§ 3.1 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Belstead.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Termination of existing arrangements]:
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 9, after ("until") insert ("the Secretary of State has satisfied himself that arrangements have been made in accordance with section (Collective agreements on remuneration etc.) and Schedule (Provisions relating to arrangements recognised under Section (Collective agreements on remuneration etc.) of this Act for the establishment of a National Joint Council for the negotiation of school teachers' remuneration and other conditions of employment) and").
§ The noble Lord said: Without any desire whatsoever to go over the more general points made at Second Reading, in moving this amendment it is necessary to refer briefly to recent past history of the negotiations and to explain why we are moving this series of amendments to establish a national joint council for the settlement of teachers' pay and conditions. In moving this amendment I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 3, 27, 53, 63, 65 and 73.
§ A great deal of the Second Reading debate was taken up with consideration of the recent past history of teachers' pay negotiations. Several noble Lords not only from the Opposition Benches recognised that substantial progress had been made in recent months towards a satisfactory agreement on teachers' pay and conditions.
§ First of all, the ACAS deliberations over the period between May and December, and then finally the Burnham meeting on 17th January, made a number of advances on the situation in which we found ourselves earlier in 1986. Perhaps most important, as a result of the ACAS agreement there is now virtually complete agreement on the conditions of service for teachers, not only between the teachers and their employers but 1122 also between teachers and employers together, and of the conditions which were set down by the Secretary of State in the course of the year.
§ Secondly, there has been agreement, though perhaps not complete agreement yet, which is why these amendments are necessary, as to the nature of the new negotiating machinery which will undoubtedly be necessary to replace the Burnham machinery. There has been no dissent from any part of the Committee (nor indeed in another place) that the Burnam machinery has outlived its usefulness and needs to be replaced. Thirdly, there has finally been substantial agreement by a majority vote which was accepted democratically by those who did not vote for it, on nearly all the issues on the structure of teachers' pay.
§ Finally, there has been agreement about the budget within which the teachers' pay and conditions agreement ought to be finally determined. Such an agreement can be subject only to the Secretary of State and therefore finally the agreement was in the form of a private letter from the chairman of the Burnham Committee to the Secretary of State, rather than a formal decision.
§ It is true that the cost of the final agreement voted on by a majority on both sides is beyond that which the Secretary of State wished to provide. Both the teachers and the employers have indicated that there is scope for further negotiation, particularly on the timing of the introduction of the conditions. They have invited the Secretary of State to indicate under what conditions those further negotiations could take place so that the legitimate demands of the Secretary of State that teachers' pay and conditions should be agreed within a budget can be met.
§ So why are we now introducing the machinery for a national joint council? The first negative reason is that the Bill proposes not just one set but two sets of interim arrangements in place of the arrangements which we already have. First of all, there are the interim arrangements which are proposed for the period between now and later this year, the period before the establishment of an advisory committee in which the Secretary of State has dictatorial powers over the settlement of teachers' pay and conditions. Then there is the period between October 1987 and 1990, with the possibility of renewal, in which we have a further series of interim arrangements which are only less objectionable than complete dictation by the Secretary of State in that they provide for an advisory committee to help the Secretary of State reach his conclusion on teachers' pay and conditions.
§ The negative position must be that what the Government are proposing is insecure and a recipe for continuing uncertainty. There are positive advantages in the amendments which we are putting forward, which go a very long way to meeting the legitimate requirements of the Secretary of State, as well as the democratic rights of teachers and employers.
§ First, the proposals link together the determination of pay with conditions of service. It has been said from the Government Benches that this is the overriding reason for the introduction of this legislation. I should like to remind the Committee that previous Secretaries of State for Education and Science in this 1123 Government have not always been so clear on this matter. Mr. Mark Carlisle, when he was Secretary of State, certainly indicated an intention to abolish the Burnham machinery. But Sir Keith Joseph threw aside any of the plans which existed to replace the Burnham machinery. It is only the present Secretary of State who has returned to the previous position that the Burnham machinery must be replaced.
§ Secondly, our amendments, in particular Amendment No. 73, actually spell out the membership of the national joint committee, and the role of the Secretary of State both in membership and, perhaps more important, in voting power. In other words, they revive the concordat which was abrogated in 1985 and they meet the legitimate demands of the Secretary of State in that respect as well.
§ It is not said that such memberhsip of a national joint council is ideal. It reflects the membership of the existing Burnham Committee, which, as Ministers have rightly said, could be accused of being unwieldy. But our amendment provides that there should be an opportunity for revision of memberhsip of the national joint council after 1st September this year, by agreement of all those concerned. What it does not do is abrogate democracy in order that further negotiations on membership should take place. It continues democratic negotiations and proper negotiating rights for teachers and employers and makes provision for their improvement as and when teachers and employers can get their act together.
§ Another advantage of the amendment is that it provides membership for the representatives of the Churches; in other words, of the voluntary schools. In that respect I suggest it is preferable to the Government's alternative, which is simply that the representatives of the Churches should be consulted by the Secretary of State's advisory committee. The fundamental point here is that the Secretary of State has constantly said, as he did in another place only last Tuesday, that it is essential that any counter-proposals to his proposals should spell out the membership of the national joint council and the role of the Secretary of State. This is what our amendments do.
§ May I say a little more about the role of the Secretary of State. We go a good deal further than simply making the Secretary of State's representatives members of the joint committee. We give them, by statute in a proposed new schedule, an enhanced vote of 15 votes on the employers' side, which ensures that if they can reach agreement with only one side of the political spectrum on the employers' side they can almost certainly outvote the other side. The Secretary of State's position therefore is not purely token. It is real.
§ It reflects justified interest in that the Secretary of State is responsible for 45 per cent. of the payroll for teachers.
§ There is a fourth point. The Secretary of State has, in our proposals, a further veto. He has the opportunity to say that if national economic circumstances demand it, the agreement reached by the national joint council shall not take effect. He has the right to appeal to the sovereign Parliament to make sure that national economic interests are jointly 1124 secured, on the proposal of the Secretary of State, by both Houses of Parliament.
§ Lord Renton
I wonder whether the noble Lord would be kind enough to explain something before he moves on? His amendments have not been on the Marshalled List long enough for us to get to know about them and their intention. In Amendment No. 73, which I take it the noble Lord is discussing at the moment, it is said in paragraph 1(1) that the Secretary of State shall have two representatives. Paragraph 1(2) says that,the representatives of the Secretary of State shall be entitled to cast 15 votes in the negotiations".Does that mean 15 votes spread right across all the negotiations and that when those 15 votes have been expressed there shall be no more votes by the representatives of the Secretary of State? Or does it mean that on each occasions these two people—only two people—shall cast 15 votes between the two of them? Or are they each to have 15 votes? The trouble is that owing to the uncertainty, so many possibilities are opened up. We should know which of them the noble Lord has in mind.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The noble Lord has genuinely found a possibility of misinterpretation that I had not thought of. The procedures of such national joint councils are normally left to the members of the joint council to determine. However, I felt that it was not fair to the Committee to assume that this should always be the case. Therefore, in paragraph 3 of the amendment, we have spelt out the provision which normally exists in joint councils:No resolution shall be recognised as carried by the Council unless it has been approved by a majority of the representatives of each side".In statute we have the concept of the employers' side and the teachers' side in these negotiations.
We come to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, raises. My answer is that the representatives of the Secretary of State shall have 15 votes in any vote that takes place, and they shall have that vote as members of the employers' side.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The words,The representatives of the Secretary of Statemean the two of them combined. I believe that that point is clear from the wording, but I am grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention which has enabled me to make that additional point clear.
May I return to the question of the veto in terms of national economic circumstances. It leads on to the final point which is that these arrangements recognise, with references to the affirmative resolution, the sovereignty of Parliament. That will be of the most fundamental concern to the Committee.
We are not only contrasting arrangements which we have had to put together, on a basis of limited resources, with the abrogation of negotiating rights which have already been considered. We are 1125 specifically replacing them with a machinery which leads up to, and includes, affirmative resolutions of both Houses of Parliament. These arrangements, although possibly defective in wording, are enormously more democratic, enormously more effective, and much less likely to lead to continuing uncertainty and unrest than the Government's proposals.
I make one last point to noble Lords on the Liberal and SDP Benches. I do not know their intentions with regard to this series of amendments, I should however like to point out that their colleagues in another place voted for a re-formed national joint council. I hope that they would feel that this is the alternative to the Government's proposals which not only most effectively replaces the dictation of the Secretary of State imposed in these measures, but also replaces it with genuine negotiating rights and builds most effectively on the advances that have been made in teachers' pay and negotiations. I beg to move.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
I served on the Burnham Committee for 30 years. Let me say at once that I agree that the stage has been reached where it should be abolished. I say this with some sadness. The essential reason is, I believe, that over the last 13 years, party politics have destroyed the Burnham Committee and are now threatening to damage seriously the education service.
May I remind the Committee of what happened between 1945 and 1970. I served together with Ministers and Secretaries of State of both major political parties, and no issue of party politics came into these discussions. The 1944 Education Act was made a reality in those 25 years. Ellen Wilkinson saved the Act when the age was raised to 15. George Tomlinson laid the foundations of the building programme. David Eccles made a reality of secondary education for all children.
Edward Boyle tried to resolve the beginning of the party-political dispute which started with the Conservatives, strangely enough, in Scarborough when they passed a resolution committing the party to the tripartite system in the organisation of secondary education, and inevitably the Labour Party promptly passed a resolution in favour of the comprehensive system. Edward Boyle tried to resolve that by saying that this was a matter for each local education authority to determine. Unfortunately that did not solve it, and we were in real trouble. But no solution to this problem, which leaves bitter dissatisfaction with teachers and local authorities, will lead to peace. We must find a solution which has a large measure of common consent.
I believe that the series of amendments that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has introduced is probably the best hope of finding a solution which will lead to peace and avoid further friction. There can be no reasonable doubt in my judgment that a machinery to be set up must not rest on the dictatorship of the Secretary of State. That will never be accepted either by the teaching profession or by the local authorities. It must rest on negotiating rights remaining.
However, this concession to the Secretary of State must be made—that in the ultimate he has a right, with the approval of Parliament, to say that the nation 1126 cannot afford this solution. That obtained during the whole of the period I served on the Burnham Committee. We reached agreement, but if the Secretary of State found that the nation could not afford what was proposed he had the right to go to Parliament and say, "This is not on".
That happened when David Eccles was Secretary of State. I and my colleagues offered the teachers £47 million, which at that time was a lot of money. The teachers, in my judgment rather foolishly, rejected it. David Eccles told us that the most we could afford was £42 million and fortunately the teachers had enough sense to accept £42 million.
This series of amendments would still leave the Secretary of State with that power. This is surely the vital element if Parliament is to be the ultimate authority. It could lead also—and this is what is vital—to an agreement with the teachers and the local authorities and to the feeling that their rights had been reasonably protected.
The two representatives we had when I served on Burnham played an important part in any matter with their 15 votes. The Secretary of State, through his representatives, thereby had a reasonable say in all the arrangements that were being made, as well as the ultimate power on the economic issue.
I plead with the Government to consider very carefully whether a solution along these lines is not much more likely to lead to a satisfactory settlement, to peace and to the chance of the education service returning to the state it was some 13 years ago, rather than pressing this Bill through, which in my opinion will lead to continued disruption in the schools for an indefinite period of time.
§ Baroness Cox
The amendment moved so plausibly by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, is still a form of reincarnation of Burnham, albeit with certain significant modifications. If politics is the art of the possible, it must be essentially pragmatic although also principled. On pragmatic criteria, we cannot countenance any serious consideration of an imminent return to the type of negotiating machinery which has proved so disastrous for over two years.
In spite of the reassuring words of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, the teachers' unions are still in disarray. They still cannot agree among themselves on a number of key issues, and only two weeks ago members of the Inner London Teachers' Association were out on strike yet again. As a nation we cannot continue to condone or to endure continuing educational malaise and disruption in our schools.
That is why the Bill before us, which I think everyone recognises is a crisis measure, is both pragmatic and principled on its own terms. It can allow the representation of educational expertise and interests. But most important it is an interim measure. Its purpose is to give a breathing space; to allow truly satisfactory long-term solutions to be devised and agreed.
One of the most worrying aspects of so much of the material that has been circulated about the Bill, and particularly perhaps that which has been disseminated by the largest of the teachers' unions, the National Union of Teachers, is that it fails to remind people of 1127 the interim nature of this Bill. In that it has often led to unwarranted alarm and hostility, particularly among teachers.
There is also the question of timescale. If we consider what the national joint council proposed in the amendments before us to be the most worrying aspect, if I understand Amendment No. 73, changes in membership could be achieved only if they were agreed by all parties concerned. Given past track records, particularly the intransigence of the National Union of Teachers in fiercely opposing the inclusion of the Professional Association of Teachers, the membership of that national joint council may as well be written on tablets of stone if change is to depend on the agreement of all concerned.
Therefore I urge most strongly that it would be wrong to rush into the proposal before us in this amendment. I reiterate that the Bill, with the emphasis on its interim nature, is absolutely acceptable both in principle and in practice. I hope very much that the Committee will resist this amendment which will destroy the very essence and nature of the Bill before us.
§ Lord Parry
It is necessary for me to declare a personal connection with the National Union of Teachers which goes back for more than 34 years. I am still a member of that organisation and I still believe it to represent the great body of professionally trained teachers in the primary schools of this country. Its contribution to education in Great Britain has been enormous and should not be detracted from despite the fact that there are difficulties in the education service. Both sides of the Committee need to get the matter into proper proportion.
I was deeply grateful for the words of wisdom from the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, with which he led the Committee. I should not want to do anything to detract from the common purpose that he is seeking to establish on the amendment. I heard him make contributions from the employers' side. I remember Sir Ronald Gould making contributions from the side of the National Union of Teachers, and I was conscious that there was a great need for the various unions in the teaching profession to present that consensus of approach.
For us to get into a black paper situation in relation to the education service, concentrating perhaps almost entirely again on the city of London and the great difficulties facing education here, would be quite wrong. In the amendment we are seeking to put forward something which could indeed win the support of all those people who see it as essential to maintain proper control by the Secretary of State through Parliament of the education system and at the same time break the log jam of difficulty that is building up.
I read today in a Welsh newspaper an article which is wholly positive until its final chapter. I shall not read a Second Reading speech into this debate on the amendment. But that wholly positive article on the creation of the technology we need and the development of courses within schools to provide the 1128 things that I have heard Members opposite appeal for at the end says this:If parents wonder why industrial action is surfacing again in schools, they need to understand that teachers are experiencing deep frustrations"—he goes on to make a political point—when faced with a Government who expects reform and advance in education, but who will not put up the money".This is really in the end a question of the financing of the education service and what this country can afford to do. This experienced teacher, and I quote the name of Dr. John Herbert, says:But it is all pie in the sky anyway. Teachers are so badly paid that adequate numbers of recruits are not coming forward to teach CDT [design and technology]. Just like physicists, mathematicians, chemists, linguists and other high-flying university graduates, suitable teachers of CDT are very rare and even when they do come forward, they are never paid what they are worth".I would say that I believe everyone in this Committee who cares about British education, realising that we have been in a stagnant, divisive stalemated situation in education in this country for far too long, should find a way of putting into this Bill a clause that will be acceptable to us all. It may be that this clause we have put forward needs detailed care, but I think it needs to be approved. I make this particular appeal to those with radical sentiments, people who believe that our education service needs at this time to be given confidence to continue the work, much of which has been bedevilled by dispute: please support the amendment and let us take the argument back to the teachers and to the country in the way that probably the Minister wishes it to go.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
The debate has moved somewhat from the debate that we had on Second Reading, and I was certainly very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, say frankly that Burnham must go, and equally conditions. I understood the noble Lord to say that, but of course he can deny it if he wishes.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I have no intention of denying it but I want just to point out that I said on Second Reading that Burnham should go.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I am delighted to have that further emphasis, but I do not understand why it was necessary for the noble Lord to intervene. We have also had from him—I do not know whether he wishes to intervene again—an acceptance that pay and conditions of service should be negotiated together. We have therefore got a considerable measure of agreement and the atmosphere in that respect this afternoon, as I see it, is a little less contentious than it was on Second Reading.
I suppose all of us would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, that what we want to secure in the education service is peace. We certainly do not want to buy peace by unlimited concession to excessive demands but we certainly want to see an end to the disruption in schools which has not only done a great deal of damage to the children—a point on which some of us feel very strongly—but has also greatly damaged in the eyes of the public the reputation of the teachers as a profession.
1129 We certainly do not want that to continue; so it is now suggested that there should be this large and, I suggest, somewhat unwieldy body put in the place of Burnham. It is suggested that the Secretary of State should have only two representatives, though those representatives should have 15 votes. But is that kind of body likely to produce a generally acceptable solution to these problems affecting the profession? I very much doubt it. All our experience in recent years has been that in the last throes of Burnham excessive demands were made and, more important than excessive demands, wrongly balanced demands. The more progressive proposals of the Secretary of State in respect of the better teachers and in respect of provision for head teachers have been ignored and simply voted down by the large majority, wielded particularly by the National Union of Teachers on behalf of the ordinary teacher.
I see nothing in this amendment that would bring an end to that. Indeed, if Members of the Committee look at the figures in the proposed council they will see that the voting strength lies overwhelmingly with the National Union of Teachers and the other bodies, and hardly at all with those representing the higher grades of teachers.
I have had a letter from the secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, bearing on the present Burnham arrangement, which seems to me wholly relevant also to the scheme proposed in this amendment. With permission, I will read it. It says:I have to point out, however, that under the existing Burnham machinery, and indeed under the provisions of the ACAS Agreement, our members would not have the right to negotiate directly with their employers. Their interests would be subordinated to those of the majority of the profession because the unions representing that majority would always be able to use their voting power in the interests of that majority. Such a situation is becoming increasingly ludicrous, not least in the context of the provisions of the ACAS Agreement and indeed your own package.I should explain that this letter was addressed originally to the Secretary of State. It continues:I say this because in both instances … Heads and Deputies are on totally separated single point salaries. Heads and Deputies would have vastly different contracts and responsibilities. Heads and Deputies will have to carry the burden of the new national appraisal system.Nothing in this new system would get rid of that difficulty. I am sure the Committee will realise that although the head teachers are a very small minority in the teaching profession they are a minority of crucial importance. I think it was said on Second Reading that a good head teacher makes a good school and a bad head teacher inevitably makes a bad school. They are of crucial importance, and this amendment does not resolve that problem.
Also, I suggest to the Committee that it is not going to produce peace. If we have a body constituted as proposed in this amendment it would almost certainly continue to put forward proposals which will be financially unacceptable to the Secretary of State, or indeed to any Secretary of State. The Secretary of State, after all, has the responsibility on behalf of the taxpayer of providing very nearly half the money required for these salaries; he has a position of real importance in the matter.
What is proposed is this. If he finds his 15 votes voted down, as of course they would be, on any 1130 proposals with very large increases for the ordinary run of teachers he can redeem the position, as I understand it, only by taking an affirmative resolution through both Houses of Parliament. Constitutionally of course the Secretary of State could do that, but what the Committee, particularly those noble Lords who are asking for peace in our schools, would have to work out in their own minds is what that would mean. You would have an agreement, probably for many teachers a very attractive agreement, approved in this body—a body which is itself, if this amendment is carried, constituted by Parliament. No doubt you would have general support among the teachers for it and then the Secretary of State, if the amounts are excessive (as they very likely would be) has to come to Parliament and take an affirmative resolution through both Houses.
Can the Committee contemplate the reaction in the teaching profession and in the schools if teachers offered quite substantial increases, as teachers now have been, are still disrupting the system in our schools, are still inflicting damage on the children in their care? What would be their reaction to having the prize dashed from their lips by the Secretary of State at the ultimate stage, using the Government's majority in both Houses of Parliament, if they have one, to vote down what has been otherwise agreed after long discussion?
I doubt whether it is possible to find a situation or system more calculated to maintain confusion, ill-will and ill-feeling in our schools. It is surely much better, as proposed by the Bill, to have the matter settled reasonably and quietly after full discussion, after consideration by a distinguished advisory committee, than to have the whole thing built up again, as it has been, and then stopped at the last stage because the Secretary of State is unable, as he probably would be, to accept the financial consequences and so is forced at the last minute to deprive the teachers of what they were expecting to get.
The Committee may have worked out what would happen. We would then be back to square one and the whole negotiation and discussion would have to be resumed. During that long period the teachers would be getting no increase at all. Can the Committee consider anything more calculated to cause the disruption which we all want to see stopped? Although no doubt as always the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, is well-intentioned, I suggest it would be quite disastrous in effect.
§ Lord Rochester
At Second Reading I acknowledged that those of us who were critical of the Government's approach under this Bill must be prepared to say what alternative suggestions we had to offer. As I saw it, there were three possibilities. One was to establish an independent pay review body such as those now available to doctors, nurses and to other people. The second was to establish a national joint council composed of representatives of government, local authorities, the teachers' organisations and people representing the interests of voluntary schools. Therefore, in response to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, I recognised that as a practical possibility at Second Reading. The third possibility which I then mentioned was a development of the second one; namely, to provide that a dispute should be referred to 1131 arbitration for settlement when, as in the current case, no agreement could be reached which was acceptable to all parties.
In the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, has just moved he has opted for the national joint council approach. I of course respect that view. During the past two weeks my noble friends and I have given further earnest consideration to this whole question, and Amendments Nos. 2 and 4 which I shall be moving later outline the solution which we have come to favour. I recognise at once that this is not the time for me to explain those amendments in detail but I feel that I must say now briefly why Amendment No. 1 is in my view inferior to them.
Taken together with other amendments which have been tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and his noble friends, it does not appear to me to deal adequately with the urgent need to settle the current dispute. As I acknowledged at Second Reading, the Secretary of State is now faced with a negotiating procedure which has clearly broken down and the threat of further disruption in our schools. In my view, the proposals made in these amendments for establishing a joint negotiating council retain too many features of the discredited Burnham arrangements either to help solve the present intractable dispute or in future to be workable on their own. In particular, they do not appear to be capable of eliminating the basic divisions between the teachers' unions and to reconcile the conflicting interests that those unions have to serve.
In our amendments we shall be seeking to do no more at this stage than set out the general principles under which, in our view, the pay and conditions of teachers should in future be determined. But in the context of these amendments which we are now discussing and in contrast to them, I think I should say at this point that when I come later to amplify the provisions of the new clause which we wish to see inserted in the Bill after Clause 1 I shall be endeavouring to show how under our proposals teachers' organisations on the one hand and employers on the other would be encouraged, first, to act in each case as single units and then to be drawn together in the negotiating process.
It would be inappropriate, I think, for me to say more than that at this stage, but I hope that I have said enough to indicate why the procedure that I shall be advocating later is to be preferred to the arrangements set out in this amendment.
§ Lord Beloff
Debates on the first amendment in Committee stage always begin with an assertion that we are not going to have the Secnd Reading again and that is proved demonstrably false before proceedings have gone on for very long.
This Bill is in the first instance, as has been pointed out by other noble Lords, to provide an emergency solution, an interim solution to a situation which it is generally agreed is untenable. In spite of the reassuring words of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, it is a fact that the teaching unions are still very far apart. The letters which have been circulated by or on behalf of the National Union of Teachers would give one to understand that agreement is round the corner but 1132 there seems to be no hard evidence which could convince one of that.
The revising function of this Chamber in the Committee stage ought surely to be directed towards these interim arrangements. Are they good ones? Are they bad ones? Could they be improved? Instead of that, what both the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh and Lord Rochester, have done is suggest procedures which might or might not in the fullness of time prove to be appropriate as permanent machinery for settling this question.
Looking at the amendment in front of us and the associated amendments, it is quite clear that there are changes, perhaps for the better, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, would have it, but the proposed new committee is in fact only Burnham again. Why one should expect or believe that not merely the machinery but the very same individuals who have been occupied in finding a solution and failing to find one should suddenly be transformed in the light of these minor changes has not been pointed out by anyone who has so far spoken.
In a few years' time when this Act comes to its terminal date—we are dealing with a restricted number of years as was pointed out on Second Reading—there will have been time for changes. There may have been time for changes in personnel in the unions which make them more susceptible to seeing the good points in each other's point of view. There may have been changes on the employers' side. There may even have been changes in government. In other words, there will be an opportunity for a fresh start.
Whether that fresh start takes the form of a negotiating council, or whether it takes the form of the Alliance proposals, which we are to hear, is perhaps something that we can wait to deal with. Surely, our business now is to restrict ourselves to the immediate purpose of the Bill. We should be dealing with the immediate situation now and over the next few years. We should not be tempted along the very interesting speculative path of what an ultimate permanent arrangement might well turn out to be.
§ Lord Glenamara
I should like to say a few words in support of my noble friend Lord McIntosh and the noble Lord, Lord Alexander. And may I say that no one in either House of Parliament has had as much experience of Burnham as the noble Lord, Lord Alexander. For the whole of my adult life, I have been associated with teachers in schools and colleges. I have never known a time in those 50 years when morale in education in Britain has been lower than it is today. To say that morale is low is putting it too mildly. There is despair in almost every educational institution.
One can only come to the conclusion that this state of affairs has been deliberately induced by the Government. Scarcely a week has gone by since they came into office without an attack on the teachers. We are told constantly about bad teachers—the noble Lord. Lord Boyd-Carpenter, used the words "bad teachers"—and bad schools. We are constantly hearing about what a bad lot the teachers are and how low standards are. The whole country is beginning to believe this. It is getting into the bloodstream of the education system, and the Government themselves are to blame for that.
1133 Of course, it has been done with other groups. The Government have never ceased to attack the trade unions. They have never ceased to attack local authorities or, at any rate, Labour ones. The BBC is the latest victim. Even the Church of England is attacked when it dares to disagree. The Government have completely destroyed the broad consensus that used to exist in this country.
If it had been possible for, say, the late Lord Attlee, to meet with the noble Lords, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx and Lord Home, and Mr. Edward Heath, I believe that there would have been a great deal more on which they could agree than disagree. For there used to be broad consensus on the basic way in which the country should be run and about our national priorities. But this Government have completely destroyed that consensus not only in education but in other parts of our national life as well.
I believe that my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham and I—and maybe the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor—are probably the only Members of your Lordships' House who have seen teachers' pay negotiations from both ends. My noble friend Lord Stewart and I were teachers—I do not think that the Lord Chancellor was—and we were eventually Secretaries of State for Education and Science. I can tell your Lordships that every Secretary of State, every Minister of Education, has problems over teachers' pay. It is one of the difficulties. But until the present Government came along, we got out of those difficulties. We solved them within the ambit of the Burnham machinery.
I disagree with my noble friend and with the noble Lord, Lord Alexander. I am sorry to see the Burnham machinery going. It is only under this Government that it has fallen apart, because this Government would not allow it to succeed. We all succeeded previously. Previous Tory Secretaries of State succeeded. Edward Boyle got into tremendous difficulties but he got out of them.
Hitler had a very good technique. When he could not get his own way he did not just ignore the rules. He abolished the rules. And that is precisely what this Government are doing. They have been unable to get their own way in Burnham; so they are abolishing Burnham. It is as simple as that. What an appalling thing to do! We used to hear about an elected dictatorship. What about that for an elected dictatorship? They cannot get their own way through the rules. So they are abolishing the rules. That is precisely what is happening. I do not know what the solution is. I am sure however that the solution which the Secretary of State has put forward in this Bill is not the right one.
I invite the Committee to consider the matter. The Government are removing from the teachers of this country, from this great body of workers, the right to have a say in negotiations on their pay. They will have no negotiating machinery. They will be almost the only body in the country without that. Instead there will be an advisory committee, not elected by the teachers or the local authority associations but appointed by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State can appoint a body of nine people who will produce exactly the kind of report he wants. I would 1134 not trust this proposal as far as I could throw it. It is a sheer iniquity to take away from the teachers of this country, who are, by and large, an excellent body of people, doing a marvellous job, the right to negotiate their own pay. That is quite wrong. The proposal being put forwad is, if I may say so, disgraceful.
The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, was a Minister in the Department of Education, and a not unsuccessful one. I know that he had very good relations with the teachers. But that was at a time when Ministers tried to preserve the consensus—not under this Prime Minister. I am surprised at the noble Lord being willing to put forward this Bill. I appeal to the Committee to support the group of amendments and the schedule put forward by my noble friend. They go some way to mitigate the appalling proposal put forward by the Government.
§ Lord Elton
I do not have the breadth of experience of the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, but I have taught for 10 years in the grammar school section, in comprehensive schools and at teacher training college. Like him, I have the interests of teachers at heart, but I ask the Committee to remember that in any debate on education it is neither the teachers nor the Government who are the first concern; it is the children. We are here because the machinery, which the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, in sweeping terms condemned the Government for abandoning, had failed for two whole years to produce the goods and during those two years the sufferers were the children. Hundreds of children have been denied portions of their education which can never be restored to them and which are lost for life.
The noble Lord can point at the Opposition Benches if he wishes, but I have to tell him that I have also served in government. I am close friends with people who have been in every Department of Education since we came into office. To liken the machinations of my friends to the machinations of Hitler is so to overstate the case as to make it absurd. The Government have the interests of the children at heart. They also have, and have a duty to have, the interests of the taxpayer at heart; and the Government produce a very large proportion indeed of the money that is at stake in these debates.
I return to the amendment on the Marshalled List in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, because I too am a little puzzled as to how we have got where we are. The background to this is the dispute that I described, and it was brought about under arrangements which consisted of a group of, I think, 55 people, divided 27 as against 28 between the employers and the teachers. We have here an almost exactly similarly composed body of people, divided within one into the same proportions.
The proposal on the Marshalled List foresees a body with two voices for the Secretary of State for Education, as was the case with the Burnham Committee. When the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, responded to the justifiable puzzlement of my noble friend Lord Renton concerning the number of votes those two people had, he did not refer to the concordat of 1965 in which there was an exactly similar 15-vote voice given to the Secretary of State's men on the committee.
1135 It seems to me that the noble Lord has gone out of his way to reproduce Burnham and not to produce something which will work better. Therefore, if it is not on the Marshalled List, one has to look for the difference. The difference seems to be that there is no mention of the concordat which operated from 1965 and throughout many of the years when the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, was putting in the distinguished and admirable service which he did on that committee. It was said:No claim will be accepted or offer made or agreement given to the making of representations on a draft document or order under Section 2(4) or Section 2(6) of the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 if the Secretary of State objects to the total cost involved".That is not in the amendment. In place of that we have a parliamentary procedure involving the whole of both Houses of Parliament. That does not seem to me to be the way that a Secretary of State for Education can be expected to manage his budget, nor the way that the Secretary of State for the Environment can be expected to measure the input for local government services generally.
My next observation is that the noble Lord seems to be putting forward within the parameters of a Bill to produce an interim solution a permanent solution. All his histrionics were addressed to the iniquities of forcing upon the profession something which he was treating as a permanent foundation for the future. If he wishes to moderate that position later, I shall be happy for him to do so. It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, was also addressing the Bill as though it were designed to last for a decade or a generation.
We have a formidable problem. It will not be solved overnight. Least of all will it be solved by an amendment tabled on Thursday night, printed on Friday and seen by most of the Committee on Monday morning. We have a problem which has exercised more than 55 good men and true for two mortal years. We cannot expect to get it right permanently by proposals on the Marshalled List. What Parliament is being asked by the Government to produce is something to keep the system working while tempers cool and the right solution is produced. That is in the Bill already. I ask the Committee not to be tempted by siren voices (if I can flatter the noble Lord by so describing his delivery) of amendments which are dressed up as being different but which are identical to the status quo which has led us into the morass in which we are now floundering.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, attacks the amendment particularly on the ground that it contains provision for the Secretary of State in certain circumstances to set the results of the advisory council aside. He regards that as a great defect which will arouse ill-will. But exactly the same objection can be launched against the Bill itself in its present form. Under the Bill as it stands we have an advisory council which is created by the Secretary of State; it then proceeds to make recommendations. It is open to the Secretary of State to make an order which either agrees with those recommendations, makes modifications in them or—in a sweeping phrase—makes "other arrangements".
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
Does the noble Lord appreciate that there is all the difference in the world between the Secretary of State being advised by an advisory council (whose views he may or may not fully or in part accept) and putting the Secretary of State at the end of a long chain of negotiation, faced ex hypothesi with a solution agreed by all the other interests in education, expecting him at the very last moment, when the teachers are expecting additional benefits, to come to Parliament and take an affirmative resolution to wipe that out? Surely there is all the difference in the world in that.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
I cannot see that there is all the difference in the world between the two. The Secretary of State will take the action at the last moment in any case. Under this Bill, first we have the advisory council making recommendations. They will then be considered by the Secretary of State. Then he will decide whether he agrees with them in whole, in part or not at all. There will possibly come back from him the disappointing reply to the teachers that he is either making modifications or what are called "other arrangements". If he does that, he then must come to Parliament and get an affirmative resolution of both Houses. The procedure is exactly the same in both cases.
I think it is possible to make out a case for the Secretary of State having those powers. It can be argued that he is not only the Secretary of State for Education but also a member of a cabinet and a government having responsibility for the finances of the country as a whole. That is the reason for arrangements like this applying not only to teachers' pay but to a good many other topics. To suggest that a particular evil of this amendment is that it gives this power to the Secretary of State is to misunderstand the whole matter. If they cannot do better than that in their view against the amendment, I think that the opposition to it had better reconsider their position.
The other main argument which has been used is that we ought not to make too much fuss about this Bill because it is only temporary. We have heard that phrase before. I remember going to the European Parliament and receiving there a sort of briefing from an experienced official who told us how certain things worked. He began with the phrase so well known to people interested in international politics, en principe. He said that that phrase meant, "This is not what usually happens". Similarly, "temporary" does not usually mean what it says. This is particularly apparent from the text of the Bill. Not only can it be renewed once; it can be renewed year after year by the device of an order subject to parliamentary approval.
If the Government want us to believe that they really think this is a temporary measure, they can accept some of the amendments which we shall be dealing with later that will have that effect. There are amendments which will make it impossible, without starting afresh with a new Act, to continue this measure beyond a certain point. However, as this Bill now stands, it can be continued year after year indefinitely by orders subject to the approval of Parliament. We cannot defend the Bill on the grounds that it is merely a temporary measure. If the Government really have faith in that, they will proceed 1137 to accept those amendments which will make it merely a temporary measure.
One thing they will not be able to do is to get any respect from the teaching profession for the so-called advisory council. It is quite clear from the very start that this is the Secretary of State's creation. That is why it will not command the degree of sympathy and respect from the teaching profession that will give it any chance of success. We have been told how difficult it has been for the last two years to get agreement among the teaching unions and the profession as a whole. So it has. However, there is not the slightest reason to suppose that the teaching profession will be won to any greater degree of good will towards a decision made by the Secretary of State which may or may not agree with the recommendations of an advisory committee in the formation of which the teaching profession has had no hand whatever. This is what the Bill puts before us and why I think we are justified in pressing an amendment to remove that vital defect.
§ Lord Renton
The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, has overlooked a very important part of Clause 1 which makes it clear that the arrangements proposed in the Bill are to prevail only until they are superseded. That cannot be a rush job; it must be done after adequate negotiation with all concerned.
I am sorry to have to say that the tabling of this group of amendments, which is undoubtedly the most important group of amendments to the Bill, is a rushed job. As my noble friend Lord Elton has pointed out, they were not available to us until this morning, and owing to my own travel arrangements I did not see them until a few minutes before the debate began. Surely, when we have to make a very important decision, fundamental in the sense that it will completely alter the whole purpose of the Bill and will have far-reaching effects for many years to come, it is not right that we should legislate in this way.
I share the concern that has already been so well expressed by a number of my noble friends. As my noble friend Lady Cox put it, to the extent that a negotiating machinery is established by the Bill it is merely a reincarnation of Burnham—out of the frying pan into the fire. So far as concerns the Secretary of State, it is acknowledged by all that he should have a responsibility. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, said that the power given to the Secretary of State by the Bill is dictatorial. But of course the Bill provides for the Secretary of State to lay an order and that order will require approval by Parliament.
By contrast, what does the noble Lord propose? As the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, pointed out just now, under the amendments the Secretary of State will have a veto. That, prima facie, indicates something pretty dictatorial in itself. The noble Lord suggests that if the Secretary of State approves a settlement provided by the negotiating body it shall require an affirmative resolution of Parliament as well. We are getting into some confusion on this fundamental matter.
I should have thought that it is far better for us to accept, as has been accepted by another place, that we have a Bill which deals immediately and temporarily with a situation that cannot be allowed to prevail. Better that we should give time for that situation to be 1138 properly resolved than that we should now be asked to rush into this hotch potch of amendments which so far as one knows have not been fully considered by those outside the Chamber. Certainly none of us in this Committee has had the opportunity to discuss them with people who might have been able to advise us well. While one accepts all the authority of former Secretaries of State, I must say that I have been rather surprised at the mistakes made by one of them. He said that the Government should have kept Burnham, whereas the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said at Second Reading that the,Burnham machinery has outlived its usefulness".—[Official Report, 12/1/87; col. 376.]
§ Lord Renton
And he said it again today. May we not end this very confusing state by letting the Bill have a run and rejecting this group of amendments?
§ Baroness Phillips
I should like to make a very small Committee point which so far nobody has raised. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, made it quite plain that this is a temporary measure. Several noble Lords have referred to what I shall refer to. We all know what temporary measures are. Certain temporary measures on the statute book are still in force which were described as "temporary" 40 years ago.
There is one curious point about the Bill. If it is a temporary measure and if it is only for three years, why under "Financial provision" in Schedule 1 is it necessary for the Secretary of State in relation to pay to determine pension, allowance or gratuity in respect of anybody serving at retirement or death? They are going to be very unlucky if they die in the course of a year and payments have to be made. I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, will say that this is the usual kind of schedule, but this is what it says in the Bill and this is what we are supposed to be discussing. Let us forget the idea that this is temporary. It may be called temporary but we all know that it is not temporary.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
A good many disingenuous speeches have been made from the other side of the Committee. One of the disappointments of the debate has been that we have not heard any constructive criticism of the Bill from the other side of the Committee. We have heard the noble Lord, Lord Elton, talking about the disruption of the schools over the past two years. I wonder whether when the noble Lord was a Minister—and he was a Minister at that time—he would have maintained that if the same amount of money had been on the table two years ago there would ever have been the two years' disruption.
We have heard a remarkable reference from the noble Lord, Lord Renton, to "rushed" amendments. Is not the Bill rushed? How long did it take to get through the other place? When was it brought forward? Surely the whole of this Bill has been rushed by the Government and rushed in a most disgraceful manner. I should like to return to the perfectly valid point made by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, who said that some alternative should be put before this clause in the Bill. There is an alternative. The alternative to 1139 the diktat of the Secretary of State is a national joint council, which is part of the tradition and in particular of the education and social tradition of this country, in which employers, workers, government and trade unions are all represented.
Those of us who have been looking at manufacturing industry in countries such as Germany, France and Japan have recognised that this is the way in which one can achieve national unity and national consensus. I hope that at least some Members on the other side of the Committee will recognise that the clause as it stands is quite distasteful in terms of the whole history and tradition of this country. The proposed amendment provides for precisely the kind of institution which has worked and which could work again provided it is given the support of Parliament and especially of this Chamber. The other place never had the chance that we shall have over several hours to put over the arguments.
Finally, I must express some amusement at the kind of arguments that were put forward at the beginning of the debate by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. They seemed to think that if the Bill is passed it will bring peace to the education system of this country, that it will bring peace to the classrooms, that the parents will all go home smiling knowing that their small James's and Johnnies will now be taught as they wish them to be taught with no disruption in the schools and with lots of extra-mural activities by the teachers. This is not going to happen. I should like to know from the other side, and from those who have already spoken from the other side, which educational organisation, which parent organisation, which teachers' organisation and which teachers' trade unions give any support to the Bill.
Only this morning in the mail there came a denunciation of the Bill from the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations. Where is the support? Where is the evidence that anything in this Bill is going to do other than inflame nerves which have already been frayed over two years of conflict? Where is the evidence from the government side that there is any support in the education world for this Bill? Unless we amend the Bill, and amend it substantially, it will bring about an even greater tragedy to the education system of this country.
§ Baroness Turner of Camden
I rise to support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord McIntosh. I spoke at Second Reading and I do not want to make a Second Reading speech in support of the amendment, but there are one or two comments that I should like to make.
First, I have listened closely to the debate and I cannot understand why it should be assumed that the creation of an advisory council with simply consultative access by the teachers' organisations should be regarded as producing an opportunity for peace greater than if there were an improved negotiating machinery. In industry and commerce the general way of conducting industrial relations—and I should know because I have been a trade union official for many years—is through a negotiating procedure, 1140 through negotiating machinery and through joint councils.
Consultation means something quite different. No trade union worthy of its salt will simply settle for consultation in relation to terms and conditions of employment because, as we know only too well, consultation frequently is where the employer tells you what he wants you to know and there is not much opportunity to come back on it.
The whole idea of negotiation is that both sides compromise and, as a result of compromise, agreement is eventually reached. Often that procedure is long, arduous and time-consuming; but if you take away those rights what do people have left? The only course is to indulge in the kind of disruption to which the Government are taking exception. There is no other way in which their views can be expressed.
There are 400,000 people, organised in various teachers' organisations, who over the years have evolved their own practices and arrangements for negotiation. There have been many criticisms of those negotiating procedures but the only real answer is to devise alternative NJC arrangements. Peace will not be produced in our schools, or an effective system of determining terms and conditions of employment, unless you negotiate; certainly not with 400,000 people.
For those reasons, even though it is said that the advisory committee is only to be on an interim basis—and as several of my noble friends have said, "interim" can last for a very long time—we cannot allow our teachers to believe that they are so undervalued that they cannot be trusted to have negotiating procedures. Even the National Association of Head Teachers, from whose letter the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, quoted, said that it wants negotiating rights too. It has differences of view about the way in which those rights are exercised but it does want negotiating rights. Therefore I believe that we should support these amendments.
§ Lord Murray of Epping Forest
I find some slight reassurance in a growing tendency among speakers on the government side to emphasise the interim nature of the Government's proposal. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and the noble Lord, Lord Renton, all dwelt on this point. That is at the heart of the amendment. That being so, the issue before the Committee is: when are we to be favoured again with negotiating machinery to settle teachers' salaries? The assumption is that people who have been involved in finding agreements are much more likely to work with that agreement, and to honour and respect it, than people who have an agreement inflicted upon them. I should have thought that would be common ground.
The issue is: when is it to be? Is it to be sooner or later? That is the essence of the amendment. The amendment argues for it to be sooner rather than later. It does so, first, because we are now in the new situation of building on progress, not only in the form of the negotiating machinery but in the context of that negotiating machinery. To discuss that would take me too far away from the amendments, but the Committee is aware of the improvements that have 1141 been made already within which the negotiating machinery will be operating.
If the amendment is rejected and we proceed down the line favoured by the Government that progress will be lost, and it will be lost for a long time. The bad blood, the dissidence, the resentments that will be caused will set back what has been a favourable tendency among the unions and employers.
The argument for the amendment that has been developed is that we need it in order to stop disruption in the schools. I draw the Committee's attention to the fact that there has been no industrial action in the schools since last May, except for some brief activity by the NAS/UWT during one week in November. The disruption has calmed down. There is a chance to build on what has been achieved so far and make that into a permanent state of affairs.
The argument for the amendment is therefore that there is a tide in the affairs of education which can be taken and needs to be taken. If we lose this opportunity, not only is there a danger of permanency in the arrangements envisaged by the Government—and governments have a tendency to say "Lord, make me virtuous, but not yet"—but I believe that we shall regret not having made the extra effort to build on the progress that has been made already and which at least in principle (and with respect to my noble friend it must be subject to discussion) is established by the amendment.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Belstead
We have had a lengthy debate on this group of seven complex looking amendments. However, as I believe my noble friend Lord Renton rightly said, the issue we have been discussing is straightforward and indeed fundamental. The issue is whether the Committee should agree with these amendments, which would immediately set up a new national joint committee for negotiating teachers' pay, or do we need some time, as the Bill proposes, in order to find new negotiating arrangements which will have a brighter prospect of working than the present system which has not worked in recent years?
We are faced with this question because—certainly as the vast majority of the Members of the Committee agree—it is now high time that the existing negotiating machinery for teachers' pay, the Burnham Committee, was ended. As the Committee knows, the Government are offering a very substantial pay increase to school teachers. I do not conceal that we believe that not only should this go towards giving more pay to all teachers but that it should also contribute to a better career structure.
A point which has not come out clearly from this afternoon's interesting discussion is that it therefore seemed a major step in the right direction when, in 1981, a Burnham agreement established a working party to review the salary structure of the teaching profession. But what happened? Between 1981 and the autumn of 1985 there was virtually no progress on that work. During that time the employers twice offered a package linking pay and duties; and twice the teachers' majority refused to consider those offers. Therefore for about four years there was no progress on a better career structure for teachers' pay.
1142 The autumn of 1985 was one of severe disruption in many schools. In January 1986, just over a year ago, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service was called in, but after a further 10 months of ACAS-led talks with the employers and the teachers, and with no agreement on the main issue, on 30th October my right honourable friend offered the huge sum of over £600 million for a new pay deal and he outlined the pay structure which the Government regarded as necessary for the future of the teaching profession.
In response, an agreement was signed on 21st November by the organisations which had been taking part in the ACAS talks. But it was not a satisfactory response because it failed to provide a proper career structure for teachers with adequate differentials and incentives and because it was also £85 million above what my right honourable friend had offered. That is enough money to build about 100 primary schools. It was not really an agreement, because within two weeks only two of the six teaching unions supported the response.
After six years therefore the Burnham Committee had been unable to agree on a proper pay structure for teachers. While that story unfolded, there was constant disruption in the schools and those who suffered were the children. Faced with that story, if we agree now that the Burnham Committee should go, surely the one thing that we should avoid is the setting up of yet another similar committee. That is almost precisely what these amendments would do.
My noble friend Lord Elton put his finger on one significant omission, however. From 1965 to 1985 an agreement operated which gave the Secretary of State a veto over the global sum which could be offered in any year for school teachers' pay. It was called a concordat. It was not written into statute. In 1965 the then Secretary of State, the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, explained the importance of government having control over the total sum. In effect, it is fair to say that the noble Lord, in another place, said that he relied on the honour of the local authorities to make the concordat work.
In July 1985 the local authorities tore up the concordat. These amendments would not restore that agreement. Instead, they ask the Committee to agree that pay decisions of the national joint council which the amendments want to set up should take automatic effect unless both Houses of Parliament were to resolve that national economic circumstances ought to prevent the agreement. That is a tight rule which could be used only in dire economic circumstances. It is a world away from the concordat which for 20 years recognised the ultimate responsibility for the education service conferred on the Secretary of State by the noble Lord, Lord Butler's Education Act 1944.
The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, asked: where is the support for the Bill? The noble Lord disregards the fact that something must be done. Parents and children need relief from the disruption that there has been in schools over recent years. Teachers are now entitled to expect early payment of the first stage of the promised large increases in pay which were due on 1st January. That is why my right honourable friend has brought forward this Bill. It provides for early payment of the new pay increases, and it proposes that changes in pay and conditions, after next October, should, for an 1143 interim period, follow advice from an independent advisory committee but subject to final check by both Houses of Parliament.
The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, who I well remember speaking a few years ago on education matters in this Chamber for the Government on the other side of the House, said that she was suspicious whether it would be an interim arrangement. Every time we speak about this advisory committee, government spokesmen say that it is interim. The Bill's Long Title makes it clear that it is temporary or interim, and the Bill provides for its own expiry and consequently for the expiry of the advisory committee.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
The Minister has fairly stated the question that I asked. What he has not done is answer it. I asked: where do the Government find, among teachers, local authorities, parents or the public, any support for the Bill and, in particular, for this clause which gives dictatorial powers to the Secretary of State? Where is the support coming from? What support can the Minister quote in advancing his argument?
§ Lord Belstead
There is overwhelming support from parents and people in the country who feel that at a time when an unparalleled pay increase is being offered there should be something in return and that that something should be a better education service and peace in our schools. The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, is however right. There is no agreement among teacher unions as to the way forward.
That brings me to the last point that I should like to make. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, said that he felt that this group of amendments was right and that in particular the Secretary of State should be given a proper place in the affairs of this national joint council. The words of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, are always important because he has unparalleled experience, but I regret that his view is not shared by the teacher unions.
A statement was issued today to the Press Association by the Professional Association of Teachers. It said that the Secretary of State was being misled about the new negotiating machinery for teachers' pay and conditions. The press release continued:A letter sent to the Secretary of State on 12th January, over the signatures of the Chairman of the Management Panel, Mr. John Pearman, and the Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers writing on behalf of the teachers' associations, Mr. Doug McAvoy, gave the false impression that some kind of agreement had been reached as to the place and powers of the Secretary of State in relation to the National Joint Committee. There has been no such agreement.It is for that reason that something must be done. With an unparalleledly generous pay offer, it is reasonable that the Government should say, "Let us try to buy a breathing space while everybody can make up their minds."
§ Lord Belstead
I shall not give way at the moment. I thought that my noble friend Lady Cox was right when at the end of her words she said that we must 1144 have time to work out reliable negotiating procedures for the future. That is what these amendments would not allow; but it is what the Bill would allow. It is for that simple reason that I ask the Committee not to agree to these amendments.
§ Lord Parry
Before the Minister sits down, could he tell us the membership of the Professional Association of Teachers?
§ Lord Belstead
The Professional Association of Teachers is not a large association, though it represents an important section of the teaching profession. I forbore to read out the whole of the press statement, which ends:Both the National Association of School Masters and Union of Women Teachers"—the second largest teaching union—and the Professional Association of Teachers have protested to the National Union of Teachers. An explanation is going to be demanded at next Monday's meeting of the Burnham Teachers' Panel.It is in those circumstances that I repeat that something needs to be done. If the Committee were to agree to this group of amendments, this history of disagreement and disruption would continue.
§ Baroness Lockwood
Before the noble Lord sits down I wonder whether he will comment on another aspect of the time schedule. He talked at length about the time that it has taken to bring about agreement among the various parties on the employees' side, from 1981 until 1986 I believe he said. He did not tell us the extent of the agreement which has been reached now. Will he compare that time with the time it has taken successive Secretaries of State to come forward with proposals for amending the Burnham machinery? In 1980 the then Secretary of State said that he was coming forward with proposals which would involve all the parties concerned. It is now 1987 and no proposals have been forthcoming from a Secretary of State. How long must we wait for permanent machinery?
§ Lord Belstead
With great respect to the noble Baroness, I endeavoured to cover that in my speech. From 1981 onwards by an agreement of Burnham there was a working party to work out a future structure for teachers' pay. Of course from 1985 onwards the Government were more or less excluded from Burnham except for the two seats which they continued to have on the committee.
§ Baroness Lockwood
I was not talking about the career structure of the teachers but the machinery for negotiating that.
§ Lord Belstead
Perhaps I may say a final word. If it could be avoided nobody would want to do away with a negotiating machinery which had been part of the education scene for so many years. But the time has now come when all Members of the Committee who have spoken this afternoon, except I think the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, agree that Burnham must go. That is what Clause 1 of the Bill will achieve.
§ Lord Glenamara
The noble Lord said that his proposals had overwhelming support from parents. The National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations, of which I have the honour to be a vice-president has between 4 million and 5 million members and it firmly condemns his proposal. How can the noble Lord say that it has the overwhelming support of parents?
§ Lord Belstead
If I may say so, if the noble Lord will take the trouble to talk to parents he will find that there is no parent who wants to see his or her child going to a school where there is disruption. As my noble friend Lady Cox said at Second Reading, sometimes teachers were there and sometimes they were not. This is not good for the profession either.
I beg the Committee to take on board that if we agree to the amendment under discussion this constant history of disruption will continue. I feel that there is nothing else that I can say on it.
§ Lord Glenamara
This is a Committee stage. I do not know what the Chief Whip is shouting his head off about.
The noble Lord was talking about parents. He said that they did not want disruption to continue. It is for that reason that they are opposed to his proposal. They know quite well that it will lead to further disruption. That is why they are opposing it.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
In responding to this lengthy and dense debate it would be wrong of me not to start by referring to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and others. I owe the Committee an apology in that I was not able to put these amendments down earlier than last Thursday morning. I should have preferred to put them down earlier. However, during virtually the whole of the period since Second Reading—and my lack of vocal chords is testimony to that—I have been talking with the teachers and with the employers' organisations in a successful effort to reach the highest common factor of agreement between them, in a series of amendments which would be acceptable to the Committee but which could immediately be implemented by the largest number of teachers' unions and employers' organisations. The whole purpose of the series of amendments is to build on the advances that have been made in agreement about negotiating procedure and to remove the obstacles to them which exist.
I was surprised at the lack of analysis of the defects of Burnham in a number of speeches from the Government Benches. Everybody agrees that Burnham is defective, but nobody analysed in what respect it was defective and what alternative might be put forward. I hoped that in presenting these amendments I had made it clear that almost all the objections which the Government have expressed to the Burnham machinery are answered by these amendments. I say "almost" quite deliberately because there is an exception to which I shall have to 1146 return. The objections which have been raised by members of the Committee include the separate consideration of pay and conditions (and those objections are overcome); the details of the membership (which the Secretary of State had demanded in another place within the past seven days); the spelling out of the role of the Secretary of State and the enhanced vote for the Secretary of State; and a veto for the Secretary of State in national economic circumstances.
If there is any misunderstanding on this matter it will have to be put right at a later stage; but it is our intention that the thrust of the concordat which applied between 1965 and 1985 should be revived by these amendments. That is what is intended by the increased voting power of the Secretary of State. That is what is required by the reserve powers. If necessary there will have to be more detailed amendments which spell out the Secretary of State's power to convey to the national joint council that these are the financial constraints within which the NJC must work in order that it may realistically tackle these problems.
The one respect in which the amendments do not meet the requirements of the Secretary of State and the Government is that they do not allow the Secretary of State to spell out and to dictate in detail the structure of pay which should be agreed to. We believe that to be totally wrong. I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, referring a number of times to a "proper" pay structure, and a "proper" career structure. These were the phrases that the noble Lord used. "Proper" is in the ear of the person who says it. There may be different views about what is a proper pay or career structure. The Government are entitled to have a view, but surely the teachers and employers are entitled to have their view. Is it not likely that the view of the teachers and employers is based on closer and more detailed experience than that which the Government are putting forward?
The noble Lords, Lord Boyd-Carpenter and Lord Beloff, seemed to think that there is something virtuous in having interim arrangements for their own sake. Interim arrangements are valid only if they lead to something better as an alternative. The alternative offered to these amendments—which take the bull by the horns and spell out what should be done—is a blank cheque. No suggestion is being made by Government either in the medium or long term as to what final machinery will be set up. No proper alternative is being given to the proposals which we are making for negotiating arrangements.
In the short term the alternative is clear. The alternative is dictatorship. The combination of these two leads to an absurdity. It is an interim dictatorship. The Committee have objected to the references to Hitler. I accept that that is objectionable and that those references ought not to be made. However, a dictatorship which claims to be interim, to come in only when everything else has broken down, may not be characteristic of Hitler but it is certainly characteristic of ancient Rome and of Latin America over the past 100 years. The experience of those societies has always been that dictatorship breaks down when its own internal contradictions make it necessary for there to be a return to democracy. That is not a recipe 1147 for peace in our schools. That is not the way in which we shall overcome the problems that we have at the moment.
I do not believe that anybody except the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, put forward any positive alternative proposals for a solution to the problems which our schools face. I should like to say to the noble Lord that I should be delighted to debate his proposals with him—perhaps on Channel 4. However, we are a revising Chamber; we have legislation here to revise. I invite the noble Lord to take the responsibilities of a part of the Opposition, of an independent political entity, and to consider what is most achievable. I ask the noble Lord to consider what is most likely to bring about the changes to this Bill which he agrees are necessary in considering how he advises his friends to vote on this amendment.
The amendments here are designed to build on the advances that have been made in recent months. They are designed specifically to remove the obstacles to advances which still exist. They may not be perfect, but they are worth trying. I beg to move.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 75; Not-Contents, 148.1148
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Alexander of Potterhill, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Alport, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Lockwood, B.|
|Beswick, L.||Longford, E.|
|Birk, B.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Blyton, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Mar, C.|
|Brockway, L.||Milford, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Buckmaster, V.||Mulley, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Cudlipp, L.||Northfield, L.|
|David, B. [Teller.]||Oram, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Parry, L.|
|Denington, B.||Phillips, B.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Falkender, B.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Serota, B.|
|Glenamara, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Heycock, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Hirshfield, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||White, B.|
|Kilbracken, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Leatherland, L.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Ampthill, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Annan, L.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Atholl, D.|
|Allerton, L.||Auckland, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Long, V.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Lothian, M.|
|Bellwin, L.||Lovat, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Lurgan, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Blyth, L.||Manchester, D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Manton, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Marley, L.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Molson, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Morris, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Orkney, E.|
|Cox, B.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Pender, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]|
|De La Warr, E.||Porritt, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Portland, D.|
|Derwent, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Reilly, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Renton, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Renwick, L.|
|Elles, B.||Rochdale, V.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Romney, E.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Rugby, L.|
|Elton, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Faithfull, B.||Saint Levan, L.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Fortescue, E.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Gibson-Watt, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Somers, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Strafford, E.|
|Gridley, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Suffield, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Henley, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Hives, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Torrington, V.|
|Hood, V.||Tranmire, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Hunter of Newington, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Ilchester, E.||Vickers, B.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Kearton, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Killearn, L.||Wilberforce, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Wise, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Wolfson, L.|
|Kintore, E.||Wynford, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Young, B.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Ypres, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Lord Beaverbrook
My Lords, perhaps this would be a convenient moment to take the Statement. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.