Burnham Committee

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2 July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham 12:00, 2 July 1959

asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware of the alarm aroused, both among local education authorities and teachers, by his intervention in the proceedings of the Burnham Committee; and whether, in view of the importance of recruitment to the teaching profession, he will make a further statement calculated to dispel this alarm.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

In view of the public letter from the national secretary of the National Union of Teachers, is it not rather surprising that the Parliamentary Secretary is not aware of the alarm? Will he deal with a further point? He will have seen the suggestion in the columns of The Times Educational Supplement that the Minister's intervention was a put-up job between himself and members of the Burnham Committee at the expense of the people whom they are supposed to represent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Can the hon. Gentleman at least give an assurance that that suggestion is false?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I am well aware that my right hon. Friend's statement to the Committee has been subject to severe criticism in some quarters, but it seems to me that criticisms on grounds of principle are here quite unfounded. My right hon. Friend has not sought to interfere with the Committee's discretion to make any recommendations it thinks fit, but since my right hon. Friend is ultimately responsible for approving or rejecting the Committee's recommendations, surely it is only sensible that he should give it, in good time, his view on points of major public importance.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the local authorities and the teaching profession are outraged by the fact that the Minister has not only named the sum that he is prepared to grant for salary increases but has actually interfered with the very details of the salary structure, for which the Burnham Committee is responsible?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to look at my previous reply, because it is surely only sensible that my right hon. Friend should give his views in good time on a matter of public importance, particularly when one considers the time of the year. To take up the original Question, I think that there would really be cause for alarm if it were suggested that it was not part of my right hon. Friend's function as Minister to concern himself with this very important matter.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the very wide interest there is outside the House in this question, and in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the first possible opportunity.