HL Deb 11 June 1980 vol 410 cc436-8

2.58 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to prevent a substantial increase in public expenditure resulting from the gross miscalculation contained in the recent Clegg Commission's report on teachers' salaries.


My Lords, it is for the negotiating bodies concerned to take note, as they have done, of the error in the Standing Commission's original recommendations. The miscalculation was reported in Professor Clegg's letter of 15th May to the Prime Minister and copies of this letter have been conveyed to the parties involved. The negotiating bodies have confirmed that formal agreements were reached following the Standing Commission's original recommendations but the management sides are taking account of the error in the current negotiations over the 1st April settlements. In England and Wales, the Management Panels of the Burnham Committees have reduced their offers for further increases from 1st April 1980 from 13 per cent. to 9.2 per cent. in order to rectify the situation. The teachers have not accepted these offers and the differences between the two sides have been referred to arbitration.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Baroness for that interesting reply? May I ask her for an assurance that Her Majesty's Government, with their concern for the interests of the taxpayer and the ratepayer, will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent those people from being mulcted to the extent of £130 million simply because under the system bequeathed to the Government an eminent academic was not very strong in mathematics?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, as If have indicated, the figure on which the two sides in the Burnham negotiating body are going to arbitration has been reduced by the amount of the Clegg error.


My Lords, does the Minister agree that if in the future a commission is set up to examine teachers' salaries, it might be desirable that one of the officers advising the commission should know the Burnham Report?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I am quite sure that in any future negotiations the points that the noble Lord has made will be taken into account.


My Lords, will the noble Baroness not agree that, of the many dangers threatening democracy, probably the worst would be a disillusioned teaching profession? Does she accept that, even with the incidental increments that teachers might receive, and after arbitration, the salaries in general will be modest enough? In comparison with salaries paid elsewhere, they would probably be less than a just reward for the work that is done by the best of our teachers.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, in their report the Standing Commission have indicated that they took into account such items as pensions, company cars, hours of work and holidays, but they considered that no adjustment was warranted on account of hours of work and the holidays. They have stated that, in assessing the work of teachers, they have also taken into account the wide range of extra-curricula activities which they consider are part of the obligation of teachers to pupils, teachers, parents and schools.


My Lords, arising from the question of the noble Lord opposite, will my noble friend bear in mind that it would be very depressing if a profession responsible for the education of our children appeared willing to take advantage of a technical error in an assessment procedure and to seek to rely on that simply because an error had been made?

Baroness YOUNG

Yes, my Lords, I take the point. Settlement on the basis of the Standing Commission's original recommendations was arrived at by normal and open negotiation. On learning subsequently of the error, the management side in England and Wales invited the teachers to agree to reopen the negotiations. This the teachers declined to do, and the management side in England and Wales therefore announced that they would take the error into account in re-expressing their offer for a 1980–81 settlement.

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