HL Deb 15 May 1985 vol 463 cc1150-2

2.58 p.m.

Baroness David

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make clearer the basis upon which a new remuneration package for teachers would be acceptable.

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has made clear the basis upon which he would commend a new renumeration package to his Cabinet colleagues. It must be agreed by both teachers and employers; it must be good for education; and it must be affordable. No proposals for a new renumeration structure have yet met even the first criterion.

Baroness David

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Could he perhaps persuade his right honourable friend to say something a little more positive and helpful about the package he wants, and in a little more detail? When his right honourable friend speaks of assessment and appraisal, could he perhaps link them with staff development and in-service training, and not give the impression that they are a form of punishment, which is how it sometimes comes over? It is very important that encouragement should be given to the teaching profession if it is hoped to attract and keep able people in that profession.

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, my right honourable friend has spelt out all the conditions he places on a reform package, and he stands ready to seek extra resources to offer greater rewards to teachers performing especially well. He would very much like to do something for the good teachers who, in the days of growing pupil numbers, would have received promotion. This means a salary in which pay is more directly linked to performance.

Lord Glenamara

My Lords, does the noble Earl not appreciate that the pay of teachers has fallen well behind comparable callings in recent years, and that that, together with the fact that the Secretary of State is consistently talking about bad teachers—indeed, the noble Earl has just just referred to "good teachers", implying that there are bad teachers—is destroying the morale of teachers throughout the country? Is the Minister not aware of the fact that there is no greater number of bad teachers than there is of bad anything else, including Cabinet Ministers? When will the Government give a fair deal to the teachers of this country?

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, I really must point out that it was the noble Lord who mentioned bad teachers; certainly I did not mention bad teachers. I should like to pay tribute to the many hundreds of teachers who daily bring skill, commitment and dedication to their difficult task.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

Thousands of teachers, my Lords.

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, I should also like to remind the noble Lord, if he will listen to my anwer to his question, that teachers' pay has in fact more than kept pace with inflation since the general election in 1979.

The Countess of Mar

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that in the package that was presented to the teachers a head of department, for example, would suffer a loss of £500 a year under the new arrangements and regrading?

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, I am not sure to which package the noble Countess is referring. I understand that there is a general atmosphere in which all kinds of things can be said and discussed.

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, can my noble friend say when and why the teachers reduced their advantages resulting from the Houghton award?

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, that occurred prior to 1979. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that his award was made in 1975.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

It was in 1974, my Lords.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, does the Minister not agree that the noble Lord, Lord Short, in saying that there are no more bad teachers than there are Cabinet Ministers, has in fact admitted there are bad teachers?

The Earl of Swinton

Yes, my Lords; and I believe that he is named Lord Glenamara.

Baroness David

My Lords, will the Minister please recognise that assessment linked with merit awards is exactly what offends the profession?

The Earl of Swinton

I cannot think why, my Lords.