HL Deb 27 June 1963 vol 251 cc399-440

4.0 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I rise to move that this Bill be now read a second time. On February 20 of this year my right honourable friend the Minister of Education took a decision which I thought highly courageous, intelligent and enlightened, but also extremely controversial. By that decision my right honourable friend intimated to the Burnham Committee the grounds upon which the proposals in their provisional agreement on salary scales were unacceptable to him. In the result, the Committee felt unable to modify their proposals, and this had the legal consequence that under the statutory procedure which governs this matter—namely, Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944—the old salary scales must remain in force in toto unless and until they are altered by Act of Parliament.

Since the changes proposed by my right honourable friend, like those of the Burnham Committee, result in an increase in the total remuneration payable to teachers by the sum of £42 million spread over two years, it is hardly likely that even those who disagree with the action taken by my right honourable friend will quarrel with his decision not to leave things as they were then. In consequence, I trust that to whatever other controversy this debate will give rise, it will not be suggested that the Bill itself, in the circumstances which have arisen, is unnecessary.

With the actual terms of the Bill I need not trouble your Lordships at any length; indeed, except to an expert, I would suppose that they were largely unintelligible. The Bill provides in a highly technical manner for the alteration of the existing salary scales in what I conceive, in the absence of the procedure under Section 89 of the principal Act, is the only conceivable manner—a ministerial order. The date of operation of the new scales will be from April 1 last, provided that the order is made before August 1 next. This is to give effect to the intention of all parties that April 1 should be the operative date for salary increases.

Since this Bill is an ad hoc measure, meant to give a respite for more general legislation after adequate discussion with the parties concerned, the powers conferred under the Bill lapse on March 31, 1965; but, as the result of an Amendment made, I think, while the Bill was passing through another place, orders still existing on that date will continue in force, to prevent any hiatus in the provision of teachers' salaries. The rest of the Bill is either formal, technical or consequential, and I need not trouble your Lordships with it. I will, therefore, proceed, in what I hope will be a relatively short speech, to describe some of the matters of substance underlying the Bill itself.

The remuneration of teachers for England and Wales, as all of your Lordships will remember, is governed by the provisions of Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944. This section enshrines the so-called Burnham procedure, and that procedure goes back a good twenty years before the date of the actual Bill. Under the Burnham procedure the Minister has to set up the Burnham Committee, which consists of representatives of teachers and local authorities and, when the Committee agrees (as it is fair to say it usually does) the proposals are submitted to the Minister. When they are submitted to him he may reject them or he may approve of them. If he approves, of them he makes an order giving effect to them. But whichever he does—approve or reject—he cannot amend the proposals.

This arrangement differs from the provisions in Scotland, where the Secretary of State not only can, but does, amend the provisions submitted by the negotiating body—a situation which has endured as long in Scotland as I believe the parallel provisions have endured in England and Wales. In the old days—that is to say, when the Burnham procedure came into force—it was assumed that the local authorities, as the employing bodies, and the teachers, as the employed, would adopt the traditional attitude of organisations who occupy those relative positions. The fact that no improvement could be effected or even submitted to the Minister without agreement was then considered a sufficient incentive to agree on the part of the teachers, and a sufficient safeguard to the public interest on behalf of the public. The Minister's power under Section 89 was reserved for a major disagreement with an entire salary settlement.

In the circumstances which existed, I do not know that the Minister's power was in fact used. The Minister was represented by assessors who kept him generally informed of the progress of the formal negotiations, but in practice they have rarely been asked, or called upon, to play any direct part in the discussion. In recent years this time-honoured mechanism has shown increasing signs of strain. I think only the foolish would seek to apportion blame for this. The basic reason, as I shall strive to show, is not the fault of persons or of organisation. As I see it, the basic reason is the emergence of teachersupply—and by that I mean the supply of qualified teachers of adequate capacity at every level of qualification; the emergence, in that sense, of teacher-supply as one of the crucial issues of school and technical education. We must remember, of course, that we are not dealing in this debate with universities, although kindred but separate issues arise in that connection.

Obviously, teacher provision and teachers' remuneration are two closely and intimately connected problems. The Minister cannot be responsible, as he is responsible for teacher provision in the sense in which I have defined it, and remain disinterested in the details of teachers' remuneration, any more than he can be disinterested in the total of teachers' remuneration. For this reason, and because local authorities, even under the general grant, are so largely supported by the taxpayer, the balancing mechanism provided for in the Act of 1944 no longer wholly corresponds with the realities of the case. The Minister can no longer disinterest himself to the extent that he must approve in toto or reject in toto what Burnham submits. That this was so was already apparent by 1959, even if it had not become apparent before.

My immediate successor as Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd, was faced with a recommendation which he did not in fact reject, but in respect of which he felt constrained to say that the needs of the education service could be better met had the same total been distributed in other ways. This formal démarche was the end of a long tug-of-war that had been proceeding silently for a good number of years. Mr. Lloyd then asked that due note should be taken of the views he had expressed when the time came for a further salary review.

This brings me to the next salary review, which was that in 1961, when my noble friend Lord Eccles succeeded, I thought with great skill, in capturing for the teachers £42 million increases, immediately after the start of the pay pause, on the grounds of prior commitment. That sum of £42 million was only £5½ million less than the £47½ million originally proposed—a feat for which I think my noble friend has not yet received adequate recognition. In inviting the Committee to submit revised proposals for the new figure, my noble friend said that he expected them to maintain unchanged the new and increased differentials, thus leaving the basic scales to bear the brunt of the difference.

I come now to the negotiations of 1963. On January 24 last the Burnham Committee reached provisional agreement, which it subsequently ratified and submitted to my right honourable friend. This agreement provided for a 7 per cent. increase in salaries to cost £21 million a year and to last for two years. It should be remembered, of course, that this increase came only fifteen months after a corresponding increase of nearly 15 per cent. costing about twice as much, £42 million a year. The Minister accepted this total increase as just—that is to say, he accepted the increase of £21 million each year for two years. But he judged, much as his two predecessors had done, that on arriving at the new scales the Burnham Committee had got its priorities wrong, and had done less than it might have done to assist recruitment, both in quantity and in quality, at a time when teacher provision was of the essence of the educational problem.

In the first place, under the proposals the basic scales payable to all teachers were to be increased by a flat £50 per annum, irrespective of age, length of service or qualifications. This flat rate increase means, in substance, that the greater the length of service, or the heavier the responsibility, the lower the percentage increase. It contrasts with the Minister's proposed scale which has been published, which rises from an increase of £30 at the bottom of the scale to £110 at thirteen and fourteen years' service, after which it declines to £50 a year increase again at a maximum—which, so far as I remember, is sixteen years' service. In shaping his scale in this way the Minister recognised that the teachers most in need of help through the basic scale are those in their later twenties or early thirties, whose personal responsibilities are in general increasing rapidly but who cannot yet expect salary increases through promotion to posts of greater responsibility.

Secondly, under the Burnham proposals, the salaries of the two-year-trained teachers (and noble Lords will remember that, as a result of a decision taken in 1957, new teachers all now have a three-year course) would at a single step be pushed up to identical scales with three-year-trained teachers. This meant 195,000 two-year-trained teachers would enjoy a further flat rate increase of £30 (making £80 in all, together with the original £50 flat rate increase), without regard to responsibility, length of service or qualifications. Apart from anything else, of course, this simply increases the pay of existing staff as such at the expense of newcomers and at the expense of those with posts of added responsibility.

The Minister fully endorses this principle of assimilating the former two-year-trained teachers to the new three-year-trained teachers' salary scale, but considers it a mistake in priorities to propose to carry that principle through in one single step, at a cost of £6 million a year, when some of this money could be, and under his proposals will be, better used in permanently improving the scales and allowances. Accordingly, his proposal is to assimilate at once those two-year-trained teachers who are on their maximum—that is, those with sixteen years' service. This will account at once for 90,000 of the 195,000 involved, and may therefore be regarded as a first instalment of a very handsome character, The remainder of the teachers concerned would be assimilated as they reached their maximum period of service, unless, course, the process is accelerated by further instalments of assimilation in future salary settlements. This is a suggestion which is not precluded by what the Minister has done.

Thirdly, the effect of the Burnham proposals was to ensure that all teachers with three or more years' training who were already in service, but no new recruits, should in their turn be given a flat rate increase of £30 a year at maximum, in order, I suppose, to enable them on a personal basis to maintain their £30 lead over the two-year teachers who have been assimilated—another provision which would militate against recruitment, and one which would destroy part of the effect of the second provision. At any rate, the Minister could not agree to this suggestion in principle. Under the Burnham proposals, of the whole £42 million increase all except £1 million was to be spent on flat-rate increases of one sort or another—and all of them militate against length of service, qualification, and responsibility; the last two of them militate, in addition, against new recruits. Of the whole £42 million, only £1 million was to be spent on differentials, raising the salary addition paid to holders of the so-called, "good honours degrees" by £20 a year, from £100 to £120.

By deferring assimilation for one half of the serving two-year-trained teachers, and by cutting out the proposed personal protection for serving teachers with three or more years' training, the Minister has in fact freed some £8 million out of the £42 million. The improved basic scale which I have described will require some £3 million out of £8 million freed; and under the Minister's proposals the remaining £5 million of the £8 million so freed will be used to increase, by amounts ranging from £10 to £100 a year, the allowances to teachers with posts of responsibility. These, of course, include head teachers, deputy heads, heads of departments and those occupying graded posts. The total cost is the same as the cost to the Exchequer of the Burnham proposals which the Minister has rejected. Despite all the heat and dust of battle, I have no doubt whatever which set of proposals—each costing the taxpayer £21 million a year of money—is more in the interests of the education service.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Viscount for the way in which he is dealing with this matter. Could be give us the commencing figure now, on joining the profession, for a two-year-trained teacher and for a three-year-trained teacher?


My Lords, of course there is no commencing figure for a two-year-trained teacher on joining the profession, because there have not been any since 1960. I think I have here the figure for a three-year-trained teacher. Under the existing scale the figure is £600 and under the proposed scale it is £630. I think that could have been inferred from what I have already said. There are no figures for the two-year-trained teacher because of course, as the noble Earl will remember, as a result of the decision I took in 1957 the two-year-trained teacher joining the profession has ceased to exist as a separate creature since 1960. I think I am right.

I do not feel that your Lordships will desire to discuss in detail the correspondence, which has been widely publicised, between the Minister and the interested parties. It is possible that there may have been misunderstandings on both sides. The situation which has now occurred very nearly happened when my noble friend Lord Eccles was Minister. He finally agreed not to amend the Burnham procedure only after deep consideration, and almost, I would say, as a last endeavour. It is plain that what we are confronted with here is not a hasty dispute between irresponsible parties, but a deep-seated and fundamental difficulty which will require of necessity a reconsideration of the Burnham procedure itself. This the Bill does not attempt to achieve. It provides instead a moratorium, a temporary arrangement, to allow life to continue in a rational manner while the partners discuss new articles for the partnership, which when achieved will, I think, last as long and prove as fruitful as the last partnership has done. What that partnership will be I shall not myself attempt to pronounce, or even suggest. But, if I may quote my right honourable friend's words in another place, he said: My starting point is that each of the responsible partners in the education service, including the Minister of Education, should be assured of an appropriate place in any revised machinery and procedure for the settlement of teachers' salaries. My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships' House will be wise to wish these discussions well without attempting to prejudge them. In the meantime, I would ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to a Bill the purpose of which is to spend an additional and agreed total of £28 million a year on the teaching profession. I should say, as I think I omitted to say at the beginning, that although, for the sake of clarity, I have been dealing with the primary and Secondary Committee, there are, of course, other committees which increase the figure I originally quoted, of £21 million a year, by another £7 million, making a figure of £28 million a year. This sum of £28 million is to be distributed in proportions which, whilst they are not agreed, if they err at all can be alleged to err only in giving increased weight to experience and responsibility, and to the need to stimulate recruitment. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(Viscount Hailsham.)

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House for explaining the position along the lines he has done. He will not of course expect me to agree with every one of the conclusions that he came to as he travelled along that path of exposition, but I understand clearly what was in his mind as the reason for this action, what was its effect, and what is the future purpose of the Minister of Education. However, there are some conclusions which the noble and learned Viscount has come to with which I ought perhaps to say straight away I do not agree.

I do not accept that the decision of the Burnham Committee, which has been in dispute with the Minister, was one which would have interfered with the recruitment of teachers. Nor do I, for one moment, forget what a terrific task awaits either a Minister of Education, or any of the local authorities and those who are interested in recruiting candidates, to make up the shortage of teachers, which has to be met somehow in the next 15 or 16 years. I think the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, would agree that you have to look a long period ahead to judge your problem when you consider the extraordinary changes which have taken place in the statistics presented to us about the meaning of the birth-rate in regard to the number of children to be educated. I would say that by 1970 we shall be requiring an additional 50,000 teachers, and if you are looking forward to even the next stage of child requirements you will be far nearer the 100,000 mark; and some people put the shortage to be made up by 1980 above that. That is the sort of problem which we are looking forward to.

What is the situation in regard to 1963? I have never had the experience of serving in the Ministry of Education, but I served from boy to young-middle-aged man, first in a School Board office and then in a county education office, from 1899 until 1920. I have seen a great deal of what goes on in the local administration of education and in the varying light of changing legislation. I must say that I never really anticipated, from those days, that we should come to the kind of deadlock where the question of payment of wages and salaries comes along to be settled for a temporary period by a special Bill, brought in by a Minister of Education who is not the direct employer of the professions involved. He is actually in the position only of having a wide, general, national educational policy, and in relation to wages and salaries he has to make a grant towards those who are actually the teachers' employers. The recommendation of the Burnham Committee on the two main classes of teachers and educators concerned in the noble Viscount's statement would not have meant having to change in any real respect the charge upon the Treasury of £21 million. That was the recommendation of the Burnham Committee, and it would cost in total £21 million, to be spent in the manner explained by the noble and learned Viscount. But I deplore the fact that he has interfered with the manner of its distribution.


The Minister.


The Minister has interfered with the manner of its distribution among the earners of wages and salaries. A complicated question like that seems to me to be an astonishing problem to put to Parliament, because, whatever you may say about the time factor and the legal aspect, which is difficult for an ordinary Member to understand, what Parliament is asked to do is to give power to the Minister when he has already announced months ago that he is going to take this step. So the decision lies with Parliament, and I think that is a great pity.

I must make clear what I understand to be the position of the teachers' organisations in this matter. The noble and learned Viscount talks about the proposals that may be put into operation now for having further discussions and negotiations about the form of a negotiating body for the future. I must say this—and I say it from the point of view of my political convictions as well, perhaps, as from such local government experience as I have had—that I think it would be a great fallacy to lay down that, because people are called teachers (or professors, if you like), they cannot have their own negotiating body and be certain that Parliament will not interfere with the results of their properly-setup negotiating body. Education is not the only service which is handled by local authorities. If the Government are prepared to put in motion this sort of operation in regard to education (in respect of which, I quite admit, the cost of the grant is very great), what about all the other services for which the Government make grants to local authorities and in respect of which negotiations then take place, either directly with a trade union or with some other negotiating body which has been set up for similar purposes, as is often done in the case of general, administrative, local government officers? This is a principle which goes even wider than affecting merely the teaching profession.

So I should say that there can be no real complaint made against the machinery of the Burnham Committee, which has worked for nearly forty years, provided the Government leave it or that it is certain in the minds of those whose salaries and incomes are involved that, when that negotiating committee has finished its work, when the people who are asking for more money or for a difference in conditions of employment have made their concessions and it has been adjusted with the other parts of the negotiating committee, they then have the right to expect it to be operated. If you did not do that in the case of other employees of (local authorities you would be having strikes every week. I beg the Government to reconsider the matter from that point of view, if from no other, because it is a very important and vital point of view.

Then there arises this grave question, seemingly very difficult to the teachers, which comes under what to me is the curious title of "assimilation". I will say this to the noble and learned Viscount: I think his explanation of the matter this afternoon has been more clear, more understandable, than any I have yet read in Hansard, and I can understand the motive and everything else. But is it right, first of all, that the proposals of the Minister are better from the point of view of obtaining additional recruits to meet this vast shortage of teachers, this shortage which is growing still, or would it not have been better to have secured, through the negotiating committee, the right kind of conditions for general entry into the teaching profession? I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been better to take the second course, because the very first point that was explained to us by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House about assimilation was that it would take a person of the age which he described sixteen years to become properly assimilated into the new scale. Do you think that is going to bring peace and happiness to those people? Not likely!

Then, look at a general comparison between the result of the new three-year training for those in primary school teaching and the result of the actual experience of a man who has worked for sixteen years as a teacher. Or take the case of a married woman who may have worked ten years before she leaves the profession temporarily to become a mother, and then, years afterwards, goes back and has to come into some sort of assimilation. Her experience was valuable. In regard to this educational qualification of a teacher, I often would place more value upon the sixteen years' experience, in large numbers of cases, than I would upon an extra year at some academy for the purpose of providing, on paper, the qualification of an extra year's training. I thank God (I have said it before, and I say it again) for the teacher I had in a Board school— my only, overall, permanent education. He was one of the greatest men I ever met. He was a class teacher. He never went to Cardiff for training as a teacher, but he was the best mathematician in Bristol. He educated in mathematics, and in certain other subjects as well, all the pupil teachers who were being trained to go to college. He taught me things until the time I left Board school after seven years that I see lacking in the output, very often, at the age of thirteen, in the present system of education. He never went to college, but the experience of the man and his breadth of reading and the like were almost matchless. I do not know whether I have told your Lordships this story before, but he rang me up one morning in 1940, after I had been broadcasting on the work of the Royal Navy. He rang up from Bristol, quite unexpectedly, to say, "You made a good speech last night; but when in the world did I ever teach you to use a split infinitive?".

You can find among teachers to-day of only two years' training but with years of experience of teaching those who ought to be assimilated immediately. You can also get down to dealing properly with the general shortage of teachers only if you pay, on the entry into the profession of those who come out from what is now the compulsory three-year training course, a salary which is comparable—rightly comparable according to their qualifications—to the salaries of those who enter other occupations. What can we say about a system which finally comes down to the figure which was mentioned by the noble and learned Viscount? After three years' training they will enter the profession, it may be at the age of 21, 22 or 23 according to the rate of their progress in their primary education, at £630 a year. When you have deducted from that their insurance charges, their quite heavy superannuation charges and their tax, how much do you reckon they will take home each week? I wonder whether the noble and learned Viscount can answer that one? Will he then begin to compare it with the workers in other occupations?

Let us take especially those who have worked three, four or five years under an apprenticeship, and compare it with what you are now offering in this profession, in which people have to work, by way of being trained, to the age of 21, 22 or 23 without any remuneration at all except for such grant as may be made by a local authority while they are at college by way of help to maintain them. Let us compare it with, say, an apprentice bricklayer. Will the Minister get the figures from the appropriate Departments and put them alongside what you are offering a professional teacher? Or take, shall we say, an apprentice electrician.

It may be argued about some of these outside occupations, "Ah!, but there is a difference. The teacher will go on, taking the opportunities of promotion and changing salaries, with experience and the like; but these other workers coming in from apprenticeship will more or less be steady in their emoluments." That is not true of all the apprenticeships in the industrial world. Take the electrical industry. Take a really good plumber. Try to get a really good plumber who will take home each week, net, what a teacher is asked to take home when he leaves college. You could not get one. What is more, men like these are often being offered jobs afterwards, with promotion. An apprenticed electrician might become quite a technologist, not because he has a lot of other, outside qualifications but because of the experience which arises from his practical work, based upon his apprenticeship. There is no real comparison, on the basis of employment and social justice, between these two scales.

In the case of the other classes of workers, in the apprentice group in industry, do you think for a moment that they would stand a position in which a Minister can come along to the Houses of Parliament and ask for authority to bring in a temporary Bill which would destroy, at least for a couple of years, the real basis of their settlement? And yet that is what has been done in this case. All three parties to the negotiations were agreed upon the distribution of the £21 million for the primary and the secondary school teachers. They all agreed. The four organisations of the teachers were all agreed. Yet what they did not get was a proper granting of the application which had been agreed to by the three bodies in the negotiating Committee: that they should have such a commencing salary as was fair and reasonable, and a system of assimilation that should be fair and reasonable.

I am quite sure, in my own mind, from the way he spoke about it, that the noble and learned Viscount was confident that these long-term, drawn-out arrangements for assimilation were fair and reasonable. He would have a great job to argue that successfully with those who have been leading the teachers' organisations; or with the local authorities who are the employers of the profession concerned—and upon every aspect of what it is going to cost them they are as much concerned as the Government. They have agreed. I do not understand this position at all. I think it is a great pity that it had to be brought to Parliament to settle. I am very nervous of the extent to which any Conservative Government in future might want to adopt the same sort of action in regard to salaries and wages other than those of the teaching profession. I do not want to take any further time of the House because, like the noble and learned Viscount, I have other engagements to go to but I am bound to say that I feel quite bitterly about this position.

When I go down to Bristol I stay with my sister. She was in the profession, while staying at home and looking after my widowed mother, for over forty years. She is living reasonably comfortably now, but on a pension which, when you consider her services (including the headmistressship of the largest school with nearly 600 children, in Bristol) is paltry in relation to her services to the State. If that is so in cases that I know about, what sort of provision are you going to make for the future, if you are going to hope to be able to fill the gap in teachers?

Do not let any Minister, or any representative speaking to him from the Treasury about it, get away with this. This is not a system to entice more candidates. The Minister's difficulty was that the Government have been unable to provide training-college places to take these candidates. It is no use to turn round and say in answer to us to-day that the number of candidates for the teaching profession is increasing a little. That will not do; because, in fact, you could fill those places directly you put the colleges there. The colleges are not there. It has been proposed already to overcrowd some of the existing colleges, and to build a few more; but it cannot meet the situation in the next fifteen or seventeen years. If you are going to get the whole-hearted work you require in a rising economy, with the costs of everything rising to the people concerned within that economy, you must see that the teachers who are being trained will have at least as good a prospect, if not a better one, than other professions.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, my noble and learned friend made such a clear and convincing exposition of the detailed reasons that moved the Minister of Education to legislate on this matter that I hardly think I need to add anything on that part of the Bill. But, listening to the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, I can see that there is a very great difference of opinion upon what I would call the national interest in the staffing of the schools and upon the actual situation with which any Minister would now have to deal. The Bill adds 6 or 7 per cent. to the cost of the teachers' salaries. That may not be a very big affair, but it does uncover a very great issue in British education: the right of the Minister to get his own way when he feels that the public interest is not being served by an agreement that has been come to by his other partners. This is one of the really difficult issues. How should the responsibility for this great service be shared between the Minister, and local authorities and the teachers?

This problem of the strategic planning and the higher administration of British education becomes every year more acute as the service grows in national importance and absorbs an ever-larger slice of public funds. I find it difficult to see how children are to receive the kind of education we wish to provide for them in this scientific age—that is, a flexible and progressive system offering equal opportunities to all—unless the Minister has the power to force the pace where progress is most needed and, correspondingly, to postpone some advances not of the first urgency. The Minister must have this residual power; but it is very much to be hoped that the making of the big policy decisions—and, of course, the question of salaries is one of the biggest—can be shared with his partners in ways more satisfactory than at present. As the Bill is a very good example of the difficulty of arriving at agreed deci- sions, your Lordships may not think it amiss if I devote my few remarks to this aspect of the very controversial issue—and, indeed, it is one—on which the noble Earl himself concentrated.

I have been struck by the number of people who seem disposed to challenge the wisdom of bringing in any Bill of this kind. Yet when the Education Act, 1944, was debated in Parliament, it was accepted that from time to time the Minister might find himself in conflict with the Burnham Committee. In Section 89 he was given a specific obligation to approve, or otherwise, recommendations of the Committee. Was that an objectionable power? Did your Lordships make a mistake in granting it to the Minister? With respect, I think not. Considering that the taxpayer meets over half the enormous costs of education, and remembering that the Minister has, under Section 1 of the Act, an obligation to see that the service is efficiently conducted—and this is an over-riding directive—Parliament could hardly have done otherwise than give to the Minister the right to reject salary proposals which he considered not in the best interests of the schools. Yet today there are well-known people in education—I think the noble Earl is one of them—who have persuaded themselves that that power ought never to be used. These people castigate the Government as being unintelligent and reactionary if they call in question any settlement which has been agreed between employers and employees among themselves. But there is such a thing as the public interest, which ought not to be put aside in order to avoid a painful conflict with a body of people, however numerous and however respectable.

For my part, I was glad that Sir Edward Boyle had the courage of his convictions and, though he knew it would be unpopular, he rejected a distribution of the £21 million which he thought against the best interests of the primary and secondary schools. How satisfying it is to know that Ministers exist who are not willing to make any and every concession for the sake of a quiet life! My right honourable friend found that the recommendations of the Burnham Committee required amendment not only in the case of the basic salary at entry, but in several other respects. As the noble Earl said, the dispute was not over the amount of money available. The Minister accepted the Committee's figure of £21 million a year. The dispute was over how the money should be distributed, and that turns on what one thinks is the best way to encourage teachers with the right qualifications to enter and to stay in the profession.

I wish that the Burnham Committee had taken a broader view of this central problem. I will try to show your Lordships why, in the changed circumstances of the 1960s, they could hardly be expected to do so. But, first, a word about the supply of and demand for teachers. In an important respect, teachers differ from the other learned professions. If a few lawyers or doctors or engineers happen to be women, we treat that as immaterial, as having no bearing upon the competence of any member of that profession in carrying out his or her duties. No one contends that the public interest demands that a definite proportion of doctors or lawyers must be of one sex or another. But with the teachers it is quite different. They are in this respect unique.

The schools have to be staffed with both a very large number of men and an even larger number of women. Your Lordships will readily understand why this is so. The small children in the infant schools, both girls and boys, are generally better cared for and taught by women than by men. As they grow older, boys and girls are better taught by teachers of their own sex, though the distinction is not so rigid as it used to be. In round figures, there are to-day 160,000 women and 115,00 men teaching in the maintained primary and secondary schools. As the noble Earl said, their number is rapidly increasing, and we should do all that we can to bring that about, but the proportion between the sexes will have to be as nearly maintained as possible.

One means of keeping it so is, of course, the allocation of places in the training colleges between men and women students; but another—and it is growing more important all the time—is the salary scale and allowances. Here the fundamental point is that the salary scale and allowances must be adequate to secure enough men. The men, who have so many more alternative careers open to them than are open to the women, are much harder to recruit than women and this fact of life creates an embarrassing difficulty. For the number of women teachers has to be so large that to pay them more than is necessary involves the expenditure of many millions of pounds. At the same time, to pay the men less than it necessary to get the number with the qualifications required would be a disaster for the schools. Here is a real financial problem which has been nagging at the back of the Burnham settlements for some time.

If the money available for education were equal to all the demands of the service (and we know it never will be) and if teachers' salaries had no consequential effects upon the salaries of other groups (and we know they always will have) then the simplest thing would be to raise the teachers' basic scale from first to last to a level that would attract enough men. But ought a Minister of Education in the 1960's to support such an easy and expensive way out, when he knows that there are so many other improvements in the service for which the money is not available and is not going to be available in any time we can see? Surely he must apply the test whether the salaries and allowances are in fact adequate to secure the number and the qualities of both male and female teachers which are required in the schools, and this he has to do within the principle of equal pay.

When Mr. Butler introduced equal pay, I warmly supported him. I thought that it was an act of justice; and I still do. But it has worked out rather differently than expected and, in particular, has shown up the relative difficulties of the young married men teachers, whose family budget is likely to be under strain in the early years of their marriage. Sir Edward Boyle is surely right in maintaining that, in present circumstances—and, of course, they can change—the opening years of the basic scale are not so much in need of an increase as are the later years and also the allowances for posts of responsibility. This brings me to the heart of the disagreement. The Burnham Committee is not well organised to handle the new and complex salary problems of the 1960's.


My Lords, does that mean to say that the noble Lord, with his experience both at the Treasury and at the Ministry of Education, really thinks that one can handle a profession of over 300,000 members on a basis of having all these differentiations between them, although they may have exactly the same qualifications? I cannot for the life of me see how the noble Lord can say, because he does not think they have enough money in the Treasury to do it, that we must differentiate between them in this matter, and I do not think we shall ever get this great professional body to agree to it. We must have women teachers, not in small numbers, like women lawyers, but nationally.


My Lords, I think that the noble Earl has completely misunderstood me, and perhaps I can clear up his difficulty as I go along. I was just saying that the Burnham Committee is not well organised to handle the modern and growing problems of the supply of teachers. These arise chiefly out of the competition for men with the kind of academic distinctions we need in a teacher, and also from the much earlier marriages of the young women.

In the past, the Burnham Committee has done a great deal to establish increased differentials. I made it a part of the bargain for the 1956 settlement that the concertina of differentials should, as we then said, be pulled out and the Committee worked out some very excellent arrangements; but I am afraid that it is true that, in the last few years, the Committee has become more basic-scale-minded, and that just at a time when events in the teacher supply field are pointing in the other direction. Some very unpredictable things have occurred. The birth rate, as the noble Earl said, has again turned sharply up. Many more women are leaving the schools earlier than they used to. Indeed, I think it is true that, of all the girls coming out of the training colleges, one-half are lost to the schools before four years' service.

Then there have grown up certain acute shortages of specialist teachers—mathematicians, scientists, teachers of physical education and so on—which have created great difficulties; and these shortages have to be supplied, if the balance of the staffs in the schools is to be kept right. Your Lordships will remember that between the wars a large number of graduates (and employment was not as easy then for graduates as it is now) entered the profession. These people are now coming to the point of retirement, and it will be difficult to replace them.

The import of these new circumstances, quite naturally, was seen earlier by the Minister at the centre than by the majority of those who are represented on the Burnham Committee. The teachers' associations have seats on that Committee roughly in proportion to the size of their membership. The result is that the N.U.T. commands an absolute majority on the teachers' panel, and its voice is always dominant. Mathematically there is nothing unfair about that, but the fact remains that the majority of the N.U.T. membership is interested in flat increases in the basic scale, and not least at the beginning and in the early years of the scale. I am sure your Lordships would agree that under the wise leadership of Sir Ronald Gould the N.U.T. has many times shown a remarkable restraint in pressing the claims sponsored by the majority of its members. At conference after conference the delegates have voted for increases in the basic scale which, if the needs of the education service were looked at objectively and comprehensively, would be seen to be impracticable in terms of available resources, and to take too little account of the staffing problems of the schools.

What is the Minister to do in those circumstances? Sir Edward Boyle now finds, as I did, that he cannot afford to sacrifice what he knows to be right for the schools to gain popularity with any association of teachers. He has, therefore, put first things first. It is perhaps easier for someone out of office than for someone in to say that the sinews of the whole system of our maintained schools are the head teachers and their deputies. No Minister dare see more money go to the early years of the basic scale unless he is completely confident that the rewards in mid-career and at the top of the profession are sufficient to attract men and women of the right calibre, who will stick to the schools and fill with distinction the posts of responsibility.

One can, of course, argue about the size and nature of the differentials. But on any estimate of the supply and demand for teachers over the next decade, the decisions which will be hardest and most important to influence will be those of young men choosing a career. We can be pretty sure that we shall get enough girls with the right qualifications to train. But what about the young men? They are making up their minds between teaching and, perhaps, industry, commerce or research. Full of hope and ambition, they want to try their luck on a ladder that leads to high places; and at the same time they look to see whether the salary will be sufficient if they marry early—and most of them do—and especially when their wives are at home looking after their babies.

Sir Edward Boyle did not think the Burnham Committee had paid enough attention to considerations such as these. He felt bound to use his statutory power of rejection. I am sure he was right. But in doing so, he had to call in question the whole future of the Burnham Committee. He has said that he is ready to review the machinery for revising salary scales, and, I hope, other matters relevant to the status of teachers. There is here one difficulty that we should try to overcome. We talk about "the teachers" as though they exist as a homogeneous body which can make their views known through one institution. It is not so. If we are thinking of the 250,000 teachers in the maintained schools, these men and women are not organised to speak with one voice—very much the contrary.

Many thousands of the men teachers support the National Association of Schoolmasters; and the grammar schools have their own associations. Both these groups often have views, as they have constantly let me know, quite contrary to those of the N.U.T. One would like to see all these teachers in one association—it would be much better for education and for the Minister—and the efforts which I understand the National Association of Head Teachers, who are led by very able men and women, are making to this end will, I trust, succeed. This morning we read in the paper Lord Wheatley's report respecting the Scottish teachers. It seems to me a good example to which we should pay attention. But we all know that it is going to be difficult to get all the English and Welsh teachers together; and even if unity were achieved, there would still be outside the ranks of any new association the teachers in the independent schools and in the universities.

Your Lordships may ask why these two classes of teachers should be brought in, since they live and work in a separate system. The answer must be that while they stay out teaching can never be accepted as the equal of other learned professions. The leaders of the Church, law and medicine, for example, are not remote as university dons are from the rank and file of their colleagues in the schools. Her Majesty's Judges and learned counsel adorn their Inns of Court, and are always willing to help the next generation of lawyers. Right reverend Prelates work among their parish clergy with no sense of indignity. Leading physicians and doctors devote much time to the Royal Colleges and to teaching in hospitals. How different is the attitude of one kind of teacher to another! How much it would help to create a profession of teaching, and to influence the development of British education in accordance with the knowledge that comes from experience in the classroom, if university dons and schoolmasters and schoolmistresses in the independent schools were to recognise the teachers in the maintained schools as their colleagues; and if they would join with them to make the voice of education heard in accents truly professional!

I do not believe that professional status is something to be picked up like the membership of a social club, when all you have to do is to get the existing members to invite you to join, and pay a subscription. Professional status has to be continuously earned, acting up to high standards of conduct, both individually and as a body. In one respect it is hard for teachers to attain this status because the Minister of Education must remain in control of the entrance qualifications for teaching. Lord Wheatley recognised that in respect of the Scottish teachers. The Minister cannot shift on to a professional body the responsibility for staffing the schools—Parliament would never allow it. But he can, and should, receive and defer to advice given to him by the teachers as a whole. At present, as I used to know only too well, he cannot receive the kind of authoritative advice which he needs; but that he should have such advice becomes more and more urgent as the pace and power of education grow in our national life.

The education service cost about £100 million before the war; it now costs over £1,000 million. It is already the largest of the social services, and it will soon challenge defence as the first item in the national accounts. But education suffers to-day because it is treated as a divisible service, to be planned and administered by separate authorities, with no strategic design and no continuous collaboration. The child grows into a man, and from first to last his education should be fitted to his aptitudes and his ability, each stage carefully linked with the stage before and after. There are no clean breaks in a young person's life that justify dividing the provision of education between authorities at arm's length.

Once the continuous nature of education has been accepted, it must be right for the teachers at all stages, from the nursery schools to colleges of adult education, to pool their experience and ideas. Only in that way can they become an authoritative partner of the Government in shaping the future. One great advantage of an embracing organisation would be that its representatives could continuously study the problems of staffing the schools and the colleges and, in between the salary reviews, appraise the relative needs of the different parts of service. One could then see how the understandable defects of the Burnham Committee in the 'sixties could be removed, and how the influence of the teachers on their salaries and conditions of service could be greatly enhanced. My Lords, I am sorry that this sensible Bill has aroused hard feelings, and overturned a piece of machinery which has so much to its credit in the past. But good can come out of this controversy, if wider views are now taken, and if the parties concerned will set about the creation of professional institutions equal to the number, variety and importance of teachers in our national life.

5.13 p.m.


My Lords, one of the most interesting aspects of this Bill which the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, has raised seems to me to be the right of a Minister to get his own way if he feels that the national interest is in jeopardy. The noble Viscount who leads the House felt that in trying to get his way his right honourable friend had acted very courageously. I have a sinking feeling that he may have acted in a foolhardy way, rather than in a courageous way. The noble Viscount also suggests that we should all accept this Bill as necessary. Again, I am afraid that to some extent we must accept it as necessary, because it is necessary to make operative what seems to me to be his misconception of the way Section 89 of the 1944 Act works. I cannot help feeling that my conception of this is the right one, if what Mr. Butler said on it is correct.

I also agree with the noble Viscount that this is not a new problem which has suddenly sprung up. This is a very long-term problem; a very deep-seated problem, and the Government may well be right in wanting to overhaul the whole machinery of the Burnham Committee. We, too, on these Benches, believe that it should be reformed to admit of independent arbitration. We feel that ways should be made to enable the Minister to be a party to the negotiations. But this Bill, which is designed to get the Minister out of what he thinks is a deadlock, seems to me unwise and unfortunate. It can have been right to set aside the negotiated scale only if the Minister felt that the negotiations had been outrageous or perverse. It seems to me that in this particular instance the differences between the Minister and Burnham are not, and have not been, sufficient to warrant the setting aside of this negotiated scale.

I feel that a great deal has been made by noble Lords opposite on these differences, but when I look at them it seems to me that they are not very great. The noble Viscount feels that on all the counts—the differentials, the assimilation, the protection and the starting salary—Burnham is wrong, and the picture that Burnham presents adds up to something which is very discouraging to teacher supply. I think a case can be made for saying that the Minister's figures might be as good as, or, if you like, might be better than, Burnham's; but it seems to me that they are only infinitesimally so—if, indeed, they are better at all. Does this really warrant upsetting the whole machinery? So far as Burnham is concerned, the differentials are already, as I understand it, compared with a good many other professions, very good. Nor do I feel that the differentials they were putting forward were a step back; nor that they were putting the differentials in jeopardy. There is no backsliding here.

When the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, was Minister of Education he took £5½ million off the figure he would have liked, no doubt, to give them on the basic scale, and this time the Burnham suggestions are merely putting it on again. The Burnham Committee have made the point that if indeed there is any backsliding from differentials it is a matter of reculer pour mieux sauter. That is as may be. If they have slipped back at all, it is so little as to be almost nothing at all When one looks at the records over the past seventeen years of this particular negotiating machinery, it has probably a better record than that of any other comparable body. I can. not help feeling that the Minister of Education has done a certain sleight-of-hand, an illusion, here, rather giving the impression that the Burnham Committee have fallen down in this matter of differentials, when in fact they have not.

So far as assimilation is concerned, it is an entirely new problem which, it seems to me, they dealt with in a most dextrous way. I admit that that £6 million could have been spent in another way; but, so far from its having been misused, I cannot help agreeing with an honourable Member in another place who said that the Minister should have been pleased that it got him out of a difficulty. And this matter of assimilation is a difficulty. I am not at all sure that one can spend a very long time dealing with it, and that it was not very much better to deal with it straight away.

If you take all these four points, I think that Burnham admit that the solution was not ideal. They suggest that it was an extremely good compromise in a very difficult problem. Do not forget that they have a long tradition of successful negotiations on difficult matters like this. It seems to me that these differences are laughably small. If, in fact, the Minister's solution was the better one—and I am not suggesting it was—should he, even so, set aside a negotiated settlement? Was it inherent in Section 89? He himself suggested that the Minister is a nullity if he does not act in this way. But I cannot see that; and it seems to me, again, that Mr. Butler did not think so either.

In any case, we now need an Act of Parliament to sort out what in fact the Minister has done under Section 89. I cannot help feeling that negotiated settlements of this sort are not a matter for Parliament at all. The Minister suggests that there has been a deadlock. I wonder if there really was a deadlock. Was it only in the Minister's own eyes, or was it a deadlock because he was spoiling for a fight? I do not pay very much attention to what Ministers say on television: such things are said in the heat of the moment. I feel that Ministers who say things on television should not bother very much about what other people say about what they have said. Nevertheless, the Minister did imply on television that he was spoiling for a fight, and I cannot help feeling that his predecessors, both the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, and Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd, made reconnaissances in force, if I may express it that way, from which they withdrew.

If we are to revise the Burnham machinery—and I am sure that most of us agree that the time has come to revise it—I would ask: could it not have been done before? Could it not have been done, for instance, after the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, made his reconnaissance in force and withdrew? Or, if that was not a suitable moment to make this change, could it not have been done after these particular negotiations were ended? I cannot see why it should not. The differences in this case were not at all serious, as I see them, and it would have been perfectly in order to accept these proposals and afterwards to set about the business of altering Burnham. But the way it will be done now—that is to say, deliberately seriously wounding the negotiating machinery first—must be wrong.

I cannot help thinking that this was a most unfortunate way to set about dealing with a properly constituted negotiating body. In this view, I am not alone, so far as members on the other side of the House are concerned; and certainly this was so in another place. I am not sure, but I think that at least one Tory Member voted against this Bill, and several abstained—certainly about four of them made speeches very much on the same lines. Inevitably, teachers' good will which has been built up over this system will be lost; and it is not altogether fair to say that the Burnham machinery is bad and should therefore have been broken up. Nor is it altogether fair to say that the N.U.T. is in too strong a position. The machinery has worked well in the past. We all know that it has faults; but it has the teachers' good will. It seems to me that we are going to damage the question of teacher supply more by losing this good will here than in the matter of the differentials—if, indeed, the Burnham Committee are falling down on differentials. Inevitably it will be more difficult to retain the teachers' good will when it comes to reforming the Burnham Committee in the way in which we all feel it should be done. I believe that it is a very unfortunate error of judgment and possibly an error of timing. I agree with noble Lords opposite who feel, as we do, that something must be done to Burnham, but the way and the timing is really deplorable, and I could not bring myself to vote for this Bill although, in the circumstances that now appertain, it is, of course, necessary.


My Lords, it had not been my intention to intervene in this debate at all, for the rather obvious reason that such little knowledge as I have of this problem is confined to what happens in Scotland and not in England; but I feel prompted to get up this afternoon partly because this very day there has been, as the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, has mentioned, a Report, issued from a Committee under the Chairmanship of Lord Wheatley, which I think will have a very important effect upon the teaching profession in Scotland by giving them a standing of greater dignity than they feel they have had up to now; and partly because, with great respect to the noble Viscount, I did not feel convinced that the line of argument he adopted was really the basis of the decision he took to defy, if you like to put it so, the decision arrived at by the Burnham Committee.


The decision of the Minister of Education.


I thank the noble Viscount: the decision of the Minister of Education. I am not pretending that the problems in Scotland are identical with those of England, but I think that the similarity is so great, in many respects, that it is worth while referring to what I believe to be the unconvincing argument that the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, put up this afternoon.

Nobody would pretend that the public interest is preserved when you are thinking of a body such as the Burnham Committee, if a body so composed, representing both the employers' side and the employees' side, is not to be trusted to arrive at decisions which reflect the interests of both sides. If this is so, then what kind of body or what kind of public interest are you going to appeal to in order to arrive at an agreed solution? Are you to have merely the dictation of a Minister who, for the time being, is Minister of Education, or are you going to scrap the whole idea of having negotiated decisions arrived at by bodies highly competent and interested in the decisions they arrive at?

I am not, for a moment, pretending that this development which is taking place in Scotland to-day as a result of the Report of Lord Wheatley's Committee would apply wholly to England, but I want to emphasise that, good as this Report may be in its effects upon the teaching profession in Scotland, it will not have any effect, I think, in doing away with differences of opinion which may arise about the adequacy or the spread of the salary scales which are adopted. One has to bear in mind that behind all this fa÷ade of explanation the basis is really financial, and this financial difference would not have arisen but for the fact that the purchasing power of money in these recent years has gone down to such a low level as to compel those in the teaching profession to demand an increase in remuneration that would at least keep pace with the rise in prices or, if you like, the fall in value of money.

That seems to me the real basis of the attitude of the Government in dealing with this matter of teachers' salaries, and you will not, I respectfully suggest, dispose of this continuous attitude towards keeping up a scale of salaries commensurate with the cost of living by simply adopting the dictatorial attitude of a Minister who says: "Despite this body whose business it is to raise these negotiated scales, I am going to tell you what I think is the right thing." It destroys the confidence of the teaching profession if they feel that there is always hanging over them this danger of their incomes being affected by the whims of a Minister overriding the decisions of a body chosen to arrive at these decisions.

I hope, therefore, that the noble Viscount answering for the Government to-day will at least give us what is the true basis behind the attitude of the Minister in this particular matter, because I cannot help feeling that the effect of the decisions arrived at to-day will be felt when salary scales are being considered in Scotland. Because they, too, have problems of this kind; they, too, are concerned about their standards of living; they, too, have difficulties with which they are faced. They have similar problems in the way of an increasing population of pupils and students and a paucity of teachers adequate to cope with it. These problems are so similar that we are, I think, compelled to look at what you are doing in order to be warned against the possibilities of what might happen elsewhere. I hope, therefore, the noble Viscount in replying will take cognisance of some of these fears that we, justifiably I think, entertain.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I will start straight away by saying that there was at least one point in the noble and learned Viscount's speech with which I found myself in agreement. He started off by saying that the Minister of Education had acted with intelligence, courage and enlightenment. At least I can agree with him on one-third of what he said there: I agree that the Minister acted most courageously, and, I am sure, knowing full well that he was going to bring down a heap of abuse on his head. It needs great courage for a politician to do that. That is the limit of my agreement, at least on that score.

This debate can, I think, fall into three parts; there are really three aspects to it. The first concerns the actual differentials of the teachers. The second, on which we have heard quite a lot, concerns the general level of remuneration of teachers. The third concerns the actual Burnham mechanism and the action now taken by the Minister to bring that to an end. So far as the first aspect is concerned, I do not propose to make any comments upon that at all. I do not feel it is for your Lordships to express opinions on a matter of this kind. I certainly am not qualified to do so. It is a highly technical matter which can be adequately dealt with only by the teachers themselves, by the local education authorities and of course by the Ministry of Education, the Minister and his advisers. So I do not propose to devote any arguments at all as to whether Burnham was correct in what it said should be the correct differentials, or whether the Minister was correct.

I turn to the second point, the general remuneration of teachers. Many noble Lords who have spoken to-day have touched upon that. My noble Leader, very rightly, made a strong point of the fact that at the present time the remuneration of teachers was too low; and very rightly indeed pointed ahead to 1980, which may sound very many years distant but in fact is only seventeen years from now. Many teachers who have already entered the profession will still be in it in 1980. He pointed to that date and told us how many teachers would be needed then, and he made it very clear to us, if it needed making clear, that unless steps were taken to increase their remuneration, to raise in general their salaries and the standard of the profession, we should in 1980 be experiencing even greater difficulty than we are experiencing to-day in dealing adequately with our whole educational problem.

The noble Lord, Lord Eccles, also referred to that. He most honestly said that there was never enough money to pay the teachers. Certainly as things are at the present time it is perfectly true there is far from enough money, and that is one of the great indictments of the present Government's policy. If they had wasted rather less money on things like Blue Streak or Skybolt it is possible there would have been enough money—certainly there would have been more money—to be spent on these essential services which will lead to the greater development of this country, the greater wealth of this country and the greater happiness of this country, rather than its being frittered away as the present Government have done. I suggest that there was a considerable indictment of Government policy from the mouth of the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, himself when he said that there is insufficient money, and the fact that other noble Lords have echoed this view shows that it is not held by him alone.

Let me turn to what I consider the most important part of this debate, and that is the conflict between what one can call in shorthand Burnham and the Minister. Are we to do away with the system which has now been in operation, in one form or another, since 1919 and replace it with something entirely different? Are we convinced that it is now out of date, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, believes, or are we to say that this has served well in the past, it has needed modification, as in fact happened in 1944 and 1945, and it may well in the light of changing circumstances need further modification, but the principle of Burnham is, in our view, the correct one? This is not just a little local difficulty which can be ironed out, as the noble and learned Viscount suggested by (I think his words were) an ad hoc measure pending Government policy. This is something very much deeper than that. This is a question of principle. I think we are justified in asking the noble and learned Viscount, if he is correct in saying this is only an ad hoc measure pending Government policy, why is it that we have had to wait, and are still waiting, for that Government policy?


My Lords, I think the noble Lord is deceiving himself by his own misquotation of what I said. I said it was an ad hoc measure pending discussions between the interested parties, not pending Government policy. The question, therefore, at least in the form in which he endeavoured to put it, does not arise.


I imagine that Government policy is going to be based upon the discussion which is going to take place between the interested parties. If Government policy does not depend upon discussion between the interested parties, I think it is a much weaker policy than I have given it credit for.


I was only pointing out that the noble Lord was misquoting what I said, and seriously misrepresenting it.


I have not any intention of misrepresenting or misquoting. I was quoting to the best of my ability what I understood the noble Viscount said. I hope there will be discussions between the interested parties, and I should hope that Government policy will be based on the result of those discussions. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking that, but I have no wish to misquote the noble and learned Viscount. That is how I hoped things would work out.

What I am asking now is why the Government have waited so long for these discussions between the interested parties to take place. After all, the noble and learned Viscount himself told up in his opening speech that this was a problem which was foreseen. His words, as I wrote them down, were: The problem of teacher supply and differentials was apparent in 1959". That is some four years ago. If that problem was apparent then to the Ministry of Education and the Government, as indeed it was apparent to very many other people, why is it that now in 1963 we have to have an ad hoc measure? Again, I want to quote the noble and learned Viscount's words— A moratorium which provides no fundamental answer to the problem. Why is it that we have to wait four years for a moratorium which provides no fundamental answer to the problem when the problem was apparent to the Government for four years? Therefore, there is some case to be answered here as to why this has gone on for so long and has finally blown up in a most serious and far-reaching manner.

As I said, this presents us with the basic question: how should this problem of teachers' remuneration and the deferentials be solved? Is it going to be solved, as in the past, by negotiations in some form or another, not necessarily on the exact original Burnham basis, or by consultations between the teachers themselves and their representatives, whether the N.U.T. represents a large and overwhelming majority or only a modest majority of the teachers or not, on the one side, and the local education authorities on the other, with the Ministry of Education being represented, having direct contact the whole time and keeping in touch; or is it to be done by some other means?

I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, who said at one point that it was the Minister, in the centre, who could see these matters often more clearly than the people on the periphery—in other words, I assume he meant the local education authorities and the teachers themselves—and therefore it would be right for the Minister to take the responsibility and for him to make the decisions. That is a far-reaching doctrine. What happens if the Government decide that we are getting too many art students and not sufficient scientific students? Is it then going to say that there should be a differential in remuneration between the professors of chemistry and the professors of archeology at the universities?


There is, in fact.


There may be one, but that is not due to the fact that the Government have actually imposed it; it is due to the action and the working in close co-operation, as there should be, between the Government Department and the University Grants Committee and the universities. What happens if the Minister of Transport, sitting in the centre, decides that there is going to be a shortage of railway guards and a surplus of engine drivers? Is he going to interfere between the railway unions and Dr. Beeching in the differentials there?

This opens up a wide matter which could have wide repercussions. Is it seriously maintained that it is going to be the job of the Government, of the Minister of the Department concerned, not only to lay down the broad principles, the total amount of money that can be spent, but through close personal contact with the people concerned, try to persuade them, through logic and understanding, to build up and maintain a confidence between all the people involved? That is one way of doing it. Or are the Government going to say, as they are saying to-day, "This will not work. This is not going to work in future. We, the Government, will dictate to you, employer and employed "—after all, that is what they are, local education authorities and teachers—" just how you are going to differentiate between the scales of teachers"? That, I think, is what emerges from this debate. That is the point at issue.

As I said, in the Burnham negotiations there has been a long history of pretty satisfactory working, going back to 1919. Coupled with that satisfactory working there has naturally grown up a close confidence and trust among all the people involved. I think it is to the credit not only of the local education authorities and of the National Union of Teachers but also of successive Ministers of Education and their officials that this trust has grown up; and the fact that it has worked well is a justification for the system as laid down originally by Lord Burnham in 1919. Now the Minister comes along and puts the whole of this in jeopardy.

It is no good the noble and learned Viscount saying that there will be further talks, and that they will, he hopes—I do not want to misquote him here—take place in an atmosphere of confidence and friendliness, with everybody working towards the same ends. It is no good his saying that the Government have taken this deliberate action of their own—unnecessary action, from the taxpayers' point of view—because they have a different view on a technical matter from that of the people most directly concerned. If it had been a question of overriding economic importance, if it had been a question of saying that the country in its present parlous condition could not afford £21 million, and that the amount must be reduced to £15 million, and the Burnham Committee had refused to accept that, then, on economic grounds, there might have been justification for the Government in taking action of that kind. But there is no dispute on that. The noble and learned Viscount himself has told us that the £21 million is the correct amount. The Burnham Committee have worked together and have co-operated with the Government, and they have brought their total amount down to that figure, showing their good will.

All that is happening here is that there is a difference of technical opinion. The Ministry of Education say that by accepting a scale as put forward by Burnham we are not going to get the right sort of recruitment of the right sort of people; we are not going to retain those teachers in the way that we wish, and that our education will fail in the future. The teachers and the local education authorities take another view. I suggest that if this had happened in any private concern, in any business, whatever your decision might have been as to the rights and wrongs of the argument itself, you would have been justified in castigating the management of that business for having let the affair get out of hand; and particularly if they admitted in their annual report of the directors that they had foreseen this difficulty arising at least four years ago.

That, surely, is the charge against the Government at the present juncture. What they are doing—and this is a grave indictment against them—is throwing away the valuable good will, co-operation and confidence which, over the years, has been built up among all those engaged in this great and invaluable national effort of education. They are throwing it away because they have a technical disagreement over a certain amount of detail with the other people involved and because, through their own slovenliness and slothfulness, they have refused to move sufficiently fast over the past four years, when this danger was seen to be arising; so that in the end they had to take this sudden ad hoc, autocratic measure which has ruined the whole of the confidence of these people. There is little at this stage that one can do, other than to express in your Lordships' House, and elsewhere, our strongest diapproval of the failure of successive Ministers of Education to meet this problem, and of the fact that they have landed us and the teachers, the local education authorities, and, above all, the pupils, present and future, of this country, in a situation which can do only harm to the whole of our educational effort.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, I think that the debating speech of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, could really be explained only on the basis that he had not really attended either to the argument which I endeavoured to present in opening this debate, or to the most cogent observations of my noble friend Lord Eccles, who I think has rendered many of the duties of reply largely superfluous.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, made a welcome intervention in the debate by reminding us of the parallel case of Scotland. However, what filled me with amazement about the noble Lord's speech was that he did not mention the most obvious parallel—and at the same time the most obvious difference—with Scotland, to which I endeavoured to draw your Lordships' attention in my opening speech. If any part at all of the constitutional argument put forward by noble Lords opposite had had any weight whatsoever, that is to say the argument to the effect that this was an important issue of constitutional principle which might have repercussions over the entire industrial field, or at any rate over the entire field of local employment, one would not have thought that the same situation which they were condemning had existed in Scotland, to everybody's complete satisfaction, for at least as long as the Burnham machinery which they were upholding; and that the Secretary of State has in fact habitually done in Scotland exactly what is complained of in what his opposite number in England is doing to-day and which is being treated as a vast and revolutionary innovation.

I am far from saying that the law of Scotland is ever better than the law of England. This is a matter on which Scottish and English lawyers habitually and permanently differ, and I will not introduce that element into the debate at this late stage. But, with respect, it makes absolute nonsense of all these grotesquely emotional arguments about the intervention of my right honourable friend in this particular case, if one only remembers that what he has done, or sought to do, in this particular case is exactly what has gone on without comment in Scotland ever since, I believe, the educational service was introduced—at any rate for a great number of years. I should have thought that that was the first thing I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill.

He was, as a matter of fact, mistaken in his other point. He claimed that the general remuneration of teachers required an acceptance of the Burnham proposals on the grounds, as he put it, that the purchasing power of money had gone down so much, but this is the reverse of the case. The present situation is that the minimum of the scale proposed by the Minister is about 60 per cent. above what the scale was in 1951, compared with a cost of living increase of about 50 per cent.—that is to say 10 per cent. more. Or, to take a more recent period, in 1961—that is only two years ago—the Burnham Committee, which is so strongly supported from the Benches opposite, before my noble friend who was then Minister intervened, had proposed a commencement salary of £605 from January 1, 1962, for the three-year trained teachers. Thus, the Minister's proposal now represents £25, of about 4 per cent., more than Burnham then recommended, which almost exactly matches the increase in the retail price index for the same period of fifteen months.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening—because I always hesitate to interrupt a speaker in the course of his argument—I was not trying to develop a whole case against this particular Bill. I was simply trying to point out what, in effect, was happening in Scotland as compared to England. It is perfectly true that, in terms of purchasing power alone, what the noble Viscount has just said may be accurate, but I would ask the noble Lord to bear in mind that this is not the sole reason. Side by side with the fall in the value of money, and therefore the great difficulty of maintaining the standard of living to which they are entitled, they also demand greater recognition of their social value to the community and they want to be regarded as an added asset. Therefore, their general standard should be raised. However, I did not want to become one of the active participants in this debate, but just wanted to point out those problems which are similar in the two countries.


Yes, but as my noble friend Lord Eccles pointed out, the recognition of the status of the profession is something which depends very largely on a proper recognition of the status of the different branches of the teaching profession, with their closer working together in the way he suggested. That falls, I should have thought, rather outside the scope of my present argument.

The fact of the matter is that the argument of the Opposition really fails to take account of the existing facts of the situation. The noble Earl who leads the Opposition was extremely courteous to me in more than one passage of his speech, and I thank him for it; but I cannot help thinking that his speech, not for the first time, represents—and so did the speech from the Liberal Bench of the noble Lord, Lord Henley—a magnificent set of Conservative arguments of exactly the same kind as I have been presenting over the greater part of my political life. But, as one who has even greater experience than the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and the noble Lord, Lord Henley, in presenting Conservative arguments, I would venture to suggest that they are not really applicable here.

It is for that reason that I would come back to what I regard as the essential feature of this case. The situation has changed since 1919 when Burnham introduced his machinery; it has changed since the period 1899 to 1920 during which the noble Earl served in the local education office. The situation is different. We are faced with an urgent problem of teacher supply and, with great respect to the speakers opposite, they really have not grappled with the nature and urgency of this problem, which is not purely one of quantity but one of quality at all levels. As my noble friend pointed out, it is not merely a question of qualifications in judging quality, but a question of the balance between the two sexes, the balance between teachers provided for different ages of pupil. These are delicate matters in regard to which the Minister of Education cannot divest himself of responsibility in detail.

This alone, with respect, makes nonsense of the major part of the argument presented by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who seemed to think that the Minister of Education's only function in approving salaries, even under the existing situation, was to act as a watchdog for the Treasury. It never seemed to occur to him that he is actually the prime agent of national policy in the public interest and in the service of education. It is precisely because the noble Lord does not seem to have the slightest idea of the function of a modern Minister of Education that it seemed to me he fell into such serious error.


My Lords, might I ask the noble and learned Viscount whether he remembers my asking him why the Government did not as early as 1959 take account of all these things about which he has been talking, not simply the Treasury watchdog side of it? My questions should have suggested that I was aware of these other functions. I was suggesting that the Government had been remiss in waiting so long before doing what he says they should be doing.


That, I thought, was the very worst of all the points the noble Lord, Lord Walston, made during the course of his speech. I was in fact about to deal with it in the course of my argument, although I had already answered the question by anticipation in my opening speech.

The situation is this. The Burnham machinery for England and Wales, as noble Lords opposite have told us, has worked very well for a very long time. It has had widespread confidence, although I am bound to say that when I was Minister I suspected it of having some of the characteristics of a sacred cow, the most salient of which is that it is not quite so good as it is cracked up to be.

But, my Lords, quite clearly, no Minister would willingly undermine or overthrow that machinery until it had been proved necessary over a series of repeated examples. The whole nature of my case, as I presented it in opening, was precisely that over a repeated series of examples over a period of years the machinery had proved to have outlived its usefulness in its existing form. That, with respect, is the answer to the argument presented by the noble Lord, Lord Henley. His point appeared to be that the differences between the Minister and the Burnham machinery in this particular case were so trivial that they could have been overlooked yet once more. But if they are seen in perspective as a series of symptoms of a deep-seated disease, then I believe that two things clearly emerge. The first is that successive Ministers have not been guilty of delay, as the noble Lord, Lord Walston, suggested, in being extremely slow to undermine the machinery before it was proved necessary; and the second is that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, was wrong in criticising the present Minister for having had the courage and wisdom to tackle the matter on this particular occasion.

My Lords, what surprised me most about the speech of the noble Earl who leads the Opposition was this. He said that when he went down to Bristol he visited his sister, who had been, I think, for 40 years in the teaching profession, had been a head teacher in her time, and had had an inadequate salary. I wonder what he thinks he can say to her about this debate when he goes down to Bristol next time. Will he tell her, what is the case, that he has been arguing against her particular case? The whole essence of the difference between the Minister and Burnham on this occasion is that Burnham favours the young teacher who stays four years in the profession and gets married and may not come back; whereas the Minister says the person who will benefit most is the lady with 40 years' service who becomes a head teacher and, therefore, has been helped on every stage on his proposals.


My Lords, I think the noble Viscount missed the whole point. What I was saying was that, because of the way education was treated in those days (and perhaps I might create an interlude and say that it is one of the reasons why I became a Socialist), the salary was inadequate for the profession; and it is a wonder the teachers did what they did, in spite of the way they were being paid and superannuated. I was saying that the salary was inadequate. You need to get a proper professional entry, from which it is possible to advance to all these stages, instead of treating it in the rather divided manner in which the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, wants to treat it. Against either of the views expressed by the noble and learned Viscount, or the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, I guarantee that I could put a better construction upon what to do in the future than they seem to be able to do.


Who is missing the whole point of this case is obviously the point of this debate. Therefore I will not proceed any further with that. But I fancy that, after a few minutes' conversation with my noble friend Lord Eccles and me, the noble Earl's sister would be on our side rather than on his.


I have the advantage of having had her personal opinion quite recently.


Then it is all the more important that my noble friend Lord Eccles and I should meet her.

My Lords, it seems to me that the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, really proves too much. Because to hear him speak, as he did, about the whole nature of this negotiating machinery was really to hear him argue that under Burnham, which he defended, the Minister had no active part to play at all. This was not, of course, the view of his noble friend who had a view which I have tried to describe. But the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, did not seem to realise that, unlike other municipal employments and unlike other employments, under the Burnham machinery as it has always existed the Minister has the right to approve and disapprove. Although, as my noble friend Lord Eccles candidly admitted, there are very distinguished members of the teaching profession who seem to think that the Minister was designed to be a rubber stamp, this has never been the view expressed by Parliament; and it has never been the view expressed by the law.

Of course it is true that the Minister, in order to gain increments of salary for those who have long service in the profession, and those who have to bear added responsibilities, such as head teachers, has delayed the process of assimilation between the two-year-trained teacher and the three-year-trained teacher in the way I described in opening. But I cannot myself take the view which the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, took, that this is to impose upon the profession as a whole an unnecessary delay of assimilation for sixteen years.

To begin with, 90,000 are assimilated this year out of 195,000 two-year-trained teachers. Secondly, under the proposals as they were, the assimilation which was given with one hand was taken away by the other, by a donation of £30 flat rate increase to the three-year-trained teachers already in the profession. The only sufferer from that proposal was the new recruit. I must remind the noble Earl that, as I pointed out in opening, the fact that the assimilation is fixed under this particular arrangement during this particular settlement period does not preclude future settlements from allowing further instalments of assimilation which will, in fact, accelerate the process; provided, of course, that that is considered to be the appropriate way of dealing with the question.

I would agree with noble Lords in thinking that it was extremely unfortunate that this situation arose and had to be dealt with in this way. But, on the other hand, I have absolutely no doubt that my right honourable friend was correct in what he has done. It really is time that we faced the serious question of teacher provision on the lines indicated by my noble friend Lord Eccles in his outstanding speech, and I am bound to say that on repeated occasions the Burnham machinery, despite repeated warnings from the centre, has failed to do so. I therefore have no doubt whatever that we have made out the case which I set to make out in opening.

On Question, Bill read 2a; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.