to be an excellent Bill from every point of view.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.