HL Deb 12 January 1987 vol 483 cc369-446

3.22 p.m.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

This is the first Bill to be debated in your Lordships' House in 1987; but, that apart, it deals with what must always be a matter of considerable concern to us all. We all recognise that the effective running of our schools is vital for the nation as a whole. Successful education depends on well motivated teachers. Teachers have a highly responsible task, exercised not only on behalf of pupils and their parents but also on behalf of taxpayers, ratepayers and the wider community. An effective education service is crucial in the long term for all aspects of national life. We must all regret the disruption, the interrupted teaching and lost educational opportunities that have resulted from the general dissatisfaction with the way in which pay determination for schoolteachers is presently concluded. Your Lordships have a wide expertise on education and share concerns about its importance and the need to resolve the present crisis about pay determination for schoolteachers.

This Bill comes to this House with a measure of agreement. There was agreement in the other place that the Burnham committees should go, that pay and conditions of teachers should be negotiated together, that the Secretary of State should have a proper role in the pay determination of schoolteachers, and that a clear definition of schoolteachers' jobs should be adopted.

Burnham committees have existed since 1919. The present structure orginates from the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 under which the two present Burnham committees operate. One deals with schoolteachers' pay, the other with that of teachers in further education. Neither deals with conditions of service, which is and has been generally acknowledged to be a major defect.

As many of your Lordships will know, the present primary and secondary committee has 55 members divided into the teachers' panel and the management panel. The teachers' panel includes members from no fewer than six teacher unions. The management panel is 27 strong. It is largely composed of local authority members with just two representatives of the Secretary of State. This huge, unwieldy committee has been beset by difficulties arising from its own structure. Although the teachers' panel has traditionally spoken with one voice in Burnham, there has been a long history of differences and rivalries between the different unions. When, in November 1984, the employers presented a package linking pay and duties, the National Union of Teachers walked out of the talks in the following month. Negotiations in July last year in Coventry led to heads of agreement signed by five unions but not by the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers. In November last year, after the Nottingham negotiations, a draft agreement was signed by four of the six teacher unions but within a fortnight two of the four unions had withdrawn their support. So from five, then four, there are now only two of the unions in support.

There has been one major factor which no Government have been prepared to leave out of consideration. Between 1965 and 1985 the Secretary of State's representatives had a weighted vote within the management panel and a power of veto over proposed offers on grounds of aggregate cost. This Concordat, as it was called, meant that the management panel was constrained to levels of pay increases acceptable to the Government: it reflected the view of the then Labour Government which introduced the 1965 Act that the Government needed to retain power over the global sum for the schoolteachers' pay bill. But the Concordat was scrapped unilaterally by the employers in 1985 and this has left the Government with a mere two votes out of 27 in the management panel: this was acknowledged by the Opposition in the other place to be much too small a role for any Secretary of State.

There have been serious attempts to reform the outdated salary structure but progress has been painfully slow. In 1981 a Burnham agreement established a joint working party to review the salary structure of the profession. This process has been going on for five years and we are still some way from a generally acceptable settlement. There have been genuine attempts by the local authority employers to make headway with the definition of teachers' duties and conditions of work. No real progress was made until last year. But a considerable gain from the ACAS-led discussions in recent months is the emerging definition of teachers' duties and working time at the direction of the head teacher.

Before turning to the clauses in the Bill I want to state briefly the Government's views on schoolteachers' pay provided pay and conditions are brought together with an appropriate pay structure. Government have said that there could be a substantial increase in public expenditure provision for schoolteachers pay provided pay and conditions are brought together with an appropriate pay structure. The Government have proposed an average increase in school teachers' pay of 16.4 per cent. to be paid in two stages as from 1st January and 1st October 1987, with an increase in the number of incentive posts to 140,000 by 1990. This is on top of increases agreed for March and April 1986, making a cumulative 25 per cent. increase over the period.

But the ACAS-led discussions between the local authority associations and the teacher unions proposed a flat and undifferentiated pay structure which provides minimal incentives and gives the biggest pay increase to the least experienced teachers. These proposals, which reduce the number of incentive posts to 80,000, do not provide for proper differentials in order to reward good classroom teaching and extra responsibility, to pay for skills in short supply and to give management adequate flexibility to attract good teachers to posts in difficult schools. It is scarcely surprising that these proposals do not commend the support of all the teacher unions. Indeed in the words of the National Association of Head Teachers, the ACAS proposals "shoot differentials to pieces".

Last Wednesday the local authority representatives and the teacher unions confirmed that they wanted to adopt the draft agreement reached last November, without amendment, but only if the Government agreed to very large expenditure increases. A sizeable proportion of the local authority representatives and four out of the six unions dissented from this conclusion.

Last Wednesday's outcome will not provide a settlement. The employers and unions have long known that the ACAS package does not meet the Government's condition that the unprecedented additional £608 million be matched to a substantially improved career structure with many more incentive posts. The Secretary of State has made it clear that what is now proposed in the ACAS package would compress differentials and reduce incentives for good teachers and those who take on additional responsibilities in an unacceptable way. In addition, the proposals, as they stand, involve expenditure well above the £608 million earmarked—£85 million over this year and next. Neither the local authorities nor the unions seem to have thought about the further costs involved in their proposals on conditions of service. The employers' estimate of those last November was £105 million for this coming academic year and £165 million for 1988–89.

The Secretary of State made it clear at the North of England conference last Friday that he would continue to seek a pay structure which would better meet the needs of our schools and provide fair rewards for teachers. He said: Last Wednesday seems not to have carried the business forward in any material way, but I remain very ready to have further discussion on possible improvements with the local authorities and the teacher unions". For the medium term, given the turmoil there has been in pay determination for school teachers in recent years, the Government believe that an interim solution of an advisory committee would provide the best means of ensuring an efficient and realistic process of determining school teachers' pay and conditions for a temporary period until March 1990.

A committee of independent people, working within guidance given by the Secretary of State, but with a very clear requirement that it should provide the opportunity for local authority and teacher unions to submit evidence and representations, should provide a clear perspective and will help overcome the problems there have been with pay determination for school teachers over recent years.

Hence the Bill provides for interim arrangements. For the longer term there will be a variety of views about what should happen. Many of them, no doubt, will be aired today. Some will advocate a pay review body like that for doctors and dentists; others will want pay determination to be settled without the involvement of any outside body. The recent disturbed history makes it very difficult to predict how the right solution for the longer term may be found.

As to the clauses of the Bill, Clause 1 repeals the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 and provides for current pay provisions to remain in force until they are superseded by new arrangements; in the case of school teachers, arrangements made under this Bill, and in the case of teachers in further education where there have not been the same problems arrangements agreed between teachers and their employers.

Clause 2 provides for the setting up of the interim Advisory Committee on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions. It will report to the Secretary of State on such matters relating to pay and other conditions of employment as he may refer to them, following such directions as he may give. The clause requires the advisory committee to invite associations of local education authorities and organisations representing school teachers to submit evidence and make representations to them. It was made clear in the debates in the other place that all reports from the advisory committee will be published.

Clause 3 gives the Secretary of State power to put recommendations of the committee into effect after consulting the relevant local authority associations and teacher unions. If he makes no material modification to the recommendations, then the order implementing them is subject to the negative resolution procedure; if he does make a material modification, then the order requires an affirmative vote in both Houses. Local authorities will have a legal obligation to pay teachers in accordance with the scales and other provisions set out in an order or published document referred to in the order. The provisions on other conditions of employment will have effect as terms of teachers' contracts.

Clause 3 also provides that the Secretary of State will be able to make orders coming into force before 1st October 1987 without a report from the advisory committee, after consulting the relevant local authority associations and teacher unions.

Clause 4 provides for money to be made available to the Secretary of State to cover expenses attributable to provisions of the Act. The main expense would be payments to members of the advisory committee, if it is decided that they should be paid; this will be largely offset by the disbandment of the previous Burnham Committees.

Clause 5 emphasises the interim nature of the provisions in the Bill, as the Act will expire on 31st March 1990 unless renewed by order of the Secretary of State. Any renewal can only be for a period of one year at a time and will be subject to the negative resolution procedure of Parliament. Clauses 6 and 7 cover respectively definitions of terms used in the Bill and various supplemental provisions.

It has been alleged that the Bill ends negotiating rights for school teachers. The truth of the matter is that it takes necessary action. The existing bargaining arrangements have simply not worked, nor is it credible to imagine that anything like them would serve for the immediate future. The Bill sets out interim arrangements, giving time for long-term arrangements to be sorted out carefully and rationally. During this interim period there will be no shortage of consultation. The advisory committee will be required to take evidence and receive representations from the relevant associations of local education authorities and teacher unions.

The Secretary of State will be required to consult the relevant associations of local education authorities and teacher unions before making any order under the Bill about pay or conditions of employment. I can assure the House that this process of consultation will be taken very seriously indeed. Parliament will have the final say, since any order following a report from the advisory committee will be subject to either the negative or affirmative resolution procedure, as I have explained. This gives Parliament a role which it does not at present have, as orders under the Remuneration of Teachers Act are not subject to any parliamentary procedure.

Interests representing voluntary schools have suggested to my right honourable friend that their position as employers of 20 per cent. of school teachers should be reflected on the face of the Bill. The Government accept this point of view not just because of the legal responsibilities of the governors of aided schools as employers but also because of the general responsibilities of the governors of voluntary schools for the successful running of those schools.

The Government will therefore be bringing forward amendments to Clauses 2 and 3 to provide for appropriate consultations to be made by the interim advisory committee before they formulate advice and by the Secretary of State before he proceeds to make any order under the Act. A further amendment will make it clear that an order covering conditions of employment will be able to make different provision for different cases: this would allow orders to accommodate such variations as may be needed to meet the particular position of the voluntary sector.

In conclusion, today the Government seek the agreement of your Lordships' House to a Bill aimed at ensuring that for an interim period there can be new arrangements for determining school teachers' pay and duties. The existing determination processes which should have provided resolution of regrettable and long-running difficulties in our schools have clearly failed to do so. For the sake of the effective education of the nation's children, I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Baroness Hooper.)

3.39 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, this Bill comes before your Lordships as a crisis measure. It is presented by the Government in a timetable and in conditions which reflect the Government's particular view of the events of the past two years in our education service. Indeed, if it were not presented as a crisis measure, it is difficult to conceive how your Lordships could ever be asked to agree to the elimination of negotiating rights on the part of the employers and the workers in 10 per cent. of the public sector in this country. That is what the Bill means, no more and no less.

I referred to the timing of the Bill. The first indication of the detailed contents of the Bill came from the Secretary of State when the Bill was introduced at the end of November 1986, not at the time of the Queen's Speech when the only reference was to the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965. The entire process in another place took place in less than three weeks and was immediately followed by the Christmas Recess. It comes to your Lordships at a time when there has been no full opportunity for public debate or, indeed, for parliamentary consideration.

I object not so much to the procedures in another place, because it must be said that all amendments to the Bill were debated at great length and, to the great credit of my right honourable and honourable friends, without the use of the guillotine on the Floor of the House itself. I do object however to the fact that all this has taken place at a time when there has been no real opportunity for public feeling on the matter—there is no doubt from my postbag, which is the largest that I have ever had since I became a Member of your Lordships' House, that there is great public feeling—to have its full effect and express itself to your Lordships.

There is no doubt that there is and has been, over the years, a crisis in our schools. Every parent, every child in our schools, knows the effect of the disruption. Every teacher in the last two years, and long before that, has known the effect of restrictive policies on the remuneration of teachers and on their standards of living.

My honourable friend Mr. Giles Radice speaking on Second Reading of the Bill in another place, said that four issues had given rise to justified concern about the position in our schools. The first is that teachers' pay has dramatically fallen behind that of other professions in our society, not just in the public sector but also in the private sector. The second is that the teachers were faced with a pay structure which, because it depends on the number of pupils in the school for levels of remuneration, has had the effect that a substantial majority of teachers are now locked into the bottom two pay scales and therefore cannot earn a living that enables them to bring up their families in the comfort and conditions that they have a right to expect.

The third—this, I think, is common between all parties—is that there has been a lack of definition of teachers' duties and of conditions of service. The fourth—again, this is common between all parties—is that there has been a very severe need to overhaul inadequate negotiating procedures.

These causes have led to the most unfortunate history of the past two years, a time when the financial squeeze on local authorities has been very great and a time when the only indication of support from the previous Secretary of State came in the form of a very conditional offer of more money based on changes to conditions of service rather than a recognition of the justified demands of teachers for a living wage.

We have seen in the past 12 months the real difficulties with the Burnham procedures which have led to a reference to ACAS. We have seen within the last nine months negotiations in ACAS which have led to very substantial changes in the atmosphere in which teachers' pay has been negotiated and in the degree to which the employers and the teachers have been able to find common ground. As a result of the final ACAS-led meeting on 19th December, reference on conditions of service went back to the CLEAR school teachers' joint meeting, which agreed on conditions of service very close to those that have been demanded by the Secretary of State. It came back to the Burnham Committee last Wednesday, which agreed, subject to the impossibility of financial agreement by the Secretary of State, on virtually all the other things that the Secretary of State might have wanted.

That is the recent historical background to the Bill that we are debating today and that we shall be considering in Committee in the course of the coming weeks. It is a rather different picture from that presented by the noble Baroness, who managed to make it appear that it was the intransigence of the teachers' employers rather than the intransigence of the Secretary of State which was responsible for the position in which we find ourselves. I suggest to your Lordships that that is not the case.

Let us now turn to the Bill itself. The first reference that the noble Baroness made was to the Title and to Clause 1(1), the repeal of the Remuneration of Teachers Act. I think it can be said with confidence that all sides of the House will wish to agree with that part of the Bill and that most sides of the House will not wish to agree with any other part of the Bill. There is no doubt that the Burnham machinery has outlived its usefulness, not least for the reason that the noble Baroness gave. It separated perforce negotiations on pay and negotiations on conditions of service.

Then we have in the Bill this curious idea that these are interim provisions, that this is a temporary Bill. Let us look at the Bill more closely. The Bill is to continue until 1990, after which it may be renewed in successive years by the Secretary of State on resolution of both Houses of Parliament. Anyone who knows anything about local government and temporary planning permission knows that temporary planning permission is the most permanent of all kinds of planning permission. Anyone who knows about the way in which the Bill has been drafted knows that, given the powers that the Secretary of State has under the Bill—the interim powers to dictate in every respect teachers' pay and conditions of service—it is inconceivable that a Secretary of State, at least from the party now in office, would abrogate those powers and return to a more democratic procedure. This is not then, in effect, a temporary Bill; it has within it the seeds of permanence at the whim and discretion only of the Secretary of State.

Then come the provisions for an advisory committee. These are most remarkable provisions when one takes them together. The advisory committee is to be appointed entirely by the Secretary of State. There is no indication of the qualifications for membership of the advisory committee. There is no indication that there should be any form of right of membership of those involved in any way in education, whether they be the teachers, the employing organisations, parents or the churches. None of these has any right of representation on the advisory committee.

The advisory committee, as my honourable friend said, is a Secretary of State's poodle. Even so, the Government propose that the recommendations of the advisory committee can be overturned at will by the Secretary of State if the difference between his overturning the recommendations of his own advisory committee and accepting them is only a difference between negative and affirmative procedures in Parliament.

I conclude that the advisory committee, with all the fine words about consultation, is no effective alternative to the kind of negotiation that those involved in the education service—teachers and employers above all—would expect to see as the basis for the determination of their pay.

There are many other details about the Bill into which we could and will go at an appropriate stage. I want to refer to one overriding consideration which the Government have a very short time to deal with and which they must deal with before the Bill comes to Committee. It is the question of our obligations under the conventions of the International Labour Organisation. The Secretary of State in another place casually brushed off these obligations as if it were Convention 151 which applied to teachers. The question will answer itself, because the National Union of Teachers has appealed to the International Labour Organisation. It is quite clear, if one compares Convention 98 and Convention 151, that it is Convention 98 which applies to public servants other than those engaged in the administration of the state. The terms of Article 4 of Convention 98 are as clear as these things ever are to a non-lawyer such as myself. Measures appropriate to national conditions shall be taken where necessary to encourage and promote the full development and utilisation of machinery for voluntary negotiations between employers or employers organisations and workers organisations with a view to the regulation of terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements.

Consultation of the sort proposed by the Government in this Bill cannot constitute negotiations with a view to the regulation of terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, this Bill must be in conflict with Convention 98 of the International Labour Organisation to which this Government, as well as preceding governments, have subscribed. Therefore, failing the withdrawal of this Bill—of which there has been no indication in the speech of the noble Baroness—there will be a number of amendments which we shall have to put forward in due course. I can only indicate the scope of the amendments rather than the detail.

We will be seeking to ensure that schools are treated as the further education service is treated in the Bill, in a manner agreed between both parties rather than by the Secretary of State. We will seek to ensure that any advisory committee is subject to a right of reference as to the matters it considers by parties other than the Secretary of State. At the moment it is only the Secretary of State who can say what the advisory committee will consider. We will be seeking to ensure a right of evidence, of representation, and indeed of negotiation, by the teachers and the employers and by others concerned with the education service.

I was glad to read in the report of proceedings in another place that the report of the advisory committee will be published. We will wish to see that on the face of the Bill. We will wish to see that there is representative membership of the advisory committee. Again, I welcome the assurance given by the noble Baroness that the Church will be represented. I will be able to show that this is also the wish of the teachers and the employers and that it can be achieved in other ways. We will certainly wish to see that the duration of the Bill is altered and that it is not capable of indefinite renewal at the whim of government as at present. We wish to delete the references to different rates of pay in different areas, which appear to us to be potentially a return to the kind of chaos which existed before the First World War and which the original Burnham machinery was set up to get rid of. There are plenty of alterations which need to be made to the Bill if this House is to exercise its minimum responsibilities as a revising Chamber.

Before we reach that stage, we must consider what it is that the Government want from the teachers and from the employers in the form of a negotiated agreement and what it is that is actually being offered by teachers to decide whether any Bill at all is necessary. I take as my text the Statement by the Secretary of State at the end of October last year. He said first of all that he wanted to see adequate conditions of service. He set out 19 points for defining the duties of teachers and expressing the length of time—the number of days and the number of hours—for which teachers were to be at the disposal of the headteacher.

As I have already said, the teachers and the employers have agreed on virtually those conditions of service and they have been confirmed by the meeting of CLEAR schoolteachers. The Secretary of State wanted to see that there would be adequate opportunities for what he called management, that is, a much larger number of promoted posts than those proposed at Coventry or subsequently negotiated at Nottingham.

There are objections on the part of many teachers to such proposals, just as some of the teachers' unions feel strongly that they are desirable. At the end of the day, I am assured by teachers' unions representing the lower paid teachers that they are still open minded about the structure, as to whether or not there should be an extra tier of promoted posts. I feel convinced that if it had not been for the intervention of the Secretary of State in the middle of these negotiations we would have been able to reach an agreement, perhaps not fully expressing what the Secretary of State wanted, but certainly going some way towards his requirements.

At the moment, it is certainly the case that far too many teachers are stuck at the bottom of the scales, and at scales at the bottom of the ladder. This situation cannot be satisfactory.

The Secretary of State also feels very strongly that there should be a lower ceiling for the main professional grade, that is of non-promoted teachers, than is provided for by the ACAS agreements. I recognise that this is also a matter of dispute between different teaching unions. Teachers who stick to classroom teaching—those who wish to work in the classroom and not to take part in the management of schools—have a right to a decent standard of living. That is a point that teachers feel strongly about. And that is what the Secretary of State cannot understand. He must recognise that this situation in any solution, whether it be imposed or negotiated, would always cause conflict. It cannot be acceptable as the Secretary of State proposes that more than 50 per cent. of our teachers at the top of their scales and after years of devoted service should be earning less than £13,000 per annum.

Then there is the issue of the budget, which, in the new cant term, is called the cost envelope. It is true that the agreement negotiated last week would cost £85 million more than the Secretary of State has proposed. However, when one looks at the fact that a delay in implementation of a rise in any one year saves no less than £40 million, it can be seen that there is scope for manoeuvre. There is scope not only in 1986 and 1987 but also in the next year for changes in the implementation dates which would achieve the desired objectives within the budget laid down by the Secretary of State. This fact has been confirmed to me by the major teaching unions.

The Secretary of State wants stable negotiations, as do we all. But can this be the way to achieve a stable structure for determining pay and conditions of teachers? Above all, the Secretary of State wants a government role in the negotiations. The Secretary of State will have received today from the representatives of the employers' and teachers' associations a letter describing how far they are prepared to go—further perhaps than I would have been prepared to go in meeting the requirements of the Secretary of State. They recognise that the Department of Education and Science should be represented with voting rights on a national joint council. They recognise that the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church should be offered non-voting representation on the employers side. To that exent there is no difference between the Government and ourselves except that in our case the representation for the churches would be on a real body and not simply on an advisory committee.

There is recognition that even after a decision has been reached the Secretary of State has to have some reserve powers. It is said that if the Secretary of State considered that national economic circumstances required that such an agreement or arbitration award should not be implemented, then it would be open to him within 21 days of receiving the agreement or arbitration award from the national joint council to seek affirmative resolutions from both Houses of Parliament to have it set aside. I suggest that that proposal goes a good deal further than the Secretary of State is prepared to go in defence of the rightful interests of Parliament as against the interests of the Executive.

Under the Bill as proposed, the Secretary of State sets up his own advisory committee, his own poodle, and if he likes what it says—and there is no reason why he should not like what it says in those conditions—all he has to go for are negative procedures. Under the proposals of the teachers and employers, Parliament has the right of ultimate resolution under the affirmative resolution procedure on any agreement reached by the national joint council which does not secure the approval of the Secretary of State. It is the Government and not the teachers or the employers who are frustrating the sovereignty of Parliament in this matter.

The final issue we have to consider in looking at the Bill is the likely outcome. If your Lordships think that an imposed solution, and one which puts teachers at variance with all other public servants in this country, is the way to peace, then your Lordships ought to give this Bill a Second Reading. If, on the other hand, your Lordships think, as I do, that in the circumstances, and in the light of the very substantial advances which have been made in voluntary negotiations between the teachers and the employers, the Bill is likely to be an obstacle to peace, then it should be opposed by this House, as a revising Chamber, with all the power at its command.

4.1 p.m.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, I must first apologise to your Lordships' House for the fact that I shall be forced to be away for a considerable time—I hope not too considerable—during this debate because I have an appointment in a government department which could not be arranged for any other time. However, I am certain that I shall be back in time to hear the reply from the Government Front Bench.

We on these Benches share the Government's concern about the disruption that has gone on in the schools for so long. We share their desire to reach a satisfactory settlement so that the schools can get back to do the job which so urgently needs to be done. We understand that the divisions in the unions which represent the teaching profession have made reaching an agreement a great deal more difficult than would have been the case had the unions been able to get their acts together more effectively than they have done.

We share, and I suspect that we exceed, the Government's recognition that great improvements are needed in the whole field of teaching. Indeed, I myself would go so far as to say that the hope for both a prosperous and a civilised life in this country in the 21st century depends on a real quantum leap in education, but quantum leaps in education cannot come on the cheap. So we share some of the Government's feelings and their approach to the problems of education and the improvements and alterations that need to be made in the education field. That refers of course to questions of pay and terms and conditions of employment for people who teach in our schools.

However, I am afraid that is as far as the agreement goes. If the Government think that this Bill is the way in which to achieve the objectives which they and we share, then I feel the Government are gravely mistaken. We oppose the proposals they are putting forward. Indeed, were it not for the constitutional agreements that we have and the very proper constitutional limitations on the powers of an unelected Chamber, we on these Benches would not be prepared to give a Second Reading to this Bill. However, we accept that we are not the elected Chamber and so we shall be reduced to seeing in what ways we can make this thoroughly bad Bill slightly less objectionable.

There are two grave defects in the Bill and I cannot believe that the Government fully understand the implications of what they are doing in producing a Bill of this kind. In fact, the Government are taking away the negotiating rights of the teaching profession. I know that the noble Baroness who introduced the Bill said that was not so, that it was only a temporary measure and that the negotiating rights would be restored in due course. But taking away negotiating rights is an exceedingly serious thing to do. How can any government who really believe in the democratic process be content to produce a solution to a dispute which undermines those rights—no, not undermines; which removes those rights indefinitely? For all that is said in this Bill, there is provision for year-after-year renewal. We have seen other emergency legislation (have we not?) to deal with very serious matters and which has had year-to-year renewal; and those measures are still with us. Measures of this kind have a way of lingering on, perhaps long beyond the period which was intended in the original Bill.

To undermine the rights to negotiation of hundreds of thousands of people employed by the Government is an exceedingly serious thing to do. It can only lead us to believe that the Government do not really understand that the right to free negotiation is a fundamental right in a free society. For that reason alone we would be opposed to this Bill.

As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has said, it is almost certainly in breach of Convention 98 of the ILO. The Government's internationalism, as we have realised so often during their tenure of office, is at best skin deep; so perhaps they do not take very seriously the fact that it is in breach of Convention 98. We on these Benches take that breach very seriously.

The Government reveal how little they understand the importance of free negotiation by the proposal to set up in its place an advisory council, the members of which are being appointed by the Secretary of State. There is nothing on the face of the Bill to prevent him appointing all his cousins and his sisters and his aunts. We will endeavour to see that that is altered. He tells them what they can do. There is no power of initiative or suggestion allowed to the members of the council. He can remove them if he does not like what they do, and he does not have to take any notice of what they say. That is a very desirable position for the Secretary of State to be in if he wishes to get his own way as a result of this council which is being set up to take the place of the negotiating rights of these hundreds of thousands of people employed in the teaching profession.

This is not the first time it has been clear that this Government simply do not understand the difference between consultation and negotiation, which is after all the first chapter of the most elementary handbook on industrial relations. Of course they will consult everybody. They are at no risk in consulting everybody when they are perfectly free to decide that, having heard what other people say, they do not like it and therefore will not take any notice but will go their own way. This is and always has been the great weakness of consultation. I am a great advocate of consultation in its proper place; but consultation is not and never has been an alternative to negotiation. It does not limit the powers of the Secretary of State to do what he wants to do, regardless of what the members of the profession wish to have done.

True, the result will be published. It will be read perhaps by the Members of another place, but given the overwhelming majority of the Government in another place, based on a minority of votes in the country, they can override whatever the Opposition say, having read what the advisory council puts forward. This is the most phoney alternative to negotiation that could possibly be put up. If I were a member of the teaching profession, I would like the Secretary of State to come straight out and say, "I am going to oppose it, and that is that", rather than put up a council which has so little real validity in terms of allowing the people concerned to have a propersay in deciding the conditions under which they will work. A society which does not allow people to have an effective say in the conditions under which they will work and the right, at the end of the day, to a refusal is a society which is on the edge of slavery. That is a major reason why we utterly oppose the Bill.

The second reason is, again, one which stretches far beyond the subject of education, all-important though that is. It is that the Government, yet again, have shown their contempt for local government. I do not understand present Conservatism. A centralist Conservative Government are, in my thinking, a contradiction in terms. We on these Benches have for decades opposed the Labour Party as the party that believes the gentlemen in Whitehall know best. Apparently the Conservative Party has been converted to that age-old Labour doctrine. It seems that the gentlemen in Westminster and in Whitehall now know best.

The Conservative Party's proper place in British politics depended upon the fact that it was the party which understood the value of continuity, of preserving local roots, and of understanding the rock from which it was hewn. It had continuity. That was its place in British politics. I had an understanding of the tremendous importance of local decision-making for local affairs. That is deep in this country's history and is the basis of democracy in this country and the training ground for it. Does this Conservative Party wish to take away and to undermine local government step by step? It has been doing it throughout its years of power, and this is yet another step.

Those are the reasons why we cannot accept the Bill. We shall at least attempt to see that the period is limited. If we have to have the Bill—and I suppose we do—I cannot believe that it is necessary that it should continue until 31st March 1990. Negotiations are so near to completion that another year, at the very most, should be enough to get going a proper joint industrial council in which proper negotiations can take place and in which I accept—of course I do—that the Secretary of State should have a proper role. A great deal of money comes from the taxpayer and he should therefore be there. As it stands, the Bill will not do. I beg the Conservative Party to think again about its attitude towards local government. A Conservative Party which has lost its sense of the past has lost its raison d'être. However, such a Conservative Party, forgetful of the past, will have no future.

4.14 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of London

My Lords, some 30 years ago when I was general secretary of the National Society and of the Church of England Schools Council I was asked to lecture to Americans on the English educational system. I took proper pride in being able to begin by referring to the fact that in this country and in Wales there were no state schools. Responsibility for education had always lain with local authorities of one kind or another. I drew attention to the fact that our educational system had developed from local initiatives and depended upon a partnership between the local education authorities, the managers or governors of the schools and the then Ministry of Education.

I spoke also of the existence within the maintained system of county and voluntary schools and of the responsibilities of trustees of such schools, who often represented the local community and provided a statutory interest on behalf of the Church of England, some of the free churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish community and other institutions.

I spoke of the statutory responsibilities of the managers or governors of voluntary schools, who, while not concerned with negotiations over pay, were the employers of teachers with whom they entered into contracts of service. Happily, I can still say much of that today, 30 years later. Long may that situation continue. However, it must be realised that such a shared responsibility for education does not just happen; it must be kept in good repair.

At a time when we in the Churches are pressing—and we have been for some years now—for a fresh recognition of the partnership which must be the basis of our schools and for its development, we were disturbed to see that in the Bill no reference was made to one statutory party; namely, the governors of the voluntary schools, which provide a significant proportion of all schools.

The Bill assumes that local education authorities are the employers of all teachers, whereas by law of course governors of voluntary-aided schools are still the employers who enter into contracts of service with the teachers. We were surprised that this should be so at a time when the Government have been seeking to give greater responsibility and power to governors generally. When I say "we" in this context, as chairman of the Church's Joint Educational Policy Committee, I know that what I say is also the mind of Churches other than the Church of England.

We have of course made our concern known to the Secretary of State, and I was pleased and relieved to hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, said when introducing the Bill. I welcome the amendments which she says the Government will introduce when the Bill comes before us in Committee. What the noble Baroness has said relieves me of the need to press the claims of the voluntary schools, and I can turn to the Bill as a whole. Our anxiety springs not merely from our concern for church schools but from a concern lest the Bill represents an erosion of that partnership to which I have already referred.

In approaching the Bill, I am reminded of a recent situation in the General Synod of the Church of England when a report was described as "deplorable". I pointed out that it was not the report which was deplorable but the situation with which it had to deal. It was a realistic recognition of what might be done to cope with a deplorable situation, and in that sense the report could properly be welcomed. I feel much the same about the Bill. No one who cares for the children in our schools can deny that something needs to be done.

Purely negative opposition to the Bill is not enough. I would support those who maintain that the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 needs to be repealed. Its failure to meet the situation has been amply demonstrated. However, merely to repeal the Act is not enough. What is to take its place? Is this situation to drag on for month after month?

In one of the several documents which have been circulated to us it is suggested that an agreement, is ready and waiting to be signed. All it lacks is the Secretary of State's agreement. Four out of six teachers' unions and both local authority associations are ready to sign". In fact, as we have heard, those numbers are already out of date and only two unions now support the agreement. However, can such an agreement be a sound basis for the future when one partner, whose responsibilities we cannot ignore or minimise, does not agree and another party is at the moment fragmented? It is quite unprofitable and unwise to attempt to apportion blame for the present situation. Responsibility must be shared among all partners in differing degrees and the teachers must not be made a scapegoat. No one has a monoploy of blame or blamelessness in this situation.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, will the right reverend Prelate permit me to intervene? In accordance with common trade union negotiating procedures all unions maintain their own position as negotiations proceed. But as we reach the stage, as happened last week, where a decision has to be made, those unions that did not vote for the agreement—and they include the National Association of Schoolmasters, the National Association of Head Teachers, and the Secondary Heads Association—said that they would support a decision which had been reached by a majority of teachers. Does the right reverend Prelate agree that that—which would be the result of common negotiation procedures—is likely to be achieved only when there is real negotiation rather than consultation?

The Lord Bishop of London

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention. I must be honest and say that in view of my reading of the record of these negotiations I shall believe that agreement can be reached only when it is. What matters is that any solution is based upon our tradition of partnership. In this respect I support the plea of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities that a national agreement among parents, staff, governors, local education authorities, other providers and central government would, be in the best interests of pupils and students". By contrast I cannot help referring to another document which has been circulated to us. While urging the need to make the Bill, fit the educational partnership which was so soundly set up in the 1944 Act", the document begins by declaring its, implacable opposition to the Bill". I cannot regard that as a constructive approach to the problem.

Education is far too important to be made a political battlefield. I hope your Lordships realise that I do not say that education should not be political. There is legitimate political activity in the field of educational provision; indeed, the financial element requires it. The pattern of provision is not set for all time. Policy shifts, such as the creation of local education authorities in the 1902 Act, are necessary and proper, but they should be based on consensus and not made in response to sudden crises or pressures. Consensus may be difficult to achieve, not least because, whereas in 1944 there was general agreement as to the philosophy of life which underlies education, such agreement does not exist today.

However, that fact does not discharge us from attempting to achieve consensus. On the contrary, it makes the need to achieve it even more urgent. To my mind illegitimate political activity in this field springs either from party point-scoring—as, for example, between national and local administration across party boundaries—or from ideological point-scoring where what is called a principle is pressed, whatever the disruptive consequences in the schools.

Generally speaking, while I would agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, is reported to have said—and I hope that the report is true—about the dangers of central control in education, I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that initiative by central government is necessary at this point if the situation is to be resolved locally. For this reason, generally speaking, I support the Bill although I have some reservations.

First, while I believe that something in the nature of an advisory committee is necessary and desirable, I am concerned about the amount of power which is placed by the Bill in the hands of the Secretary of State. I do not think I would share the view of these powers of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, as being draconian. I do not take quite such a low view of Parliament as to suppose that the necessity is for an affirmative procedure to deal with the matter if the Secretary of State does not accept the recommendations of the advisory committee. I am, however, worried about the effect of the Bill in the interim period until October.

As I read the Bill, whereas Clause 3(2) provides those safeguards which have been referred to and which require an affirmative vote in each House, it would seem that until 1st October the negative procedure alone would apply. I ask the Government what is the intention behind that. Is it in order that there may still be time for negotiations—in which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has some hope—or is it so that the Secretary of State can act before October? In my judgment it would be much better to have an entirely independent review body whose findings would be subject to Parliament as a whole.

Secondly, I am concerned about the possible erosion of the partnership to which I have referred. The Church has always resisted moves towards greater centralisation—at least in the educational sphere if not in her own—while recognising that if the balance in the partnership is to be maintained different pressures will be needed in different directions at different times. The balance must be among the national level, the local level—that is, the local authority level—and the local level of the governors, the local community. While the kind of pressures provided by the Bill may be necessary at this stage as an interim measure, I am concerned lest future moves should tip the balance out of skew among the three levels of responsibility even further.

Finally, I plead with the Government not to resist proper amendments to the Bill which may be moved in Committee and which, while preserving the general intention of the Bill to resolve a situation that must not be allowed to continue, will help to encourage that co-operation which is absolutely necessary if our education system is to prosper.

4.30 p.m.

Baroness Cox

My Lords, I warmly welcome the Bill as a prime example of the old adage, "Out of evil cometh good". The evil is the background to this Bill; that disastrous situation of chronic disruption which has affected so many state schools for over two years. I think it is worth reminding ourselves briefly of the effects of that disruption because they are so serious and because they are still not over. Further strike action has been threatened later this week by many teachers in London schools.

Those who suffer most from such disruption are of course the children. For far too many their education has been spoiled beyond repair by some teachers' so-called industrial action, and the opportunity to make good the damage will not recur for them. This industrial action affects not only classes in schools but also many other intangible but important aspects of education, such as sport, music, drama and parents' meetings, where the important partnership between parents and schools should be fostered.

Yet other disturbing effects are those which endanger children's basic safety and their well-being, as when schools close early or when no supervision is provided over lunch breaks. Children turned out of schools at unusual hours may not only be a danger to themselves but may also cause problems to many other people.

Many teachers too have suffered during this prolonged dispute; those conscientious teachers, and especially perhaps head teachers and their senior staff, who have tried to continue to provide as good an education as possible in trying circumstances. Parents have suffered as well, seeing their children receive an impoverished education, underachieving in exams, becoming disaffected with school and alientated from those whom they should respect.

However, I said that I see this Bill as a case of good coming from evil. The good lies in the necessary and now overdue abolition of the Burnhan machinery and its replacement by interim arrangements designed to pave the way for more satisfactory long-term solutions. I believe that the proposals put forward by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State deserve enthusiastic support, and I shall briefly highlight three aspects which seem especially significant.

First, there is the issue of conditions of service. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, was in a previous incarnation chairman of the committee which produced a well received report. It recommended generous pay increases for teachers, but it was also widely understood that those increases should reflect the responsibilities associated with professionalism. In discussions of teachers' pay since then we have heard a great deal about maintaining the pay awards in real terms but little about professional responsibilities. It is only relatively recently that there has been any willingness to dicuss conditions of service together with salaries.

Therefore, this Bill's provision for clarification of conditions of service is important. It is important for teachers to know what is expected of them in fulfilment of their professional responsibilities; for head teachers, parents and governors to know what to expect from teachers; and for local education authorities to have a clearer basis for enforcing teachers' contracts.

The second reason why I support this Bill so strongly is that it is linked with proposals for pay awards which are not only generous but also flexible. This flexibility is important. It provides incentives for good teachers to remain in the classroom. It also provides incentives for them to take on extra responsibilities and to work in areas where there are shortages, whether those shortages are in subject or in geographical areas. Indeed the proposed pay increases are so generous that they go 10 per cent., in real terms, above the previous Houghton awards, which were themselves, as has been recognised, generous.

I was teaching at the time of those original awards, and I and my colleagues were amazed and delighted by them. But the current proposals go beyond that. The proposals for a 16.4 per cent. increase, rising to a 25 per cent. increase over two years, puts teachers in a very favourable position compared with many other professional groups. For example, with the Government's proposals new graduate entrants to teaching will earn between £7,900 and £8,500 a year, compared with £8,140 for newly-qualified doctors, despite their long training, or £6,900 for social workers, or a mere £6,475 for staff nurses, despite their tough conditions of service.

I confess that I was rather worried by the opposition spokesman for education in another place, Mr. Giles Radice, when he claimed, Ironically, the immediate background against which this damaging little Bill is introduced"—

Noble Lords


Baroness Cox

My Lords, I apologise to the House. He referred to the concerns behind the introduction of this Bill and to the fact that attention was being drawn to education by the teachers' dispute. It is worrying when it appears that the background to the Bill in terms of the teachers' dispute is seen perhaps by some commentators as being commendable, because the dispute seems to me to be a sorry context in which to consider favourably the provisions of this Bill, and parents' anxiety and dismay does not seem to me to be a promising background for consideration of these concerns.

But I have sadly found myself speculating on the sorry fact that teachers may be seen to be rewarded for industrial action, while a profession such as nursing, which has refused to take any actions which would hurt the vulnerable, is now lagging even further behind teachers in pay and conditions of service. I make this point to emphasise the generosity of the award which the Government are now offering to teachers both in terms of good basic rates and that flexible career structure and which provides incentives to enable the profession to develop in line with changing educational needs.

Finally, the third aspect of the Bill which I wish briefly to mention and to commend to your Lordships, is the principle of the independent determination of pay and conditions of service as a means of breaking out of the current deadlock of the defunct negotiating machinery. Although many leading figures in the teaching profession are now presenting a more moderate and conciliatory face, their proposals are less than convincing. For example, the proposals for a national joint council have not been acceptable. Indeed, one could say that they were nonsensical in that they excluded the Government from any official role. Although there is now talk about ways in which the Government might be involved, it is difficult to take seriously proposals which originally did not include in a formal position the Government in the pay negotiating machinery when it is the Government who are the major source of funds for that pay.

A noble Lord

Not true.

Baroness Cox

My Lords, if I may continue, I am prepared to clarify that point if it is put to me on a point of order. Much has been said in another place and elsewhere about the loss of trade union negotiating rights, but little has been said about the rights of children to a good, uninterrupted education or of the rights of parents to see their children receiving the kind of education of which they approve, an education for which those parents pay through rates and taxes and about which they care passionately.

That brings me back to where I came in. Pupils and parents have had a raw deal which has been unacceptable in degree and duration and which still cannot be assured of an ending. Those teachers who have inflicted this intolerable situation on them have been able to do so at very little direct cost to themselves. The Bill provides not only a remedy for this intolerable situation but also interim machinery which will allow carefully thought-out longer-term solutions to be developed with contributions from everybody concerned.

This Bill is necessary. It is urgent, it is fair and the settlement proposed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is very generous. I sincerely hope that it will receive the support that it deserves in your Lordships' House.

4.41 p.m.

Lord Stewart of Fulham

My Lords, I think it is a fortunate coincidence that on the day when we are debating the Second Reading of this Bill there should be an article in The Times referring to the progress of education over the past decade and the steadily improved performance of our children as measured in public examinations over that period. It is a well-informed article and refutes some of the reactionary attacks that have been made on our education system and on the teaching profession.

In this debate we ought to begin by realising that when we consider the teaching profession we are looking at a body of people who have served the nation well not only over the past decade but for a long time. I am afraid that judging from the speech we have just listened to the profession has sometimes received precious little thanks for what it has done, and that is part of the reason for the present difficulties.

The profession had a very favourable award made to it by my noble friend Lord Houghton some years ago. But the value of that award has steadily declined over the years and that has been the source of our present troubles. When it became apparent that we were running into a difficult situation the predecessor of the present Secretary of State was remarkably unhelpful. He did not, to begin with, come forward with positive proposals to improve teachers' pay. I believe that if anything like the offer that has now been made had been made then this trouble may never have arisen. But that procrastination has left us with the present situation.

Now we have a Bill which has, I am afraid, remarkably few friends. There has been comment on the disagreements among the various teachers' unions. There is a very wide measure of agreement among the teachers' unions in their disapproval of the Bill. In that they are joined by the education press and by the local education authorities. Why is that? The Bill sets up an advisory committee but, as has been pointed out, the advisory committee is only a sort of emanation from the personality of the Secretary of State. It reminds me of certain characters that appear in some of Shakespeare's historical plays. Some of the kings in those plays, such as Richard III, John and Macbeth, had people they wanted to get rid of but, because of pressure of time and circumstances, they were unable to attend to the matter themselves and so characters appear on the stage. Sometimes they are named, such as Dighton, Forrest and Tyrrel, and sometimes they are just known as "First and Second Murderer". They do the job that is required. That is really what the advisory committee is.

The advisory committee is to reflect the wishes and desires of the Secretary of State. It will then listen to the representations made to it by the teaching profession and by the local authorities. This process is to be called negotiation. I suppose that when Oliver Twist said to Mr. Bumble, "Please, sir, can I have some more?" you can, if you like, call that the beginning of a negotiating process. But that is all we have provided in the Bill. The advisory committee, having heard what the local authorities and teachers' organisations say, can just make up its own mind whether it will pay attention. It can then tell the Secretary of State what it thinks, and the Secretary of State can then decide whether he agrees with the committee. The probability is in view of the origin of the advisory committee, that he will agree with it.

Here we come up against one aspect of the Bill that even its best friends have been a little shy about defending and that is its definite shift from local government to central government or Parliament. Parliament of course is a national central institution. The fact that certain powers of the Secretary of State will require resolution in Parliament does not alter the fact that there is to be a shift of power from the local authorities to the central body. That is, I am bound to say, a tendency of this Government.

I was a little surprised to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, speak as if devotion to local government had been a sheet anchor of Conservative faith and that they were now deserting it. My impression is that the main and fundamental belief of the Conservative Party is that the Conservatives ought to govern the country and if the electoral system does not give that result it must go on being altered until it does. That in fact is what has been done over local government for some considerable time.

We used to have county boroughs. They were some of the most successful local authorities in the country, which were a centre of civic pride and achievement. They were abolished. Then we had the London County Council, an extremely good local authority whose education service was an example to the whole world, but it had a tiresome habit of having a Labour majority at almost every election and so it was abolished and the Greater London Council was put in its place. That apparently was not much more reliable than the LCC. It began at elections to produce Labour majorities, and so now we have got rid of that.

Now we have a situation in which a great many local authorities do not take the same view about how to handle teachers' pay as the Conservative Government, and so they will have the function of dealing with teachers' pay taken away from them. From what we read in certain quarters they are to have the whole process of education taken away from them as well. We ought to be on the look out for this and recognise that one of the aspects of the Bill is that it is part of the process of removing power from elected local authorities.

This is the more remarkable in view of the fact that later clauses of the Bill extend the scope of the body dealing with teachers' pay. It will deal—as has been rightly said and I do not quarrel with that—with conditions of service. But we must notice certain other points. It can make different regulations about pay and conditions in different localities. Up to a point one can understand that. What is being talked about is weighting for people working in London. But it is more than that. The body could under this Bill make different determinations of pay and conditions for every county and region in the kingdom. That certainly would cause great bitterness and disruption in feeling and disruption in the schools if it were persisted in.

Further, the advisory body and the Secretary of State together can make different provisions for pay and conditions of teachers in different cases. For heaven's sake, what does that mean? We have been able to get some idea of what it may mean from statements we have listened to from time to time indicating the Government's general approach to the teaching problem. One of the aspects in the dispute all along, as we know, has been the fact that the teaching profession in its representations, particularly through the National Union of Teachers, has been concerned that there should be a proper entering salary for people starting in the profession. If one is too anxious to have many gradations and differentials, one will not have an adequate salary to attract people into the profession at the very beginning, whereas the Government's emphasis has always been on the need for differentials.

Presumably one of the things which is meant by "different cases" is that there will be different arrangements with regard to pay and conditions between those whom the Government describe as good teachers and those who presumably are not good teachers. The Government have not yet invented a suitable euphemism for describing those whom they do not classify as good teachers; no doubt that will come in the course of time as the debates proceed. However, it is evident from the extraordinarily wide phrase, "different provision for different cases", that the Government's approach is very much that of having as many differentials as possible.

I accept that there is a need for some differentials and some local differences. However, it must be realised that these are explosive topics which will not result in a successful outcome unless there is considerable confidence in the body which handles them. What we have done in this Bill is, first, to create a body in which nobody can have any real confidence because it is, as has been rightly said, the Secretary of State's poodle, and, secondly, to put into its hands these explosive issues of local and personal differentials. This seems to me to be a recipe for about as much damage as it is possible to do in the profession.

I therefore hope that in this House we shall do our best to make what we can of this Bill. I regret very much that we are not in a position to reject it outright; however, we know that that is so. If one were really concerned for local government, that is what one would wish to do. As it is, I hope that we may be able to get a little more precision into the phrase concerning different decisions in different cases and localities.

I hope that we may also learn a little more about how the advisory committee will be chosen and be told that some limits will be put on the power to go on prolonging the Bill by annual resolution year after year. It has been suggested that in the latest developments in the negotiations concerning proposals for a national council we have something upon which the Government can build. If they insist on having this Bill now, let them have enough faith in their capacity to devise something better in the future and abandon the power to prolong the Bill year after year. Prolonging it up to 1990 ought to be long enough for anyone if the Government are really concerned to produce a democratic structure which gives local authorities and teachers' unions their proper place and provides properly for negotiation.

4.53 p.m.

Lord Ritchie of Dundee

My Lords, other Members of your Lordships' House and especially my noble friend Lady Seear have spoken and will speak of the wider implications of the proposed Bill. As a former teacher, I should like to focus on the likely impact on teachers and their feelings on the measure. At this point, I should like to accept the words of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London—I am sorry that he is not in his place—when he said that throughout the whole of this unhappy dispute no party to the disagreement could be regarded as blameless.

The strife in our schools, chiefly during 1985 and the early part of the past year, must have caused many casualties among children. We shall never know exactly how many. We shall never know how many children's chances of success were disablingly or fatally damaged by it. Many parents have suffered terrible anxiety and frustration. Many teachers have become depressed and disillusioned, to the point of being driven out of the profession assuming that they were lucky enough to find anything else to do. Head teachers and deputies have borne the brunt of the actions which have taken place in schools and have been driven to the point of desperation. It therefore became a matter of desperate urgency to find a solution to the problem.

In thinking about this matter, I have been aware of numerous ironies which I may call rich ironies. The first of them has already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham. Had the present offer been made two years ago, there need never have been a strike. However, all through the summer, negotiators worked under the auspices of ACAS. Four groups examined the problems of devising a new negotiating machinery, settling pay levels and a pay structure, agreeing conditions of service and working out an appraisal system. These investigations produced first the heads of agreement signed at Coventry and finally in November, under the auspices of ACAS, the agreement which stands at present. This agreement was initially signed by four of the teaching unions, although unfortunately two subsequently withdrew.

There are doubtless things which are wrong with this draft agreement to which I shall come back. However, there is a lot that is right with it. As the Secretary of State himself has acknowledged, it fully accepts the principle—impossible under the 1965 Remuneration of Teachers Act and long resisted by at least some of the profession—that pay and conditions should be considered jointly. It proposes 13 contractual duties for the classroom teacher which subsume all but two of the Government's 19 proposed functions. In my view, it also expresses them more literately and concisely, as I should indeed expect of teachers as opposed to civil servants. It lists the duties and responsibilities of head teachers and deputy heads. It accepts the principle of appraisal, endorsing the recommendations of the ACAS working party, and it proposes a new negotiating machinery to replace Burnham.

The difference between the ACAS agreement and the aims of the Secretary of State are, as we know, the matter of the pay structure and the matter of the overall cost of the proposed package. Unfortunately, there is an undiplomatic omission in that the Secretary of State's role in the proposed negotiating machinery is left completely vague. He provides something like 46 per cent. of the cost of the education service, and deserves something better than, The parties will seek discussions with the Secretary of State on his role in the new machinery which are the words of the agreement.

Since the ACAS agreement was signed on 21st November, strenuous efforts have been made by the local education authority employers and the teacher representative associations to close the gaps between them and the requirements of the Secretary of State. On 19th December a meeting of these bodies was held with this end in view, and the employers proposed a modification of the ACAS agreement whereby the Secretary of State was to be represented on the proposed national joint council with voting rights and with the power, in special circumstances, to set aside an agreement or an arbitration award if he obtained an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament. On 5th January this proposal was discussed in more detail by employers and union secretaries, but no agreement was reached.

On 7th January there took place what may turn out to be the final meeting of the Burnham Committee. At this meeting, the big unions again turned down the proposal originally put forward on 19th December. That was not surprising since they would have had to acknowledge that in some circumstances Parliament was supreme. As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has already said, the TUC has now taken up the proposal of 19th December, and as far as we know it is awaiting a reply from the Secretary of State.

Surely, in those circumstances, it is not reasonable for the Government to ignore all the blood, sweat, toil and tears which have brought a negotiated agreement so near and prepare a solution which will antagonise so may employers, unions, teachers, and, because of the teachers, parents, constitutionalists and democratically minded people. Can it really be wise? It is an example of outrageous high-handedness and thought-less impracticality. I am thinking of certain points in particular.

In Clause 2(4) this non-elected, unrepresentative body, referred to, I think I am right in saying, by the Minister as an independent committee—and that is the second irony I should like to mention—has only to refer to, such associations of local education authorities and such organisations representing school teachers as appear to them to be concerned and to any local education authority with whom consultation appears to them to be desirable". Surely there should be a statutory right for all teacher associations and for representatives of the ACC and the AMA to he consulted.

In Clause 3(5)(b) it is stated that an order by the Secretary of State may, without negotiation—I stress "without negotiation", my Lords—set out provisions which, shall have effect as terms of the contracts of employment of teachers to whom the order applies". How on earth can an employing authority be expected to enforce a contract with a teacher employee which has not been negotiated and which may therefore not be acceptable to either party to the contract? What about the details of the contract of employment? Is the Secretary of State really to be concerned about how many minutes teachers are to be on duty before or after school, about precisely what class size limit they are to have or what expenses they may claim for travelling, and so on?

If the Secretary of State decides not to rule on such details, that will leave the local education authorities with the responsibility; and we shall be back in the old position, which Clause 1 expressly seeks to amend, in which pay and conditions of service are separately considered. Back to square one: only worse because now much "aggro" will have been aroused and any shreds of good will have gone.

Finally, if this Bill is really intended to be an interim measure, as the Secretary of State constantly reiterates, why is it not to expire until 31st March 1990? Here I must agree with my noble friend Lady Seear. Why should it not expire two years earlier than this and be expressly stated to do so unless the parties concerned have failed by that time to reach an agreement? Can the Government really have considered the effect of this measure on teachers? The teachers are, after all, the key people. They are the people on whom the employers, the parents, the children and the future generations of our country shall depend. Without their co-operation—I stress the word "co-operation"—there would be no proper education for all the legislation in the world. You cannot legislate to ensure the commitment of teachers.

When will the Government understand that teaching, as it should be, is not a common occupation needing a carrot or a whip as incentive, but a high calling, and that teachers essentially work out of love, dedication and caring? How else can they cope with children, who may indeed at times have an angelic appeal but who may at other times—and perhaps more often—seem like fiends sent from hell to torment them? How else could they cope with the problems of our inner cities, the demands of the multi-cultural society, the special needs, the ubiquitous indiscipline of children today, the effect on children of parents who are unemployed, of single parent families, of broken homes, of poverty, of bad housing, of racial tension and of the resulting violence?

The term "conditions of service" has been much bandied about. Here I find another irony. The term is ambiguous. It is capable of an interpretation other than that attached to it by those in authority. What about the conditions in which teachers have recently been, and are, required to serve? Your Lordships may have read of the conditions of some of the schools in Cumbria, which in their state of dilapidation have been described as potential death traps: electrical faults, falling masonry, boiler fumes, unhygienic lavatories and laboratories, and the absence of fire escapes and alarms. And what about the shortage and dilapidation of text books? There have been many reports of children sharing, of the difficulty of setting homework, of the limitation of options in, for example, O-level English Literature, where only one complete set of books may be available.

Dedication is the indispensible qualification of a teacher. Here I find another irony. There has been much talk from the Government of motivating teachers. The impression I have had is that over the past two years everything has been done to demotivate teachers. I shall not say that this has all been deliberate but it seems to me that their dedication has been destroyed. Teacher morale has never been lower. It has reached a nadir of discouragement and disillusionment. Many are leaving the profession early—10,000 or so premature retirements in 1985–86 as opposed to 3,500 in 1979–80, and too few are joining it. The pay is not essentially what they seek. It is the honour and appreciation of society, of which a respectable salary is merely the symbol.

This Bill, if it becomes law, will be something like the final blow to teacher morale and is almost certain to be the cause of continued strife and further disruption, starting tomorrow as I understand. There has been much disunity among the profession and its employers and representatives over the whole period of the dispute, regrettably. Now, unity has been achieved; unity in opposition to this proposed measure on the part of teachers, their representatives, their employers and parents' organisations. I would entreat the Government to look at the issues again and reconsider the possibility of a negotiated settlement. However lengthy or arduous the process, it could not be as damaging as this Bill.

5.7 p.m.

Lord Alexander of Potterhill

My Lords, let me say at once that I am very strongly opposed to this Bill. Recently I have been watching a series of programmes on television entitled "Domesday". I was fascinated by the conclusion that was reached after a study of the history of this country over the past one thousand years. It was quite simply that the great secret of the stability of this country and of its strength had been the partnership between central and local government.

In education, the partnership between central and local government has obtained from the beginning of the education service as a national system. I fear that this Bill is the first step in a deliberate process to destroy that partnership. I say "the first step" not expressing an opinion but merely quoting the Secretary of State, who in a television interview made perfectly clear that the next step would be a Bill which would give him control of the curriculum. He is evidently deeply impressed by the system in France and in Germany. The system in France was of course established by a dictator. The system in Germany enabled Adolf Hitler to make Germany a Nazi state in a very limited number of years.

I took part in the negotiations in regard to the Education Act 1944. The people concerned then were Mr. Butler and Mr. Chuter Ede. In view of the atmosphere on the subject of central control in education, if anyone had even suggested it I think they would have been shot by both Mr. Butler and Mr. Chuter Ede. They produced an agreed political measure. There were no party politics for 25 years and the 1944 Act was made a reality.

I do not dissent from the difficulties that have occurred in the past few years. Frankly, in my opinion they go back more than two years. But I am very conscious of the fact that central government have transferred £3,000 million a year from central government to local government during that period. I am very conscious of the fact that, whereas when I was in the service central government's proportion of the cost of education was 60 per cent., it is now 46 per cent.

Let us face the difficulties, which are real. As I understand them (a number of the points have already been covered) certainly the proposition of salaries and conditions of service being negotiated together—which I strongly advocated 20 years ago—has been accepted; so that is not a point of dispute. The issue of abolishing the Burnham Committee has been accepted. That is not in dispute. There may be differences of opinion as to whether there should be a national review body or a national council with the Secretary of State represented on it. I suppose he should have 46 votes out of 100 because the Government firmly believe in privatisation and, as I understand it, that is the basis of all companies—you vote according to the number of shares you have.

I would personally favour a national review body—an independent review body—charged with dealing with salaries and conditions of service. However, as I see the problem the real issue is salaries. The Secretary of State is anxious to provide adequate career prospects in the profession. With that I am wholly in agreement. I think it is absolutely essential that the opportunity should be available so that the top of the teaching profession is adequately rewarded and that people of the highest level and ability are attracted to it.

The Secretary of State must surely be aware that the major teachers' unions have a substantial majority of ordinary classroom teachers and therefore they are bound to be concerned that the classroom teachers are adequately rewarded. That is entirely reasonable. The Secretary of State, by setting a financial limit, is forcing a choice between one or the other: "You either have my structure which rewards the chiefs or your structure which rewards the Indians." That is what it comes to. Surely the simple answer is to ask, "Why not do both?" Why not retain the superstructure proposed by the Secretary of State but offer an adequate salary to the ordinary classroom teacher?

The Secretary of State's reply to that is that we cannot afford it. On the day he said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he hoped—in fact, he was confident—that he would be able to announce in a couple of months' time a 3p or 4p reduction in the standard rate of income tax and also a reduction in the top level of income tax. The cost of both proposals for the teachers would be an additional £200 million a year. The cost of the Chancellor's proposals would be £3 billion or £4 billion a year. Are we to accept as reasonable the statement that £200 million a year cannot be afforded by this nation in order to avoid the bitter controversy that has been going on for two years, though it would bring peace to the education service? I find that impossible to accept.

I therefore wonder why the Secretary of State is forcing this choice. Is it so that the row will continue and that he will therefore be reasonably confident that public opinion will find his first and subsequent steps to bring central control in education more acceptable; or am I being unfair? Certainly I have no doubt whatever, having heard him speak on his admiration for central control in the European countries, that he is committed to that view. Equally I have no doubt that the Prime Minister would favour that view. I had the privilege of working closely with the Prime Minister when she was Secretary of State for Education and I was conscious of her feeling of frustration that she did not have all the power she needed to do all that she wanted to do. In fact, I was one of the nuisances to her because I did not always agree with her.

I know that it is a tradition of this House not to divide your Lordships on a Second Reading. However, in my opinion this Bill is threatening such a deep change in traditional values in this country that frankly I hope the Opposition parties will feel that they are entitled to depart from tradition and will divide the House so that those of us who want to express our view and to have it recorded may do so.

5.17 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, your Lordships in all parts of the House listen with the greatest respect whenever the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, speaks on education matters. He has been in a responsible position in our national education system for a great many years. He himself reminded your Lordships that as long ago as 1944 he took part in the Butler-Ede discussions which produced the present legislation. It would be foolish for anyone to fail to listen with the greatest care and attention to what the noble Lord says.

However, I hope he will allow me to point out that there are difficulties in the idea of continuing the system to which he has naturally, and in human terms, a feeling of devotion. He has devoted his life to working in it. The first difficulty is that the concept of a partnership between national government and local authorities has, as we have seen over the past few years, run into enormous difficulties. It is no part of my argument to attribute blame, but it is an undisputed fact that a number of local authorities in this country have behaved in an intolerable manner as regards education and in a manner which is an affront to the standards which we expect. They have inflicted considerable injury on the education system.

I do not wish to weary your Lordships with a long speech so I shall quote only one example, though I could give your Lordships a dozen. The example I shall quote is that of Brent, whose education policy was described as catastrophic, not by any Minister, nor by any Conservative, but by Mr. David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, and by Mr. Peter Snape, the general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association. Both those distinguished and experienced educationists point out that the dictatorial interference by Brent Education Committee in the working of education in that borough has resulted in the departure of a number of responsible teachers and some of the best of the head teachers.

Therefore when complaint is made, even by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, about a failure of the old partnerships between central and local governments—which has perhaps a nostalgic appeal—it is fair for your Lordships to have in mind that in this country there are a number of local education authorities who are prepared to use their powers for largely political purposes and who have shown remarkably little concern for the proper handling of education in their boroughs. It seems to me that no government worthy of the name—certainly no Secretary of State for Education, with his responsibilities—could simply shrug their shoulders and let that kind of situation continue.

I was interested to know from the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, that he agreed—indeed, he said it was not in dispute—that Burnham should go and that conditions of service should be settled together with pay in the teaching profession. Those are of course the two major purposes of this Bill and they certainly cannot be achieved without legislation. Among other things, they involve amendment of the 1965 Act, for which noble Lords opposite were responsible, and therefore legislation is necessary. I suggest to your Lordships, however impressed they were, as we all were, by the words of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, that legislation is required along such lines—not necessarily in detail—and we are now at the stage of Second Reading. Even he accepts that.

I think that that is a very important aspect of the view that many of us will take. However, the noble Lord made a very impressive and emotional appeal against the Secretary of State setting a financial limit on the amount of money available for the substantial increases which are being made in teachers' remuneration, and it is there that I venture to join issue with him. It has been the duty of some Members of your Lordships' House from all parties when they have been in government to impose financial limits on almost every activity in the public sphere. One cannot conduct government without first trying to ascertain the most that can reasonably be provided for a particular service for its merit and then fixing a financial limit.

It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, to say, "Oh, it is only £200 million. Reductions in taxation, if they come, will cost much more than that". If one does not intend to set financial limits in the case of education, is one to continue to set them in the case of social security or in the direction of transport? Is one to undermine the whole basis on which our national financial policy is undertaken; namely, that every government from no matter which party at a certain point and at a certain stage have to come to a conclusion as to what is the maximum amount of public money that can be put into a particular activity and then draw the line?

It is only too easy—and some of us would confess that we have probably done it—to put a single plea for a single increase in a single service, and in so doing to disregard the fact that we are really trying to undermine the whole structure under which financial control is exercised in this country. However moving it was, I beg your Lordships not to be impressed by the reference to only £200 million made by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill.

If I may say so, in this debate the Bill has been criticised by two of the ablest debaters in this House. As he will recall, I have had the privilege of listening to the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, for very nearly 60 years, so I know what I am talking about when I say that. It was interesting to hear his complete repudiation of the independence of the advisory committee which it is proposed to set up under this Bill. Even if he wanted, no Minister who is setting up an advisory committee to deal with such a subject dare set up a committee of such a composition that it could be described, as this committee has already been described today three or four times, as his poodle. He would be laughed out of court if he attempted to do anything of the sort.

The selection of members of these committees so as to give a fair and broad conspectus of different views, and to be composed of people of influence and independence, is an essential part of setting them up in the public interest and in the interest of the Minister concerned, because if he sets up a body which does not carry public respect and is not representative of views then he will not obtain any advantage from acting on the reports which it produces. I speak with some experience because I was Minister of Pensions and National Insurance for six and a half years and I had to deal with the National Insurance Advisory Committee, which was a very powerful, able and distinguished body. It would never have regarded itself as my poodle, though sometimes I regarded it almost as my nightmare because it was completely independent and if I made an error it was only too prompt, as indeed was its duty, to point it out. Therefore I ask your Lordships not to dismiss in advance this committee.

The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, referred to doing away with the democratic process. What could in a way be more democratic than a decision made by a Minister who is subject to the control of Parliament and subject also in this particular case to statutory orders, whether under the affirmative or the negative procedure? As your Lordships know, there is the far greater sanction to which Ministers are subjected, which is that of having to stand at the Box here or in another place and answer questions and points raised by noble Lords and honourable Members. Surely settling a question through a Minister, whether or not one thinks it is sensible in a particular case, cannot properly be described as other than a democratic process, unless indeed one has complete contempt for the parliamentary system. I therefore suggest that this is a highly democratic procedure whatever else it may be.

Again, it is arrant nonsense to say, as was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear—and it is a pity that she is no longer in her place, as she warned us she would not be—that one is destroying the possibility of negotiation. There is nothing in this Bill, under the system which it proposes to set up, which can prevent the teachers' unions—and there are, I think, probably too many of them; but that is their business—and their employers, the local authorities, negotiating to their hearts' content. If they can present to the advisory committee and to my right honourable friend the Minister an agreed package, it is overwhelmingly likely that that agreed package will go through because, apart from anything else, it will save my right honourable friend an immensity of trouble and difficulty. It really is—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would be kind enough to give way.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, when I have finished the sentence, which is a rather long one, I shall be delighted to allow the noble Lord to intervene. It is therefore quite wrong to suggest that this is the end of negotiating or that you are depriving anybody of negotiating rights. Now I shall happily give way.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for allowing me to intervene. He is describing the situation at the moment. Agreement has been reached on all the points to which the noble Lord referred and over which the Government are concerned, yet the Government are doing exactly what he described as being impossible—ignoring those negotiations and seeking to impose a quite different settlement.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, the noble Lord of course omitted in that admirable intervention the fact that this measure of agreement which has been achieved—and it is no more than a measure of agreement—has been achieved against the background of the introduction in another place of this Bill and that there is no reason to believe that if the Burnham system were to continue a sensible agreement would be reached which would carry out the objectives of the Government, which include both the conditions of service and the financial arrangements for rewarding additional responsibilities and additional qualifications. There is no reason whatever to assume that.

Therefore although I always welcome interventions from the noble Lord, because I have always had great sympathy with him over the way he was treated by the GLC, I really cannot accept that that invervention alters the case in the slightest. Neither that invervention nor the speeches to which I have referred deal with the reality of the situation as it now is. For two years and more, work in our schools has been disrupted. There is one aspect of that work which is perhaps different from the disruption which any other form of industrial action brings about. If you have a coal strike, you stop producing coal, but when it is over you can step up production and get it back. But if you interrupt a child's education, you can never redeem the time lost. If you cause a child to fail a vital examination because it has not had the training and teaching to which it is entitled, that is a permanent loss for life. Therefore there is something peculiarly vicious about industrial action in the schools.

There is also the psychological damage that it must do. What is a child going to think if suddenly the teacher whom the child has regarded as a friend, someone who is helping it to get along with its career, suddenly makes it clear that because that teacher wants more money he is going to stop helping that child and stop working in the school? Your Lordships understand the psychological damage that is being done, as well as the damage that is done, frankly, to the standing and reputation of the teaching profession.

This is not professional conduct; it is not the conduct which you would expect and are entitled to expect of an honourable profession. There is real damage being done and it is no use noble Lords saying, "Oh, well, you've had the system going for so many years; it must continue" if under that system this kind of thing can happen and can continue to happen, as is threatened in this coming term.

Therefore it really was essential that the Government should act. One of the reasons I welcome this Bill—and I welcome it wholeheartedly—is that it is an indication that we have a Secretary of State for Education who is prepared to act and who, in a difficult situation in which he knows he will be exposed to criticisms, nonetheless sees it as his duty to secure the proper education of our children and is prepared to take action by legislation to secure that that education continues successfully. Therefore I wish this Bill extremely well and I am enormously encouraged by the knowledge that our education system is in the hands of a Minister who can do that.

5.35 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, my noble friend Lord McIntosh said that this is a crisis measure. Of course it is. Were it otherwise, I think we should be opposing this Bill very strongly indeed. But look how the House of Commons was treated just before Christmas! They had the Second Reading on the Monday, all the remaining stages on the Wednesday and they were kept up all night to finish the job. That surely is an indication of the urgency with which the Government regard this Bill.

They are certainly right to consider the present deadlock in the pay dispute as of such gravity and which has gone on so long in its different phases that it is desirable to try and bring this phase of it at any rate to an end and clear the way for consideration of more permanent arrangements regarding the structure and pay, and also the method of negotiation of salaries and conditions.

I think, by the way, that it is quite significant that at long last conditions of service are in the picture. They were rigidly excluded for so long that many Secretaries of State, and indeed employers' panels, despaired of ever getting them brought into the field of harmonious discussion. But that has been achieved and it is of great importance.

However, so far as concerns the Bill itself, this resembles a kind of bloodless coup by government forces who are dissolving the authority of a subordinate community on the ground that they had made a mess of it and it is better to resort to direct rule. We know, my Lords, on how many occasions interim arrangements and temporary provisions have a tendency to be prolonged and eventually become permanent. I would remind the House that income tax was introduced as a temporary measure, and I believe it is still with us. Many times things which have been introduced provisionally have become permanent. It worries me greatly to think that it is possible, under Clause 5, for the arrangements in this Bill to be renewed after 1990 every year for ever on an order laid by the Secretary of State which is subject only to the annulment procedure, the negative procedure in both Houses of Parliament. That is quite extraordinary, and Clause 5 must undergo very serious consideration.

The only way to achieve the temporary nature of an allegedly interim measure is to limit its duration and to be very firm indeed about it. In my opinion, there should be a date in this Bill beyond which the Bill should not go. Also, the opportunities for extension should be made much more difficult. I believe that the duration of the Bill to 1st March 1990, as stated in Clause 5, should be shortened by a year for certain and possibly two. Only by imposing a discipline upon the whole educational setup in this regard can we be sure that the interim nature of these provisions will be in operation for a limited period.

If we are not satisfied about that, then there is a good deal wrong with the Bill. If we are satisfied about that, I think we could regard it as purely a temporary measure giving time only for the Secretary of State to sort out the tangle of pay and conditions as of now and giving all concerned the opportunity of considering what the machinery of the future should be. I do not think that either the Secretary of State to do the first job or the teaching unions and the employers, whoever they may be, to do the second job, need a lot more time because the momentum has already started on the consideration of alternatives.

Once it was agreed that the Burnham machinery should go, minds were devoted to the alternative, and a great deal of thought and work has been done on that. I say therefore that Clause 5 needs the most careful consideration. If the House is going to be fair and just on this matter, it should insist on something that is interim being interim, and force the Government and all other parties concerned to face the prospect of the lapse of the Act and other arrangements taking its place in the near future.

Clause 2, composition of the advisory committee, I think has its problems. I am sure that under Clause 2 there will be a debate on whether the advisory committee should be completely independent or shall in some sense be representative. That might be a very keen debate. There are dangers in seeking a representative role on the advisory committee because of the commitment that that may imply in the membership of those of the advisory committee with a direct interest in the outcome of its deliberations. It may be—I think probably would prove to be—better for the advisory committee to be completely independent so that none on it should be regarded as exercising any sectional interest or bias in favour of one section or party as against another.

With regard to the methods of making orders under Clause 3, the question of what the Secretary of State may do and how he may do it also raises serious problems. If one looks at Clause 3(4)(a), one sees the general terms that describe the authority of the Secretary of State to make orders relating to pay and conditions of service. I am doubtful whether, in prescribing temporary arrangements—which we must insist that these are—it is desirable to allow the Secretary of State to introduce into the public sector provincial differentiation in national rates of pay and other departures from national rates which would have a serious repercussion upon the conditions of service of other sections of the public services.

The Government have already suggested that there should be provincial differences in rates of pay. For a very long time national rates have obtained in the Civil Service, in the teaching profession and in other sections of the public services, quite part from any industries outside. Before we give the Secretary of State statutory power to vary the pay of the teaching profession on those lines, we ought to consider whether as a matter of principle it is desirable for him to be allowed for him to do that without negotiation when it will be a hotly disputed proposal if it is made for other sections of the public services. That too is an important matter.

I note also that the Secretary of State's authority has to be brought to Parliament for scrutiny, and that publicity has to be given in certain circumstances to any differences that he may have with the advisory committee. All these are matters that we have to consider under Clause 3.

The question then is: what is to follow? We have heard a good deal about the role of the Secretary of State. This really is the nub of the whole problem of settling the pay and conditions of the teaching profession—who is the manager, who are the employers, how can negotiations take place sensibly with one section of the employers when they can be vetoed by another section of the employers?

If we are to get coherence into the negotiating machinery of the teaching profession, there has to be one management side. That is the only way in which one can reach conclusions that will not be subject to review after they have been reached except by the overriding power of Parliament. That is the position in the Civil Service. But I know of course that the paymaster in the Civil Service is the Government, and no share of its remuneration comes from local sources. This problem of the division of responsibility for management in financial affairs has to be resolved to better satisfaction than has been obtained so far.

If the Concordat of 1965 had remained in force, we should not be in this position today. At the time of the 1965 Act, the Secretary of State desired to have a place on the Burnham Committee. The 1944 Act decided that the Secretary of State must be kept out of the Burnham Committee. However, by 1965, under a Labour Government, it was thought that the Secretary of State must have some part in the deliberations of the Burnham Committee. Two seats were allocated to the Secretary of State but, since two seats were scarcely an effective influence upon the outcome of the deliberations, two things were granted by the informal Concordat which lasted from 1965 to 1985. One, as the noble Baroness who so ably introduced the Bill pointed out, was a fixing of a global sum of aggregate cost within which the negotiations had to take place. However, the Secretary of State gave an assurance that he would not talk about the global figure before the negotiations began; it would emerge only at a later stage in the discussions. It would not be a condition of starting negotiations, but it might be a condition of concluding them. The second thing was that the Secretary of State—and the noble Baroness pointed this out—had 15 votes, a weighted vote, in the Burnham Committee on matters of allocation, distribution, scales, differentials and the rest. It was not an overriding influence, but it meant that those who were opposed to what the Secretary of State's nominees suggested had to muster quite a considerable section of support within the Burnham Committee, and it worked. I am not at all sure, incidentally, of the circumstances in which it was discontinued, but it was done unilaterally.

Had the Concordat been, in force, we should not have had the meeting last Wednesday of the Burnham Committee, which concluded an agreement on a scheme that it knew the Secretary of State was unable to accept on the ground, apart from other considerations, that the aggregate sum was beyond that to which the Government were prepared to go. I think that that side of the matter needs very anxious consideration.

I can understand the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, being worried about the trend towards a national education service. I do not shrink from the concept of a national education service. However, I do not think that we should drift into it by the prolongation of these interim provisions, nor be forced into it by the controversies among the teaching unions which may stand in the way of reaching some satisfactory arrangement. I think that that is an additional argument for limiting the duration of this Bill.

I conclude by saying that with the advance thought that has already been given to the alternative to the Burnham machinery, the best thing for all three sides, including the Secretary of State, is to speed up the momentum of the consideration of the alternative and try and get it into some agreed shape with the utmost speed because that will determine the duration of the interim arrangements. The interim arrangements are there only while some alternative is being sorted out. The quicker agreement can be reached, the less justification there will be for the prolongation of the interim arrangements. It is vital that the term of these interim arrangements be reduced. The parties concerned should maintain momentum now to get an agreement of the alternative. Let us have an end to the interim arrangements by 1988 or very soon afterwards. It is an opportunity which people should take, otherwise we shall drift into sourness or apathy and little progress may be made.

At the end of this day unions and management should make up their minds to renew pressure on their constitutent members and upon the administration to get the alternative set up and agreed. If that is done then the purpose of this Bill will have been served, otherwise it is drift, drift, drift; and in the end we shall be faced with having to clean up the whole situation because we have a virtual dictatorship in the realms of industrial relations which is quite intolerable both to your Lordships' House and to the country generally.

5.53 p.m.

Lord Rochester

My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. I always listen to what he has to say with great respect, especially on this occasion, because more than any other noble Lord his is the name most closely associated with the subject of this Bill.

My contribution will be brief. I should like to try to bring to bear on the Bill such experience in the industrial relations field as I have. It is one thing, as I see it, for the Secretary of State, faced with a negotiating procedure that has clearly broken down and the possibility of further disruption in our schools, to impose on teachers his preferred pay scales in place of those reasonably negotiated under the aegis of ACAS and ratified last week at the meeting of the Burnham Committee. It is quite another thing—and here I must strongly disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter—that for the next few years and possibly for an indefinite period thereafter collective bargaining rights are to be taken away from organisations representing teachers and the authorities which employ them.

It may be said that that will not happen because under the Bill the advisory committee which is to be set up will have to give such oprganisations the opportunity to submit evidence and to make representations. I suggest that anybody with the slightest experience of managing people knows that there is all the difference in the world between being consulted before a decision is taken and sharing in the making of a decision. Therefore the question arises what there is about teachers which makes them peculiarly disqualified from engaging in collective bargaining.

To the best of my knowledge all other public servants have negotiating rights or are protected by an independent pay review body. It is only reasonable, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said, that those noble Lords who are critical of the Government and their approach to the problem on this score should be prepared to say what alternative suggestions are offered. As I see it there are three possibilities.

One is to establish an independent pay review body such as those available to doctors, nurses and others. The second possibility is to set up a joint national council composed of reasonable numbers of representatives of government, of local education authorities in England and Wales and of the six unions presently represented on the Burnham Committee, added to, no doubt, by representatives of the voluntary colleges in the way described in the letter to the Secretary of State that was quoted at an earlier stage in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey.

The third possibility, which is really a development of the second, would provide that the dispute should be referred to an independent body for settlement when (as in this case) negotiations have resulted in a failure to reach an agreement acceptable to all parties. There may be objection raised to this in that no government can be committed to expenditure on salaries which has been determined by parties other than themselves. But does it have to follow that teachers can accept only what the government chooses to pay them? In preference to that surely there is a strong case for asking both the Government and other parties to a dispute such as the current one to submit their case to an independent body which would have to publish its findings and state explicitly the grounds on which those findings were based. If the award of such a body were made subject to ultimate parliamentary authority, as in this Bill, what would government have to fear?

It may be very difficult to amend this Bill in ways which would accommodate fully any of those alternatives, and I realise therefore that we may have to make do, the Bill being in the form that it is, with expedients such as altering the composition and terms of reference of the advisory committee so that at least it is given much more independence than is envisaged at present. We shall have to see.

I realise that in this House, as in another place, the Government enjoy sufficient potential support to mean that they can, if they choose, ensure the passage of this Bill in its present form. But I suggest it would be imprudent of them to force the Bill through in that way.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, I recall, though a little more dimly, the enormous pains to which R. A. Butler, as he then was, went in order to ensure that the 1944 Education Bill received the widest possible support before it was enacted. In my belief, a considerable responsibility rests upon this House—upon all of us—to see that the same is true of this Bill. Otherwise I fear that teachers will feel justifiable resentment, because they will feel that they are being treated unfairly in comparison with other public servants. In that situation my fear is that damage may continue to be inflicted on the children in our schools.

6.2 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, everyone has agreed that this Bill has been proposed as the result of a crisis. That means of course that it is a Bill prepared with a particular object in mind and a particular situation: so it is to end the Burnham Committee machinery so far as the schools are concerned but to leave it intact so far as further education is concerned.

I should like to suggest, as was suggested in another place (and a degree of assurance was given on behalf of the Government that it would be looked into) that there are problems with regard to the other section, notably the discrimination that has been practised on that committee against the Association of Polytechnic Teachers. I think it is very important that we should not have an education Bill too often—it keeps us here too long—and therefore it would be useful if the Government, between now and the Committee stage, could find the time perhaps to do something (though not perhaps anything very major) to remove any disquiet about the other half of the Burnham machinery.

When we come to look at the Bill itself, I find it difficult to follow a great deal of the criticism that has been propelled against it, a lot of which seems to me to be based on a series of misapprehensions. But may I perhaps clear out of the way one argument put forward, I believe, by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and certainly by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear? The noble Baroness did not tell us which government department was having the honour of a conversation with her this afternoon but my sincere hope is that it is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, because I think they would tell her that to invoke the ILO in this affair is a blind alley.

It is very doubtful whether not only many of the 150 members of the ILO but even members of its governing body (countries such as the Soviet Union, China, Hungary and Algeria) have arrangements for teachers negotiation that would satisfy the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, or the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. If they can come to the House at another stage and rehearse how these things are dealt with in those countries, and perhaps in other countries which are on the governing body of the ILO, and then tell us that in some way these proposals fall far behind them, the accusation that they are undemocratic may gain more of a hearing than is likely otherwise.

I must say there has also been so far in this debate one very curious assumption on the part of all noble Lords opposite: namely, that the next general election will be won by the Conservative Party. They have all assumed that Mr. Baker, or someone in his succession, will be there at the time when some of the important provisions of this Bill come into effect. Indeed they talk about having to limit its duration, apparently with the fear that he might still be there in 1989 or 1990. It is very curious and I must say that the shadow Secretary of State for Education, who stayed up all night in the other place fighting this Bill, must wonder whether he is ever going to reap the fruit of his endeavours, or shall we have to say "Infelice Radice"?

But leaving the politics aside, let us look at what has happened and what is proposed. First of all, what has happened? It is true there has been a very considerable advance towards agreement—agreement, for instance, that the present Burnham Committee structure, at any rate where schools are concerned, is no longer fulfilling the function that it should. I do not think there has been any disagreement in your Lordships' House about that. Secondly, I believe it is agreed to be important and to be an important advance that conditions of service and rates of pay are in future taken together. But it is not the case that, in their infinite wisdom, the two sides on the Burnham Committee have come to agree about this. Indeed, only two years ago the National Union of Teachers refused to take any part in any discussion in which the question of terms of service was raised. It is because of the pressure from Her Majesty's Government and because of the pressure from the general public, and parents in particular, who are tired of disruption in the schools, that these very considerable advances have been made.

But it is not a great deal of use, I think, coming to the House, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, did, and saying that the agreement is almost here. It is not actually here. There are disagreements between the unions and there is not even unanimity between those representing the local authorities. It really could not have been expected of any government who took their duties to education seriously not to intervene to deal with the immediate situation. I think, again, all of us would agree that a better system for the future has got to be devised, though, as the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, said, there are at least three options on the table and some of us might think there are others.

Like other noble Lords, I was impressed by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. I find myself in agreement with his premise. I think that the Bill, though it is an emergency Bill, marks a step towards a greater degree of centralisation of the control as well as the financing of education than has been traditional. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, I cannot convince myself that that is altogether bad, not because of—although I would not dispute the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter—the failure of some local authorities to live up to their obligations, but much more on the general point that we require a revolution in education in this country for national purposes.

Not for the first time, the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, said that it was the centralised education system in Germany that enabled Hitler to come into power. That is a disputable historical verdict, but I shall not take up your Lordships' time by disputing it now. But what one can say is that in the 40 years of the Federal German Republic, that system has produced—and this is generally admitted—higher levels of attainment, a greater spreading of the secondary or technical education and a greater contribution on the part of the educational system to the flourishing condition of that country's economy than we have achieved. If one is going to look at other examples, one might look also at the positive gains which may emanate from, for instance, a common core curriculum..

A good deal of play has been made—I understand that this is an issue which touches individuals and teachers closely—about the apparent latitude given to the Secretary of State, and his advisory council (his advisory committee in the first instance) to vary rates of pay in special cases or for regional reasons. Regional reasons are the ones that seem to have excited most attention so far in the debate. But I would remind your Lordships that there are other important special cases in the teaching profession. We suffer a damaging and overwhelming shortfall in the teaching of certain subjects closely connected with our industrial future.

It should not be ruled out that some different financial arrangements, maybe in partnership with private industry and with other parts of the public sector, may have to be made as against those made for the general run of classroom teachers or of teachers with special responsibilities. It seems to me therefore that the opportunity that would be given, and must now be given at least to this generation of school children, to have the dispute settled must also clearly be an opportunity which enables us to look at the future of the educational system and at the way in which we can preserve it from what has been happening in the past few years. In the light of that it would be a great pity if we were to be revealed as preoccupied with a number of what I can, with due respect to the right reverend Prelates, call political theological points: for instance, points about the difference between consultation and collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining may be, and probably usually is, the best way to determine remuneration in a competitive society. It cannot be regarded, and ought not be regarded, apart from what it produces. In some circumstances it may produce excellent results. In other circumstances, particularly in a profession such as the teaching profession which is divided by unions which do not merely represent different sections of the profession but compete with one another for membership, which is always a dangerous symptom, collective bargaining may be less valuable than consultation through a committee or possibly ultimately through representations to a review board.

If we are to discuss this Bill in detail, as no doubt we shall, those considerations of the future, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, rightly pointed out, are the things which should worry us most.

6.16 p.m.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

My Lords, it is a mistake to think of the Bill as being a crisis measure in the sense of it being a response to a crisis. There has been a crisis in our educational system but that crisis is on the way to being resolved. As the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, pointed out, it has not yet been entirely resolved by any means, but those who look now at the situation within the negotiating machinery would not have believed 18 months ago that it could get as far as it has.

I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, that much has been due to the pressure exerted by the Secretary of State and to the assiduous prompting administered to both sides of the negotiations. The danger is however—I believe we can see this in the Bill—that we shall go backwards from what has been achieved and lose the advances that have been made, because the Bill bears all the marks of being one conceived out of irritation.

I can understand and, up to a point, sympathise with some of the criticisms made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, when she introduced the measure. I can also understand the criticism of the way in which the negotiating machinery has operated in recent years. I can understand the argument that it needs to be reshaped in line with current needs. I can understand the objections to the way in which pay and conditions were kept apart in negotiations. I can sympathise with the desire to see an end to the disturbance of education in our schools. I have considerable sympathy with the Secretary of State's assertion of his right, as a major provider of funds, to a proper role in negotiation about the quantum and structure of pay.

I do not deny that there is a degree of substance in those criticisms and arguments, but I question fundamentally whether the Bill is reasonable or is the right way to achieve the objectives, as even the Secretary of State has said, of bringing peace and order into our classrooms, of agreeing proper arrangements for deciding pay and conditions and of settling them together.

I fear that the Secretary of State has allowed his irritation to lead him to seek a short cut in the form of this measure. Legislation is needed, as has been said, to amend or repeal the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965. But bad temper makes bad law, and I believe that bad temper underlies the Bill. The negotiating machinery has not been operating satisfactorily. It has been said that a major reason is government interference in extending their control over local authorities. I am sure that there is a measure of truth in that.

However, what has been much more important in relation to Burnham is that it suffers—as all machinery of negotiation suffers—by degenerating over a period of time. I have never known any machinery of negotiation which has not needed to be looked at, refurbished, and sometimes entirely reconstructed because of changes of circumstances and changes in attitudes that affect the machinery.

Perhaps it should have been looked at earlier. The Secretary of State helped wonderfully to concentrate the minds of the people on Burnham. We have seen changes there. We have seen the removal of the hegemony of the National Union of Teachers. We see a complete change agreed in the proposal for a national joint council in which the need is recognised for the Secretary of State not only to play a major role but also to be seen to play a major role.

I share the views of those who have criticised the way in which the Concordat was unilaterally torn up in 1985. However, it is no good our being told that sooner or later new machinery will be allowed to emerge. The danger is that intervention through the Bill means what that has been achieved so far in terms of agreement towards new machinery will be lost. The Bill does not put forward a proposition about machinery. It implies that the Secretary of State is dissatisfied with the proposition for an NJC. If he is not entirely dissatisfied, but thinks that there might be some mileage in it, will he not respond to the proposal—which I understand has been made to him over the weekend by the TUC—for a form of machinery in which his role will be recognised and in which he will participate? As it stands the Bill offers nothing to us except some form of consultation to which I shall come in a moment.

Secondly, there is the question of pay and conditions. I have always believed that it is a good working rule that pay and conditions ought to go on the table together with pay on the one side and the use of manpower on the other. This was the value of the product of the bargaining initiatives of the 1960s. That unfortunately was sacrificed on the altar of incomes policy and wage restraint by bogus schemes which undermined the credibility of the productivity bargaining. It was to be kept separate in education because it suited both sides to keep it separate. It was not until the teachers found themselves deprived of any other way of arguing their case in the machinery of negotiation that they began arguing about remuneration for those conditions of employment. It is not only railwaymen who work to rule or who find the benefits of working to rule—and working to rules that should be laid down by employers. I hope that the parties to negotiations and the Secretary of State will keep this danger in mind. The more precisely one defines and codifies conditions of employment the more one relies upon flexibility and goodwill to make the necessary modifications to keep those conditions in line with changing needs, changing technology and so on.

In that situation, the Bill will not provide the goodwill which is necessary if a more strict definition of conditions of work is to be made to operate in practice. Codification does not solve the problem once and for all. It is part of an ongoing activity. Conditions will need to be modified and adapted, and I do not believe that proceeding by legislation is the right way to engender the goodwill to enable this new regime to work in practice.

It has been repeated this afternoon that the purpose of the Bill is to stop disruption in the schools. The action taken by teachers in schools is not the product of some variant of original sin. It stems from a genuine feeling on the part of teachers that they were being badly treated by the rest of us. Exactly the same happened to hospital workers in the winter of 1978–79. Their pay had fallen significantly and seriously behind the pay of those whom they regarded as their peers in the industrial world. In each case this led to the hospital workers on the one hand and the teachers on the other acting totally out of character. The answer to that is not to seek to impose on them some package of views about what is good for them, but to remove their genuine grounds for concern.

Under the Bill the Secretary of State can direct local authorities on what is to be in contracts. It does not—and this is very wise—give him any power to enforce those views or contracts. It will be perfectly lawful for teachers to protest, and, if they have gone through the proper procedures, for them to engage in industrial action. On one matter I am certain. If this Bill becomes an Act, it will increase the size of the vote for industrial action in protest at the Secretary of State's decisions because it will add yet a further grievance to those which are held by teachers. This Bill would play into the hands of the tiny minority who want to see trouble in the schools. The Trotskyites of east London would be delighted if this Bill goes on the statute book. But it will do nothing to deal with the genuine causes of the recent discontents. It will only exacerbate the situation.

Finally, the Secretary of State argues his right to a more effective part in the settlement of pay and conditions. I readily concede that right. He is not only entitled, but, in my view, it is his obligation to be at the table when decisions are made. However, that is not what the Bill provides. It does not bring the Secretary of State to the negotiating table. The Bill takes an axe to the negotiating table. It breaks it up; it removes the negotiating table. The Bill takes away the right of employers as well as teachers through their trade unions to share in decisions. It gives the unilateral right to the Secretary of State to impose his own view. The consultative committee will be the creature of the Secretary of State. If it brings him advice on important issues which he likes the consultative committee will be redundant. If it brings him advice on important issues which he does not like, he will find it offensive and he will reject that advice.

To deprive teachers of negotiating rights is to offer them a formula for irresponsibility. The way to ensure that they act responsibly is to get them at the table with the employers and the Secretary of State. I fear that we can gauge the attitude of the Secretary of State to consultation by the fact that there has been no consultation whatever on this measure either with the employers or with the trade unions. This measure was introduced unilaterally, instead of challenging the two sides that if they were not prepared to negotiate intelligently and sensibly he would be prepared to bring forward legislation.

The basic defect of the Bill, as I see it, is that it does not start from an examination of the real situation and needs in our schools. Much has been achieved (and achieved by negotiation) largely under pressure from the Secretary of State in the form of new machinery for negotiations, a new salary structure bringing pay and conditions together, and a new system of appraisal. These may not all be to the taste of the Secretary of State, but he will not achieve what he wants in the schools by waving an Act of Parliament at teachers. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London emphasised so rightly, he can only achieve that by building a partnership of Government, employers, teachers and parents.

I have almost taken it into my heart to congratulate the Secretary of State on what he has achieved. Certainly he is entitled to congratulate himself. The real danger now is that he will sweep away the gains that he has helped to secure. Instead he should build on what has been achieved. He should start with his role in the negotiating machinery by responding to the initiative from the TUC that we have read about. Having got that right, he can go on to talk with the unions and the employers at future meetings on the substantive issues.

Certainly, the unions have to knuckle down and be realistic and reasonable. Some acrimonious differences have too often marred relationships between the unions and they too, have to face reality. But if the Secretary of State is prepared to go down that road, then perhaps he might even consider not proceeding with this Bill and instead come back to this House and the other place with a new and agreed measure which will have some chance of the success that we all want to see.

6.32 p.m.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, there have been so many excellent contributions from this side of the House, and indeed from my noble friend on the Cross-Benches, that perhaps it is not necessary to add to the debate. Therefore, I shall be brief. I feel that I have a vested interest. I am a teacher by profession, and proud to be so. I have many teachers in the family. Just last Sunday I sat with a group of them. They are all young: two young head teachers and four ordinary teachers. They are the recipients of this generous pay to which the noble Baroness referred. I am sorry that she has left.

Teachers are asking for more pay because their pay is low. It has nothing to do with the fact that the nurses have low pay. The noble Baroness made a peculiar kind of measurement. It does not mean that the teachers are getting too much; it simply means that too many workers are getting too little for the kind of work they do.

These were teachers from the voluntary sector; the Catholic schools. They are already demoralised. Make no mistake, when we are talking about teachers we are talking about a group in society who are totally demoralised. I have never seen anything quite so distressing, and I am in touch with a lot of teachers. They feel that there is no sympathy for them. They feel that they have been blamed for the conditions in the schools. They are expected to put right all the evils that society inflicts on the children.

Teachers are expected to act as social workers. They are expected to accept all kinds of attacks. We heard earlier of attacks on nurses and doctors. I can assure your Lordships that there are attacks on teachers. They are expected to accept all this and work in old schools, with a shortage of books and a shortage of other material. They are totally demoralised. To add to this, many unfortunate Catholic schools—and this at least is not the fault of the Bill—are facing closure. There is nothing more demoralising—and one saw this when the local authorities were going to disappear—than to think that the work of a lifetime is suddenly going to be set aside.

It is important that we know the kind of people we are talking about. That they are so dedicated is a great tribute to the quality of the people still working in the profession. They have had no reason to be dedicated for a long time. I have said it before and I say it again: too many governments interfere with teachers. Why do they not let the teachers get on with their job, let the doctors get on with their job, and so on? There is too much political interference, but that is rather different from the point we are discussing today. The noble Lord Lord Ritchie, described the conditions that he had seen. It is important to recognise, when we talk about pay, that these are the people being discussed in our debates on this Bill.

We have heard again that there are to be rewards, or some kind of variation, for good classroom teaching, but we have never at any stage learnt how they are to be decided. I have probably used this example before. I once taught the dull and backward, as they were called—lovely children, but they were never going to learn any more. If you managed to teach them to read or to calculate you had achieved something. But in the class next to me were the bright children of the school who got all the examination results. How do you decide which is the good class teacher? It is virtually impossible, because the results are the only things you are going to measure by and the results will be different in each set of circumstances.

It is not a question of somebody working in a car factory and the number of cars you turn out. How is the quality of the good class teacher to be decided? This has never been defined. The noble Baroness who introduced the Bill mentioned the new advisory council. We all know about advisory councils. I have had the misfortune to sit on a number, and I have heard marvellous ideas. Presumably they are listened to. One hopes so. Sometimes one even has the opportunity to take a delegation to the Secretary of State. However, their advice is acted on very rarely. Let us not be under any delusion about an advisory council.

I notice that the members of the advisory council are to be paid. Therefore, the Secretary of State is going to be able to select a few of his mates, put them on this thing and pay them well. We all know what happens if one is put on something and paid. You jolly well have to do what the person who put you there says or you will not keep the job.

This Bill places far too much power in the hands of the Secretary of State. This is obvious from the word go. As the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, said, the local authorities have wanted the repeal of the Remuneration of Teachers Act. By putting that in the Bill the Government are only agreeing to one part of this.

As for the Secretary of State talking about the money, I should have thought—and particularly with a Conservative Government—that the one who pays the largest sum of anything surely calls the tune. In this case the local authorities certainly now make the larger contribution. You can only have one employer. This matter has bedevilled the profession for a long time. As a teacher one was never clear whether you were the employee of the Department of Education and Science or of the local authority.

What are these contracts we hear about, these terms of employment? I recollect having all this. I knew precisely what my job was. It was clearly defined. Are we now to have everything written down—that teachers must sit in the classroom 15 minutes before the start of the class? Is that what is meant by terms of employment?

A professional person knows exactly what is expected of him long before he enters the profession. Apart from the demoralisation, what is particularly disturbing—and I put it at the door of the Government—is that this long discussion centred round what?—pay. It did not centre around anything else. It centred around an increase to people who had been denied one for a long time. We have these marvellous phrases now used by governments, "I am not putting any more money on the table". If the previous Secretary of State had put just a little more money on the table one would not have had these long and protracted negotiations. We all know that. They have all been dressed up.

It was interesting to hear the number of Peers who suggested that all this messing about, all this negotiation and all this discussion was a tidying up operation. It seemed to me to be verging on the kind of argument that a dictator would promote. Democracy is always untidy, lengthy, awkward and difficult, but it is the system under which we live, and when you look at all the others it is the best system that anybody has yet devised. I do not like the suggestion that if people do not go along immediately with what is wanted then, as has been suggested by my noble friend, you get rid of them or transfer any opportunity for negotiation away from them.

I, like many of your Lordships, have had numerous letters, and splendid letters. I have two here from parents just in case noble Lords think that it is only teachers who are worried. They say that the Bill is no answer. Against this background of disruption, failure and diminishing expectations, we felt hopeful that a draft agreement had been reached between the employing Authorities and a majority of the teachers' unions". That was the case. To us it was the first positive achievement of the past two years … now we understand that the agreement is not satisfactory in your eyes"— this is directed to the Secretary of State— and that you may impose some amended version of it". The parents make the appeal that agreement must come and that it must not be done this way if we are to rebuild the morale of the teachers. We are not a philistine society yet, but if we continue this destruction of a great profession we shall certainly rank in history as being so.

6.42 p.m.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, I should like to take up a phrase which the noble Baroness has just uttered. She said that there is too much political interference; I think she means in the teaching profession. I agree with her. I have different conclusions from hers, though. and I hope that this Bill will provide the breathing space that is necessary, the time for thinking to arrive at a new system that will so far as possible in the future be free from political interference.

I regret the necessity for this Bill, but I am satisfied that it is necessary. I find it infinitely sad that after so many years the negotiations that have taken place have not resulted in any agreement, with the result, I am afraid, that in this long period the schools and the pupils have suffered. To my mind, the Secretary of State has not merely had ample justification for introducing this Bill but he has had a duty to do so. In this connection I can quote his words in another place. He said: In the meantime, our children have lost out". He is bound by the provisions of the Butler Act to promote the education of our children through a national policy under his control and direction and through the local education authorities.

That is a clear duty, quite apart from the interest of the Secretary of State in the dispute, as, in effect, the ultimate paymaster of behalf of the taxpayer. There is no doubt in my mind that the Secretary of State had the right and the duty to act as he has. Indeed, he would have been culpable if he had not done so. The Secretary of State is to my mind also abundantly justified in linking duties and conditions with the determination of teachers' pay. I was very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Murray, saying that he had always been in favour of such linkage.

Moreover, I cannot see any real improvement in our schools unless there is sufficient flexibility in the pay structure to reward merit in teachers and to attract men and women of special and rare talent and men and women of great talent into districts which badly need them. I also believe that it is necessary to settle the teachers' pay before the Secretary of State turns to the equally important and urgent subject of pay in higher education. I welcome the sense of urgency behind the Bill.

I have nonetheless criticism of the Bill in the light of the Secretary of State's own statement that, it does not seek to set a system for all time". The Long Title says that this is an Act "to make temporary provision" and the Bill is expressed to have a statutory death on 31st March 1990, unless revived annually by order subject to annulment. My criticisms are these: first, that the words "temporary provisions" should be included in the Short Title so that no one can forget the temporary nature of this legislation. I may perhaps remind your Lordships that that amendment to the Short Title was made in the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I believe it was put in on a free vote in the House of Commons, but I am not sure about that. Certainly "temporary provisions" should be in the Short Title, and that accurately reflects the intention of the Secretary of State as stated in the House of Commons and as spelt out in the Long Title.

Secondly, I should much prefer the statutory death to be absolute in 1990 and that there should be no provision for life support after that date. Surely we have learnt the lesson from the emergency legislation of the last Great War that even if such legislation is expressly drafted as temporary we know from bitter experience after the war that it was capable of being prolonged well after the emergency had ended. In any case, if the revival provisions are retained in the Bill—I hope they will not be—then the annual renewal should be subject to affirmative resolution. It must be the duty of the Secretary of State to justify positively to Parliament the need for a further year's life. In other words, the presumption for a temporary provisions measure should be death at the terminal date unless the Government take positive action to prolong its life and to justify its extension to Parliament.

I have two other criticisms of this Bill of a parliamentary nature. First, can it really be satisfactory that a Clause 3 order can under subsection (3) of that clause refer to provisions contained in another document, an entirely separate document published by the Stationery Office, and direct that those provisions should have effect or be amended in accordance with the order? I should like to know what the precedents are for this unusual procedure. Should it not be a matter of principle that all the provisions made by an order may be found in one place? That place, I should have thought, was in the order itself.

I agree that the drafting in Clause 3(2) is justifiable. No criticism has been made against it, but is seems to me sensible that if one is to have a statutory committee, and if the Secretary of State substantially agrees with that committee, it is not at all necessary to have an affirmative resolution. It seems absolutely sensible that when the order is made it should only be subject to annulment. On the other hand, where the Secretary of State substantially departs from or rejects the advice of the advisory committee, then clearly he should justify that to Parliament by bringing in the order which he asks Parliament to affirm.

Having said that, I should like to say that this distinction, which I agree is rightly drawn in the first part of Clause 3, should be carried through to orders made by the Secretary of State before 1st October 1987 when he will be acting without any reference to the advisory committee. Therefore should not subsection (7) of Clause 3 be amended so that it conforms to the spirit of subsection (2) of the same clause?

I hope that those points will be seriously considered by the Government. I believe that they would make the Bill much more acceptable, and I should like to echo the plea of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London that the Government take seriously suggestions put forward not out of any party political motives but in order to make the Bill more acceptable generally.

I conclude by reiterating my support for the Bill, subject to detailed but important parliamentary safeguards which I believe are essential to temporary legislation of this nature.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps he can explain how he can hold that it is the duty of the Secretary of State to intervene at this point when the predecessor of the Secretary of State consistently announced that he had no part in the dispute, refused to answer questions about it and shed all responsibility for a dispute which he always claimed was one between teachers and their employers.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, I cannot argue that at length. However, I believe that the Secretary of State has a residual power given to him in the Butler Act to bring proposals before Parliament when negotiating machinery has broken down.

6.53 p.m.

Lord Henley

My Lords, it is a great privilege for me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, who is a fellow Cumbrian. This is especially so as I find myself substantially in agreement with what he says regarding the necessity for the Bill.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, I must declare what I suppose is an interest in that I sit on the Cumbria County Council and am a member of its education committee. Having said that, I cannot honestly claim any great expertise on the subject of education. I was elected in the by-election only some six or seven months ago; I went on the education committee because my predecessor had been on it, which is the general rule in Cumbria. I cannot in any sense claim to be speaking for my county council, nor do I want anyone to think that I am. It is a council which is split more or less equally between the two major parties, with the Liberals and two independents holding the balance of power. I do not think that there would be any real consensus on the county council about this Bill. I have discussed the matter with my group spokesman on education; however, I must stress that all the views I express are very much my own.

I believe that the Secretary of State for Education is to be congratulated upon introducing this Bill. It is long overdue. I think that everyone is in agreement that the days of the Burnham Committee are over. I do not think I should repeat what others have argued both here and in another place about Burnham. It has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any in the first place, and the fact that it has been unable to resolve this dispute satisfactorily after more than two years obviously bears this out. I think it is obvious that pay cannot be negotiated without also considering conditions. That is patently obvious and I do not think I need to deal with that matter as it has been dealt with and it seems to be a matter on which there is broad agreement.

Having said that, there is obviously the question of what will replace Burnham. As we all know, the Bill proposes an advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of State. However, during the first year the power to impose a settlement, which will need the affirmative approval of both Houses, lies with the Secretary of State. It has been argued that that is both draconian and undemocratic in that it takes power away from local education authorities, who, through the ratepayers, pay a little over half the bill. I partly accept this. However, in an emergency—and we have had disruption in our schools for over two years, which, by any standard is an emergency—desperate measures are needed. I am sure everyone will accept that the education of our children is a matter of the utmost importance and it has been disrupted for far too long. Over the last two years we have constantly been told that there is a solution just around the corner. We had Coventry and then Nottingham—or was it the other way around?—only to see our hopes dashed as yet another unacceptable formula was put forward. I do not think that the parents of this country's schoolchildren can tolerate this position any longer. It is not fair that we should allow it to continue and it is only right that a solution should be found.

I believe that the offer put forward by the Secretary of State is a very generous one and that it will offer a chance of peace in our schools. In subsequent years we are to see the working of the advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of State and described as his poodle by some Members on the Benches opposite. That committee will consider both the pay and conditions of teachers. It is again argued that this does not give local education authorities or, for that matter, the teachers' unions a look in on the negotiations. But then, did Burnham cater adequately for all the negotiating parties when the Government, after the breakdown, were effectively excluded? Were all local education authorities represented? I do not believe that they were and I think that only representatives from the Association of County Councils and other education authorities were included.

The creation of the advisory committee need not exclude the unions and the education authorities from negotiations. I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Government that there will be effective and very extensive consultation with all the different parties. In saying that, I should like to ask the Government, in giving that assurance, to say who such consultations will be with. In the case of local education authorities, will the consultation be with the ACC and, in the old metropolitan counties, representatives of the metropolitan districts? Will individual education authorities have a right to make their submissions? I ask this question because the ACC will at any given time be dominated by one party or another, which effectively will leave some of the others out in the cold. Similarly, will all the unions be consulted? I believe that there are six unions in all and obviously each will want to put their case separately as they represent slightly different people. I ask for such an assurance from the Government, and I am sure it will be given.

There is also the argument that this solution is undemocratic and takes power away from democratically elected representatives on county councils and other education authorities. This is slightly unfair and ignores Parliament's role in the matter, in that any order will need parliamentary approval, either by means of an affirmative resolution or a negative resolution, depending on the circumstances and whether the Secretary of State has changed the original advice given to him by the advisory committee. I feel that that process is certainly democratic; and as a county councillor I do not see it as a denial of the role of the counties as education authorities, just as long as there is the consultation to which I referred earlier. That is most important and I hope that the Government will be prepared to give an assurance to that effect.

I intended to be brief and so I should like merely to say that this saga of disruption has continued for too long. This Bill offers a great deal and a very generous settlement. I for one certainly welcome it. One must put the interests of parents and children above all others in this matter, and this I believe is what the Government are doing. I trust that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading.

7.1 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, like my noble friend Lady Phillips I come from a teaching family and have myself either taught or served administratively in every part of the education system of our country. Many experts on teaching have already spoken in the debate. I do not intend to dwell on the technical side or indeed on the professional side of teaching, because I believe that in the Bill there is an even greater issue that transcends all professions and concerns every member of our society.

If we are anything in this House, we are a revising Chamber, and I believe there will be general acceptance on all sides that our main responsibility is to restrict the arbitrary use of power by the Executive, by the Government. That is especially important when in the other place either party has a huge majority. I want to concentrate all I have to say on Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill, which deal with the establishment of the advisory committee.

It seems to me that within those two clauses there is contained, as the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, pointed out, the seeds of a nationalised education system which all educationists in this country, of all parties, have always resisted. The advisory committee will be arbitrary, unelected, unaccountable and unrepresentative. Yet it will be the main body, the only body, advising the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State himself will have power to determine pay and conditions for the whole of the profession.

As I understood it, this Government were elected on the promise, among other things, to roll back the state. Is this rolling back the state? This Government have dismantled local government and local democracy and this Bill is an added weight to the consistent policy campaign of the Government in their relations with local government. It is no coincidence that the Secretary of State responsible for this Bill was the Minister of State responsible for the destruction of the metropolitan counties. But this Government have no mandate to nationalise the education service. They have no mandate for a centrally directed education service. Indeed, in the 1983 general election the Conservative Party manifesto actually referred to returning power to local authorities. How can that be consistent with this Bill

If the noble Lords would like a greater authority on the attitude of the Conservative Party to local democracy, they should remember that it was the present Prime Minister who, when speaking officially on behalf of the Conservative Party in another place on 12th February 1970, said about local and central government: Both are elected bodies, both finance the education system, both should have a say in the decision-making process".—[Official Report, Commons, 12/2/70; col. 1474.] Yet this Bill will take away that say from the whole of the local government service in this country.

A great deal has been said about the Burnham Committee. What has not been said, and what has not been said by the noble Baroness who introduced the Bill, is that it is now accepted within the profession that the Burnham Committee has failed in its most recent tasks. There has been no attempt to preserve it. But the advisory committee was described by the noble Baroness as a set of independent people. Who will appoint them? Who will pay them? How can they be independent when the Secretary of State alone will appoint them, when they will be responsible only to the Secretary of State and when the Secretary of State's department will be paying them?

It has already been accepted—and I noticed that the noble Baroness did not refer to this matter when she was talking about the Burnham Committee—that the Burnham Committee could be superseded by a national joint council. Why did she make no reference to the fact that a proposal, put forward within the past few days by the profession itself, for a national joint council to include at least discussions with the Secretary of State as to his role within such a council has been accepted by the profession as a whole?

If noble Lords should be concerned as to whether I am exaggerating the threat of the appointment of th[...] national advisory council, perhaps I may draw their attention to the fact that all the teachers' unions have rejected it, that all the employers' associations have rejected it and that on 19th December 1986 The Times Educational Supplement, hardly a militant or radical newspaper, described it as, an oppressive and preposterous suggestion, one totally unjustified by past history". In the previous week, the magazine Education described it as having, tyrannical powers unprecedented in peacetime". Perhaps the most succinct, direct, encapsulated description of the whole issue on which the Bill is based was best described in the Guardian this morning by Ian Aitken, who wrote: If you genuinely reject conformism and seek the advance of individuality then you must at all costs resist centralised control over the educational system. Once the schools are in the hands of the gentleman in Whitehall you are on your way towards the Orwellian society". That is the issue which seems to me to transcend all the details that we have been discussing on this Bill and no doubt will be discussing over the coming weeks. The Bill sets up a tyrannical power in the hands of an individual who happens at the moment to be the present Secretary of State. He could be any kind of Secretary of State but he will be an individual, and that is totally against not just the education tradition but the whole political tradition of this country.

At the same time, it is destroying the right of collective bargaining for a whole profession. Can the Government tell the House what other profession is going to be placed, or has been placed, in the same position as teachers will be placed—teachers and the local authorities—if this Bill becomes an Act?

I noticed that when the noble Baroness who introduced the Bill was speaking about industrial relations she showed how little she knew about the subject. She quoted the fact that four of the six unions had turned down the ACAS agreement. She did not say what was the number of teachers who had been balloted and what was the number of teachers who supported the agreement—not the number of unions. I noticed that the noble Baroness, or whoever wrote her speech, seemed to miss the fact that this same point was picked up in another place when the Minister of State for Education made the same error of judgment about the character of industrial relations.

If this Bill becomes an Act and if control of pay and conditions is passed over to the Secretary of State, and if all the machinery through local government and education committees is destroyed, we shall truly have direction of labour for the teaching profession in this country. That is a recipe for escalating bitterness in the classrooms which is bound to bring further tragedies for our children, for the teachers, for the parents and for the entire nation. It is a threat to the whole democratic tradition of this country.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, I recognise that this House is a non-elected assembly and therefore we have no right to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. However, I have no doubt whatever that over the ensuing weeks we shall be spending many hours in debating radical amendments in order to take the anti-democratic content out of this Bill.

7.14 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, as a Scot I rise to speak in this debate because there is a strong Scottish dimension to the Bill although it applies only to England and Wales. The systems differ on each side of the Border. The way that teachers, local authorities and the Government have acted during simultaneous disputes have differed. But the most important issues to be resolved are the same, as are many more of the detailed issues.

The Government's point of view on many of the issues, as well as on the global sum and the global average of the 16½ per cent. increase for teachers which is proposed, are derived from the report of the Main Committee. The Main Committee—I point this out to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch—is an independent committee set up by the Secretary of State and paid for by the Government, having been accepted by all the teachers' unions and the local authorities as a valid independent committee.

A settlement which the Government have said will be acceptable is now out for ballot among Scottish teachers. If they agree to it, that will be the settlement. If they do not, I presume the Government will be forced to legislate in some way as it has been forced to do now in England and Wales. I think that does mean there is a Scottish dimension to the Bill.

As the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said with his usual knowledge and wisdom of this subject, the Bill is not an end in itself but a means to an end. There is a great danger that in going through the stages of this Bill in this House, we shall do, as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, has just done and speak so much about the iniquities of what the Government are proposing in order to break the deadlock that the iniquities of the deadlock itself will be obscured. It is extremely important that as we go through the Bill and as we consider its various clauses we remember what has brought this deadlock about and the suffering that it has caused to children, to parents and to teachers.

It is essential that we do not forget why the Government have a responsibility here that cannot be ducked. We must remember, as we go through the Bill, the longer term objectives that must be achieved. I say again to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, that I suspect that those objectives are not so much concerned with the centralising of education but that they have a great deal to do with rolling back the state and rolling back a lot of extremely unfortunate effects of the politicisation of schools. That will be the next step, and this is part of it. In the meantime, this Bill is a means to an end.

What are the principal issues that have to be borne in mind, the criteria against which this Bill has to be tested? It seems to me that there are three things that we must remember all the time. First, our present system can work only if local government observes the limits of its role in the system. Councillors are elected to run services. They are elected to do so within the framework set by the government of the day and by Parliament—a legal framework, an economic framework. Government, of course, have a special locus in education because nearly half of all public expenditure that goes through local government—that is, from the rates and from central government, and it is certainly over 40 per cent.—is spent on education. Half the amount spent on education goes on teachers' salaries. That means there is a special locus of government in education. Also, there is the fact that the quality of education is of national as well as local importance.

Until comparatively recently in the education system—until the last 10 or 15 years—the fact that central government set the framework was recognised and accepted by local authorities. The system worked. I was involved in the negotiations in Scotland over a long period of time. As teachers' organisations have changed from what were mainly professional bodies to what are almost entirely trades unions; as local authorities (I have to say here especially the Left-wing authorities) have allowed more and more politics to get mixed up with schools; and as Labour groups in local authorities have involved teachers' unions in their meetings when discussing educational matters; so we have come to a point where local authorities no longer behave as they are supposed to do. They have not behaved as employers working within a government framework. They have got together with the teachers' unions—not always finding it easy to get the teachers' unions to agree of course—to exclude Government and to make decisions on their own; and they expect Government to pick up what in England and Wales is 46 per cent. of the cost. That problem is at the heart of the deadlock which this Bill seeks to break. If local authorities and teachers accepted the Government's role and the fact that the Government should be setting the framework, there would be no need for this Bill. As I understand it, no alternative has so far been suggested which would resolve the issue.

It seems to me that the second criterion that we must bear in mind as we discuss the Bill is one about which we need not say much because others have already spoken about it; namely, that the future of this country depends on attracting high quality, enthusiastic teachers. It depends on attracting them to every part of England and Wales, including the cities and remote rural areas, and it depends on attracting them in every subject.

The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, said that because teaching depends on dedication (and, of course, I agree with him) teachers do not mind too much about pay. I am bound to say that dedicated professionals do mind about pay. They mind about the initial pay when they come into the profession and they mind even more about prospects and opportunities for promotion. Moreover, they want opportunities which entail staying as good class teachers.

Through the years, these opportunities have been eroded for reasons which your Lordships know very well. I believe that that is one of the main reasons why, in Scotland at any rate, morale at this time is so low. The Government's proposals would reverse the decline of these opportunities. They would increase enormously the number of incentive posts. So far, the suggestions coming from local authorities and the teachers' unions would mean reducing those posts. Indeed, my right honourable friend said in another place that in a large comprehensive school of 75 or 80 teachers the proposals being put to him would mean that there would be only 15 to 20 promoted posts. I do not believe that most head teachers would feel that it was right to try to manage a large comprehensive school with that number of promoted posts.

The type of structure that the Government are proposing fits the system of appraisal which I think is now increasingly widely accepted. I believe that the public has the right to expect teachers to accept this kind of structure and local authorities to agree to it.

The third criterion that one has to bear in mind is that teachers' essential duties and conditions of service must be clarified, and not only because it is necessary for management. Until very recently the teaching profession accepted that activities such as meeting parents, marking homework, covering for absent colleagues, and running extra curricular clubs and so on, which have not been taking place during the disruption, were part of their job. It is only comparatively recently that these duties have been regarded as something voluntary and optional because they were not defined in the contract. As a result, many teachers have seen fit totally to neglect these areas. For more than two years many children have had delivered to them an arid and incomplete curriculum, but there has not been any financial sacrifice for the teachers themselves. That is far more damaging than strikes.

The other day a child of 14 said to me, "My homework is only half marked this week. The reason is that teacher is not allowed to mark the other half". That is still going on in Scotland. Fancy! What can one think about a teacher who is not allowed to mark the whole of one's homework and stops half way through? This situation must never happen again. Teachers must know what is expected of them, head teachers must know what they can call for, the public must know what it is employing teachers to do, and parents must know what they can expect.

In addition, pay and conditions must be closely related. In Scotland a package is being balloted and the Government find the proposals acceptable. The biggest teachers' union has recommended acceptance and its general secretary has put his job on the line. The executive in some of its regions is against it. The Glasgow executive voted nine to three against. So the teachers are not fully in agreement. The SSTA, which is the secondary teachers' association, made no recommendation at all and many of its members are saying that it has had chicken for Christmas. They have problems. I do not know what the teachers will say next week but if they say no, I suggest that there will have to be legislation to sort the matter out.

In England and Wales, there has been total failure to find a package to which the Government can agree. There has been difficulty in finding one to which the unions themselves can agree. There is no sign that agreement will shortly be found. Children, parents, teachers and the country must not be asked to wait. The Government must take the matter in hand. They cannot duck this issue. The Bill is a means to that end. I am sure that we shall discuss it in enormous detail and make it as good as we can, but I hope that the Bill will be given a fair wind by this House so that the problem can be resolved as soon as possible.

7.27 p.m.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, I hope that my contribution will not take too long; but I want to raise some issues of national defence, national economic security, democracy and human rights, and also to ponder the question of whether we have government management incompetence or government management with secret objectives. Then I shall comment on one of the specific issues that is likely to come from this Bill.

During the First World War there was a massive intake of ordinary citizens into the armed forces. One of the problems that the armed forces found was that a high proportion of the recruits were physically unfit through poverty and bad housing. This fact had a limiting effect on the war effort and partly as a result we saw the development of national welfare payments and national housing policies.

In the Second World War the same thing happened, only this time of more concern was the inadequate education of a large proportion of the ordinary citizens owing to inadequate education provision. Again, partly as a result we saw the development of a national education system particularly in the secondary school sector—the famous 1944 Rab Butler Act. If a well educated citizenry was deemed important for reasons of national defence over 40 years ago, how much more important is it now with the amazing modern developments of all kinds in defence equipment.

As time went on, it became plain that to make our way—and here I choose my words carefully—to make things is the only way forward for the economic prosperity of this country. To make our way we needed a well-educated population and not a population educated within the narrow confines of a class-based society of yesterday. To have a system that educated an elite to be managers, that educated some people to be skilled workers and left the rest with little or no education, to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water was simply not good enough. In practice, Rab Butler's technical schools never really flourished from the start and we had a segregated two-tier system from the point of the iniquitous 11-plus.

However, it is sometimes forgotten that some education authorities were prepared to experiment and develop new ways of organising education and we saw comprehensive education develop in some pioneering, Conservative-controlled areas. True, it was a Labour Government which made comprehensive schools national policy, but that Labour Government and subsequent Labour Governments did not ram that policy down the throats of local education authorities. They left it in the hands of the people elected locally to determine how best to reorganise their education system.

Some of us were very critical that the Labour Education Secretary in the mid-seventies did not force Tameside and Trafford local authorities to go comprehensive. But in hindsight that Labour government was right and I am glad to say that in both Tameside and Trafford the people have seen the error of their ways and they now elect councillors who are prepared to reorganise their education systems on comprehensive lines.

So a modern, we[...]-funded comprehensive educational system is essential for national defence and economic security. But what is currently happening? We have inadequate investment in education; we need to invest in school buildings; we see a lack of resources for books and equipment in schools and our teachers are perceived to be badly paid.

What has been the Government's response? We can all remember Sir Keith Joseph saying, "It's all caused by bad teachers. How can we get rid of bad teachers?" Unfortunately, virtually all teachers were tarred with the same brush. Mass unemployment has not helped either. It must be terribly demoralising for a teacher who knows that however bright the child is, however many O levels and A levels a young person may obtain, there is still the risk that they may never get a job.

Therefore, teachers are demoralised, they feel lacking in status, and virtually everything the Government say these days contributes to that feeling. How can they improve their position? They look around and see that in our present society one is judged by how much one earns, so they say, "Right, we want status, we are due status, therefore we should be highly paid". So in some measure we have the current teacher's dispute.

To those of us outside the teaching profession, those of us with some experience of industry and industrial relations, it appears that either the situation has been handled with gross incompetence by the Government, or there has been some secret objective. We all know that this dispute could have been and in most people's eyes should have been settled some time ago. But no! there was a reason for keeping it going: the secret objective.

This Bill before us unfortunately shows what that objective was. At a stroke it does two things: it abolishes the teachers' right to union representation in negotiation and at the same time it takes power from locally elected authorities and passes it to central government. I think we are entitled to point out and reinforce the point which was made earlier that this did not appear in the election manifesto of the Conservative Party at the last election. We can also point out, as has been mentioned before, that this Bill will do nothing to improve education in this country.

There are two problems when it comes to denying trade unions the right to negotiate for teachers. First, it offends the British concept of human rights, and also may fall foul of our international obligations in that respect. Secondly, it is bad industrial relations practice, and if carried through will cause no end of problems.

With regard to taking power from local education authorities, again we get the impression that this Government have a very poor regard for democracy: the ability of people to determine their own destiny. I can appreciate that the current leadership of the Tory Party do not like democracy and want to stifle it whenever possible. But I am sure this is not the wish of all the Members who sit on the Government side of the House.

Finally, I should like to say something about one particular aspect of the Government's proposals on teacher's pay. That is the concept of rewarding good teachers by the payment of extra money. There are two ways that this could be done: by independent assessment which I believe would gain the support of some teachers, but which would require a massive increase in the number of the teaching inspectorate. However, this is not on offer. What is on offer is an arse-lickers' charter, a charter which will enable heads of department and headmasters to reward their blue-eyed boys and girls, but will do nothing for the status of those heads or heads of department in the eyes of their staff and will create division and dissension among teachers.

We know in industry how these arse-lickers' charters work and they may be an instrument of control; but they do nothing to encourage and assist people in doing difficult and demanding jobs. Teachers have a difficult and demanding job. They should be given every encouragement and assistance to do their job well. This Bill will do nothing to encourage or assist teachers, but will give them further problems. It has been said before and I shall say it again: it is a bad Bill and I hope that the Government will have second thoughts about pushing it through.

7.38 p.m.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, the hour is late and I do not want to take up time by repeating arguments which have already been advanced in the debate. Nevertheless, I must say at the outset how much I agree with my noble friend who has just contributed to the debate and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, when they said that this is a thoroughly bad Bill. It is a thoroughly bad Bill. We have to deal with it as a revising Chamber, but I question very much why it has been introduced at all, because, as a number of noble Lords have said, the Bill seeks to remove from teachers the right to negotiate on their pay and conditions of service.

As has been said on a number of occasions during the debate, there is no question but that this is the major objective of the Bill. These rights which teachers have have existed since 1919. It was in that year that the then Minister of Education, H. A. Fisher, formed a standing joint committee to secure the orderly and progressive solution of salary problems by agreement on a national basis.

Before the advent of the standing joint committee, which, of course, became the Burnham Committee, there were no fewer than 320 separate pay scales in operation. The disparity in locally negotiated salaries led to masses of pay disputes and a bitter conflict which closed 60 Herefordshire schools in 1914. That was a part of the campaign for a standing national salary scale. The standing joint committee was founded to deal with these problems and to stabilise industrial relations.

The introduction of national salary awards established by collective bargaining machinery was intended to achieve stability. Even then, there continued to be disputes in cases where nationally negotiated awards were not applied. They came to an end only when awards made through national machinery became enforceable by statute.

What the Bill attempts to do is to turn the clock right back to pre-1919 and to the situation where we had the disputes then in existence. It seeks to bring an end to the arrangements for nationally negotiated pay and condition deals. In its place, as we know, an advisory committee is proposed, with members appointed by the Secretary of State. But even so the Secretary of State will have powers to modify or ignore entirely the advisory body's recommendations and to impose his own settlements. Furthermore, as we have seen, the proposal allows for different salary awards in different areas of the country for people doing precisely the same kind of work.

As I have already indicated, history has shown that when that situation appertained there were very serious difficulties. The educational press—this has been referred to already in the debate—has already said that the Bill gives the Secretary of State unprecedented powers. This is a very dangerous step to take and will not assist in the provision of adequate education services.

The Secretary of State, I understand, claims that the Burnham Committee and the existing machinery for negotiating teachers' pay and conditions of service have become discredited. The recent dispute over teachers' pay is advanced as evidence of this. A number of noble Lords have said similar things in the debate. It must surely be clear, in view of the grave dissatisfaction that has existed for many years among rank and file teachers about pay and conditions of service, that there were bound to be difficulties. Masses of classroom teachers have felt they have not been paid enough, and the Government themselves have made major contributions to the difficulties.

Until the Government intervened, a dispute in the Burnham Committee could go to arbitration—surely a civilised way of sorting out industrial difficulties. However, intervention by the Government some time ago made access to arbitration available only at the request of both parties. During the 1984 negotiations I understand that the Government made it absolutely clear that they would not fund the cost, no matter what the arbitrators awarded. In effect, this wrote off arbitration as a means of settling disputes.

Nevertheless, as we have heard in the debate, there has been negotiation under the auspices of ACAS which proposes the establishment of a new joint national council to negotiate on pay and conditions of service. Indeed, as I understand it, and as we have heard, ACAS has been a party to a major overhaul in the agreements and negotiating arrangements for more than 400,000 teachers in the country. I am sure that that was a difficult and time-consuming exercise, but ACAS is a specialist industrial relations organisation respected by employers and unions alike. On what grounds are all its efforts to be set aside, efforts that we have heard tonight have resulted in considerable progress being made and in a situation in which the TUC has become involved, with a very strong prospect of a satisfactory solution being achieved?

It is claimed that the Bill is needed to end the disruption of children's education and to solve the teachers' dispute, but it does not address itself to this particular dispute. It could have done so, but it does not. It is seeking to remove altogether any future rights. If the plea is that this will stop problems in education, I believe it to be a forlorn hope. I think that the contrary is the case. All sections of the teaching profession, from the newest teachers just out of college to head teachers, and all the teaching unions are solidly against what is proposed in the Bill. How can it possibly be said that a Bill which arouses such hostility throughout the profession will improve the situation?

The public is being misled if it is being told—and I think that it is—that this high-minded intervention by the Government will encourage commitment and professionalism among teachers. I am not a teacher, as my noble friend Baroness Phillips is—she spoke, I think, very movingly from her own experience—but a number of members of my immediate family teach. I can tell your Lordships that it is no picnic being a classroom teacher nowadays, particularly in some of the inner-city areas.

Teachers often have to deal with problems in the classroom that are not of their making but are a reflection of the social conditions and social deprivation in which many of our children are being raised. Highly qualified and experienced people who shoulder responsibility for the future of our children will not become committed and professional if they think that the Government have so little regard for them that their normal negotiating rights—rights that are available elsewhere in industry and commerce and in other professions—are being removed from the organisations to which they choose to below.

Furthermore—this point has been made on several occasions already—it is my belief that we are contravening our international obligations, not, I think, for the first time under this Government. Convention 98 of the International Labour Organisation, to which the UK Government assented, provides and protects the rights to collective bargaining and direct negotiation. Convention 151, introduced later, extends those provisions to cover public employees.

The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, in his contribution chose to pour scorn on comments about our international obligations. It is not a question of what the Soviet Government and other governments do or do not do. The fact is that British governments have ratified these conventions and, if we go back on what we have ratified, we are denying the obligations that we have willingly accepted. Moreover, we may very well be in breach not only of international labour conventions but of the European Social Charter, since I believe that Item 7 of that charter accepts in principle the right to collective bargaining.

If the Bill is passed, teachers will be left with far fewer negotiating rights than any other public servants—indeed, no negotiating rights. The Government have not made out a case for treating teachers so differently. Even the police service pay and conditions are negotiated at national level by the police negotiating board. It is quite true of course that more money was made available for those negotiations, and maybe it is for that reason that there have been problems about those negotiations. But this Bill will not solve the problems of the teachers' dispute because it does not address the problems that arose from the many years of dissatisfaction that teachers have experienced with their pay and conditions. Therefore, I think that the Bill should not be passed.

I accept, however, as other noble Lords have said, that we are a revising Chamber, and so we must utilise the opportunities that we shall have in Committee to endeavour to remove from the Bill those obnoxious provisions which prevent the teachers from having the same rights as other professions and employees.

7.48 p.m.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, the Bill was rushed through the other place with such unseemly haste that we must be grateful that the Leader of the House—I am glad to see him in his place—did not move a similar business Motion here. I think that he showed his usual wisdom in not doing so, as I am sure your Lordships would have resisted it.

On Second Reading in the other place, the Alliance tabled an amendment which still sums up our position. While recognising the need to replace the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965, it sharply criticised the Bill for making no positive contribution to settling the current dispute; for removing the basic negotiating rights of 400,000 teachers; for taking away the direct input of local authorities into negotiations and for drastically centralising power in the hands of the Secretary of State rather than allowing for direct negotiations between teachers and employers within the context of a new system of pay comparability for the public services as a whole, such as we have proposed and shall argue for at the next election.

This is an extremely reactionary step in terms of employment legislation, thrusting, as it does, a large and extremely important group of public servants into an extraordinary limbo quite at odds with the arrangements for the police, the fire brigade, the armed forces, doctors, dentists, nurses, NHS employees or almost anyone one can think of, as my noble friend Lord Rochester reminded us.

The Nottingham package proposed a new voluntary national system, which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, referred to in some detail, for negotiating teachers' pay and conditions. It is quite clear that without some such body teachers will become the only group of public servants to have no recognised form of negotiating machinery whatsoever. It is hardly to be expected that they should accept this discrimination against them other than with bitterness that bodes ill for the future harmony of our schools. Even The Times, which supports the Baker pay structure, did not think he should be allowed to get away with this. That was in the second leading article on Friday the 10th of this month.

It is not only the Alliance and the Labour Party who have criticised the Government for the drastic centralisation contained in this Bill. It was amusing and instructive to read Mr. Digby Anderson, who is not normally a fierce critic of the Government, also writing in The Times on 6th January. He said: Mr. Baker is a socialist. Whether or not socialists are good or bad is a matter of opinion. That he is one is a matter of fact. He is not a loony-Left socialist, but then many socialists aren't—or at least have not been. He is a socialist of the old school, favouring collectivisation and centralisation of education under the political control of the state. The article goes on to suggest the Secretary of State's proposed apparatus would only be tolerable as a temporary expedient to be dismantled as soon as possible. It says: For if ever an extremist Labour Party achieves power and the nationalised framework is still in place, that advisory board will be stuffed with very different nominees. Of course that is the fatal flaw in what the Secretary of State proposes to put on to the statute book. He will have great powers but there will be no guarantee of continuity. Educational philosophies diverge, governments change, and the education system could become the victim of rival ideologies struggling for the hearts and minds of our young people and alternating twice or even thrice in a decade. The chaos of the past could become nothing when compared to the chaos of the future if this Bill is passed unamended.

This is a short Bill but it contains rather a lot of sins. The Secretary of State seeks powers to impose a settlement of the current dispute prior to the operation of his proposed advisory committee and without further reference to Parliament. This is essentially a move designed to concentrate the minds of the local authorities and the teachers' unions and to force them to accept as a non-negotiable package the proposals of the Secretary of State on pay structure and differentials. An imposed settlement is a contradiction in terms, and the Secretary of State must know in his heart that a negotiated deal would be better far and away than an imposed deal for the good reason that it would be far more likely to stick, unless he is more concerned with machismo than with peace and progress in the classrooms.

The public will be less than impressed if an imposed settlement explodes in the face of the Secretary of State, especially in an election year. He cannot necessarily count on parental support. Here are the parents of the Fleet Primary School in London writing: We have to tell you we do not believe an imposed settlement is remotely likely to deal with the shattered morale of teachers. We foresee an unbroken future of continuing chaos and increasing bitterness. That is from the parents, and not from the teachers.

There are severe doubts about the wisdom of this approach. If the Secretary of State were determined on it, it could have been embodied in an even shorter Bill which we could have discussed on its merits, or otherwise, as a temporary measure in relation to the current dispute, which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, was suggesting, while a proper national debate and consultation took place on the future structure of our education system. There is certainly room for such a debate.

At the North of England education conference at Rotherham on Friday last, Mr. Baker is reported as saying: In my view the country is entitled to an education system which not only works well but is also intelligible and shows clearly where responsibility and accountability lie. No one could disagree with him thus far. The question is how this is delivered.

It will be recalled that the first national system was set up in 1870 under a government headed by Mr. Gladstone. In 1880, attendance at schools was made compulsory and the obligation to pay fees was abolished in 1891 under a government headed by the Marquess of Salisbury. All countries in the Western world and all parties in the United Kingdom believed by that time that a public system was vital to the national economy and to the development of individuals. Our system started almost naturally as a devolved system because it brought into the fold denominational schools along with the new county schools. In 1919, the devolved mechanism was reaffirmed by Fisher and again in 1944 by the Butler Act.

Other recipes are now in the air. The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and her friends have a pet solution which they have just published which would in effect turn the schools of this country into 28,000 independent trusts, presumably all competing for public funds. It is not a solution that I would recommend. Goodness knows what would happen to the distribution of education facilities over the country. According to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, the Secretary of State is reported as wanting a system along the French lines. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, referred to an education revolution.

All these views should be and could be part of the debate. But we are not to have that debate because under cover of this Bill the Secretary of State brings in provisions which make it possible in effect to change unilaterally the whole basis upon which the public education system in this country has been founded. What we are being offered is back-door centralisation on which the Government are pre-empting any serious discussion. This is a very serious matter, and the proper course would have been for the Government to formulate their proposals and put them to the public in the next general election campaign, which cannot after all be long delayed. This is an election issue and it is quite wrong for it to be handled in this devious fashion. Many speakers have dwelt on the impropriety of the proposed advisory body and markers have been put down for Committee which I shall not repeat in any detail.

It is clear that many of your Lordships will want to introduce the affirmative procedure for orders made by the Secretary of State even with the agreement of his committee, because there is no guarantee that this committee will have acted independently or objectively. Its constitution as set out in Schedule 1 precludes it from so doing. It has been called a fig leaf and a poodle, and a creature by the noble Lord, Lord Murray. I shall settle for any of those metaphors, provided they are not mixed. I cannot see how the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, could refer in her speech to independent determination of pay and conditions of service in relation to this committee. That completely defeats me. Even the debating skill of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, did not convince me that we have here anything that can conceivably be called independent.

We will want that committee to elect its own chairman and deputy chairman. We will want to remove the power of the Secretary of State to throw off uncongenial members. We will also want to see genuine pluralism in its composition, which should include employers', unions' and parents' representatives. The Government had much enthusiasm for parents during the passage of the last Education Bill but now they are writing them out of the script. We will want to know that a salaried and thus self-interested committee is not going to cost a lot more than Burnham itself. The financial memorandum to the Bill says that salaries will be largely offset by the disbandment of the existing committees, from which it appears the poodle will cost more than the present set-up.

In introducing the Bill the noble Baroness appeared to suggest that the members may not be paid after all. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, would care to clarify that when he comes to reply. I fear that if he cannot reassure us on this point we must assume yet another extension of the Government's already large and increasing network of patronage.

The advisory committee is said to be temporary but we all know that there is nothing more permanent than temporary, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said. If it is temporary why must it continue for three years and then be renewable on a yearly basis, subject only to the negative procedure? The negative procedure for renewal of a soi-disant interim measure indefinitely? I do not believe your Lordships will swallow that. Judging from the speeches this evening, I do not believe you will. I refer to the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey and Lord Stewart, my noble friend Lord Ritchie of Dundee, the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby and the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton. I am sure that is something we will want to take very seriously when we come to the Committee stage.

I now come to the question: was any of this necessary? The 13-point list of teachers' views as embodied in the Nottingham agreement matches very closely the 19 points of the Government's package. As the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, said, it was announced on 30th October last year. There is virtual agreement in this complex area. The principle has been accepted, as the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, said. There is also agreement on appraisal and on the relatively high yearly maximum of 1,265 hours. Who would have thought when we were discussing last year's Education Bill in your Lordships' House that such progress could be made? The whole area which seemed doomed to fester in disagreement has become one of virtual consensus. Surely that is something to hold on to and not to undermine by threats such as are contained in this Bill.

It is worth noting here in passing how much more onerous these conditions are than their Continental equivalents. British overall hours—class contact and extra-curricular—are much higher than abroad. In most European countries overtime is paid for extra hours and for covering. Lunch-time supervision is not an issue in West Germany or Italy, where school finishes before lunch. In France students called surveillants are paid to do the job. British teachers have virtually agreed to assume contractually a whole area of responsibilities which either do not exist or are separately catered for among their European colleagues. This does not exactly match with the accusations of irresponsibility or lack of professionalism over here.

There are also fewer benefits such as a 13th month's pay, extra holiday allowances, sabbaticals or the right to in-service training. It is worth reflecting on what the majority of British teachers are prepared to do as compared to their Continental equivalents, where, incidentally, better teacher conditions produce better results.

As regards rewards, there has been much talk of the Houghton award, comparability and so forth; but one of the most interesting comparisons is with teachers' pay in the rest of the world. On a price-adjusted basis, a 35-year-old male teacher with about 10 years in the primary system in London comes 14th in a league table of 19 cities worldwide, with Geneva, Luxembourg and Toronto at the top of the list and Lisbon at the bottom. The London teacher makes slightly less than his Spanish counterpart in Madrid.

I make these comparisons not to condone all the actions taken by the teachers' unions but to set the whole of this long-drawn-out dispute in some kind of context. The unions, it is true, have been at sixes and sevens. This has not made negotiations any easier, as my noble friend Lady Seear said, but there are some encouraging signs. Both the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association and the National Union of Teachers ballots have delivered a positive vote for the ACAS package, and between them they represent three-quarters of the teachers. According to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, the NAS, the NAHT and the secondary heads have also said they are prepared to rethink their position.

It is important that the attachment of the AMMA and the NUT to a decent main professional grade level of pay is understood as a genuine expression of concern to attract and retain dedicated classroom teachers who do not want to become managers or bureaucrats. That position was very well expressed in an article by Peter Smith, the deputy general secretary of AMMA, putting the case for fewer differentials in the Financial Times of the 17th December last.

At the same time the Government have a point that the Nottingham package does not provide sufficient incentives for responsibilities in medium and large schools. That was a point which I think was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, and which is the concern of the Professional Association of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers, who did not endorse the Nottingham agreement. Between the Secretary of State's five managerial grades and Nottingham's two, there is still clearly room for compromise and the blood, sweat, toil and tears which have brought agreement so close, in the words of my noble friend Lord Ritchie, simply must not have been shed in vain.

The larger unions must be prepared to recognise the Secretary of State's attachment to differentials. It springs from his ideology rather than theirs, but he is in the saddle. Equally, he must recognise the deep concern of the bulk of the teachers over the main professional grade. It should not be beyond the wit of man to reach a compromise if the will is there on both sides. Possible areas of compromise would be to trim back the Nottingham overshoot of £80 million or £85 million by phased dates of implementation and to allow for an additional managerial tier. This could be done within the existing money, but if the Secretary of State wants another grade or more grades he should use his muscle with the Treasury and thus secure reasonable rewards to both chiefs and indians, in the phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander.

When you think that we are talking about a workforce of 400,000 people it would be absurd to allow an additional sum of, say £40 million to stand between a settlement and continuing bad blood and sporadic disruption in the classrooms. If the Secretary of State is determined that a macho image is more important than a fresh breeze of good will and high endeavour in the classrooms, and if he is determined that it must be he and not the traditional negotiators who will walk away with the credit for a settlement, he has his priorities wrong and he may discover this to his cost when the Government go to the country. The people of this country are not concerned about winners or losers in this dispute or about who walks off with the gold cup. What they want above all is peace and progress in our schools, and they are the people the Government should listen to.

These are the matters to which the Secretary of State should be applying his undoubted skills, and if he does so we wish him well. In the meantime we cannot welcome this Bill either as a weapon in current negotiations or as a long-term vehicle for the relationship between teachers and central government. It is a short cut to centralisation, without proper discussion. It sets up a body which will command little respect and it does not allow for proper parliamentary scrutiny. I am afraid that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London is slightly over-sanguine about parliamentary procedures in the Bill. By convention, we shall not vote against the Bill but we shall do everything we conceivably can to make it less obnoxious in Committee.

8.6 p.m.

Lord Irving of Dartford

My Lords, the Secretary of State, Mr. Kenneth Baker, has appeared on television so frequently lately expressing his concern about education that some of your Lordships may be tempted to forget how this present crisis arose in our schools. It was essentially caused by the failure of the Government to provide adequate resources to sustain the education service, and it brought about a position where parents and teachers joined in protesting about underpaid teachers, deteriorating school buildings and inadequate books for pupils.

The situation was exacerbated by Sir Keith Joseph, who refused to provide the money to make good a 30 per cent. deterioration over a perod of 10 years in the pay of teachers, which left them lower in the pay scales than any other comparable profession. At the same time Sir Keith Joseph was demanding a number of changes in conditions in a way that no industrialist would dream of doing in such circumstances.

All this caused a very serious fall in the morale of teachers. It was described by Dr. Harry Judge, the director of the School for Educational Studies at Oxford, as without precedent certainly within the working life of the older among us and arguably over the whole of the last century". Having created a degree of militancy unprecedented in the teaching profession, Sir Keith gave way to Mr. Baker, who after 18 months to two years of upheaval quickly found £600 million. The first question that parents and others ought to be asking is why this damaging dispute was allowed to carry on for so long, whereas if the money, as the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, indicated, had been available the dispute would probably have been settled a long time ago. Now, as the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has indicated, the Government are moving to the total centralisation of a service, to a national education service, for which the Government have no mandate at all. The Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill will give the Secretary of State powers over local authorities which are unprecedented and this would be the first step in the total centralisation of the service.

Through the Bill the Government intend to remove from teachers and their employers the right to negotiate on pay and conditions of service which has been enshrined in legislation since 1919 not just for this occasion but, as many of your Lordships have said, perhaps for all time. I could not help wondering when I listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, talking about the Scottish dimension, why there should be such a difference between the Government's treatment of Scottish teachers and of English and Welsh teachers. It cannot be because there is less militancy in Scotland, and so there must be some other reason which she did not explain to the House—

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, perhaps I could just say that the disruption has been going on longer in Scotland. The offer is exactly the same and it was on the table, I think I am right in saying, a year ago in October in Scotland.

Lord Irving of Dartford

My Lords, that seems to be an incitement to the teachers in England and Wales to go on much longer.

The Bill is being rushed through Parliament. If passed, it will abolish the existing machinery for settling teachers' pay by repealing the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965. It will remove the right of teachers to negotiate their pay and conditions of service. It will establish an advisory body to advise the Secretary of State on pay and conditions of service. It will give the Secretary of State powers to modify or ignore the advisory body's recommendations and impose his own settlements on pay and conditions of service. It will allow for regional, area, or school-based salary scales to be established instead of national salary scales. The mind boggles at what would happen if this were to be implemented at any time in the near future in every detail.

The Bill would give complete power to the Government, in the name of the Secretary of State, to impose any pay levels and conditions of service that they like on teachers in England and Wales and to pick the people that he wants for the advisory body. A number of noble Lords have humorously suggested who may be members of the advisory body. The point we should recognise is that nowhere in the Bill is there any indication given of what kind of people they should be or what qualifications or status they should have. The Bill tells us nothing about that.

The Secretary of State would instruct the advisory body on how much money is available for the negotiations and could overrule the advisory body's recommendations. He would make differential salary awards for different areas of the country and for teachers of different subjects. The repeal of the Act means the removal from teachers and local education authorities of the right to arbitration, leaving the Secretary of State as the only arbiter on the pay and conditions of teachers, able to modify or even ignore the advice of the advisory body that he himself had appointed.

The Bill provides no opportunities for local authority employers, teachers or even the advisory body to suggest subjects for the advisory body's consideration. The Secretary of State only would have power over that and all other matters contained in the Bill.

The Bill is arbitrary, authoritarian and antidemocratic. It shows the wilful recklessness that the Government have shown on other occasions by refusing to listen to advice. It is the same recklessness that they showed in each of the local government Bills over the past eight years which led to the calamitous situation where the Government paid out tens of millions of pounds without realising that they had no authority to do so. In our view, the Bill is contrary to the ILO conventions. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said that we should disregard our solemn agreements. If the noble Lord was not saying that, he was not saying anything that I understood.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I was not suggesting that we should not observe our solemn obligations. Obviously as a nation we always should. I was suggesting that the interpretation of those conventions must be a wide one, given the countries which have subscribed to them, and therefore it is arguable that the Bill falls within those conventions.

Lord Irving of Dartford

My Lords, I do not think that the House will readily accept that explanation. It is clear that we would be in contravention of two conventions and other agreements.

Teachers contend that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, said, the Bill is in breach of ILO Conventions 98 and 151, which have been ratified by the United Kingdom Government. Convention 98 came into force on 18th July 1951 and is entitled: Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining". Article 4 of this convention states: Measures appropriate to national conditions shall be taken, where necessary, to encourage and promote the full development and utilisation of machinery for voluntary negotiations between employers or employers' organisations and workers' organisations with a view to regulation of terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements. That article is contravened because the Bill makes it impossible to secure the regulation of teachers' pay and conditions through a process of collective bargaining, imposes a government-appointed advisory committee and leaves the Secretary of State free to determine teachers' pay and conditions as he pleases, and so on.

The noble Lord said that we should interpret the conventions as suitable. The Government did not refuse to accept the conventions when they used them in defence of their action at GCHQ. They used the exemption for that class of worker. The noble Lord is being selective, as are the Government. Having signed the undertakings, either we agree that we should abide by them or we should not have signed them in the first place.

The Bill is opposed by almost every group interested or involved in education. The Associaton of County Councils has said (the noble Lord, Lord Henley, talked about his council) in a letter sent to most Peers: This Association is opposed to the Bill on grounds of principle and practicality. It also said: The Bill proceeded through its House of Commons stages in a remarkably brief period"— he indicated the need for consultation in the weeks leading up to Christmas allowing very little time for discussion. Here there is almost another precedent: There has been no opportunity for the Education Committee of the Association to consider the proposals but a brief statement of our opposition was approved by the leaders of the four political groups on the ACC (Conservative, Labour, Alliance and Independent). All the parties, including the Conservative Party, in local government are totally opposed to what the Government are doing. The association said: The 1986 Bill on teachers' pay and other conditions of employment would lead to the centralisation of all the key decisions on the salaries and conditions of employment and their removal from the scope of negotiations between employers and employees. These, with Mr. Baker's intention to centralise decisions on the curriculum, show the Conservative Government's contempt for local democracy, or the traditional partnership in education, and for consensus of any sort", without which there can be no co-operation and, in this field, no success.

There has also been criticism from parents. The vice-president of the National Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations, Mrs. Epton, writes: Dictatorship was never a good answer to any problem. Yet that is precisely what Mr. Kenneth Baker intends to impose by the passing of this Bill. She concludes: a solution of the teachers' dispute is something we all want, but an attempt at a settlement by imposing one from above will be no settlement at all and"— as she says— merely the starting point for disruption on a scale such as we have not seen". The Bill has no friends. As has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, The Times Educational Supplement described the Bill as an, oppressive, preposterous suggestion totally unjustified by past history". Much of this affair is preposterous. We have heard the Secretary of State reflecting on standards of education and implying that somehow it is teachers who have failed. It is preposterous for a government who have underpaid and undervalued their teachers now to blame them for what the Government believe to be falling standards.

It is preposterous for a government who have failed to repair the fabric of our buildings, to the point where the HMI's report has described them as now having a deleterious effect on our children, to complain about falling standards. It is preposterous for a government who are failing to provide a book for every child, even in science subjects, to complain about falling standards in schools.

There is the paradoxical situation where publicly the Secretary of State reflects on standards but does not mention the private sector. He may say that it is not his responsibility, but if for the sake of argument we believe that certain parts of the private sector maintain high standards—like many other things the private sector is mixed, as with the curate's egg—how do they do it? It is not because of determined control by governors or by centralisation, but by paying for the best and most highly qualified teachers and by providing equipment, books and buildings which are at least adequate and in most cases more than adequate. There is a lesson in that respect that the Secretary of State should learn.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, indicated that the journal Education talked about "tyrannical powers unprecedented in peace time". We believe that the Bill has fundamental implications and consequences which go far beyond the teachers directly disadvantaged. This is why a number of the trade unions are becoming worried. It could apply to many other public servants.

We have made it clear throughout that the Labour Party is in favour of the reform of the Burnham machinery. We strongly oppose legislation which removes bargaining rights. We strongly oppose any attempt by the Secretary of State to impose a settlement either now or in the future. After two years of distruption in our schools, I hope that the House can agree that our objectives ought to be, first, an improved service for pupils; secondly, decent pay for teachers; and, above all, peace and stability in our schools. I therefore hope that even at this late stage the Secretary of State will draw back from this reactionary step. He must have credit for increasing quite dramatically the amount that was available on the table for teachers. However, he should seek either the additional money which would make it possible to bridge the gap between what the teachers are asking for and what he thinks is appropriate, or he should enter into new negotiations with the teachers to try to get some compromise settlement and also to consider joining the proposed joint national council which would give him an effective say in the negotiation of salaries.

Some papers are suggesting—I think that this is what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, was suggesting—that the Government are setting up education for electoral purposes. I believe that that would be counter productive with the parents and the public. He will be more likely to receive the thanks of all of them if he secures a settlement which will ensure peace in our schools—a peace which we so desperately need.

8.22 p.m.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, despite the catalogue of criticism which has come from the noble Lord, Lord Irving of Dartford, I am happy that he and I can agree on one issue. I believe that both the noble Lord and I would agree that we do not and must not underestimate the important task which schoolteachers have. They have the critical responsibility for the education of future generations and, in terms of the personal fulfilment of young people and the contribution that they will make to the future of the country, that is a very great responsibility indeed.

Because the teacher individually stands at the heart of the quality of the education service, the Government are prepared to plan for an extra £608 million covering this year and next for increased teachers' pay. I was grateful to the noble Lord for what he said at the end of his speech about the effort which had been made to produce this very large sum of money, which will represent an average increase of nearly 16.5 per cent. and will mean, when added to what has already been paid this year, an average increase of 25 per cent. over a period of 18 months. This is a massive increase compared with any groups in the public sector.

However, the message which I felt came very much from the speech of my noble friend Lady Cox was that the education of the nation's children is so important a responsibility that parents will expect that this very substantial pay increase has to be conditional upon a clear definition of teachers' responsibilities and upon an effective pay structure which will attract, motivate and retain teachers of high quality. For this reason the Government's proposals will enable a good Honours graduate to start at £8,500 a year. However, if he or she becomes a head of a big school then the salary being offered now would mean that the pay would be over £30,000 a year. Of course, attracting good graduates into the profession is, as many of your Lordships will know very well, not enough. They need to be kept in teaching with good prospects. It is therefore essential to have a pay structure which provides differentials which recognise and reward the good classroom teacher and those taking on additional responsibilities and will also provide flexibility for filling difficult posts, including those in shortage subjects.

Despite this, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, in his opening speech said he felt that the Secretary of State did not want to give main grade teachers a decent standard of living. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, also asked, "What about another £200 million?" The noble Lord received an answer from my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I shall not attempt to improve upon that. I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, with his enormous experience of education and of public expenditure needed an answer. However, I should like to give an answer to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. My right honourable friend's proposals would give all unpromoted teachers up to £ 12,700 a year. That is substantially more than can be earned without promotion in many other professions—for example, in the Civil Service or as a local government administrator. But, in addition, my right honourable friend wants to see an increase in incentive posts to 140,000 and these posts would be used to reward good classroom teachers so that teachers could earn another £900 or £1,800 or £2,800 without leaving the classroom. Like the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, my right honourable friend is very well seized of the importance of the highest qualities of classroom teachers.

It has been argued in recent weeks—and there were certainly echoes of that in the debate today that in making our proposals on pay structure and in bringing this Bill forward the Government are unreasonably rushing the local authorities and teachers' unions into a new situation for deciding teachers' pay and that with less haste all could be agreed. With respect, that is a proposition which does not square with the facts. Although the ACAS proposals accepted that pay and conditions should be considered together, and take an important step forward in setting out a clear definition of teachers' duties, those proposals do not provide a pay structure which would give sufficient rewards to motivate and retain well qualified staff.

Perhaps I may give one example of why I say that. Under the ACAS proposals the number of teachers benefiting from special responsibility allowances would be cut—yes, actually cut—from 105,000 to about 80,000 teachers whereas under the Government's proposals the number would increase to at least 140,000 by 1990. It is little wonder that the ACAS proposals now have the support of only two of the teachers' unions.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London spoke of the need to reach a consensus if we possibly can. However, he also spoke of the great difficulties which stand in the way. My right honourable friend has made clear that he is very ready to have further discussion with the aim of agreeing a proper structure of incentives within the £608 million on offer. Regrettably, no such agreement has at the moment been reached. At the same time it is also not the case that the Burnham negotiating committees—which in the debate this afternoon we have all agreed have to go—can in some way immediately be replaced by permanent new machinery. I say that because the existing Burnham negotiating machinery is seen by all your Lordships to suffer from very serious unresolved problems. We have a situation where the employers two years ago presented a package linking pay and duties. What happened? The National Union of Teachers simply walked out, We have a situation where the Government's position in the negotiating process through the operation of the concordat was unilaterally scrapped by the local authorities in 1985. We now have last Wednesday's Burnham meeting which I understand wished to adopt the ACAS proposals but with four out of the six teacher unions and a sizeable proportion of the local authority members dissenting.

We have a negotiating system which, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Murray, would say, has fallen into disrepair and which, I would say, is beginning to fall into disrepute. Of course, the sufferers, as the two noble Baronesses on my side of the House Lady Cox and Lady Carnegy have pointed out, have been the children. As my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter fairly said, we have a situation where something simply had to be done, and this challenge the Bill faces for the interim period by the proposal to set up an advisory committee.

For the longer term, as my noble friend Lady Hooper said in opening the debate, there are obviously various options. A range of views has been expressed about future arrangements. For instance, the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, and the noble Lords, Lord Houghton and Lord Rochester, spoke in their different ways about possibilities for review bodies, or indeed for forms of arbitration. Suggestions have been made for a permanent joint negotiating committee between employer and union representatives with a presence for the Secretary of State.

The noble Lords, Lord Murray and Lord Ritchie, referred to a letter sent on Friday from the Trades Union Congress to my right honourable friend, and the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh and Lord Hatch, referred to another letter sent today jointly by the employers and the teachers' associations to my right honourable friend. These letters have been received, but the House should not be under the illusion that they take significantly further forward the idea of a joint negotiating committee.

The ACAS agreement of January 1986 said that the parties would agree on new machinery. The suggestions so far do not differ much from the existing Burnham arrangements, other than bringing pay and conditions of service together. The proposals in both these letters acknowledged a role for the Secretary of State's representatives, a matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and indeed the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, both attached considerable importance. But the letters do not define the voting position of my right honourable friend's representatives, and this lack of any precision in the proposals arises, we know, from disagreements within the employers and between the employers and the teacher unions.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me? Would he not agree that the proposal in the letter from the teachers and the employers that the Secretary of State should have, in effect, a veto on the grounds of urgent national importance and that the sovereignty of Parliament should be sustained in respect of any agreement reached, is far more important than the detail of the voting rights on the employers' side?

Lord Belstead

My Lords, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, that does not address the position of the Secretary of State's representatives within the joint negotiating committee. It is precisely that point which has caused the trouble in the Burnham Committee. It is precisely that point which the teachers and the employers are saying they are addressing in their letter, and it is precisely that point which remains obscure at the present time, and which of course finally caused the unilateral scrapping of the Concordat in 1985 and, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, rightly said in his speech, the position in which we all find ourselves today.

Nor do these proposals, I have to say roundly to the House, so far address the issue of the conflicting interests of the six teacher unions. The proposals are full—I am sorry to say it—of unanswered questions. The employers appear willing to accept that Parliament should be given the power to override agreements covering pay or salaries structure. It is unclear from the letters whether the teacher unions endorse the need for such override provisions.

The noble Lord, Lord Murray of Epping Forest, asked that, whatever views one might have, my right honourable friend should respond. The noble Lord was speaking in that context of the Trades Union Congress letter. But, of course, we are talking about both letters. My right honourable friend will consider most carefully the proposals made in these two letters. However, I have to say that, on the basis of the vague proposals containing the idea of joint negotiating machinery, there is no guarantee that the pay determination process for school teachers would operate effectively without persistent disputes and disruption.

Of course, in saying that, it is the Government's hope that it is going to be possible to arrive in due course at new permanent arrangements which will be stable and effective. But, for the interim, the Bill sets out temporary arrangements designed to last until March 1990 and which can only be extended by order of the Secretary of State for one year at a time. Therefore, the Government are not asking the House to agree to a new procedure for teachers' pay for decades ahead and are certainly not riding roughshod over local authorities and teachers.

Under Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill, there will be no shortage of consultation during the interim period. The relevant local authority associations and teacher unions will have every opportuntity to make their views known either separately or together, first, to the advisory committee, and then to my right honourable friend, for there will be a two-stage consultation process.

My noble friend in opening the debate indicated the Government's intention to amend the Bill to provide for appropriate consultation with voluntary school interests. It is not the case, with respect to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, who I think was in error on this, that the churches would appoint members of the advisory committee. We were not saying that. I think that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, in welcoming what my noble friend said, was not thinking that the Government were saying that. May I just say to the right reverend Prelate that I was most grateful for the welcome he gave to what my noble friend said at the beginning of the debate.

Then, when the moment comes when an order is finally made changing teachers' pay and conditions, the order has to be laid before both Houses of Parliament, a form of parliamentary control which does not even form part of the existing arrangements under the 1965 Act.

As to the central feature of the Bill, namely the interim advisory committee, which has occupied so much of our time this afternoon, my right honourable friend will appoint independent-minded members. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, said that he felt that there was an irony in this, which I think was a polite way of saying that he looked at it with some suspicion. But I ask the noble Lord, who is habitually fair-minded, to consider that the Secretary of State appoints members to bodies such as the University Grants Committee which, for instance, performs a controversial task without evidence of political bias.

I think we would not achieve a truly independent committee, such as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, wishes to see, if we were to appoint nominees or representatives of groups with a direct interest in the committee's recommendations, which was what the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, recommended in his speech. In particular, a system of nominated members might lead to the use of mandation and recall, which would be quite contrary to the principle of an independent committee.

What the Bill does here however is to provide with critical checks and balances in the interim period the Secretary of State once again with an important role. The Secretary of State will be able to give guidance to the advisory committee. In particular the interim committee will need to pay careful attention to affordability, and it could well aid realism in its recommendations if the committee is given guidance about financial constraints. This recognises after all the important role for government which has always been held to be necessary until the concordat was scrapped in 1985.

Certainly, it is the case that under the Bill my right honourable friend will make the orders for changes in pay and conditions of teachers just like the Secretary of State for Education does at the present time. Why does he do it? It is for the reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton. It reflects the ultimate duty of my right honourable friend under the Education Act 1944 to achieve a varied and comprehensive education service. But the existence of the advisory committee, the requirements for consultation and the power of Parliament to overturn an order, will provide important constraints on the Secretary of State.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London asked why it was necessary to have a power for the Secretary of State to impose a settlement without a report from the advisory committee up to October 1987. Teachers will not want further delay in the payment of an increase backdated to January 1987. They will want the money in their pockets and I think very reasonably.

It would inevitably take some months to set up an advisory committee and for the committee to find its feet and take evidence. We think that that would provide an unacceptable delay for teachers and so the Bill has the provision that the Secretary of State may make orders coming into force, provided it is before 1st October 1987 only, without a report of the advisory committee but after due consultation with the local authorities and the teachers' unions.

The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, queried the provisions for regional and other differences in pay. As he said, London weighting has been paid for many years. The provisions of Clause 2 (4) will allow it to continue to be paid. The noble Lord asked what other cases the Government had in mind. The principal case is teachers in special schools, who are now paid more than teachers in ordinary schools, as he very well knows. It is surely right to permit that to continue. The Government have no radical proposals for regional or other pay differentiation, though this is an issue which might in due course be considered by the advisory committee.

My noble friend Lord Beloff asked about the arrangements to ensure that the Association of Polytechnic Teachers should be included in future negotiations for further education teachers and wondered whether something along those lines could be done. The Bill provides that pay and conditions for FE teachers should be determined in future by arrangements agreed between the teachers and their employers. If they should decide to set up national arrangements which might be an extension of the existing National Joint Council for Further Education Teachers, it will be important to know that all unions representing significant numbers of FE teachers should be able to play a part. The simplest way for that to happen would be for local authorities and the teacher unions to decide accordingly. But I say to my noble friend that the Government will consider whether any steps might be taken to assist the position of the minority unions at present in membership of Burnham FE.

The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, spoke about conditions of employment and raised various issues about what an order might cover on such conditions. The Secretary of State has expressed on a number of occasions his view that the clear definition of a teacher's job within the ACAS document constitutes useful progress. The immediate need is for a clear statement of teachers' duties and days and hours of work. My right honourable friend has said that the Government would be willing to accept the figures of 195 days and 1,265 hours per year during whch teachers would be available for work at the direction of the head.

Beyond that there are a number of issues which will have to be resolved, including some complex ones about the ways in which teachers' time should be deployed in schools. My right honourable friend has said he intends to consult local authorities and teachers unions about these matters, which must be accommodated within expenditure plans for education already announced. Some of these will have to be resolved between employers and unions, some on a local basis and some might be considered by the advisory' committee.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, put several constitutional points to which he may wish to return at Committee stage, but there is one particular one to which I should reply. It is his query about Clause 3(3) where there is a reference to an order for pay and conditions being contained in a document. This is simply taken from the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965. The arrangements under that Act in this respect have proved convenient. The provisions relating to teachers' pay have tended to be bulky. It is convenient for local education authorities to have a standard document which can be updated from time to time through an order and when amendments have accumulated a new edition of the document can be produced. There is no innovation, if your Lordships' House agrees with it, in this procedure.

Then there is the rather more difficult point of the ILO conventions. I have to say at this stage when we are speaking generally that the Government do not accept that the Bill breaches any international conventions. The teacher unions and the local authorities will be consulted, as your Lordships know. Teachers and local authorities are free to set up joint national machinery. The new arrangements are interim. We believe that these arrangements are reasonable and do not contravene our obligations.

I was particularly pleased that my noble friend Lord Henley, in his capacity as a comparatively new county councillor, came to the House today to give support to the Bill. He asked me a particular question; that was how the consultation would work out in practice. The advisory committee and my right honourable friend will expect in the first place to consult the Association of County Councils and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities as representing the local authorities, but it would be open to any local authority to make its own representations. I am confident that the advisory committee and my right honourable friend will take full account of such representations, but if they were minded to ignore representations then they could be called to account in court under the normal principles of administrative law. On the union side those unions in membership of Burnham would certainly be consulted by the advisory committee and by my right honourable friend.

I was also particularly glad that my noble friend Lady Carnegy came to the House to make the point that the position in Scotland is relevant to our debate. This is a very fair point. The situation in Scotland now looks more promising than in the recent past. The executive of the largest Scottish teachers' union has recommended acceptance of a package on pay and conditions. It will ballot and if a satisfactory pay structure can be achieved in Scotland after the ballot that will be a major gain for children and teachers in Scotland which I hope we shall be able to follow this side of the Border.

The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, questioned the propriety of the statement made by my noble friend Lady Hooper at the beginning of the debate that members of the advisory committee could be paid. The Bill only enables members of the advisory committee to be paid. No decisions have yet been taken about whether any remuneration will be given to the chairman or members. It is worth noting that an honorarium is paid to the chairman of Burnham but the chairman of the UGC is paid. But there is no criticism of political patronage in either of those appointments.

I was interested that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, said that in his view my right honourable friend has a duty to introduce this Bill before your Lordships' House. I was also interested that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said that he could not avoid the conclusion that an initiative by central government is necessary. On behalf of the Government, who are faced with this very difficult situation, I must say that we have to have a resolution of the endless disruptions concerning teachers' pay. We must reach a conclusion which is fair to teachers, parents, taxpayers, ratepayers and children.

That is why the Government have put firm proposals for a pay settlement for teachers which will provide them with significantly increased salaries and more incentive posts in return for an improved education service. That is why the Government have brought forward this Bill so that pay and conditions can be settled fairly and efficiently. I believe both these actions demonstrate the crucial importance which the Government attach to the education of the nation's children and I therefore ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.