HC Deb 05 May 1978 vol 949 cc289-90W
Dr. M. S. Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps she has taken to resolve the longstanding pay anomaly of university teachers; and whether she will make a statement.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

On 23rd March, in reply to Questions from the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), I informed the House of an agreement reached by the negotiating committee for non-clinical academic staff at universities. This both settled the scales to be paid with effect from 1st October 1977—representing an average addition of 9.8 per cent. to the scales then current—and agreed the scales which, but for the anomaly, should have operated from that date but are at present suspended. At the same time the Government gave an assurance that the anomaly, which the agreed scales would correct, would be rectified over not more than the next three academic years—that is, 1978–79 to 1980–81—and undertook to enable Committee B to consider the matter further within three months, that is to say, before mid-June.

In the intervening weeks the Government have been considering the universities' case for earlier rectification. The Government could not consider the position of the university teachers in isolation; but at the earliest possible opportunity my representatives in Committee B made further proposals as promised in March, and agreement has today been reached, subject to any necessary ratification, on a Government undertaking that the anomaly will be rectified in two approximately equal stages on 1st October 1978 and 1st October 1979. In the light of this agreement the AUT and the University Authorities' Panel will not pursue the question of arbitration.

I welcome this agreed solution to a long-standing and difficult problem.