HC Deb 05 May 1975 vol 891 cc305-7W
Mr. Corbett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what developments there have been in negotiations of university teachers' salaries; and whether he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what result has emerged from his recent meeting with the negotiating committee on university teachers' salaries; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Chalker

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are his grounds for insisting on a six-month delay before the increased salaries are paid to university staff in October 1975.

Mr. Trotter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to be able to make a statement on the pay of university teachers.

Mr. Prentice

I regret that negotiations on university academic salaries between the university authorities and teachers and my Department have so far failed to produce agreement.

As a result of the implementation of the report of the committee of inquiry under the chairmanship of Lord Houghton into the salaries of non-university teachers, university teachers are paid less than those in further education teaching at a comparable level. I accept that this is unjust. It is also inconsistent with the Houghton Committee's view that the salaries and career prospects of university teachers and their counterparts in further education engaged in comparable level work should be broadly comparable.

The university authorities and teachers sought to reopen the settlement which became effective from October 1974. Because this would have involved an interval of less than 12 months between settlements and would have breached the TUC guidelines, the Government could not agree to that proposal. Since, however, the Houghton Committee's report had suggested links between university and further education lecturers the Government proposed that, in the light of those links, a settlement should be negotiated which would become effective from October 1975, the negotiations to be undertaken in such a way as to establish what increase the principle of broad parity would entail on the assurance that movement of such parity would begin in October 1975 and would be completed by October 1976. I also agreed that the negotiating committee would be able, nearer to October 1975, to negotiate further increases related to the cost of living since October 1974, subject to the considerations relevant to pay policy at that time.

Intensive negotiations have been conducted on this basis over the past few weeks but, as I have said, have not so far resulted in agreement. The parties have been considering resort to arbitration for which the standing arrangements provide. The Government have not ruled this out, but before asking for it to be put in train the universities' side of the negotiating committee have asked to see me, following a meeting it held on Friday evening. I expect to meet its representatives soon and shall make a further statement thereafter.