§ 3.2 p.m.
§ Read a third time.
§ Clause 3 [Power of Secretary of State to make provision by order]:
Lord Henderson of Brompton moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 2, line 43, leave out subsection (3).
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I move this amendment solely to elicit a reply from the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, to the questions raised by myself and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, in Committee on Clause 3(3). The questions, so far as I can remember, were two. The first was whether it is desirable that provisions in an order may be valid in a document published by the Stationery Office quite separately from the order in itself. Should that separate document published by the Stationery Office have effect separate from the order? It is a simple question. I believe there are only two precedents: one in the previous teachers' pay Act and the other in the board and lodgings regulations.
§ Secondly, if it is considered desirable that that should happen is this subsection necessary in view of the ruling given by the High Court in relation to the board and lodgings regulations? I gather that the Minister has sent a letter to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and I wonder whether he would kindly share the contents of that letter with me and the House. It is for the purposes of getting that on the record that I now beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, since the 1965 Act it has proved convenient for the extensive provisions relating to teachers' pay to be found in a document published by HMSO and updated by order as necessary. As we have said before, the current document contains 64 pages, covering such detailed matters as incremental credit for qualifications and experience and rules about a variety of special allowances, among other provisions. While some pruning may be possible in the future, additions on conditions of service may be needed. The total length of the material may prove much the same.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, having accepted the case for referring to a document, raised two further questions in Committee, as he said. The first was to suggest that a document could be referred to in the order even if this were not specified on the face of the Bill. We undertook to look at this suggestion, although it seemed to me preferable to retain the provision on the face of the Bill. Having examined it, it seems to us better practice when this procedure is contemplated to spell it out as an express provision in the enabling Act, so that there can be no doubt about the effect of an order. I am sure noble Lords would not want to see a situation in which teachers' pay increases were delayed because of lack of clarity in the Act on this point.
A second concern of the noble Lord and other noble Lords was that the provisions referred to by orders should normally be in one place for ease of reference. It is the Government's intention that a new document will be produced before October 1987 embodying all the new and retained statutory provisions. Copies of the document will be placed in the Library.
We will however be retaining the power to make amending orders. This has always been the practice and it has been demonstrated to work. It has the advantage for the reader that he does not have to buy a new document every year to ascertain what changes have been made. The bulk of the provisions are likely to remain unchanged from year to year. For instance—and this is a particularly good 863 example—London weighting has often been settled at a different time from the generality of teachers' pay. New rates of London weighting would entail changing just three figures in the document and it is really not worth producing a whole new document just for that.
I hope that I have met the noble Lord's concerns. On the specific question about the possibility of his receiving a copy of the letter sent to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, I think that this should not present any difficulty. We shall of course be able to furnish him with that. I hope that in this instance the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, I have no objection whatever if the noble Baroness sends a copy of the letter sent to me to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton. If it is so sent the noble Lord will see that it does not wholly answer the difficulty raised at an earlier stage of the Bill. I think that I raised it, among others.
If you provide first of all an enormous document—and the argument for using this procedure is that the document is likely to be large and massive—what happens when these innumerable amendments come along? They will presumably be embodied in amending orders. In that situation it seems inconvenient that someone who is trying to find out what the exact provisions as to pay are will, first of all, have to study this large Stationery Office document and then take a number of orders individually and pin them on to it, as it were, to try to find out what the current position is. That seems a quite extraordinarily inconvenient procedure.
I seem to recall that at the previous stage the Minister who replied thought that this was a rather good idea as it would save reissuing—as I think the noble Baroness has just said—the whole document. But it is going to be difficult if we are to have the important and obviously, as we know from these debates, contentious matter of teachers' pay set out in a document which ceases to be up to date and which can only be properly read and construed if you turn up a series of amending orders.
This is a serious point. I rather regret that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, has raised on Third Reading a matter which was fully debated at an earlier stage. I do not think myself that that is a good practice. But the noble Lord having raised it, one has to admit that the noble Baroness's answer is not a complete answer to the real problem that has been created.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, does the noble Baroness not agree that since the Government have taken it upon themselves to deal with all these details centrally, it at least behoves them to put out the information in a form which is manageable for the large numbers of people throughout the country who have to apply it?
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, my noble friend has a serious point. I remember after the war the Butterworth emergency legislation which was amended, amended and amended. At the Bar the only thing one could do was to ring up the department to ask what was the state of the law now. The department 864 was always very helpful. It told you what it was and you went off to the magistrate's court and did your best. But my noble friend makes a good, valid point.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I think we are all aware of the problems caused by a surfeit of paper and of amending changes. We hope and expect that the system as provided by the Bill will prove to be the most convenient and the most manageable. The safeguard for Parliament is that all orders must pass through the process of Parliament so that everybody will be well aware of changes. It has worked to have a separate document in the past, as we have said, since the 1965 Act. We believe that will be the most manageable way of dealing with this problem. The document will be revised from time to time. There will be no excessive period before a new edition is published and there is no need to publish a new full document each time a minor amendment is made. That is the purpose of the provision in the Bill.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, I do not feel that I need to apologise for raising this matter; otherwise the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, would have been the sole recipient of the valuable information that has just been vouchsafed to us by the noble Baroness. Thus the House has benefited.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
Most certainly. Would the noble Lord care to assist me further in my speech? I should be very happy if he would do so.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I assist only by saying that the information, with great respect to the noble Baroness, is not of the high value that the noble Lord seems to attribute to it.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
But the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, has just said that it is a serious point. Therefore, it is sufficiently serious for me to put down an amendment to elicit a government reply. I just wish to establish that there is nothing wrong with that; indeed, it has been a service to the House. I see the Minister nodding and I am very glad to have his confirmation.
I have two comments. First, I gather from what the noble Baroness has said that it is not necessary to make this provision in the Bill. But I agree with her that it is better practice to do so. I believe that is the correct position, in view of the High Court judgment in the case of board and lodging payments. Secondly, I think the noble Baroness said that there will be a measure of consolidation. This is what we really care about. If we have an assurance from the noble Baroness, as I think we have had, that there will be consolidation—and the inconveniences pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, will not last very long because the document will be consolidated—then we shall be very happy. With that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.865
§ 3.15 p.m.
Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 2:
After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Method of remuneration of teachers.
§ (". Nothing in this Act shall permit the Secretary of State to change the existing arrangements whereby the remuneration of teachers is paid to them by local education authorities.").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is fundamentally simple. It reads:
Nothing in this Act shall permit the Secretary of State to change the existing arrangements whereby the remuneration of teachers is paid to them by local education authorities".
The amendment is intended to give expression to fears expressed at Second Reading and at other stages of the Bill that when it becomes an Act it could also become the vehicle for carrying out far-reaching structural changes in the education system without primary legislation.
In Clause 1 existing provisions are to be superseded by
provisions having effect under this Act".
Under Clause 3(1) the Secretary of State is obliged to consult only such bodies as appear to him to be most concerned before he can,
make provision by order made by statutory instrument giving effect to the recommendations of the Committee, with or without modification, or making such other provision with respect to that matter as he thinks fit".
§ This would seen to suggest that after consultations, which the Secretary of State can disregard, he could, either on the advice of his advisory committee (and in that case by negative instrument) or on his own initiative (and in that case by affirmative instrument) totally alter the present system of financial arrangements of the education system. I am not saying that that is what he intends to do. But I cannot see anything in the Bill which would prevent him from so doing. That would equally apply to the Secretary of State in a government formed by any other party or parties.
Anxiety on this score is increased by Clause 3(5)(d) which enables the Secretary of State to,
provide for the designation of schools in relation to which special provisions apply".
This is no doubt intended to allow for the establishment of Crown schools, or CITs, as I think they have been called, outside the maintained system for which the Government have been canvassing for some time now. But there is no specific limit on the number or type of schools to which this might apply and there is no guarantee in the Bill as drafted that these special provisions could not be much more widely extended throughout the whole system.
§ There has been considerable press speculation about the Secretary of State's desire for a more centralised system of public education in this country, rather more on Continental lines. Some support for this idea has been expressed in your Lordships' House. There is no doubt a case to be made for it, just as there is a case to be made against it. The main object of this amendment is to ensure that that debate is not preempted by this Bill. It is my contention, on which I hope I shall secure general agreement, that it would be quite improper for any really far-reaching change of the nature I have described to be carried out under a temporary provisions Bill. If any change of such 866 magnitude is contemplated, it should be preceded by a White Paper and fresh primary legislation.
§ I do not know at this stage whether I shall want to divide the House on this issue. I shall listen very carefully to what the noble Lord or the noble Baroness say. If he, or perhaps she, can assure me from the Dispatch Box that should the Government, in the event of their re-election, wish to bring about a fundamental change in the relationship between teachers and local educational authorities, they will bring out a White Paper and consult widely in advance of new primary legislation, that would weigh very heavily in my decision. In the meantime I beg to move the amendment.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, the Opposition support the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, and the reasons for it that he has given. We should be prepared to support him if he proposed to take the matter further, failing a satisfactory reply from the Government. But it must be said that this amendment raises a very important anomaly to which inadequate attention has been given in the lengthy consideration of this Bill. That is that the system of determination of pay and conditions of service proposed by the Government between now and 1990, and possibly further on than that, is a classic example of taxation without representation. The local education authorities, which, if this amendment is accepted or if adequate assurances are given, will be responsibile for the actual employment of the teachers, will have no say in the way in which their pay and conditions of service are determined. Of course the ratepayers, who are responsible for 55 per cent. of the cost of teachers' pay, will have no say either. It is central government, which is responsible only for 45 per cent. of the pay, which has a complete power of determination both of pay and of conditions of service.
Noble Lords may answer that central government, which was paying 45 per cent., did not have an adequate influence on the pay and conditions of service in the past, and that is, I accept, a partial answer, although the response to that was given in amendments which we moved at Committee. But it is quite clear, first, that, whatever long-term solution is found for the teachers' pay and conditions, it must adequately represent that part of teachers' pay which is met by the ratepayer as well as that part which is met by the taxpayer, and, secondly, that a dictatorship of the conditions by the Secretary of State in the meantime is not an acceptable solution. The noble Lord's amendment does seek to secure that in the long term the role of local education authorities should not be undermined, and should not be undermined tacitly by an Act such as this which is not supposed to have that effect. We support the amendment.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord's fears are unfounded, and that this amendment is in fact entirely redundant. I believe there is a short answer to the concerns expressed, and that is that the result that the amendment seeks to achieve is already in fact embodied on the face of the Bill. If I may, I should like to remind noble Lords of the words of subsection 3(6), which appears on page 3, line 22 of the Bill and which refers to the fact that remuneration 867 of teachers to whom the order applies shall be determined and paid to teachers by local education authorities. I believe that makes it perfectly clear that no order made under the Act could provide for teachers to be paid by anyone other than local education authorities. In fact there is nothing in the Bill that would in any way enable the Government to do this without primary legislation, and I hope that this short answer will enable noble Lords, if this amendment is not withdrawn, to reject the amendment as unnecessary.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, I am always anxious to be persuaded by the noble Baroness. She is in her nature so persuasive. But I am afraid I must tell her that on this occasion in fact she has not persuaded me. It is quite true, as she says, that subsection (6) reads,The effect of an order is(a) so far as it relates to remuneration, that the remuneration to teachers to whom the order applies"—I stress that phrase—shall be determined, and paid to teachers by local education authorities".In subsection (5)(d) above, which I have already quoted we have an escape clause from that, and the escape clause says that an order may,provide for the designation of schools in relation to which special provisions apply".In such a case, if special provisions were to apply, then, as a matter of plain logic, the provisions under (6)(a) could not apply. As the provisions under subsection (5)(d) providing,for the designation of schools in relation to which special provisions apply",is open-ended, it could, as far as I can see from the way the Bill is written, be extended right across the whole education system. So I am afraid I have to tell the noble Baroness the Bill is not quite as watertight in this respect as she, I am sure quite honestly, believes, and I do not in fact think we can quite accept her interpretation. If, in view of that, she would like to give me some further assurance, I shall be happy to listen to her.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, perhaps I may try to reassure the noble Lord further with regard to Clause 3(5)(d), which allows schools currently designated as social priority schools to continue to be designated as such, and for any other special designations that may be required in the future. That is the primary purpose of Clause 3(5)(d). It does not, and cannot, refer to taking out of local education authorities' control in any way, since the scope of the Bill is confined to teachers in schools maintained by local education authorities, or teachers otherwise employed by local education authorities. So I think that the fears as to the open-endedness of Clause 3(5)(d) to which he refers are in fact unfounded.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, that is a nice point of interpretation, but I do not think it can be said that the matter is in fact 100 per cent. clear. It is possible that the subsection (5)(d) might be interpreted in the way that the noble Baroness has said, but it seems to me to be equally clear that it could be interpreted very much 868 more widely, and I think frankly, my Lords, on those grounds—
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, before the noble Lord divides the House, I should like to make a comment. I know that there is a limited number of times anyone may intervene in a debate. Perhaps therefore I may put an idea into his mind before he sits down, in theory if not in practice, and suggest to him that subsection (3)(d) does refer to special provisions but nowhere does the Act provide for the Secretary of State to act other than by order. Therefore any special provision would still be by order and there would be no escape hatch in the Bill for the Secretary of State if he were minded to take one, two or a dozen schools, or the whole system, out of the effect of the Bill. My noble friend on the Front Bench will correct me or interject as she thinks fit, but it does seem to me on a layman's interpretation that, although there may be, as it were, on the wall a little finger pointing to "Emergency Exit", in fact there is no exit when you get there; the Secretary of State simply has to use another order to provide the special provisions for the schools in question. I think therefore that the noble Lord's fears are groundless.
§ Baroness Phillips
My Lords, I should like to follow my noble friend here, if I may so describe him. I am afraid that, whichever way one tries to explain this away from the Government's side, it is an open-ended clause. Clause 3(4) reads:An order may make different provision for different cases, including different provision for different areas".I cannot think of anything more open-ended or wider than that. So whatever is said in subsequent clauses, the order provision is a very open-ended check upon the Minister.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, does not the noble Baroness accept that all of this is subject to subsection (6), which clearly says that whatever the order, whatever the area, however special the provisions,the remuneration of teachers to whom the order applies shall be determined, and paid to teachers by local education authorities"?It does not matter what the variety is; it is already subject to the condition that the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, seeks superfluously to write into the Bill.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, we seem to have come to a ground of interpretation which is causing the House a little difficulty. I hesitate to cross swords with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who always brings such a lively and accurate intelligence to all the proceedings in which he is involved. However, subsection (5) opens with the words,An order may, in particular, as regards remuneration",and then proceeds to sub-paragraph (d) where it says:provide for the designation of schools in relation to which special provisions apply".I should have thought that those special provisions could well take the arrangements outside the scope of the order provided for under subsection (6). My amendment seems to have brought us into this area of doubt, and I do not think we ought to have this area of doubt in the Bill. If the matter is as the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, say, then certainly the addition of this amendment will 869 simply act as an additional safeguard. My feeling is that we ought to have it in the Bill. On those grounds, I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, with the leave of the House, before the noble Lord presses the amendment to a Division I should say that there is nothing in the Bill that would in any way enable the Government to bypass the local education authorities without primary legislation. Therefore there is no doubt.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, if the noble Baroness is giving me an absolute assurance, I remind your Lordships that in my opening remarks I said that if I was given an absolute assurance I would not press the amendment. On the basis of what the noble Baroness has just said, I am bound to accept that she has given me an absolute assurance.
However, I very much hope that we shall not find different interpretations coming from different quarters because I point out that this is an area of the Bill which has caused some doubt in your Lordships' House. Therefore I hope that I am able to interpret the last intervention of the noble Baroness as meaning that, in the event of any far-reaching change in the arrangements between teachers and local education authorities, the Government would definitely feel themselves obliged to come forward with new primary legislation. I see that the noble Baroness is nodding at me. That is entirely sufficient. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 [Duration of Act]:
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 4, line 27, at end insert
(", in which case the Secretary of State shall, before laying a draft resolution under this section, lay before Parliament a statement as to the reasons for its continuation for a further year in preference to the making of proposals for new provisions in primary legislation.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 3, and I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. We made a modicum of progress in Committee on this matter when the Government agreed to amendments which changed the responsibility for the continuation of the provisions of the Act from a negative resolution to an affirmative resolution. It was not a very large concession, but it was one which we welcomed and which was generally welcomed by the Committee, and which will now be welcomed by the House.
§ The amendments arise from further consideration in the light of the debate in Committee and in the light of many comments that were made on Second Reading about the way in which the public interest may best be protected when the issue of continuation of the Act comes up for consideration by the public and Parliament. The amendments do not propose any fundamental change in the provisions of the Bill. We propose that there shall be a little more by way of public consultation before draft orders are laid before Parliament.870
There is no reason whatever why this should cause any delay. Orders for the continuation of the Bill must, in any case, be laid on or before a fixed date in order to be considered by Parliament. Therefore the provision proposed in Amendment No. 3 for,
a statement as to the reasons for the continuation for a further year in preference to the making of proposals for new provisions in primary legislation",
could well be organised in advance, and the date of continuation—which could not be changed anyway—need not be affected at all.
§ The amendments, first, by requiring a statement to be made; secondly, by saying that the continuation of the existing practice should be for not more than one year; and, thirdly, by providing in Amendment No. 5 that the continuation shall be after a statement or after agreement with the teachers and the employers, are saying that it is incumbent upon the Government, in a situation where there is clearly great objection to the taking away of negotiating rights from teachers and their employers, to make every effort that they can to ensure that the public as a whole understands the reasons for the continuation. The purpose of moving that there should be a statement before a draft order is made is so that there can be the greatest possible public discussion of the issue concerned. I beg to move.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, I must say that I find an inconsistency between Amendment No. 3 and an amendment which was accepted in Committee. In Committee arguments were put forward very cogently that if there was a need for any extension of the provisions of the Bill it should require the affirmative resolution procedure and not the negative resolution procedure. The Government were persuaded by those arguments and we readily accepted an amendment which had been put down by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, to require the affirmative resolution procedure. At the Report stage amendments which would have overturned that decision were not carried and thus the provision for extension only by affirmative resolution remains in the Bill.
However, this amendment would now build in another requirement—that of laying before Parliament a statement as to the reasons for the Act's continuation before laying a draft resolution. I must say that I find that a little strange. As we all know, the value of the affirmative resolution procedure is that the resolution has to be voted on by both Houses and it requires a government spokesman to give a clear statement of the reasons why any draft resolution is before the House.
In addition, I have no doubt at all that those with an interest in whether the provisions in the Act should be extended would make their views clear to any noble Lords or Members of another place who would be participating in the relevant debates. Therefore the noble Lord is simply asking for the Government to lay two statements in order to achieve the same thing in the event of the Bill needing to be extended.
Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are, with respect to the noble Lord, defective. I shall briefly explain why. If we have an order setting out conditions of service, such an order may well be in effect for longer than a year when 871 the Act expires, because I do not think one would visualise that orders on conditions of service would keep on being changed. Therefore the period of one year from the date of an order on conditions of service could well have passed when the Act expires. New provisions may not have been agreed and the teaching profession would suddenly be left, under the terms of these amendments, with no rules at all on conditions of service.
As regards pay, an order might well not have been in force for a year. However, it might have been in force for many months and would, under the terms of the amendment, expire soon after the year was up. If at that time there was no agreement on new pay rates—and we know the difficulties that there have been in that respect—no provisions on pay would be in force and there would be potential chaos. I do not think that that is desirable. Therefore in essence I am suggesting that if these two amendments were agreed they could create a vacuum on both pay and conditions when the Act comes to an end. For those reasons I consider them defective and I hope that the noble Lord will take the view that he should not press them.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, as regards Amendment No. 3, I am not at all convinced by the Minister's arguments. It is certainly true that the affirmative resolution procedure provides that a draft resolution shall be laid before Parliament and that a government Minister shall have to stand up and defend it. I was making the point that that was not necessarily the best way for the general public, who have shown a great deal of interest, let alone the education service itself, to be fully informed about the issues, to be given the Government's arguments and reasoning in writing before the debate takes place and therefore to take an informed view on the matters before both Houses of Parliament.
The whole issue of the continuation of the enforcement of the Act has proved, in the course of deliberations in your Lordships' House, to be the most controversial of all the issues which we have considered. It seems reasonable for the general public to have the greatest possible opportunity to take an informed view and to influence their representatives and friends in Parliament to ensure that the right conclusion is reached.
However, this is not a matter which affects fundamentally the provisions of the Bill. I believe it was a proper matter to have raised on Third Reading but I do not believe it is a proper matter on which to seek to divide the House. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 not moved.]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 6:
After Clause 6, insert the following new clause—
§ (". On or before the expiry of this Act, the Secretary of State shall make proposals, whether by legislative provisions or otherwise, for the determination of the remuneration and conditions of service of teachers in England and Wales, which 872 shall have the effect so far as practicable of promoting determination of these matters in a manner agreed in negotiation between teachers and their employers.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment, I believe, adequately reflects the Opposition's recognition that our previous attempts to write into the Bill negotiating rights for teachers and employers throughout the period of operation of this Bill, and indeed thereafter, have not been acceptable to your Lordships.
§ In this amendment we are not making any attempt to change the provision for the advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of State to report to the Secretary of State or for the Secretary of State to have the power to overturn the views of the advisory committee if he wishes. Between now and 1990, and perhaps thereafter, we accept that the House has taken the view that there should be no negotiation.
§ What we are saying in this amendment—and this again is why I believe it is a proper amendment to put on Third Reading, because it recognises the force of the decisions that have been taken but seeks to make some provision in the longer term for negotiating rights—is that the Government ought not to come out of the interim period, whether it is in 1990 or at some later stage, without a system which provides for negotiating rights. The Government ought not to have an interim dictatorship succeeded by a permanent dictatorship.
§ We have had assurances from the Government on many occasions that that is not their intention. They have frequently said that the purpose of the Bill is to sort out teachers and employers who have not been able to get their act together and to provide a breathing space in which new pay and conditions can be laid down for teachers and in which a longer-term solution can be found. But that would be totally ineffectual unless it was provided also that the longer-term solution must meet the legitimate demands from teachers and employers for proper negotiating rights. We cannot have it succeeded in the end by an indefinite or permanent continuation of dictatorial rights by the Secretary of State or by any other solution which does not involve proper negotiation.
§ That would be totally at variance with the history of industrial relations in our country, whether in the public sector or in the private sector. It would be a gross imposition on the rights of teachers. It would be treating 10 per cent. of public sector employees in a way which is totally different from the other 90 per cent. It would be very badly thought of by the teaching profession if at the end of the day we allowed the Government to have the possibility of imposing an undemocratic long-term solution. This is a matter on which we must continue to fight and on which we must continue to press the Government about the reimposition of negotiating rights. This is not a matter of form; nor a matter of gloss on the wording of the Bill. It is a very important amendment indeed, and I commend it to your Lordships. I beg to move.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, I find it a little difficult to understand exactly what this amendment means, particularly with reference to the position of the Government. As your Lordships know, central government find 45 or 46 per cent. of the costs of the remuneration of teachers. There is no specific 873 reference in this amendment to the position of the Government who after all were represented, however inadequately, in the old Burnham scheme under the Burnham Committee.
The only possible intended reference could be found in these strange words, "so far as is practicable". The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, did not explain what was meant by that phrase. Does it mean subject to the Government's veto? Does it mean subject to the Government's view being put into force if necessary? Or does it mean merely that it is quite possible that the employers and teachers might work out a scheme which was wholly unworkable and therefore you have to put in "so far as is practicable" in order to deal with that, no doubt, distinct possibility?
If it is intended that the employers, who are the local authorities, and the teachers should have the final say without any say by the Government, that seems to me wholly untenable in view of the responsibility of the Government both for finding a large proportion of the total pay and for the management of the economy, which can very well be affected by the very large sums of money involved.
If the Government were to be excluded under this amendment, with respect to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, that would seem to be a very powerful argument against his amendment. He would seem to be going back on even the earlier arrangements, which have been much criticised, and leaving it entirely to local authorities, who may be of one political persuasion or another, and to teachers to mulct the taxpayer and the ratepayer to their hearts' content. I hope therefore that your Lordships will reject the amendment.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Murray of Epping Forest
My Lords, the amendment refers to action which may be taken on or before the expiry of the Act. Its purpose is not only to keep alive a necessary little spark of hope in the minds of teachers that one day their free rights of negotiation will be restored but, further than that, actively to encourage teachers and employers to address their minds to the preparation and creation of machinery which is sensible and practicable. We hope that its practicability and common sense will persuade the Secretary of State to review the way in which he is proposing to impose settlements on teachers himself.
In short, its purpose is to restore as soon as may be responsibility to teachers and their employers. It will not do for noble Lords opposite to spend half their time denouncing teachers for being irresponsible and to spend the other half of their time denying to teachers the proper responsibility of being involved in the shaping of their own terms and conditions of employment. Therefore I would hope that the House would agree that we should hold out some small hope to teachers in this modest way.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, I find it very hard to understand how the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has been able to suggest that the Secretary of State and the Government are actually marginalised in this amendment, in which it is stated very firmly that it is incumbent on the Secretary of State to bring 874 forward proposals which are presumably his proposals. An additional virtue I can see is that if he has not made any such proposals by 1990, which is the initial expiry date of the Act on the face of the Bill, then he is almost bound to be coming back to Parliament for extensions ad infinitum. That is the other aspect of the Bill to which we take great exception and it is something to which many of us on this side of the House have been objecting.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, by leave, the noble Lord quite rightly said that the amendment lays on the Secretary of State the duty of bringing forward proposals but it lays down what they shall be. They are proposals which leave no room whatever for determination by the central government.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, by leave of the House, I should have thought that the phrase "so far as is practicable" could well be expanded to include such a proposal as an independent review body, which has been put forward from these Benches, on which the Secretary of State would have an input at various stages.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, with the greatest respect, these words are not mere words of exhortation: they impose a mandatory duty on the Secretary of State. One must see the problem through. Surely, if one is devising the words of a statute one must look at what is involved. The only recourse is to the Divisional Court on a matter of judicial review. If for one moment the noble Lord would consider himself as a judge in the Divisional Court having to enforce breach of a mandatory duty in the terms of the last three lines of the amendment, I would suggest, with the greatest respect, that even his mind might boggle.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
My Lords, perhaps I may say a word in support of this amendment, and in doing so, I wish to put a question to the Minister. It does not appear anywhere in the Bill that the advisory committee is going to be responsible for making proposals for new machinery for setting teachers' pay and conditions. In that case, who is going to be responsible for this?
Part of the object of this amendment is to ensure that when the three years have flown by—and three years go by very quickly, my Lords, like a puff of wind—something will have happened. It is part of the misgivings of local education authorities and their unions that nothing at all may have happened, especially in view of the fact that presumably the Secretary of State will already have laid down pay and conditions for something like the next two years as promised by him. It seems to me that discussions might be indefinitely postponed while it is decided who is going to sit on the body which is going to make the decisions about the new machinery; that there might be long discussions about the agenda which it is going to consider in the manner of disarmament conferences; and that vital people might be away on holiday or sick. The three years might have gone by and nothing had happened at all.
Some such proposal as is put forward in this amendment would ensure that something had 875 happened, and of course it would be an additional assurance to teachers that that something would involve negotiation. For those reasons, I support the amendment.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, what the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, has drawn attention to—which is very important—is that the date of expiry of this Act will be 1990. That is the date of expiry. Otherwise, there is no discipline imposed upon the Secretary of State by the amendment or this Bill. The Bill does not say a single word about new proposals for the regulation of the pay and conditions of teachers. It says nothing at all about machinery to replace the Burnham system. It leaves the future absolutely open and positively blank.
Therefore, this amendment attempts to impose the only discipline upon the Secretary of State to do something about finding an alternative to the existing Burnham system. If there is not that time limit put on to discipline the Secretary of State, he is under no obligation to produce any proposals. It cannot expire until he does. He goes on extending the present authoritarian regime year after year until he does find some proposals.
We must read this amendment as meaning absolutely literally that the time limit imposed upon the Secretary of State is 1990. That is three years in which he is required to produce these proposals. Never before have such unconditional powers been given to a Secretary of State which enable him keep them so extensively on renewal by both Houses of Parliament. He might have good reason for doing that with no obligation to see an end to any unsatisfactory conditions. Therefore this amendment is really vital. It is the only one that comes near to putting any discipline on the Secretary of State.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, I should like to support this amendment and to point out that those who have objected to it say it does not protect the position of the Secretary of State. It is surely to be assumed that the Government in putting forward proposals which would in effect restore negotiation rights, would incorporate into those proposals the proper position and power of the Secretary of State as was included in the amendments that were put forward at Report stage in order to see that the Secretary of State's position was included when negotiating rights were restored. It is perfectly within the power of the Government to accept the amendment and to protect the rights—and we accept that these are rights—of the Secretary of State.
The Lord Bishop of Manchester
My Lords, I should like to support this amendment because surely it is in the interest of all of us to consider the morale of men and women in the teaching profession at the present time. Whatever our opinions may be about the Bill itself—and it is now at an advanced stage—it has undoubtedly caused a great deal of disquiet in the teaching profession. If this amendment were passed, it would be a concession towards those who feel very upset by what they regard as an interference with their negotiating rights. It is surely in the interests of all of us 876 here, and of the country as a whole, that morale should be restored. This would go some small way towards doing that.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I intervene merely to point out that, with the exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, the difference between the two sides is that noble Lords opposite have been telling us what are the intentions of this amendment, and noble Lords on this side have been saying what would be its effects. They are not the same. We all wish to reassure teachers of our goodwill towards them when they do the splendid job that they were appointed to do. That commitment does not turn on your Lordships' answer to this amendment. This amendment is not designed to attract the friendship of teachers, or to repel it. The Bill at present gives the Secretary of State a statutory position in the negotiations because he pays nearly half of the money. It is your Lordships' money and mine and that of every other taxpayer.
This amendment requires the Secretary of State, whatever the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, says, to produce a solution that has the right effect so far as is practicable. The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, was so eloquent a moment ago about not putting anything in the Bill with the faintest suspicion of doubt as to its interpretation. I was amused to hear him say that he thought you could extend this to have that interpretation if you wished. I do not think you can proceed on that basis. It requires the Secretary of State, subject to that reservation, to produce a solution which promotes determination of these matters in a manner agreed in negotiation between teachers and their employers. That is only two parties; the third party who pays nearly half the bill is excluded by statute. If it is not contradictory to the Bill, then the Bill is wrong. It must be nonsense. Your Lordships cannot put it in.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I have understood from the speeches made in support of this amendment that noble Lords want to set a course before this Bill is passed for the future determination of the process for teacher's pay. With respect, this amendment really is not the way to do it. It is not clear in this amendment whether primary legislation is desirable in dealing with pay determination of teachers; nor, despite speeches which have been made to the contrary, is it clear what the role of the Secretary of State in all this ought to be.
The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, said that he could not make out from the Bill who is finally to decide and bring forward proposals as to what the new pay machinery ought to be. I had understood for the past few weeks that, because they acknowledged the importance of a role for Parliament, all noble Lords on the Benches opposite envisaged that any long-term arrangements would have a statutory basis and therefore Parliament would be involved. This latest amendment means that even that assumption, which I had based on clear statements by noble Lords opposite, is not well founded because "Parliament" does not appear in this amendment.
I believe that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter was right as to the position of the Government on teachers' pay. It seems to me in this amendment that noble Lords opposite have given up trying to fit that 877 part of the jigsaw in because in this amendment the Secretary of State is simply told to make proposals on pay machinery which will have been agreed by the local authorities and the teachers.
The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, in his speech said that some discipline is needed so far as concerns the Secretary of State. It was because the Government accepted that philosophy that at previous stages of the Bill, on behalf of my right honourable friend, I had given him an assurance that if in a new and more settled climate an agreement could be reached between the Government, local education authorities and the teacher associations by early 1989 on the form of future permanent machinery, new legislation could be introduced which would set up that machinery in good time for the 1990 settlement. I have made clear that the Government are entirely sympathetic to that prospect and would not unreasonably delay legislation to bring forward new machinery once conclusions have been reached.
Coming back to this amendment, I must remind the House of what my noble friend Lady Hooper said at the very start of this Bill on Second Reading, when my noble friend made the point that there are advocates of different ways in which teachers' pay ought to be decided, whether by an independent review body or a joint negotiating council, but that the variety of views expressed and the continuing dissent among the teacher unions means that we are inevitably some way from getting permanent machinery. It is too early to say what will be the right long-term machinery—that is why we have a breathing space in this Bill—and certainly this is not the way to try to reach that objective, without recourse to Parliament and using the Secretary of State simply as a cipher.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
My Lords, I have not spoken during the whole proceedings on this Bill in your Lordships' House. I have sat here from Second Reading right until the present time when we are getting towards the end of this Bill. There are certain points where I agree with the Government and there are certain points where I agree with Members on this side, of all parties. But one of the things that worries me now is: where do we go from here? That is most important. I think that the majority of us in this House and in the other place want to see peace, want to see stability in the education profession, want to see administrators administrating, want to see teachers teaching and want to see policymakers making their policies.
But the difficulty I find is that at this moment I do not see that happening. I find what is happening in the teaching profession at the present time, when both the NUT and the NAS are balloting their members for strike action again, extremely sad, because I was hoping that during the three years all bodies would get together and find some solution as to which machinery should go forward for the next 20 or 30 years. What we are doing is trying to get the Government to say that they will make every effort that they possibly can to get this machinery working during this breathing space. I hope most sincerely—and I am speaking most sincerely when I say this—that confrontation does not 878 continue and that we have this period of peace so that we can get down to the details.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, noble Lords opposite have made some play with what they describe as the distinction between the intentions of the amendment and the effects of the amendment. I have listened carefully to all they have said and I accept that there ought not be a lack of congruity between intentions and effects. But I wonder whether they have not misread the amendment. These are proposals made by the Secretary of State and all that is required is that they should involve,determination of these matters in a manner agreed in negotiation between teachers and their employers.They do not say what else may be in the proposals of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State would be very foolish if he brought forward proposals involving negotiation which could not stand up in court and which a learned judge would not be able to interpret clearly, if I may refer to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. He would be very foolish if he made proposals which allowed for negotiations but did not allow any role for the Secretary of State. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was saying that it is not possible to devise a machinery which does not provide both for negotiations between teachers and employers and for a role for the Secretary of State.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, as the noble Lord referred to me, may I ask him to look at his own amendment and see that it specifically and definitely provides for,promoting determination of these matters in a manner agreed in negotiation between teachers and their employers?Where is the Secretary of State? If this amendment is accepted the Secretary of State is being ordered to introduce such a provison.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I shall be glad to give way to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, if I may first deal with the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carptenter. It is not our intention in this amendment to spell out every detail of the negotiating machinery. We would not be thanked by the House if we tried to do that again. We have been through that hoop and I suggest to your Lordships that it would be inappropriate to do it now. It is possible to combine the negotiations required by this amendment with a proper role for the Secretary of State, and if that is the case there is no reason on those grounds to oppose this amendment.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, the problem the noble Lord will not face is that in this amendment there is the mandatory "shall". That is a mandatory duty imposed upon a Secretary of State. The noble Lord must face up to it. It is not a legal trick. It is on the face of his amendment.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I have no difficulty in facing up to it. The word was chosen deliberately. It is our intention to secure by this amendment that there shall be no long-term solution 879 to the determination of pay and conditions of teachers which shall not involve negotiation between teachers and their employers. That is absolutely fundamental.
It is possible to give the Government the benefit of the doubt in some of the past discussions. It is possible to say, as men of good will might have said in the time of Lenin, "Right, we have to have dictatorship now in order that democracy and socialism shall come at some time in the future". It would be possible to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that this is only a Leninist Bill. What we have now is a Stalinist Bill. We have a Bill which is quite clearly saying—and this is the only interpretion of the Government's response to this amendment—not only will there be no negotiating rights now but the Government will not even give a glimmer of an indication that we may return to negotiating rights when this Bill expires. That is the fundamental point and that is why we must pursue this amendment.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 91; Not-Contents, 148.880
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Airedale, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Leatherland, L.|
|Banks, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Beswick, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Birk, B.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Birmingham, Bp.||Lockwood, B.|
|Blyton, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Bonham-Carter, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||McNair, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Manchester, Bp.|
|Brockway, L.||Manchester, D.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Milford, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|David, B. [Teller.]||Mulley, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Denington, B.||Ogmore, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Ezra, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Seear, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Serota, B.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Hanworth, V.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Henniker, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Kennet, L.||White, B.|
|Williams of Elvel, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.||Ypres, E.|
|Ailsa, M.||Killeam, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Kimball, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Ampthill, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Auckland, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Layton, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Long, V.|
|Beloff, L.||Lyell, L.|
|Belstead, L.||McAlpine of West Green, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Blyth, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Marley, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Masham of Ilton, B.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Butterworth, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Buxton of Alsa, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Byron, L.||Molson, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Morris, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Mountgarret, V.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Munster, E.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Newall, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Norrie, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Northbourne, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||O'Brien of Lothbury, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Orkney, E.|
|Craigavon, V.||Pender, L.|
|Cross, V.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Darnley, E.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Porritt, L.|
|De Freyne, L.||Portland, D.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Quinton, L.|
|Denning, L.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Rollo, L.|
|Donegall, M.||Romney, E.|
|Dormer, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Selborne, E.|
|Elibank, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Shannon, E.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Elton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Enniskillen, E.||Strange, B.|
|Erroll of Hale, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Strathspey, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Swansea, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Teviot, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Hanson, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Henley, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Hives, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Ward of Witley, V.|
|Hood, V.||Westbury, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Windlesham, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Young, B.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.881
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ In the Title:
Lord Henderson of Brompton moved Amendment No. 7:
Line 2, leave out ("temporary").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move, in the Title, line 2, to leave out the word "temporary". In a sense, this is a consequential amendment in that it is consequential upon the decision of the House on Report not to set a three-year or indeed any time limit to the duration of the Act. I should explain that I fully intended to offer the House alternative time limits on Third Reading—namely, three years plus one, or three years plus perhaps two—which would have given the time limit of the lifetime of a Parliament. However, by what I shall politely call force majeure I was persuaded otherwise on the ground (which I most emphatically do not agree with) that by doing so I would be reopening an issue which had already been decided at another stage of the Bill.
§ The issue decided on Report was whether or not the Bill should expire in three years from the date of the passing of the Act. That is not at all the same issue as the proposal that the Bill should last until 31st March 1990 and then be subject to a single year's extension or to two years' extension. All of those amendments could well have been moved on Report and voted upon. However, they were not and therefore I am perfectly free to raise this issue on Third Reading.
§ I do not propose to argue this issue at any length because I withdrew those amendments on Third Reading on the grounds that we do not waste time on procedural matters on the Floor of the House. However, the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, is a member of the group which the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has asked to advise him on procedure and I hope that he will invite the group to consider whether such a restrictive interpretation of the conventions on Third Reading amendments is really in the best interests of the House or of the statute book.
I am afraid that the necessity to move this amendment merely proves that point because the two principal purposes of the amendment are two of the three principal reasons for moving amendments on Third Reading. The reasons are, and I quote from the Companion:
to clarify any remaining uncertainties, to improve the drafting".
The remaining uncertainty in this Bill is due to the conflict between the words "temporary provision" in the Long Title and the indefinite provisions of Clause 6 as to the duration of the Act. As the Government have refused to limit the duration to three years and have effectively denied the opportunity to propose alternative limits on Third Reading, the only way to clarify the uncertainty is to leave out the word "temporary" in the Long Title.
§ I do not wish to go into any further detail because it seems to be absolutely obvious that what I am doing is logically correct. I do not believe that any self-respecting draftsman could willingly make provision for an Act to be expressed in the Long Title to be temporary when he knows that in the duration provision there is no time limit to the duration of the Act. This is an amendment both for clarification and 882 to improve the drafting of the Bill. For those two reasons, I beg to move.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, I think that the Bill is a con job because we have "temporary" in the Title and "interim" for the advisory committee and yet there is no time limit for either of them. The Bill does not say temporary before what or interim between what and what. It shows the facade of the temporary nature of the Act, which has no restraints on its duration. It is only the process of renewal that stands in the way of its going on for ever. In those circumstances it may be temporarily to make provision, but even that is scarcely acceptable in view of the fact that it may be almost permanently to make provision in respect of the remuneration of teachers.
I think that the Government have to make up their minds what they are about, and before the Bill finally passes this afternoon I hope to ask quite a few questions about what the Government's intentions really are.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, in general terms I support the Bill. Nonetheless, my noble friend Lord Henderson of Brompton is surely right in asserting that the Title of the Bill is misleading as to its content, given that all amendments designed to limit the duration of the Bill have been unsuccessful. This seems to me to be wrong. Therefore I should certainly be prepared to follow the noble Lord into the Division Lobby if need be.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, we have to be sensible on these matters. There is no question about the meaning of the word "temporary". "Temporary" has the meaning that everybody puts upon it according to how they feel about the general matter being discussed. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is being quite pedantic on this point.
There is no doubt about what the House requires. If there was any doubt about its being an interim measure it would have been cleared by the two debates that, by his amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, initiated upon it. But it does not mean that we have to ignore the practicalities. It has to be renewed, and if something has to be renewed it means that you are recognising the end of what it is renewing. I believe that if one applies reasonable interpretation to the whole of this Bill it will be seen that there is no real conflict if the debate and the meaning of words are taken into account, and there is no conflict between the word "temporary" being in the Title and the fact that it is possible for it to be renewed.
It can be renewed if the practical circumstances surrounding it at a certain period justify that being done. We should approach this in a practical manner but we also want to be verbally correct. It may well be that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has done a service in drawing attention to the fact that it is intended to be an interim measure. The two debates that we have had on the amendments have shown that. But to waste any more time on arguing that point is in a way an abuse of the freedom that we are allowed in this House.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, I ask your Lordships briefly to consider whether there really is any confusion and conflict in the drafting. "Temporary" in the Long Title only serves to indicate that unless the Bill is extended under Clause 6 there is a terminal date in about three years' time. The use of this term draws the distinction between a Bill such as this which has a terminal date, albeit provisional, and the ordinary Bills with which your Lordships are accustomed which have no terminal date at all.
Surely there is no conflict between the Long Title and Clause 6; and even if there were, as a matter of legal construction that is of absolutely no consequence because one would not have regard to the Title if there were a conflict. That is settled law, a matter of construction. Furthermore, the decision of the Secretary of State under Clause 6(2) is not in any way affected by the provisions of the preamble; neither indeed are the matters before your Lordships' House and the other place for approval under Clause 6(4).
Surely the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, in a sense let the cat out of the bag just now when he referred to the interim period, to the breathing space, to the longer-term solution. Surely these are the sort of terms in ordinary English which tend to mean "temporary". The justification for the Government has been made over and over again by my noble friend the Minister and the justification is that this is temporary in the sense that it is hoped to achieve a settlement. So although as a rule I defer to the expertise and helpful and valuable advice of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, on this occasion I cannot see the conflict as a matter of drafting and I cannot see the confusion. It seems to me, broadly speaking, that the use of the word is correct in plain English.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, was kind enough to refer to me. He has taught me a lesson. He has taught me not to be so generous in my interpretation of the motives of government as I am naturally inclined to be. I used the words "interim", "temporary" and "breathing space" because those are the words the Government use. The Government persist in claiming that this is to be done only for a limited and fixed period of time during which the Government will somehow come to an inspired longer-term solution for settling the pay and conditions of teachers.
The vote on the previous amendment has made it clear that the Government have no such intention. The Government intend the denial of negotiating rights not only for a three-year period but for longer if they can get away with it. The point that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is making—and I do not expect him to subscribe to my views on this matter—is that the conflict now is between the wording of the Title and the wording of the Bill. The Bill is able to go on forever if the Government so wish it. But the Title still says that it is temporary. That is a contradiction which ought not to be allowed to survive on the face of the Bill. I support the amendment.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, does less than justice to the powers of your Lordships' House. Clause 6 provides that the Bill, when it is an Act, shall be extinguished in 884 1990 unless the Secretary of State is given a particular power. That power cannot be given without your Lordships according it to him.
Your Lordships have heard the Secretary of State's undertakings elsewhere, and in this Chamber through the mouth of my noble friend, as to the temporary intentions. Your Lordships are in a position, as you have proved over 100 times since this Government came into power, to overturn the intentions of the Government if you do not think that they are consistent with proper policy or previous undertakings. Your Lordships intend that it shall be a temporary measure and that is why it is so called in the Long Title.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, bases this amendment on two premises. The first is that the Bill, as drafted, creates uncertainty. I was a little surprised at that because the noble Lord may remember that in Committee he moved an amendment to insert the word "temporary" into the Short Title of the Bill. Now he wants to take the same word out of the Long Title.
The Government would be very reluctant to delete the word "temporary" from the Long Title. My noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls was absolutely right in his intervention when he emphasised the interim nature of the provisions of this Bill. We have been very willing to agree to the inclusion of that word "interim" in the title of the advisory body to show that we mean what we say. We have also readily agreed to any extension of the Bill to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
Certainly, there is common concern that permanent arrangements should be in place for 1990. I say that in order to correct any impression that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, may have given during his remarks. However, such have been the disagreements over recent years that it would be folly to rule out the possibility of the provisions in this Bill being extended beyond 1990 if the absence of agreement on permanent machinery necessitates an extension of the interim arrangements.
The second ground on which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, based the case for this amendment is that no self-respecting draftsman would draft a Bill in this way. However, my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway has very shrewdly analysed the effect of Clause 6. My advice is that my noble friend, as usual, is right. It is by no means unprecedented for a Bill described as a temporary enactment to have a fixed terminal date but to include provisions whereby its duration may be continued, provided the Government bring forward the necessary orders and they are approved by Parliament.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, may I ask one question about which the Minister has received ample notice because I raised it on Report? Is it well precedented for a Bill to be expressed as temporary in the Long Title and to have an indefinite prolongation of its life as a possibillity in the duration clause? Of course, I know that it has happened—not often, and rarely in time of peace—that a Bill has been expressed to last for the duration of an emergency and then to be extended by a year or two by affirmative resolution. 885 But has it been the case that a Bill expressed to be temporary in the Long Title has been allowed to be continued indefinitely in the duration clause?
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, the answer is that the precedents I have, and there are several of them, show that the expression "temporary" has appeared generally in the Short Title of Bills. Is the noble Lord saying that it should not be in the Long Title because, generally, precedents have been in the Short Title and those Bills, being of a temporary nature, have no fixed final date? If the noble Lord is saying that there is a crucial distinction between having the word in the Long Title and having it in the Short Title, all I can say is that my advice is to the contrary.
My advice is also to the contrary as to the effect of this amendment. I say that because this is a Bill which, in Clause 6, provides for its own expiry. It establishes an advisory committee which is described as interim. I suggest that to leave the word "temporary" out of the Long Title—and it would therefore be left out completely because it is not in the Short Title—would be inconsistent with the obvious intentions of the Bill.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, I think I have discovered from what the noble Lord the Minister has just said that there is, in fact, no precedent for a temporary provisions Bill to have an indefinite duration in its duration clause.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
Perhaps my hearing was impaired because I thought I heard the Minister say that temporary provisions Bills have contained the word "temporary" in the Short Title but not in the Long Title. I do not think he answered my question, the implication of which was that no Bill which had the word "temporary" in the Short Title or the Long Title has, so far as I know, contained indefinite provisions in its duration clause. If the noble Lord wishes to give me a precedent for this Bill in that sense, I will gladly give way.
I gave notice of this question to the noble Lord the Minister when I spoke on Report. If he has not found a precedent since then, I suggest that it is highly undesirable that this new precedent should be created by a moderate government as I am sure the Government would like to describe themselves. If a moderate government, which is a Conservative Government, put wording into a Bill of this sort which purports to be temporary and they then give an indefinite length of time for its duration, I suggest that they are holding a hostage to fortune. If an extreme government came to Parliament and said they were making temporary provisions to abrogate certain rights of one sort or another which they found convenient and in the duration clause they put an indefinite time limit—in fact, no time limit at all, but annual renewal—what would be the reaction of the Conservative Party in opposition? There would be uproar. The fact is that this is being done by a Conservative Government when there is no precedent for it.
I said on Report, and I repeat now, that this goes against the spirit of Standing Order No. 62 in the 886 House of Commons which states that the precise duration of every temporary law or enactment shall be expressed in a distinct clause or subsection of the Bill. I repeat that because the implication of that Standing Order is that a temporary law or enactment has a precise duration, but this Bill does not have a precise duration.
I am sure that it is within the knowledge of every schoolboy that "temporary" and "permanent" are exact opposites. According to the dictionary the word "permanent" means lasting indefinitely, as opposed to temporary. I submit that we ought to have the goodness to put this right in an Act of Parliament. We have a duty to ensure that parliamentary language in a Bill is exact. We should not commit a parliamentary solecism such as this. For those very good reasons the House should agree to this amendment.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, perhaps the House will allow me to intervene once more. I am not sure that I have made myself clear to the noble Lord. There are plenty of precedents for Acts which are described as being temporary in the Short Title and having a fixed terminal date, as this Bill has, but including provisions whereby the duration may be continued provided the government bring forward the necessary orders and obtain the approval of Parliament. The only point of disagreement between the noble Lord and the Government is whether the word "temporary" appears in the Long Title or the Short Title. The noble Lord seeks to solve that argument by extracting the word "temporary". That is not acceptable to the Government.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, I do not think that that is the argument between us. The noble Lord has repeated the fact that there have been Bills with the word "temporary" in the Long Title or the Short Title. That does not seem to me to matter. I think it should be in both, but let us leave that point there.
Those Bills have also contained provision for the Act to be extended, perhaps annually, beyond the term of three years or whatever the original term is. I am saying that those Bills have had a fixed term. That is the question which the noble Lord has not answered. He says that there are plenty of precedents. I agree that there are precedents for a fixed-term Bill to be extended for one, two, three or four Sessions, but not indefinitely. That is the sole point at issue, not the completely artificial point as between the Long Title or the Short Title which the noble Lord has raised.
It is because the Bill sets a precedent which I think is highly undesirable and dangerous that I would ask the House to agree with me.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 7) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 99; Not-Contents, 151.888
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Airedale, L.||Aylestone, L.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Bancroft, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Banks, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Beswick, L.|
|Birk, B.||Lockwood, B.|
|Blyton, L.||Longford, E.|
|Bonham-Carter, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Brockway, L.||McNair, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Manchester, D.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Milford, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Monson, L.|
|David, B.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Denington, B.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Paget of Northampton, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Ezra, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Fletcher, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Seear, B.|
|Galpern, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Shepherd, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L. [Teller.]||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Hooson, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Kennet, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Kilbracken, L.||White, B.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Listowel, E.||Winstanley, L.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Ypres, E.|
|Ailsa, M.||Cowley, E.|
|Aldington, L.||Cross, V.|
|Allerton, L.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.|
|Arran, E.||Darnley, E.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Davidson, V. [Teller.]|
|Atholl, D.||De Freyne, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Denning, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Derwent, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Donegall, M.|
|Belstead, L.||Dormer, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Dundee, E.|
|Boardman, L.||Ebbisham, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Eden of Winton, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Elibank, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Butterworth, L.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Buxton of Alsa, L.||Elton, L.|
|Byron, L.||Enniskillen, E.|
|Caithness, E.||Erroll of Hale, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Faithfull, B.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Fanshawe of Richmond, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Ferrier, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Fortescue, E.|
|Carnock, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Gainford, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Geddes, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Gormanston, V.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Gridley, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint||O'Brien of Lothbury, L.|
|Marylebone, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Hanson, L.||Pender, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Henley, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Portland, D.|
|Hood, V.||Quinton, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Renwick, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Rollo, L.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Romney, E.|
|Kearton, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Killearn, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Kinnaird, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Selborne, E.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Layton, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Long, V.||Somers, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Strange, B.|
|McAlpine of Moffat, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|McAlpine of West Green, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Strathspey, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Marley, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Masham of Ilton, B.||Teviot, L.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Teynham, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Molson, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Monk Bretton, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Morris, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Mountgarret, V.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Munster, E.||Westbury, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Newall, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Norfolk, D.||Wolfson, L.|
|Northbourne, L.||Young, B.|
|Nugent of Guildford, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Belstead.)
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton had given notice of his intention to move as an amendment to the Motion, That the Bill do now pass, at end insert ("but this House regrets that while the Long Title is expressed to make temporary provision", Clause 6 contains provisions for the Act to be continued after 31st March 1990 for a further year indefinitely").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I fully intended to ask the House to divide on this Motion. Of course it does not have the effect of killing the Bill, but it is a way of expressing on the Order Paper a view that one is thoroughly discontented with the role which the Government have played in this House on this important subject.
§ It is a very important subject because temporary provisions Bills should be embarked upon only in emergencies, and then they should be heavily circumscribed. In this case I regret to say that the 889 historically approved circumscription of temporary provisions Bills have not been carried through into this particular Bill.
§ This has had the most unfortunate effect of aggravating the discontent which has already been only too manifest in the teaching profession. I believe that if the Government could only have had the generosity to give that inch they would have gained an ell. In parliamentary terms, it is a monstrosity for an emergency provisions Bill to have no finite date. Of course it is an emergency provisions Bill in that it has written into it a three-year expiry date. However, beyond that the Bill can be infinitely extended. It is this precedent which I find so unattractive. I find it particularly unattractive coming from the Conservative Party, which prides itself on its respect for parliamentary traditions and the constitution.
§ I shall say no more about the matter except that I have made my view clear. Very nearly 100 Members of the House have made their views clear that this is a practice which is deprecated and ought not to be followed. The fact that it is unprecedented ought to make the Conservative Party and its members who follow it in this House ashamed. I propose not to move my amendment in view of the overwhelming vote which has already been recorded against my amendment to leave out the word "temporary".
§ Having said that, I do not propose to move my amendment.
§ [Amendment to the Motion not moved.]
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, that brings us back to the Motion, That the Bill do now pass. Regarding that matter, I should like to ask my noble friend a question which, as I understand it, has already been ventilated at the other end of the corridor. It has been mentioned several times today that two of the teachers' unions—predictably the two which are affiliated to the TUC—have announced that they proposed to ballot their members on the question whether or not to organise disruption or some form of strike action. The point has been raised at the other end of the corridor—and I do not think it should be passed sub silentio—as to what the Governments' attitude is towards the whole of the very generous deal which they have done with the teachers if that action is authorised by their membership and disruption is continued.
As your Lordships will recall, very substantial pay increases are part of the current deal. It would be interesting to know whether or not, like some of us, the Government regard the package as a whole, including the provisions for co-operation and for carrying out the duties which decent teachers have done without any agreement for a great many years. This of course immediately raises the very important question as to whether, if this disruption takes place, the substantial pay increases due to take effect from 1st January and 1st October this year will or can be put into effect. I think that it is only fair to the members of the teaching profession to let them know exactly what the effect of their ballot may be before they vote on the these matters.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, the ballot is already in progress and the closing date for the receipt 890 of ballot papers is next week. Therefore we are asked to pass the Bill in very grave circumstances indeed. It will require all the skill and understanding of the Government and the Secretary of State to avoid the Bill being a prescription for more trouble. Along with other people I should deplore that because we all want to see something more constructive and acceptable to all concerned coming out of this situation than recent arrangements have shown.
This is the third time that a dispute over the pay of the teaching profession has been resolved by an Act of Parliament. The first occasion was in 1963 under a Conservative Government. On that occasion, after the Government and the Burnham Committee failed to reach agreement Parliament decided that the Government should resolve the dispute, and the pay fixed under that Act was for two years. Then in 1965, under a Labour Government, fresh difficulties arose. An Act of Parliament then fixed the pay for that year but strengthened the representation of the Secretary of State on the management side of the Burnham Committee. That was intended to give the Secretary of State a direct voice in the proceedings of the Burnham Committee. An understanding reached with the management side and the local authorities at the time gave the Secretary of State a weighted vote on the employers' panel.
Here we are doing far more than that. We are fixing the pay for this year and for such future occasions as may be necessary to be fixed by the Secretary of State under the provisions of this Bill. The difficulties which have arisen so far have not been between the unions and the Government and have not been between the unions and their so-called employers. They have been between the Burnham Committee as a whole and the Government. There have been agreed schemes on the Burnham Committee which the Secretary of State has been unable to accept.
Under the original Burnham conditions written into the 1944 Act, the Secretary of State was excluded from Burnham deliberations. He sat in the corridor to await the outcome of the deliberations of the Burnham Committee and he was then empowered by the 1944 Act to accept or reject the agreement that may have been reached. There were numerous occasions on which difficulties arose between the Government and the Burnham Committee. They erupted on the two previous occasions I have mentioned and they were resolved by an Act of Parliament. Here we are for the third time.
What then of the future? I rang the office of the Secretary of State this morning to say that I thought that as this was the last opportunity for the Government to state their immediate intentions it would be useful to have a statement on behalf of the Government as to what they propose to do immediately the Bill is passed. Clearly the first thing that the Secretary of State must do is settle the pay. That has now been pending for weeks. The arrears of pay are already accumulating and the teachers and public are awaiting the pronouncement of the Secretary of State on the dispute over pay.
The Bill requires the Secretary of State, before doing that, to consult with the teachers' organisations, with the local authority organisations and others who may be concerned. I think we are all entitled to ask when 891 those consultations will begin. By consultations I do not mean that they will appear before the Secretary of State to be told what he is proposing to do, unless at the same time he is willing to listen to their observations on what it is he has in mind to do. These are not pronouncements to be made by a dictator to subjects. Consultation implies exchanges, hearing views and revealing one's mind and coming to terms with each other. There must be some connection in the thinking on both sides in order that an agreement can be reached informally, even though the authority to implement the agreement rests with the Secretary of State.
Another matter we wish to know about is whether or not the contracts of service of the teachng profession are to be amended without the teachers' consent. I stress this point because, under the Bill, between now and next October the Secretary of State has no obligation to consult his advisory committee. He is on his own until October and can do as he thinks fit. He has to lay an order before both Houses concerning what he does, but he is not required to come to an agreement with a body beforehand. It will be a very grave matter if the Minister, on his own responsibility and without the advice of the advisory committee, is going to change the terms and conditions of service of teachers between now and October. He may wish to do this in order to link conditions of service with pay. This is the dilemma that the Secretary of State will have. He must proceed with great care.
If the conditions and contract of service of teachers are to be changed, is this going to be done under the authority of an Act of Parliament? If so, what are the consequences of the teachers refusing to accept them? Will it require the formality of determining the existing contracts before they are replaced by others? There are important technical questions of legality and form which have to be considered in this connection. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will be able to offer some reassurance to the House, which has had much uneasiness about this Bill, that the Secretary of State will proceed to use his new powers quickly, with great understanding and all the time with the aim of avoiding the precipitation of fresh trouble with the teaching profession. That is an important matter.
I should like to conclude by saying that the period between now and next October will be the crucial period. The disruption which is being voted upon is disruption at the passing of the Bill, which is always a futile form of protest. When an Act of Parliament has been passed the obligation rests upon all citizens to observe it. In observing the fact that the Bill has been passed, the teachers will want to know what use is going to be made of it and how far their interests are going to be taken into account in the exercise of ministerial powers. It is not a happy moment for any of us and it is difficult to predict what mood the teachers will be in. But there is no doubt that they feel that they are being downgraded the whole time.
In my long experience no section of the public service has ever had to submit indefinitely to the rule of the Secretary of State or any government regarding the machinery for discussing its conditions of service. The formulation of fresh statutory machinery is not a necessary condition of bringing this Act to an end. On 892 balance, it is better that the machinery for negotiation of industrial relations is not made in detail statutory. There should be plenty of room left for flexibility and adjustment.
The Civil Service national Whitley Council has lasted since 1919. Nothing was written in any statute law about it. This show that given the conditions under which two sides understand their respective obligations and when they are unhampered by the bureaucracy of a Act of Parliament they can usually solve thier own affairs. It may be that in the end it will be possible to do this by a voluntary rather than a statutory system.
I conclude on a note which I have mentioned before; namely, there will be no peace, no satisfaction and no machinery which will succeed unless the management side is concentrated and the authority of the management side is established. Managers must have the authority to reach agreement with their employees; otherwise difficulties are bound to occur. How is it possible to negotiate with employers who are not employers, or with the Secretary of State who is the boss but is not an employer? How is it possible to reach agreement with the Secretary of State who is in the offing all the time to disrupt the negotiations which have taken place up to that point? The Government must setttle how the management side is going to operate as a coherent party to the negotiations. The teachers can then sort themselves out and get the necessary cohesion and authority on their side. Then and only then shall we have negotiating machinery which will succeed.
That is the message, if I may say so, that has to go to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and members of the Government. I sincerely hope that we can overcome these difficulties and reach some accord long before the end of three years. A period of three years gives the impression, especially with the facilities for an extension, that somebody is going to dawdle or be difficult. We do not want dawdle or difficulty to be put in the way of reaching agreement on this matter. It may require fundamental change in the attitude of the Government towards the education service and the position of teachers within the public service. All options are open so long as we can get conditions under which teachers can feel they can help to negotiate their terms of employment with recourse to suitable arbitrament if negotiations fail and can be placed in that regard on a par with the rest of the Civil Service.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, somebody who is not sitting on the Front Bench on this side of the House has to remind your Lordships that the reason we have this Bill is that the existing machinery for delivering salaries to teachers had broken down completely. This occurred before a committee set up nearly six years ago to replace it with other machinery had produced an alternative. A Bill is essential if the teachers are to get any of the money now due to them in the way of increases at all. There is no question of not passing this Bill. Nor is it a question, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, that there was a firm or lasting agreement between the employers and the teachers. My noble friend Lord Belstead shall correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was fewer than 893 three weeks that that agreement lasted and it was abrogated. Therefore, there was no way forward for the Government except to introduce a Bill. That Bill contains a clause limiting its life to three years unless your Lordships accord to the Government the power to extend it. Whatever has been said, it is a temporary measure, and your Lordships are in a position to see that it is—and so is another place.
The final point which needs to be made from this side of the House is that it is not a Bill against the teachers as is repeatedly represented from the other side of the Floor. It is a Bill to enable them to have an opportunity to work out a fair system for deciding within what the Government says is possible, how the money should be paid; and to agree with the Government and their employers what the proper structures should be for a forward-looking and flexible profession. As an ex-teacher, as an ex-teacher of teachers, and as an ex-Minister responsible in some part for education in these islands, I say this. The profession are doing themselves immense harm if they still allow a minority to threaten to take it out of the children in the pursuit of what they see as a quicker method. I beg them not to do so.
§ Lord Murray of Epping Forest
My Lords, I share the lack of enthusiasm of my noble friend Lord Houghton for short strikes of this nature. I do not believe that they achieve very much. Having said that, none of us can be surprised if teachers take the only means left open to them of expressing their concern and their anger at being deprived of basic rights.
Noble Lords opposite are second only to myself in commending workers in eastern European countries who protest against the abrogation of their basic rights. I hope that they will join me in recognising that it is not a mark of British citizenship to submit, without even a whimper, to what they regard as unfair and unreasonable acts by the Government, tempered by not a jot of a concession to the concern so widely expressed not only here but elsewhere about the feelings of the teachers themselves.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, I want to raise one specific point with the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, of which I have given his office notice. It is the interpretation to be put on the new Clause 4 moved, as the noble Lord will recall, at the Committee stage by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I supported the noble Baroness on that occasion. I have had a number of letters, as probably have other noble Lords, from the various teacher associations in further education—because this is the clause which refers to further education—in which they express considerable doubt as to how they will stand under the clause as it is now written into the Bill.
The Association of Polytechnic Teachers is of course happy that it is now to be involved in the negotiations after the winding-up of the Burnham machinery, but the Association of the Principals of Colleges is worried about further fragmentation in negotiations, while the Professional Association of Teachers is deeply concerned because it believes that there is no guarantee, in the clause as written, that it will be involved at all. That, I am bound to say, is my interpretation of the debate that we had on this subject 894 at the Committee stage on the noble Baroness's Amendment No. 54, as it then was.
The Question that the Bill do now pass is a time at which any outstanding matters of doubt should be clarified so that we know where we stand when the Bill becomes law. I should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, if he would give the Government's view of how this clause is to be interpreted; exactly who is going to be involved; and when the new arrangements are likely to be in place. That would be of great assistance to all parties who are likely to be concerned under that clause.
Finally, it is unfortunate to have to say goodbye to a Bill with the Cassandra warnings of what is likely to happen. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has already expressed doubts and fears which I am bound to say are largely shared on these Benches. We very much regret that the Government are not able to see their way to accepting our constructive proposals for the next framework to fill the vacuum left by this Bill. Your Lordships will recall that we said at the time that our proposals had received a great deal of support in the outside world. Those who offered support included a number of the more responsible education interests and parents through the National Federation of Parent Teacher Associations.
It is clear that there was, and remains, great anxiety in the country as to how this Bill is going to work in practice. If the Government had accepted the need for a framework—if you like, an interim framework—to fill the vacuum, there would have been a great deal more chance of the teaching professions implementing the conditions which have been so painstakingly agreed and on which there was such a remarkable convergence between the teachers and the local authority associations on the one hand and the Government view on the other.
Obviously, we shall have to see how this works out in practice. I reiterate what has been said on a number of amendments. It is vital that we have something proper and respectable in place again before 1990, which is the expiry date on the face of the Bill.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I shall have something to say about the intransigence and authoritarianism of the Government in bringing forward and promoting this Bill, but it would be wrong for me not to preface my remarks with a tribute to the unfailing courtesy of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, in their presentation of the case, however defective that case may have been. It would also be wrong to deal with the issues in the Bill without making reference to the ballots taking place in the major teacher unions. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter has expressed the hope that the Government might take these ballots and possible strikes into account when considering what to do about the current pay round. I hope that they will not. In my view—and here I echo the views of my noble friend Lord Murray—the actions of the teachers in this matter (which I do not support) are the actions of those who are desperate to make their voices heard.
I have written personally to the general secretaries of the two major teaching unions. While not wishing in 895 any way to intervene in the control and running of their own unions—it would be quite wrong for me to do so—I have expressed the view that it is unhelpful, while a Bill is going through Parliament, for them to take action of this kind. But I well understand the reasons why they are doing it, and I understand the desperation in their hearts as they go to this next step. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, ought to know that it is not just the two major unions but the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association which is also going to ballot on the same issues.
These teachers are not Left-wing zealots. Many of these teachers are strong supporters of the Government. They are certainly not in any way radicals or revolutionaries. These letters come to us from all parts of the country and from Conservative seats as much as from, if not more so, Labour seats. They express the view that Parliament is perpetrating an outrage on their rights. That, in my view, is the fundamental issue which has been before us during discussion on this Bill.
Whatever interpretation we may make of the progress of negotiations over the past year, since perhaps May 1986 when disruption in our schools actually came to an end, I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Elton. However, I think it would be fruitless to go through all the detail again. Whatever interpretation we choose to put on those negotiations, at the end of the day there was an agreement on teachers' conditions of service; there was an agreement on the structure of a pay settlement; and there was agreement, to within a reasonable amount of money which could easily have been adjusted by changing the starting dates, on the total budget.
It has been the intervention of the Government which has prevented that agreement ever since the Secretary of State's statement on 30th October last. It has been the progress of this Bill which has made it more and more difficult for the self-respecting teachers of this country and their employers to come to a rational conclusion about what should be the solution.
We have tried every means in the book at every stage, within the limits of order and propriety in this House, to say again and again that, in the short term, and in the long term, there must be a machinery for negotiating pay and conditions which involves negotiations between teachers and their employers. I do not apologise for saying that again because it is the most fundamental point before the House. I cannot say that we have had success of any significance in putting that view over to the noble Lords opposite, but I believe not only that the country has come to recognise that this point is just, but that the experience of the next few months and years will prove that we were right in our opposition to this Bill.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, although some of the issues in this Bill have been hard fought, there has been agreement on several issues. There is agreement that the existing Burnham machinery must be brought to an end, that pay and conditions must be considered together and that the Secretary of State has an important role in the pay determination process. I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Elton for reminding us that we need to recognise that after a long period of 896 discord and disruption, something had to be done. We have differed in this House on the interim arrangements reached in the Bill; but we shall all watch with care how the Bill operates and we shall all hope that after a breathing space and experience of the advisory committee approach, permanent machinery can be agreed for the future.
The noble Lords, Lord Houghton and Lord Boyd-Carpenter, both asked me, in somewhat different ways, what happens next. When this Bill receives Royal Assent, my right honourable friend will be empowered to consult on the basis of draft orders, and following that consultation to make orders dealing with pay and conditions of employment. The time taken will depend on such factors as the date of Royal Assent and the length of time that consultation takes. But my right honourable friend will proceed to consultation on draft orders very quickly after Royal Assent. In addition, the time taken by different local education authorities to implement pay increases may vary.
Noble Lords specifically raised the question of conditions of employment. So far as concerns these, the Secretary of State has made clear that the ACAS proposals on teachers' duties and hours of work represent useful progress. Orders on which consultation will take place after Royal Assent will cover both pay and conditions of employment and this must be right as Members of your Lordships' House on all sides have agreed that pay and conditions of service should be considered together. Linking a definition of duties to a substantial pay increase should not, I suggest, cause any difficulties.
Local authorities have been saying for years that a contract containing a clear definition of teachers' duties would be an important step forward; but teachers who do not carry out their duties will not be entitled to any money at all for the time that they are on strike. I express the hope that teachers will accept the explicit writing into their contracts of responsibilities, which the great majority carry out anyway. Industrial action is certainly unjustified.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, asked me one question about Clause 4. If the noble Lord will forgive me, I do not think at this stage I can go into the details of a clause that we have traversed three or four times, except to say that we are indebted to my noble friends Lady Cox and Lord Beloff for Clause 4 being in the Bill, which preserves the rights of those unions that now have a place on the Burnham further education committee. It means that any future arrangements for national negotiations for pay and conditions of service for further education teachers must afford those unions a reasonable opportunity of participating in the process.
That leaves me with the dog which did not bark: the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, which is on the Order Paper and to which the noble Lord spoke, but does not intend to move. With great respect, I wonder whether at this stage of the Bill the noble Lord was taking the right point. A number of Acts that are on the statute book provide that the Act, or its substantive provisions, will expire on a stated date. Such Acts frequently include a provision, such as that to be found in Clause 6 of this Bill, which permits that date to be extended by order if Parliament 897 approves without limit of time. Such Acts are often called temporary provision Acts and they tend to be enacted to deal with particular difficulties, although that is not always the case. For once, because it is very rare, not only do I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, but surely the key issue that we have to address at this last moment on this short but difficult Bill is whether the Bill represents the right approach to the problems of teachers' pay. I put it to your Lordships that with the encouragement of a major pay increase and the discipline which this Bill provides of a breathing space during which much thinking has to take place, my right honourable friend has found that to be the only practicable way forward.
With the news last week that the two biggest teachers' unions are again advocating strike action, I believe that all who are concerned for our schools, particularly parents of children whose education would again be imperilled, will support the need for the breathing space that the Bill provides and will feel strongly that the time has now come when the local authority employers and the teachers' unions need to show a willingness to think carefully and radically about the pay determination process for the future. It will be a willingness to seek new pay machinery which eventually will bring the need for this Bill to an end. The impending balance for yet more industrial action by teachers underlines the need for the breathing space which the Bill provides and I therefore have no hesitation in commending the Motion that the Bill do now pass.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.