§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (VISCOUNT HALIFAX)
My Lords, I do not think I need keep your Lordships more than a minute or two explaining the circumstances in which this Bill comes to be brought forward. Your Lordships will be aware that under the Superannuation Acts teachers' pensions are to-day governed mainly by the average salary that they have received in the last five years of their service. It will be apparent, therefore, that any reduction that they might have suffered in reduction of salary is automatically reflected in their retiring pensions. Unless some provision is made the reduction in teachers' salaries that was in operation from 1st October, 1931, to 30th June, 1935, would inflict considerable loss upon those individuals who happened to have retired from service either during the period of the reduction or the five years after the restoration of the cuts had been made. That reduction would, in some instances, I am advised, have amounted to no less than 6½ per cent. of the permanent pension. Therefore your Lordships will see that that situation would have inflicted no inconsiderable hardship upon some people, continuing not only for the period of the cuts but for the whole continuing period after the cuts had been restored.
Owing to the system of contributions on which these pensions are based—namely, 5 per cent. on the teacher's salary paid by the teacher himself, 2½ per cent. paid by the employer and 2½ per cent. paid by the Board of Education—it would have been necessary, if we were to proceed on the old regular basis on this matter, either to have collected retrospectively contributions from local education authorities and teachers, which would have been an extremely cumbersome and difficult thing to do, or to have 853 considerably increased the Government contribution. The scheme in this Bill is that as from the 1st July, 1935, the annual superannuation allowance to which a teacher is entitled shall in no case be less than 98 per cent. of what he would have received if there had been no salary cut. To secure this end the Government are prepared to find £1,000,000 for England and Wales and a corresponding amount for Scotland, which is approximately the amount that would have been necessary had there been no salary cuts.
This Bill, which I recommend to your Lordships, has to my mind the double advantage that it avoids the cumbersome and complicated procedure of the alternative to which I pave referred, and it gives teachers the maximum possible benefit in the circumstances on terms which their representatives have accepted as a full and final settlement. I had the opportunity myself before I left the Board of Education of receiving representatives of nearly all the main organisations of teachers, and I think that I can assure your Lordships that it is generally accepted as a full settlement of a rather difficult question, and a settlement without which the State would have been in some danger of inflicting permanent hardship upon a body of public servants to whom, they would always wish to do justice.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.