I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to create new machinery for the negotiation of teachers' salaries, and it will be convenient if I refer very briefly to the machinery for that purpose which has been in operation, which lies at present under the shadow of the Remuneration of Teachers Act, 1963, and which will be superseded by this Bill.
As the House is aware, that machinery rested on section 89 of the Education Act, 1944, and it worked through the existence of three committees known as the Burnham Committee—the Main Committee, dealing with teachers in maintained schools, the Technical Committee and the rather smaller specialised Farm Institutes Committee. On each of these committees were two sides or panels, one representing the teachers and one their employers, and an independent chairman. It was of the nature of that machinery that, assuming that the committees reached agreement, it was then up to the Minister of Education, as he was then, either to accept their recommendation—and then an Order was made bringing it into force—or simply to reject it. But there was no provision for the situation which arose if he rejected it.
That is the machinery which we have had in the past, and I certainly do not deny that over a number of years it served its purpose well and that a genuine effort was made by everyone who served on the Burnham Committee to get a just settlement. But with the passage of time a number of defects in that machinery have become increasingly apparent. First of all—and this is the heart of the matter—the position of the central Government in all this was never satisfactory. It was impossible to escape the fact that the salaries of teachers were closely connected with the supply of teachers—both the total supply and the supply of particular descriptions of teachers; and that, when all was said and done, Parliament and the country would hold the central Government responsible if there were not enough teachers. It was, therefore, an unavoidable conclusion that the central Government had a very considerable interest in what happened in the negotiation of teachers' salaries.
That was the fact of the matter, but the machinery which I have just described never allowed any proper expression of that fact, except the somewhat blunt instrument of the power of the central Government, when the committees had done all their laborious work to say, "No", and in effect, to invite them to do it all again. Ministers were placed in this difficult position: if, in the hope of avoiding future difficulties with the committees, they indicated at an early stage in the negotiations what their views on any matter affecting teachers' salaries were likely to be, they ran the risk of being accused of trying to prejudice the negotiations or thrusting in where they had no business and no status.
If, on the other hand, they remained silent as to what their views were until the Committee had completed its work and then made their views known in the form of a rejection of the committee's recommendations, they were liable to be accused of making a decision like a bolt from the blue and of upsetting what the Burnham Committees had decided.
It may appear that in what I have just said I have been making some excuses for those who have held this office before me. To some extent, I do not retract from that. Indeed, it is part of my argument that any Minister was placed in a difficult position. But there are ways and ways of dealing with a difficult position and, studying the reports of our debates on the Remuneration of Teachers Act, 1963, I have noticed that not very much attention was given during those debates to the principle of whether the Government ought in future to be directly interested in these negotiations.
The debates were much more concerned with the somewhat clumsy handling of particular situations by the then Ministers. I do not in any way retract from or wish to modify any of the very severe criticisms made by my hon. Friends at that time, but I do not wish to labour that point, because we have to proceed today to a task more constructive than reciting the errors of the late Government.
I repeat that there was this central principle that as a matter of fact the Government were bound to be interested in teachers' salaries and, that being so, it was probably better for everybody that that interest should be expressed in the negotiating machinery in a manner which was clear from the start rather than that there should be created a situation whereby, if the Minister attempted at any point to influence the negotiations, that might create ill-feeling and jeopardise the prospects of an amicable settlement. In effect, those parts of the Bill which bring the Government into the machinery are a recognition of necessity. That is one defect of the existing arrangements which it is now sought to remedy.
Another defect is that the existing arrangements do not provide any way of resolving deadlock. Deadlock can arise in two ways. It can arise if the two panels on any of the negotiating committees do not agree with each other, and it can arise if they do agree and their united recommendation is then turned down by the Minister. Under the existing arrangements, once that situation has arisen, there is no clear indication about how a deadlock of that kind can be resolved. That, again, is something which we hope to remedy in the arrangements now proposed. A third defect in the present arrangements is that in no circumstances can a proposal about salaries, even something agreed by both sides and approved by the Minister, be made retrospective. The fact that that was a defect was becoming increasingly recognised. Again, it is proposed to remedy that in this machinery.
The piling up of these defects over the years, together with the actions of former Ministers which were the subject of a great deal of criticism, both in the House and elsewhere, sometimes from quarters normally very favourable to the party opposite, led up to the situation in which stop-gap legislation, the Remuneration of Teachers Act, 1963, had to be passed. Once that legislation was passed, consideration could then be given to trying to create new machinery. It was at that point that I found myself taking up this task. Some discussions on the creation of new machinery had already proceeded between the late Government and the other parties concerned, and it was that situation which I inherited.
I was anxious that whatever was done should be done with as wide a measure of agreement as was possible between the Government, the local authorities and the teachers. One of the most important tasks I had to undertake at an early date was to meet the representatives of the local authorities and the teachers and set out to them what was in my mind about the legislation which it was proposed to put before the House. I freely confess that I went to those meetings with a good deal of interest and a certain amount of trepidation, a little encouraged by the fact that both occurred on my birthday, 6th November.
I can say that from the local authorities I found full agreement with the concept of the Government coming into the machinery and with the Government's proposals as a whole, though I have no doubt that as the Bill makes further progress there will be suggestions for alterations in detail. I cannot claim that there was that measure of agreement on the teachers' side. There was considerable difference of view. In the teaching world as a whole there are some who positively favour the idea of bringing the Government into the negotiating machinery. There are some who equally firmly dislike it. There are some who have doubts about it, but who feel that a machinery so devised could be workable.
However, among all the representatives of the teachers there was a welcome for some of the features of the Government's present proposals, and, in particular, the proposal that in future it should be possible to make salary arrangements retrospective. If I cannot claim that this is a Measure on which all the parties concerned are wholeheartedly agreed, I can claim that nobody takes the view that the Government are proceeding in an unreasonable or dictatorial manner, or that they have not fulfilled their duty carefully to consult those concerned before putting proposals before the House.
I want now to try to describe how the machinery for negotiation set out in the Bill will work. I will mention first, one or two details in which the new machinery will resemble the old. As now, there will be three negotiating committees, each with the same range of work as at present, the Main, Technical and Farm Institutes Committees. That means, among other things, that we shall still have one committee and one only dealing with both primary and secondary salaries. I mention that because there are many who attach a good deal of importance to that fact.
For these three committees there will be an independent chairman. It is right that at this moment I should say something which will express not only my own view but, I believe, that of everyone who knows the work of the Burnham Committees in the past. It is to pay a very warm and appreciative tribute to the work of Sir Thomas Creed, who, for the last six years, has been chairman of the Burnham Committees and who has intimated that he will not be able to continue that work as a result of his having accepted the post of Vice-Chancellor of London University in September. All those who have studied this matter are aware of how much his wisdom, tact and patience have been of value in past negotiations of the Burnham Committees.
One of the duties of the Government under the Bill will be to appoint a chairman for the new machinery. Discussions about that are now proceeding, and it will certainly be our intention to ensure that there is a chairman ready to do the work by the time that the Bill is law. Similarly, there will be in future, as now, the two sides or panels. Each of those sides, although made up of different elements, will, as a result of its discussions among its own members, reach a single decision and speak with a united voice.
Another respect in which the new arrangements will resemble the old is that agreements reached under the negotiating machinery will be made effective by Order as is provided in the Bill and as is the case under the present arrangements.
I turn now to certain features in respect of which the new arrangements differ from the old and in this connection I would draw attention to Clause 1. I said that there would be two sides or panels, a teachers' panel and a management panel on which both central and local government will be represented. The actual form of that panel, and, indeed, of the teachers' panel, is left nominally in Clause 1 to the discretion of the Secretary of State. Legally and nominally he appoints people subject to the conditions laid down in Clause 1. But, of course, as the House will realise, what is in the Statute must be supplemented by understanding and agreement between the parties concerned.
As to the composition of the management panel, local authorities and the Government are satisfied that they can proceed as follows. First of all, when the matter in discussion on the management side is what should be the total global sum which can be offered in salaries the voice of the central government is a majority voice, although this does not mean that the Ministers' representatives go to the committees with their minds already made up about what that global sum should be. It is very important to make that clear, because that would not be negotiation at all.
The matter will not, I understand, be forbidden or regulated in any way by the Statute. It will be regulated by the understanding which the right hon. Gentleman thinks he has reached with the various associations of local government.
I am not suggesting any insincerity. I am merely suggesting that one thinks that one has made these arrangements and one has no doubt about it, but it does not follow that they stay made. The point of a Statute is that, illogically or otherwise.
With respect, we all knew that before the hon. Gentleman pointed it out with such pains. I was distinguishing between what is in the Statute and what has to be supplemented by arrangements and agreements. If we try to put all these things into a Statute, we make the Statute impossibly long and create a situation in which, even if both parties to the agreement wanted to alter it at a subsequent date, they could not do it without coming to this House, and that would not be a sensible arrangement.
I was saying that part of the understanding which we have with the local authorities is that on the global sum the Government speak with a majority voice but that that did not mean that the Government went to the negotiations with their mind already made up on what that global sum should be. It is of the essence of negotiations that both sides approach them with, no doubt, certain hopes and private opinions in their minds, but ready to hear the other side and, indeed, if they see good cause, to modify the provisional views which they held on approaching the negotiations.
All that I am saying about the global sum is that if, after all proper process of negotiation, the management side is having to make up its mind on what the global sum should be and there is not agreement throughout the management side, the Government speak with a majority voice, but that on all other matters the Government will be in a minority.
As the committees are constituted at present, the representatives of local authorities number 26. There seems every ground for supposing that, for reasons which are convenient all round, that number, at any rate for the foreseeable future, will remain. What is proposed is that in comparison with those 26 the central Government should have a voting power of 15. That means not that the Secretary of State would have to appoint 15 people, but that however many people there are there he has 15 votes compared with the local authorities' 26. Those are the figures on the Main Committee, and the same principles would be preserved on the other committees.
That figure was chosen for the Main Committee because if the central Government and one of the major associations represented on the present machinery were agreed they would command a majority, but the Government could not get a majority without securing at least the support of one of the major associations now represented, in the local authorities part of the matter, on the present negotiating machinery. I thought it well, even at the risk of being a little tedious, to set this matter out in detail, because it has been watched with considerable interest. I hope that I have made the situation clear to the House.
With regard to the teachers' panel, there is a problem for the teachers of deciding how the various associations which represent teachers should come together to form the teachers' panel—what should be the comparative size and voice of each in the teachers' panel as a whole. I would say at once that if the bodies representing the teaching profession can agree on that matter and come to me and say that they have a scheme of their own, on which they are agreed, I shall receive that news with enthusiasm and would readily accept the agreement that they made. If they are unable to do that, it would be for the Secretary of State to decide what the composition of the teachers' panel should be. I am bound to say that that is not a duty which any sensible person would seek, but one which he will have to perform if the necessity arises.
The two sides or panels thus established will have to agree with the chairman on rules of procedure for the committee. One of them should be that there is confidentiality of the proceedings while the negotiations are continuing. That seems to me a sound principle for negotiation of any kind.
I have spoken about the machinery itself, the two panels or sides, and the chairman. Now let us imagine the machinery at work and visualise the various results which may occur. The happiest result, of course, will be that after process of negotiation agreement is reached between the two sides of the committee. If so, the Government are clearly bound by that agreement, because they are party to it. That follows from bringing in the central Government. It is then for the Secretary of State, under Clause 2, to go through the necessary statutory procedure to give effect to the recommendations of a united negotiating committee. I do not think that I need weary the House by examining the detail of Clause 2. The intention and, indeed, the effect will be that the Orders made by the Secretary of State carry into effect faithfully whatever is agreed on the Committees.
It is the nature of this subject, I am afraid, that one must spend more time explaining what will have to happen if things do not go well than what will happen if they do. If agreement is reached, the process is simple, as I have described, but if agreement is not reached between the two panels, we come under Clause 3 to a decidedly new feature, the provision that the matters in dispute can go to arbitration.
The way in which Clause 3 deals with this is to make it a duty of the Secretary of State to make arrangements whereby matters may be referred to arbitration. The Bill does not go into detail as to what the arrangements for arbitration shall provide, and the House will not expect me to do so either, for the reason that Clause 3(2) requires me to consult the bodies which will be appointing members to the committee—the teacher and local authority representatives—before I make the arrangements, and I ought not, therefore, to take up a fixed position now as to what the form of the arrangements for arbitration should be before I have heard their views.
I am quite sure that the House will attach importance, as I do myself, to ensuring that arbitration is enabled to serve the purpose for which it is provided and that the arrangements shall be such as to preclude any danger of a perpetual deadlock arising which would frustrate the purpose of arbitration.
The House will notice that Clause 3 also provides for me to rely on the good offices of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to see to the actual process of arbitration, if arbitration becomes necessary, and I am quite sure that that is right, because I myself should, in a sense, be a party to the arbitration. If, therefore—one hopes that this will not happen—the need for arbitration arises, at that point it seems to be of great importance that the process of appointing and paying arbitrators should be a function of someone other than the Secretary of State, and, clearly, the obvious choice is the one referred to in the Bill, the Minister of Labour. What happens if a matter goes to arbitration?
There is one question that I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman on this point. He has been admirably lucid up to now—but who decides at what point deadlock has been reached so that an arbitration has to begin? Is it the right hon. Gentleman? Has he a discretion in the matter? Is it the two sides of the negotiating panel, or it is the Minister of Labour? When does the situation which requires arbitration crystallise and who decides that it has crystallised?
I am sorry that I cannot be quite as lucid as I would wish about this. I am very anxious not to say anything which appears to take up a fixed position before I have carried out the consultations. I can, however, say that I am pretty sure that it would not be for me as Secretary of State to make that decision on my own. We might get a situation in which both sides said, "It does not look as if we are getting anywhere by negotiation. We shall have to go to arbitration." It is even possible that the chairman might express a view on this matter, having done, what it is appropriate for a chairman to do—try to get an agreed settlement.
A more difficult situation arises if the two sides disagree, not only in the sense that they cannot reach a settlement, but as to whether and at what point they should go to arbitration. On that, for the reason I have given—and I think that it is a good reason—I cannot be more precise than what I have already said.
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of one thing which I did say—and I was choosing my words carefully—that I was sure that the House would attach importance, as I do myself, to ensuring that arbitration is enabled to serve the purpose for which it is provided and that the arrangements shall be such as to preclude any danger of perpetual deadlock. It is important that by one way or another—exactly by what way I still have to decide after consultation—we create a situation in which we cannot have a deadlock and where there is always some answer to the question, "What do we do next?". I do not think that I can go further than that at this stage.
Assuming that a matter goes to arbitration, here again there is a less happy and a more happy alternative. The arbitrators will have to reach a decision. Once that happens one of two results may follow. Either the Secretary of State can accept the arbitrators' decision as if it were an agreed settlement and proceed under Clause 2 as if the arbitrators' decision were an agreed settlement. That is one possibility and the most normal and usual one if a matter has to go to arbitration at all.
But—and this is the "but" that one cannot avoid—it would not be either prudent or constitutionally proper for a Government to put themselves in a position where they would be legally bound to accept the decision of the arbitrators whatever it was. Indeed, constitutionally, it could not strictly do so, because only Parliament could provide the money with which to honour the arbitrators' award.
We come now to the most difficult, and I think to all of us the most unwelcome part of the Bill. I think that I am right in saying that there will be general agreement among all concerned that if we are to have arbitration at all there must be some such escape clause as is provided in Clause 4(2). I have no doubt that when we come to consider that in Committee it will be examined very carefully indeed. I want to emphasise that we are here discussing what I hope will be one set of exceptional circumstances inside another set of exceptional circumstances.
I hope that, normally, the committees will reach agreement and that arbitration will be exceptional. Still more, I hope that in those cases where arbitration should occur that what will follow is an acceptance of the arbitral award. We are dealing, therefore, only with the exceptional circumstance where there is an arbitral award and where Parliament decides that as set out in Clause 4(2) it cannot accept that award.
The Bill provides for the contingency that exceptional circumstances might justify the rejection of the arbitrators' recommendation. But to limit the use of this power and to safeguard against its abuse the Bill provides two separate safeguards. First, the decision to use it is vested not in the Secretary of State, but in Parliament, and it requires the affirmative action and not merely the acquiescence of each House separately. Secondly, the criterion by which Parliament must judge a proposal to reject the arbitrators' recommendations is whether national economic circumstances require it.
The effect of that is that the circumstances must be economic. They must not be purely educational in character and, therefore, could not be circumstances applicable to the case of teachers alone. It is to that, I think I am right in saying, that teachers attach a great deal of importance: that any argument which might be advanced to try to persuade either House of Parliament to set aside an arbitral award must not be an argument applicable to the case of teachers alone. It must have regard to national economic circumstances as a whole.
Since this reserve power is intended for use in exceptional circumstances only, and since it is in the nature of exceptional circumstances that they cannot be foreseen with exactitude, the circumstances which would justify the employment of this reserve power could hardly be any more narrowly defined in the Statute than they are. I am confident that the safeguards which the Bill provides and what I have just said should reassure any who might have had misgivings about including such a power in the Bill at all.
The House will, therefore, note as a result of all the Clauses to which I have so far referred that there are three circumstances in which I as Secretary of State might be making an order under the Bill. One is if the committees are agreed. I then make an order as described in Clause 2, putting that agreement into effect. The second is if the matter goes to arbitration and there is an arbitral award and I make an order putting that arbitral award into effect. The third is if there is an arbitral award which Parliament decides to reject.
I then have to go to the negotiating committees again to consult with them whether they feel it worth while resuming their work and trying to reach agreement. They might or they might not do so. If there does not seem to be a way out in that direction, it would finally be for me to reach a decision myself and to make an Order recording that decision.
I have taken up a fair amount of the time of the House, but I can now lead the matter fairly speedily to a conclusion. Clause 5 of the Bill simply describes how the Orders secure that the remuneration is paid to the teachers. Clause 6 is concerned with financial provisions, because, clearly, the working of the machinery set up under the Bill could require increases in the general grant and in rate deficiency grant.
Since the size of the Exchequer equalisation grant in Scotland is determined in part by rate deficiency grant in England and Wales, the Bill, therefore, could indirectly affect that item of Scottish finance. That is why there is this solitary reference to Scottish matters in the Bill. Also, since the Bill brings the Secretary of State—the central Government—into the negotiating machinery, it imposes certain minor administrative expenses concerned with that function. That is referred to in Clause 6(c) and clearly it was necessary in Clause 6(d) to provide for any expenses to which the Minister of Labour might be put in respect of arbitration.
Clause 7 contains the important provision for retrospection in salary arrangements. It also provides, as is sensible, that Section 89 of the 1944 Act be repealed, since there would be no purpose in keeping both the old and the new machineries in existence at the same time. It also arranges that the Remuneration of Teachers Act, 1963, shall remain alive as long as any order made under it has effect.
The point of that is as follows. I earnestly hope that we shall not only get the Bill through and set up the machinery, but that we shall get the machinery working and, indeed, if I am not being too optimistic, reach a settlement which will give us a new basis for teachers' salaries before April next year. If we do not do that, it will be necessary to make a further Order under the 1963 Act to tide one over for what, I hope, would be a brief period before we got a new settlement emerging from the new machinery. The point of subsection (7) of Clause 7 is simply to ensure that we do not throw away the existing power under the 1963 Act before we have something born of this new Act to take its place.
I therefore commend the Bill to the House. It is only machinery. Machinery, once created, must be used, and that means much hard work and patience for many people. It is because we do not want that work to be frustrated that we are anxious to see that the machinery is the right machinery. I commend this machinery to the House because I believe it to be just, workable and not least, clear. Everybody will know where they are and what can and cannot happen under this machinery. I hope that the House will accept this view and that the machinery, once created, will be worked with wisdom and good will by all the parties concerned.
I should like to add my congratulations to the Secretary of State for Education and Science on his appointment and to say how much the whole House will have appreciated his characteristically clear and fluent speech. He could not have given a more lucid account of the Bill. I am grateful also to the right hon. Gentleman for agreeing to take this business today. It is for the convenience of the House that we should be able to take the Second Reading of the Bill in one stage.
The right hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to hear that we on this side are prepared to give a general welcome to the Bill. I say that he will not be surprised to learn that because it is, after all, a Bill that results almost entirely from the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle) and of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). They are the parents of this Measure. If any parent is ever justified in claiming the larger share for a happy event, I suppose that the credit goes in this instance to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hands worth, who during last winter particularly was engaged on some of the more difficult negotiations involved and continued with some of the work under my right hon. and learned Friend after the Department of Science and Education came into existence.
If, however, my right hon. Friends are the parents of the Measure, I suppose that the present Secretary of State is its midwife. I congratulate him at the outset for assuming this rôle. He must have been tempted—I shall say a word or two more about this presently—to adopt a more sinister, even a lethal, attitude towards the Bill, which he found in first draft when he arrived in his Department.
Having extended those congratulations to the Secretary of State, I am bound to admit that there are other midwives whom we would have preferred, that we are not yet persuaded that the Bill is quite as healthy as it should be, and that we shall want to subject to close scrutiny today and in the later stages the right hon. Gentleman's ministrations.
The negotiating machinery proposed is, of course, to replace the old Burnham Committee. Both sides today are now prepared to recognise that the Burnham machinery has over the years become quite inadequate to the modern situation, in which the Minister, the Parliament, the nation are far more concerned with education, are far more involved in the education system, than a generation ago. No longer can it make sense for the Minister to be expected to stand aside, lofty and insouciant, while the teachers' associations and the local authorities negotiate between themselves. Today, when the majority of the bill for any salary increases is met by the Exchequer, the Minister has an undeniable and legitimate interest in salary increases.
The Secretary of State who is answerable to this House does bear a responsibility for the overall generousness or the overall meanness of any salary award, and, of course, he has a measure of responsibility too, for the way in which that award is distributed. When we are faced with a soaring demand for teachers and when there are so many great difficulties in the way of securing teachers whom we need, the manner in which salary increases are distributed is of considerable importance to teacher supply. In that situation the Minister, and the House also, of course, does have a legitimate interest in the distribution of any award, and it would be quite mistaken to pretend that the only bodies with a voice worth considering on that subject are the teachers' associations and the local authorities. Of course they have views which are important, perhaps equally important to those of the Minister, but the Minister and his Department ought also to have evidence and to have views which need consideration right from the start.
So, naturally, I welcome this Bill's major innovation, the fact that the Secretary of State's representatives are to sit on the negotiating committee right from the start. The Secretary of State's legitimate interest is recognised, and he is placed in a position—not of dominance: that was never wanted by any of my right hon. Friends. My right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth was sometimes charged with wanting a position of dominance.
It was said that what he was anxious to negotiate was a system of salary increases in which he would be the master, but if any care to look at the record they will see that that interpretation of his motives and intentions really does not stand a moment's scrutiny. On 26th March last year, immediately after the breakdown of the Burnham negotiations, immediately after he had decided that he must exercise his veto, he was asked whether he wanted in the new negotiating structure both to be a member of the Committee and to retain his veto, and from this question, which was put to him very often, one sees how this is the position, because in a way this Bill does give the Minister both a position in the Committee and some sort of veto. However, I think it would he found acceptable nonetheless. When my right hon. Friend was asked that question he made it clear—it can be found in HANSARD for the 26th March last year—that he was aiming at a
balance of interest which will best secure to each partner his proper place in the negotiations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March, 1963; Vol. 674, c. 1252.]
The trouble as it proved in practice with Section 89 of the 1944 Act was that the Minister—and the Secretary of State has very fairly conceded this—had the power only to reject or to accept. If on the advice available to him he was not satisfied that the agreement which had been reached by the two panels in the Committee he was left with the choice either of irresponsibly accepting a settlement which he believed to be wrong or of exercising his veto, in which case there was always the possibility that there would be no salary increase at all. He was faced with the choice under the old arrangements under Section 89 assuming all power or of exercising none. So again I welcome the repeal in Clause 7(6) of Section 89 and I welcome the main feature of the Bill that the Secretary of State is represented, for the first time, in the salary negotiating committee.
On this, I can assure the Secretary of State that we shall support him against a number of his hon. and right hon. Friends, because we must recognise the possibility, of course, that a large number of them may not have changed their minds as quickly as have the leaders of their party. When the last Remuneration of Teachers Bill was going through the House, and it was only last year, the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite was very, very different. Then the mere idea that the Minister had a legitimate place in the negotiations was regarded with abhorrence: Section 89 was one of the bulwarks of the educational system: the Burnham Committee was one of the grand old British institutions, a tradition, an example of the British way of life—a trifle illogical perhaps, it might be conceded, from time to time, with a touch of archaism in it. But then, it was argued, was that not true of all our grand old institutions? The Burnham Committee in the eyes of hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to be rather like the nineteenth century railway system, not quite what one would have chosen for modern conditions, but definitely sacrosanct. Any attempt at radical alteration, it was made clear, would be regarded as tiresome modernity and, worse still, it would be unpopular with some people.
The shadow Minister of Education then, whose rôle, I must confess, does still seem a trifle shadowy as Minister of Land and Natural Resources, had this to say—I remember it well—with moist eye, a touch of patriotic fervour, and an emotional break in his voice. The Minister of Land and Natural Resources said:
We have developed in this country, and we are proud of it, a voluntary system of negotiations which depends upon many illogical reconciliations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1963; Vol. 679, c. 281.]
The hon. Member has been saying that it was his predecessor who created the climate which destroyed the Burnham Committee, which necessitated new legislation. It was the attitude of the previous Government which brought that about.
Well, if the hon. Gentleman thinks that all that was wrong with the Burnham Committee was Conservative Ministers of Education he will have noticed that the Secretary of State now is no longer a Conservative. He will be able at later stages of the Bill, no doubt, if he is able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to develop with force and at length the case for retaining Section 89 and the Burnham machinery.
But we do wonder whether notes have been flying from the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources to the Department of Education. With the number of Parliamentary Secretaries there one would hope that the Minister for Land and Natural Resources has time to defend the institutions which are near and dear to him.
What of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), now the Joint Under-Secretary of State? Presumably he will be concerned with further education in the Department and will have an interest in the working of the technical committee. I got in touch with his office, and I fully understand that he cannot be present because he is in his constituency. Presumably his views have undergone a very happy transformation, because in May of last year he said in the Standing Committee:
But the traditional argument of leaving the Burnham Committee alone is overwhelming." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 14th May, 1963, c. 87.]
I suppose that he must by now have been persuaded of the rightness of the view that we were then advancing.
Then, too, there were a number of contributions from the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Government Chief Whip. He said:
The aspect which worries many of us … is the growing sense of centralisation in the education system … The life blood of education is freedom; but freedom cannot survive if this excessive centralisation of power continues."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 9th May, 1963; c. 16 –17.]
I do not know whether, on that account, he would feel that the local education authorities ought to be able to exercise the freedom which they have at the moment to decide on their own system of secondary organisation, but he made it clear at the time that he regarded the Burnham machinery as that kind of a guarantee of freedom.
One could go on with quoting from the debates that we had last year—sometimes these debates were acrimonious—but I do not suppose that I need remind the right hon. Gentleman about all this, because no doubt he emerges today from a fierce struggle behind the scenes. He has chosen to be a moderniser in this instance, and we welcome it. He has shown more courage than the Minister of Transport, and when a Minister adopts this kind of attitude, I am sure that in this Parliament he will be able to look for a great deal of sympathy from this side of the House. We would want to give him a good deal of help.
I should like now to consider for a moment or two the Secretary of State's representation in the Committee. In Clause 1(1, b) there is a reference only to
one or more other persons
appointed by the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman has told us today that he is envisaging a situation in which the Secretary of State will have a voting power of 15 in the management panel as against the local authorities' 26. In his letter of 28th July to the parties concerned my right hon. and learned Friend suggested a ratio of 20 to 26 for the management side. He suggested that the Secretary of State should have 20, to the local authorities' 26, but that was not offered as the last word. My right hon. and learned Friend made it clear that it was still a matter for negotiation.
It may well be that the Secretary of State had to make a further concession, but it will mean that he has to get the support of one of the large associations, that is to say the County Councils Association, the Association of Municipal Corporations, or the Association of Education Committees to get a majority on the management side. He will have to get the support of one of those bodies or perhaps secure the abstention of two. There are three questions which arise out of that. The Exchequer today pays about 60 per cent. of the cost of any salary increase, and I think that it would certainly be wrong for the Secretary of State to be driven back any further than this. A smaller representation would in any circumstances be unreasonable.
The second issue is the understanding with the local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman explained to the House today that on matters of distribution it would, in the management panel, be left to a free vote so to speak, and that therefore the combined local authority associations would have the power, on matters of distribution, ultimately to override the Secretary of State. That arrangement was proposed by my right hon. and learned Friend, so it is not one with which we would quarrel.
On the question of the overall total cost, the ultimate say rests with the Secretary of State. I was glad that he made the point today that there would not be any question of the Secretary of State's representatives coming along and issuing an ultimatum at the start of talks. Clearly that would be wrong. It would not be acceptable if the Secretary of State's representatives were to come to the Committee and say, "It is to be £50 million. We have decided on the figure, and now what we are going to negotiate about is the way in which it is going to be distributed". When my right hon. and learned Friend met the teachers' associations and the local authorities in September he made it clear that he, too, was not suggesting any such system.
There is, however, a third consideration which arises out of this proposal for the constitution of the management panel. By their election manifesto the Government are committed to transfer the larger part of the cost of teachers' salaries from the rates to the Exchequer. That always seemed to me a rather curious commitment to enter into, because there are a number of disadvantages to that proposal which no doubt, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you would not allow us to discuss today. There are, of course, many other ways in which it is possible to relieve the burden of education on the rates if one wishes to, but, although it is vague, one assumes that this would mean that instead of 60 per cent. of the cost of teachers' salaries being met by the Exchequer, it would be 80 per cent. or 90 per cent.
If the Exchequer were to meet 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. of teachers' salaries, clearly it would be totally unreasonable for the local authorities to have a representation of 26 on the management panel as against the Government's 15. We therefore ask the Secretary of State whether he regards this arrangement of 15 to 26 as a temporary one, or whether he is intending radically to alter it once the Government take the step of transferring the cost of teachers' salaries largely to the Exchequer.
Perhaps I might now look for a moment or two at the provision for arbitration, and at the Secretary of State's power to upset an arbitration award under the Bill. One hopes that it will not often be necessary to use the arbitration machinery. We can all feel pretty confident that this year at least there should not be any disagreement as to the global sum. Expectations are high, for the Government made it clear during the election campaign that they, too, were thinking of a large increase. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman is already considering the way in which such a large increase ought to be distributed. But I think that there is every reason to hope that there will be no need this year to use the arbitration machinery. As I say, the expectations will, quite reasonably, be for an award much bigger than the £25 million odd in 1963 or the £42 million in 1961, but I have no doubt that the Government are still thinking in the same terms.
We hope, therefore, that arbitration will not usually be brought into play, and on that I want to make two points. I am sure that there will be a much greater chance of agreement in the committee if the discussions there and within the panel remain confidential. I fully agree with what the Secretary of State had to say on that subject. I understand the objection of one or two teachers' associations to the proposed arrangement, on the ground that they will not really know who their opponent is. It has been suggested by one or two teachers' associations that if discussions in the management panel remain confidential they will not know whether it is the Government or the local authorities who are sticking out for some sum or principle to which they—the associations—object.
But that is a price that the majority of teachers' associations would surely think worth paying for confidentiality on both sides. I hope that the teachers' associations, for their part, will also be prepared to recognise the conventions for confidentiality. If its members will forgive me for mentioning it by name, I hope that the National Association of Schoolmasters will now be prepared to recognise the confidentiality principle. In the course of these negotiations it has gained a number of points for which it has always campaigned. It has, for example, got arbitration, which it has always wanted, and I hope that it will now be prepared also to conduct negotiations in confidence.
Secondly, where there is disagreement in the committee I hope that the Secretary of State will be prepared to make it clear that he would regard it as the normal practice to refer the matter immediately to arbitration. He said today—and I made a note of the phrase that he used—that nothing in the arrangements should lead to a danger of perpetual deadlock. That is right. But if it can be accepted. that arbitration is a normal consequence of deadlock it will be helpful. The marchings, the demonstrations, and the lobbyings that have occurred in the past are probably not helpful to the teaching profession. They are certainly not welcomed by the vast majority of teachers.
I recognise that in the circumstances of 1961 and 1963, with the thoroughly unsatisfactory nature of the Burnham machinery to which I have referred, the Minister's action was then bound to give rise to a major incident, and Ministers knew it, Certainly in 1963 my right hon. Friend look that consideration very carefully into account before taking the action that he did. Similarly, under the Bill, if a Minister overthrows an arbitration award—as the Bill empowers him to do, with the assent of both Houses of Parliament—there will be a row; it is bound to be regarded as a major incident. But I am sure it would be the wish of the vast majority of the people concerned that a reference to arbitration should not be taken as the occasion for a row, but rather as the substitute for a row. If we are to achieve that position it would be helpful if it were generally agreed that in the case of deadlock arbitration would follow.
Clause 4(2) and (3) contain the Secretary of State's proposals for enabling him to throw out an arbitration award. Some of the more credulous of hon. Members opposite may be surprised at this proposal. They may even be shocked. They will have listened to their leaders portraying the Government's action in 1961 in deferring a number of arbitration awards as the quintessence of villainy. They will have made impassioned speeches about it themselves. A number of them will no doubt actually believe that for a Government not to accept immediately an arbitration award was a most villainous, wicked and awful thing to do.
They may therefore be surprised by these subsections. We are not so surprised, because we know that the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends also know, quite well, that in the last analysis the Government, for weighty reasons of State, must have the power, with Parliament's approval, to set aside an arbitration award. Naturally, I hope that this provision will not be needed, but it is right that the Bill should contain some provision of this kind, although in Committee we shall want to look carefully at the wording of the two subsections, and especially at the reference to national economic circumstances.
A number of other matters in the Bill will no doubt arouse a good deal of interest at later stages. We want to consider the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman for retrospection, and for any changes that he may have in mind in relation to the farm institute and the technical committee. But at this stage it seems to me that the House should be urged to give the Bill a Second Reading. Hon. Members opposite have beaten a substantial retreat. Last year they exploited the inherent difficulties in the Burnham machinery in a rather crude attempt to attract votes. Their election manifesto talks of entering into negotiations for a new salary structure. Few people who read that will have imagined that they would be taking over lock, stock and almost barrel the solution arrived at by my right hon. Friends. No doubt a number of conscientious Members opposite will feel bound to vote against the Measure, because it differs so radically from what they have been arguing in the House and in their constituencies. But I can give the Secretary of State the assurance that in the Second Reading debate, at least, he will have a good deal of support from this side of the House.
I join him in congratulating and giving our warmest thanks to Sir Thomas Creed for all the work that he did as Chairman of the Burnham Committee. Many people have worked extremely hard in trying to make the machinery work over the years, and we are grateful to them. I hope that the Bill will be the start of a happier and smoother chapter in the history of salary negotiations for the education profession.
Mr. James Tina:
The occasion of making a maiden speech is always a rather forbidding and awesome one, even on a Friday morning, but I feel somewhat comforted by the reflection that, however momentous the occasion may be for me, to this honourable House it is a matter of much less moment.
I have been somewhat exercised in my mind, wondering how I might be able to observe the custom that I have noticed of injecting into one's remarks references to one's constituency. I am troubled by the question of relevancy. In a debate on education, how can I talk about the rolling moorlands, the coastland scenery and the attractions of Cleveland—the opportunities for industry which the area offers, and one or two of its problems? I am almost baffled by the problem of how to introduce it but having managed to do so, I move hurriedly on to the subject of the debate.
As a schoolteacher for the past six years, I am particularly happy to be able to welcome the Bill. As I was concerned in some of the recent controversies, but at a very low level, I find it difficult, in view of the last few remarks of the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway), to respect the convention of not being controversial.
I sincerely welcome the Bill and commend it to the House. The provision it makes for the committees on which the Secretary of State will have direct representation is most welcome. It will clarify the position and remove the cause of friction and difficulties which have arisen in the past. I am not so troubled as the hon. Member for Lewisham, North was by the question of the representation on these committees respectively between local authorities and the central Government, because the amount of finance which the parties have to provide should not be the deciding issue in the matter of representation. Other factors than the source of the finance have to be considered.
I am particularly pleased that the committees are given a new initiative in deciding when they may begin to consider a change in remuneration for the class of teacher for which they are responsible. The relevant Clause states that the Secretary of State may initiate discussion. It also gives the initiative to the committee, although I am not clear whether the chairman of the committee or the committee as a whole would have the responsibility of initiating such consideration.
I am glad to note that Clause 1(3) is so widely phrased that, although my right hon. Friend envisages only three committees, it would seem to allow him to set up other committees, perhaps for the ad hoc consideration of the problems of particular sections, not merely of the teaching profession, but also of scales, and perhaps to deal with special needs or problems as they emerge from time to time.
All teachers will be glad that the recommendations of a committee will be binding on the Secretary of State, when there is agreement in a committee. This is the quid pro quo of the representation which the Secretary of State has been given, and it is logical and to be welcomed.
We are also glad that arbitration is provided for the first time. This should remove the occasions for strife which the profession has suffered in the past. The provision that arbitration recommendations are binding, except when a resolution of both House of Parliament resolves that it would be against the national economic interest, is only reasonable.
I am certain that the profession as a whole and all concerned in the education system will be glad that the Bill contains provision for retrospective payments, because as one who has been a conscientious member of a local committee of the National Union of Teachers I know that no single issue in salary negotiations aroused stronger feeling than this. The knowledge that any payment agreed upon will be retrospective will help to keep down the temperature of negotiations and will make teachers more ready to bear with the negotiations.
I welcome the Bill on the ground that I believe it will make the negotiation of salaries for those engaged in education more efficient. It is true that it is a machine, but it is a more efficient machine providing for speedier negotiation. I believe that it contains possibilities for a more flexible growth and development to meet new and changing needs in the future, an organic development which I am certain that hon. Members opposite should welcome, not least the right hon. and learned Gentleman for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg).
In conclusion, may I express my thanks to the House for the courteous attention with which it has listened to my speech, a courtesy which I am happy to learn it always extends to maiden speakers. May I also offer my thanks for the many kindnesses shown to me by all hon. Members and those concerned with the administration of the House, which are helping me to overcome the many problems facing a new Member.
It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn), who has just made his maiden speech. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel all the better for having put that experience behind him.
At the beginning of his speech the hon. Member wondered how he could best solve the problem of relating what he wanted to say to the constituency which he represents. I suggest to him that the most important relevance that he has brought here is the fact that he has been elected by his constituency as one who has had experience of teaching. He is now bringing that experience to bear in education debates in the House. We look forward eagerly to hearing more of him on this and other subjects. We look forward to a very high standard, too, because he has replaced one who was always industrious and forthright in expressing views on behalf of his constituents.
May I be forgiven for saying that when you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, moved into the Chair, and Dr. King moved out, I was almost tempted to think that he was being tempted to move to the benches from which he had spoken in education debates so often in the past.
I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
The Bill is thoroughly sensible. Therefore, I shall be brief. I cannot help wondering, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) wondered, how many hon. Members opposite would have taken the same view of the Bill if it had been introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). As my hon. Friend said, when these matters were discussed in the past the record was one of considerable doubt about the wisdom of the Minister of Education, or the Secretary of State, as he now is, intervening and playing a part in—I deliberately put it no higher than that—the consultations and deliberations on these matters.
The main point raised by hon. Members opposite when we were considering these questions before was that the time had not yet come, as my right hon. Friend was then suggesting, for the Ministry to be represented on the management side of the negotiating committee. Their view was that the Burnham Committee, which, I think, was established as far back as 1919, was, broadly speaking, right in its composition and should carry on as it then was.
I believe that there are two main reasons why the view as then put forward by my right hon. and hon. Friends, and as now admitted by the Secretary of State, is in fact the right one. The first reason is a matter of principle and the second is basically a matter of finance. The principle, I believe, is this. It springs from Section I of the 1944 Act which places fairly and squarely on the Minister or, as he now is, the Secretary of State, the overriding duty to see that the education service is efficiently conducted.
Time and time again in this House we have heard it said from both sides that the efficiency of the education service depends, above all, upon the quality of its teaching profession, and I certainly share that view. If that view is to be held, and if also the Secretary of State is to carry out his statutory duty of seeing that the service is efficiently administered, I do not see how he can any longer dissociate himself from salary negotiations which are bound to have an effect on the quality of the teaching profession.
This, in fact, is what we are now admitting in the Bill, that the Secretary of State shall no longer be bound to stand aside from these negotiations. It may be that hon. Members will say that he has not been totally compelled to stand aside in the past, that Section 89 of the 1944 Act has given him the opportunity to intervene in some respects, but I think I am right in saying that Section 89 went only halfway there.
That Section gave the Minister power to require local education authorities to do what Burnham decided they should do. What Section 89 did not adequately do was to provide for cases when there was disagreement between the Minister with his statutory obligations, and, on the other hand, the Burnham Committee. This is the problem that the present Bill tries to solve.
May I go on to the second main point which I think justifies this Bill, namely, the changed financial circumstances. Since 1944 many changes have occurred with regard to the finance of education—changes which were bound to produce strains between the Minister and the Committee. The main strain arises—and I do not regret it for a second—out of the growing size of the bill. We have been living through an age of immense educational growth arising out of the increased size of the school population, the longer time during which children are educated and the demands for a better life for the teaching profession. Because of those factors the size of the bill has grown enormously and has become a major charge on national funds.
At about the time of the last war the education bill was somewhere in the region of £100 million in total. Today, it is over the £1,000 million mark. These figures are bound to be matters of very close and detailed discussion in the Cabinet, and I do not see how the Secretary of State for Education and Science, coming to his colleagues time and time again to discuss the financial needs and having to point out, as he must, that a very large part of his needs arise out of the salary bill for the teaching profession, can readily win support for the proposals that he is going to make on behalf of the education service if he is then, in the course of the discussions, forced to admit to his colleagues that he is not able substantially to make his voice heard during negotiations on salary matters. I think it puts him at a grave disadvantage, and for that reason I welcome this Bill.
I am sure that last argument is one that the right hon. Gentleman will increasingly have to recognise, because over the last five years we have had many debates on education and other social service matters in which he and his colleagues have been able to look at the problem in isolation and say, "We would like this done," and so on, in one field after another. But now when he is a member of the Government he will be brought face to face with the fact that we have had to face over the past years, that every social service, and education no less than others, is a competitor for the resources of the country, and he is bound, therefore, to need the powers which this Bill gives him to make his views known in the course of negotiations.
May I briefly refer to two other points in the Bill. One concerns arbitration and the other concerns the final appeal to Parliament in the event of national needs as seen by the Secretary of State requiring a different view from that embodied in the arbitration award. The view expressed a year ago amounted to this, that if the Secretary of State wished to take part in the negotiations he should not also have the power to veto those negotiations at the end of the day. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North went out of his way to make clear that it had never been the intention of my right hon. Friend to have this complete veto.
What is necessary is that there should be a means both of enabling the Secretary of State to make his own position clear and also of satisfying the Burnham Committee and the teaching profession that negotiation was not going to be reduced to a mere formality by the presence of the Minister and by the existence of the veto. I think, therefore, that the arbitration provision exercised through the Ministry of Labour is a right one.
The other point I wish to raise is retrospection. I hope that, in Committee, if not before, we shall be able to hear rather more of what is intended because there can be difficulties if the feeling becomes widespread that salary negotiations, having been concluded, are not necessarily likely to run for their specified time and are immediately likely to be superseded by the retrospective effect of the next round. This can give rise to a good many doubts and difficulties. It seems to me right, in a matter of considerable difficulty and one involving very large sums of money, that in the last resort responsibility should lie with Parliament to say "Yes" or "No" to what is involved.
I therefore welcome the provision in Clause 4 in that respect. I would hope, with these points in mind, that the Bill will receive a Second Reading. We might be able to clarify the Bill in one or two respects in Committee but once it has gone through all its stages I hope that we shall then see it as providing a happy and satisfactory basis in future for relations between Government, local authorities and the teaching profession.
I also would like to give a general welcome to the Bill, but first I should like to add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) on his maiden speech. I appreciate the strain which he was under in not being controversial on matters raised from the Front Bench opposite which were very controversial and were open to a good deal of comment. I thought that the hon. Gentleman was trailing his coat pretty well.
I do not mind the description of the parentage of the Bill, but I am inclined to think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science is not so much a midwife as something of a plastic surgeon who has produced from an ugly child something better looking and more likely to command the approbation of the House. When one recollects what was said it was proposed to do and the result of negotiations and modifications, one can appreciate the difference between the child now and the child as originally conceived. I believe that we would all recognise the difference.
I know that the hon. Member follows this matter very closely. He therefore will be aware of my right hon. Friend's letter in September. After looking at the proposals put forward in the Bill, can the hon. Gentleman say which of the child's features, in his view, the plastic surgeon has altered to such good effect?
It is the senior surgeon, the one who puts on the final patches, who really matters, and he is the one to whom I am referring in this case.
Reference has been made to suspicion of what the Minister intended to do and questions have been asked about our change of attitude, but one is ready to trust a friend with power which one would not entrust to a person whom one would expect to have very different views not only on how teaching should be managed but on how the affairs of the nation should be managed. There is nothing odd in trusting friends with power which one would not wish to give to those whom one regarded as enemies. I am of course speaking figuratively.
Less than justice was done by the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) to the Burnham Committee. When one considers that the Committee has functioned through sometimes difficult negotiations from 1944, in its modern form, until 1963 one would not regard that as a bad record for a piece of negotiating machinery. I thought that the Committee might have been given better praise than was indicated.
The fact remains that the machinery was obviously inadequate, because on one occasion when there was a difference which could not be resolved no alternative was provided in the Act. One has to recognise, therefore, that after 1963 there can be no going back. We need shed no tears over the end of the 1963 Act. It was very inadequate. Criticisms made by my hon. Friends were fully justified. As a result of the then Minister's intervention, it cost the Exchequer more money than otherwise it would have done in the settlement between employers and teachers.
I am not quarrelling unduly with the distribution but it indicates the difficulties when someone from the centre interferes in a matter which has been one of very delicate balance in the Burnham Committee. When he does interfere in such a situation, a Minister has to be a little careful where he steps in. There is always a problem about a Minister who is a kind of grey eminence being outside the door of negotiations. It is a good thing that he has been brought in.
I listened with some alarm to what was said in the debate on the question of what might happen if the Exchequer were to carry a greater proportion of teachers' salaries and as a result the Secretary of State would exercise greater power. Does the Opposition want a centralised teachers' service? The hon. Member for Lewisham, North, appears to be shaking his head, but this is the implication. The impression given was that as the Minister provided a greater proportion of the amount of money required for the payment of teachers' salaries the question of the balance as between the employers' side—the local authorities—and the Minister ought not to be regarded as sacrosanct and that the Minister might want to exercise greater power by increasing his proportion of representation.
This would be regarded with a great deal of suspicion by the employers and probably by the teachers as well. The important fact to recollect is that no one has yet said that education is not a local authority service. If it is a local authority service, irrespective of how much money is provided or what the proportion, it has to be seen that it is a local authority service and that the local authorities exercise their functions properly.
Whilst I recognise the necessity for the Secretary of State to intervene, because of the Government's overall responsibility in the last analysis for the money provided for education and other services, we must get away from the idea that the Minister must necessarily have power proportionate to the money provided for teachers' salaries. I hope that we shall hear from my right hon. Friend that that is not the intention, otherwise the Burnham machinery will never function properly because there will always be this thought behind it and eventually we shall arrive at a position where the local authority is merely a management committee for the Government. This would be fatal to the conception of local government, not only in education but in other spheres for which the Government will have to, provide increasingly money for the social purposes.
I should like to refer particularly to two matters arising out of the provisions in the Bill. One is the question of retrospection. Quite frankly, and I say this on behalf of the employing side not only of the Burnham machinery but of other negotiating committees, we accept that retrospection is necessary and that there ought not to be any distinction between the position of teachers and that of other bodies in situations where negotiations cannot be completed in time to avoid the coming to an end of one period and the starting up of another.
Our concern, however, is over retrospection in respect of any large organisation or large volume of money being carried back to the previous financial year. This is a matter of considerable concern to local authorities when it happens. Whilst occasionally the money can be found out of the current year, it is very difficult when the accounting has to go back to a previous year. There is no possibility of providing in advance money in such cases. I hope that some regard will be had to the question of retrospection with a view, at least, without necessarily imposing a time limit, to making clear that negotiation should not be too protracted just because there is a retrospective element in the Bill. This by itself ought not to make for protracted negotiation, although, in certain circumstances, retrospection may be of great value.
Retrospection can be of particular importance when a settlement has been arrived at in which, perhaps, a particular group has not been fairly treated or when anomalies have been caused, as does happen from time to time, particularly as between one committee and another. In such circumstances, the retrospective element will be of the highest importance because there will be something which could not have been foreseen and taken care of in the general negotiations, something which happened after the result was decided, perhaps, and in respect of which hitherto there has been no real power to carry back retrospectively increases of salary for particular groups or individuals adversely affected. Everyone recognises that something should be done in such cases.
The other point I make arises on Clause 1(2),
The bodies to which paragraph (b) of the preceding subsection applies
and so on. This represents a considerable departure from Section 89 of the 1944 Act. It looks as though the Parliamentary draftsmen have been trying to get in everything, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, and it may well be found that, in endeavouring to make this all-embracing and comprehensive, they have made it rather more restrictive than was thought. I do not want to go into the
question now. It will be a matter for the Committee stage.
In Burnham we have a type of machinery rather different from other negotiating machinery. In most negotiating machineries there is a fairly clear division, with employers on one side and employees on the other. Here the employers are, quite clearly, the local education authorities. There can be no question about who the employers are. We recognise that there are bodies specifically concerned about education which bring a wealth of experience to bear on questions which arise, experience which is most valuable, particularly to the employers as such. But we could not possibly have machinery which might lead to the employers, that is, the people who have to find at least a considerable proportion of the money, being in a minority, as any Minister could make them if he chose to interpret this provision in a certain way.
It must be clearly understood that the employers, from the point of view of the employers' panel as distinct from the Secretary of State, must be in a majority in all circumstances. Otherwise, we should introduce a novelty into this form of machinery, with people who were not responsible for paying having a larger say than the people who must be responsible for paying. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will consider this point and let us have an assurance that it will be looked at in Committee with a view to amending the Clause in a way which would be more acceptable to the employing authorities themselves.
I am satisfied that it was impossible to return to 1944. Everyone recognised that after 1963. The important question is what kind of machinery we now have as a replacement. By a little give and take, it has been found possible to devise machinery which, I believe, will prove to be generally acceptable, and this reflects credit on those concerned. I am prepared to give some credit to right hon. and hon. Members opposite for recognising the need and, in the initial stages, being sufficiently flexible in their approach to the problem so that the task of my right hon. Friend was, perhaps, made rather less onerous than it might have been. I am sure that the Bill will receive its Second Reading and that it will receive proper attention in Committee with a view to improving it. One looks forward to continuing the sort of negotiations which have gone on in the past. We have come to regard these matters as though there has been a battleground between the employers and the teachers, but this has not really been the pattern of negotiations in Burnham. Negotiations have gone well. The machinery worked quite well up to a certain point, and even then it was a question of overall responsibility, not a matter which concerned the employers or the employees as such, as they had reached agreement.
I pay a tribute to the Burnham machinery. It has worked well. We have found it necessary to make a modification, but I hope that this modification will not affect the spirit in which negotiations have always taken place in the past. We shall continue to negotiate happily, perhaps with hard battles occasionally, to reach happy conclusions. When I say that, I mean happy conclusions not necessarily for teachers alone. What matters is what is necessary and desirable for the future of education as a whole, and this must be our aim in working the machinery.
I pay a tribute to the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) for the fairness which he showed in his speech. He made a valiant attempt to explain the change of face we have seen in his party, and I understand his predicament in the situation which hon. and right hon. Members opposite confront today. One wonders why they did not suggest an earlier going back to Burnham if it was such a wonderful machine, but we are glad that they have seen the sense of realising that Burnham was finished.
The new machinery which is to be set up will, perhaps, come to be known as the 1964 machinery or the 1965 machinery. I suggest that we take the date 1964 for its title because it was originally devised by my right hon. and learned Friend. I am sure that the Bill is very near to what he originally intended to put before the House.
In the light of our experience of troubles with this negotiating machinery, it is the duty of hon. Members on both sides to try not to aggravate the enormous problems which can arise in settling teachers' salaries. We ought to be responsible in trying to help all the authorities concerned to reach amicable settlements. When teachers are involved in such an important aspect of our national life to the extent to which they have been on more than one occasion, it is our responsibility not to aggravate trouble when it does arise. I do not deny that I am implying here that the Labour Party and the Liberal Party did not help us very much.
I pass now to the interesting question of nominating the employer. If the employer is the local authority, it is very difficult to say that the central Government should pay a larger proportion of the salary. Already, the central Government pay a large proportion of the salary, and, as we understand, it is this Government's intention that they should pay a larger proportion. I gather that this has not been denied. In such circumstances, the local authorities could only be rightly called the agents of the employer. Surely they form the minority side of the employers now, and that will be increasingly so. They can only be termed agents. I am not sure that in the new figures suggested for membership this has been made quite clear.
Would the hon. Member carry his argument to its logical conclusion, that in every sphere in which Government money is paid and is obviously recognised as being paid partly for salaries, the Government should be represented in the negotiating machinery and play an increasing part regarding the amount they pay in?
We shall have to judge each case on its merits. This case is not like that of an ordinary nationalised industry. This is a service which has always been accepted as a Government responsibility so far as it concerns salaries. This is now increasingly so. We are talking more about the future than the past. My argument is that if the Government intended to pay a larger proportion of teachers salaries the correct term for a local authority would be an agent for the employer and not wholly the employer.
There are some voids about which I wish to speak. I am not at the moment making any charge because we have not enough information to go on to make the charge, but it is disturbing to notice that to invoke arbitration machinery will be rather difficult, to say the least. We are not yet clear, and cannot expect it to be made clear, how it will be possible to invoke arbitration machinery. It is difficult to go through the various stages of this Bill without having the matter clarified to some extent. I hope the Government will have discussions with the other side to try to see whether we can know what suggestions are in the minds of all sections concerned about putting this arbitration machinery to work when the occasion arises, if it does arise. I join with others in hoping that it will not in fact be necessary to invoke the machinery.
The second void concerns confidentiality in the committee when it is set up. There has always been supposed to be some confidentiality, but we all know that leaks occurred. We all know that information was given from Burnham outside the committee about which way talks had gone—who had said this and that, and who voted this way and who the other. One cannot have confidence that this confidentiality, as it is called, will be preserved unless it is agreed by all that there could be a secret vote. I think this essential. I do not know enough about Burnham—I have never seen it from the inside—to know whether there was a secret vote, but I rather suspect that there was not. On the question of the distribution of the global sum, it is very important that there should be a secret vote.
This brings me to the third void, which is linked with the second. It is the quality of distribution. This is where the big arguments have arisen and where the power of sectional interests comes into play. I suppose it is not possible to get an ideal distribution of sectional interests on this new committee, or on any other. It depends very much on the constitution of the employees' side, the National Union of Teachers and other associations, as to how they appoint or nominate members. It is quite likely that we shall see this trouble again, or know that it has arisen in their own household. I cannot see how we can rely on a proper balance of distribution of the global sum. I certainly hope that in this connection Government representatives on the committee will be able to give good advice to the bodies which constitute it.
I am sure that one advantage of having Government representatives or civil servants to help this committee would be to get a proper balance. One cannot expect these different sectional interests to sink their differences. One must rather expect that they would look after their own interests first. They are not all in one union or association, and here no doubt the difficulty will arise. I hope that they will listen to the advice of the Government's representatives and that at the end of the day we can get these things straightened out. Then perhaps we shall not have to see them going to arbitration.
As a full-time teacher before I was elected to this House on behalf of all serving teachers, I welcome my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to his position. It is virtually an innovation for someone with experience as a teacher to be in charge of education in this country. It is something which teachers throughout the country will welcome with great joy.
It is true that everyone on this side of the House recognised the inadequacies of the Burnham arrangement. It is certainly true that serving teachers recognised the inadequacies of the arrangement. As such we all recognised that this Billet was necessary. It certainly is preferable to the high-handed behaviour and proposals of the previous Government which created vast dissatisfaction among teachers as a whole. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle) succeeded in doing something which had never previously been achieved. He united the teachers. That was something which had not been achieved by any teachers' leader. He united them in their rage against the action taken by his Government.
Teachers have a vital rôle to play in the community, but at the same time they are very vulnerable. It is easy to make economies at the expense of teachers and the previous Government were certainly guilty of doing just that. Teachers' vulnerability is based on the fact that they are exceedingly devoted to the work they have to do. Many teachers give up hours of their own time to do their jobs properly. Teachers are very reluctant indeed to take any action which could in any way be construed as jeopardising the prospects of the children they teach. Teachers are also vulnerable because they lack an immediate stranglehold on a vital sector of the nation's life. At the same time they have a vital rôle to play in the nation's life. It is a disgrace that any Government should make economies at their expense because they are in this position.
I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend say that the decision on the global sum to be allocated for the improvement of teachers' salaries will certainly not be taken beforehand. The Opposition's proposals, I think I am correct in saying, would have provided far more argument among teachers about the distribution of the global sum than about the size of that sum. In my view it is essential that the global sum itself must be negotiated.
The previous Government intervened not merely on the question of the global sum but on the allocation of that sum, and they saw fit to overrule both the authorities and the teachers' organisations in their decision. I consider that this was a great impertinence and an insult to teachers and to the authorities who are dealing with education the whole time, and it certainly created among teachers a resentment which, in my view, could well have done considerable damage to the educational services in this country. The teachers were treated as no other section of the population was treated and as no other section of the population was likely to be treated by the previous Government.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) made an amusing speech, which I enjoyed, but he also made a mischievous speech, because the record of the previous Government was certainly nothing of which he can be proud on the question of teachers' salaries and education in general.
Having said this, I wish to make the point that I am unhappy about the proposals in the Bill which more or less ensure compulsory arbitration, and I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Government Front Bench that there will be no dictatorship in decisions which are made on teachers' salaries. It is vital that the Secretary of State should not decide whether or not deadlock has arisen. I feel that we must make this very clear at this stage in order that no precedent is created for future action by any other Minister at any other time.
One of the most vital things which we must seek to achieve in this country if we are to go ahead is educational advance. Indeed, educational advance is essential for economic progress in the long run. It is essential, too, for technological progress. We often hear reference made to these matters. But educational advance is also essential for social progress as a whole. It is essential if we are to develop the right attitude of mind in our young people, who will be growing up in the future, towards democracy and towards society as a whole.
The problem of racial prejudice, which we have been considering recently, is also a problem which ultimately can be dealt with to some extent by teachers. I taught in a school, up to the time I came into the House, in which there was a mixed community and in which no racial prejudice whatever was displayed. In my opinion, racial prejudice comes much more from the adults than from the children. We must see that we get the right quality of teachers who will inculcate into children the right attitudes on this vital question.
If we are to have the right teachers, then we must recognise as a community that we need to pay teachers much more than we are paying at present. In some respects teachers' salaries compare unfavourably with the salaries of the police. I recognise the very valuable job which is done in the community by the police, but it seems to me that it is a very poor reflection on a community, when we consider the work and the study which teachers have to do, that teachers' salaries compare unfavourably in this respect. I hope that no Parliament and no Government will use any powers which they may have under the Bill to inflict upon the teaching profession salaries which are less than those required to secure the quality in that profession which we need if we are to achieve the educational advance which is so vital today. Any Government which did this would be penny wise but pound foolish.
I recognise that the Bill allows for certain temptations to arise to a Government to make economies at the teachers' expense, and I hope that we shall have some assurance on this issue from the Government spokesman when he is winding up the debate. We must see to it that in future the teaching profession ceases to be the Cinderella of the public services, because unless we see to this, we shall be bedevilled by a shortage of teachers which will cause our educational system to continue to limp along in the way in which it has been limping along for far too long.
This Bill affects not merely the remuneration of teachers. It will affect the future of education in this country, and as such it is indeed a very important Bill.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) made an attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), for it was entirely unjustified. My right hon. Friend had an unpleasant but necessary duty to perform, and in carrying it out he was completely right. It would have been easy, as it always is, to do nothing and to say nothing. But if one believes that one is on the right course—and he did—then one has a duty to follow it. Certainly, nearly all his hon. Friends behind him felt that he took the correct course in the action which he took. I will not repeat all the arguments. The hon. Member for Epping was not in the last Parliament, but the arguments were fully gone into then. My right hon. Friend explained then the very sound reasons for taking the course which he took.
I will treat, I think I can properly say, with the curtness which it deserves the hon. Gentleman's attack on the last Government's handling of education. I say "curtness", because if I went through all the many matters which were dealt with by the Government—the increase in school building, the large increase in teachers' salaries, the increase in the number of teachers and in the general system of education—I should be speaking not only for the few minutes for which I intend to speak, but for very much longer.
I turn to the Bill, which is the subject we are discussing—and I shall speak, I hope, in a slower and calmer manner, having dealt with the hon. Member for Epping. The Bill comes after Burnham, and I ask myself the question: what will the new committee be called, since it will not be called Burnham? May I suggest that it is named after my right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth, or my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), because between them they virtually produced this Bill. It may have been amended slightly—I know not, because I did not see the draft of the Bill. But this committee, which could be called after either of my two right hon. Friends, will take the place of Burnham. We must pay a compliment to the Burnham Committees which have sat for so long, but which have outlived their usefulness for reasons which I shall explain.
There has been much discussion about how many representatives each interest should have on these committees. Understand that the votes on these committees are not by majorities, as in the House, and that any section can refuse to consent to a proposition, which then means that there is no agreement.
It is a block vote in the sense that one body can block the whole thing. Despite that, we want to be careful to have on these committees the representatives of all teaching organisations which exist today. I do not want to mention names, for that does not do any good, but, rightly or wrongly, some of those bodies were kept off the committees for a long time and I hope that in future the Minister will see that all sections are represented.
I agree that education should be a local service. If everything, including the cost, is to be transferred to central authorities, we will have a central teaching service, but education is essentially a local matter. I want to mention the children, who have not been sufficiently mentioned. There is much talk about the teachers and some about the Ministry and the local authorities, but we have to consider the interests of the children and adolescents and even adults, and it is in the interests especially of children and adolescents for education to remain a local service.
If education is a local service, parents can go to the local education officer, or the chief education officer, or to their Member of Parliament, for pressure to be brought to bear to achieve an object. If the service became entirely centralised, the local touch and local discussion would go. That is why I am in favour of local authorities playing a large part in the work of the committees.
However, we must not forget two things, and perhaps this is why the Burnham Committees have outlived their usefulness. First, education as such, after defence, is probably our most expensive service, expensive in the sense that it takes most of the public's money paid in taxes or rates. Whatever the service, defence, education, housing, or whatever else it may be, the House is and must always remain responsible for the finances and for the taxation of the country. When the Minister asks for the education Vote, he must come to the House and explain his reasons and his figures. He needs the authority of the House before he can spend the money.
It is, therefore, only right that when negotiations are taking place the House, which through the Minister has to pay approximately 60 per cent. of the salaries of teachers, should have a voice, and a very large voice, in negotiations about salaries. As this is not a vote by majority on these committees, there should also be the power to say, "All you others may have agreed, but we do not".
If that were to happen, the matter would have to go to arbitration, but I think that in the vast majority of cases there will be agreement, because these are people talking about a service which they fully understand. They know the demand and how much can reasonably be given. It would be wrong after that for the representatives of the Minister not to agree not only the global amounts, but how those global amounts should be divided.
I say that deliberately, because it would be very easy for the representatives of the Minister to say, "We think that the figure of £X"—however many hundreds of thousands or millions that might be—"should be increased", then leaving it for the teachers to decide on the distribution, however bad that may be. I am not attempting in any way to prejudice future negotiations, but I believe that very senior teachers and those with responsibilities as the heads of schools should have, to put it mildly, a very large proportion of any future increase.
If the negotiations did not succeed on every detail, the matter would have to go to arbitration. I am somewhat chary about that, especially as the party appointing arbitrators appoints people known to be favourable to its views. I do not suggest for a moment that arbitrators are prejudiced in any way, but they are favourable to the views of the people appointing them. In the end, it all depends on the umpire, and I believe that it will be difficult, but not impossible, to find suitable people to act as umpires in the final course of arbitration. When the award is finally made—and award it will be, perhaps a majority and not a unanimous award—the matter will come back to the House, which is only right.
It may be said that this is a Committee point, but I believe that it is important and is worth mentioning on Second Reading. The question is whether we should limit ourselves to deciding that the national economic circumstances require us not to agree to the recommendations. This is very much open to doubt. The debate which followed would be very open and everything would be in order if it dealt with the national financial circumstances, and we could discuss questions of defence and how much that was costing and we could say how high taxes were, and so on. Nothing would be out of order. The House must always retain the final criticism—if that is the right word—of any matter which relates to public expenditure, and I hope that that will not be overlooked.
I said that I wanted to say only a few words. I shall not go through a number of details which I consider to be Committee points and which will come up in Committee. I hope that the Bill will be to the advantage of teachers, education authorities and children—I should have put them first—and to the people who, through taxation and rates, have to pay for this expensive but very necessary and ever-growing service of which we can be rightly proud and which we hope to see still further improved.
I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) will forgive me if I do not immediately comment on some of his remarks. I will take up some of them in what I have to say later.
I entered the House shortly after all the trouble in the country over the teachers' pay awards, the result of which, at long last, is the Bill. I remember the occasion well. I heard one of the debates from another part of the House and last night I reread them with great interest. I remember even more the very strong views expressed in the common room of the school in which I was then working.
For me, this episode represented part of that breakdown in the confidence of people in the public employ in any negotiations they had to do with the last Administration. Despite that, I am one of those who believed it right, and who had thought so for a long time, for the Minister to take part in negotiations about teachers' salaries.
I welcome the Bill for that reason. However, I wish that the Government had come into the negotiations in a different way and for a different reason. What I objected to at that time was not that this was a modernising move, but that the rules were being changed at a late stage of the game. It would have been better, if the Government felt strongly, to enter before the negotiations had begun. As I say, I believe that this was one nail—maybe a very small one in total votes—in the coffin of the last Government.
The Bill, nevertheless, is a healthy child, considering its odd method of conception. Using the analogy of the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway), it has two fathers and a male midwife. I hope, however, that its heart is in the right place. Like the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East, I have wondered what the committee would be called—whether it would take the name of a right hon. Member on either side of the House, or the name of the chairman of the new committee. I have discussed this with a number of teachers in the last few days, and I feel that it would probably be as well if we stuck to the old name, Burnham. It creates an honourable feeling in the minds of many teachers, and this has been the case over the last 20 or 30 years.
I believe that the Minister's presence in the negotiations will be even more a necessity, particularly when the day comes, as I hope it will, that more of teachers' salaries will be paid by the central Government and not from the rates. When the rates depend so much on teachers' salaries and the teachers' salaries go up and the rates go up, hon. Members on both sides should realise that teachers have to face the neighbours the morning after. There is often a feeling that the chap down the road is the cause of the rates going up; the incidence of education costs on the rates is an important one.
I would utter only one word of warning. Reference has been made to the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), the Government Chief Whip, was so warned at the time of the discussions 18 months ago. In British education we should always beware of any encroachment into the field of education by the central Government. This is something about which I feel very strongly, that local freedom matters a great deal. I took part in the debate on 1st July on another matter, but concerned with education, when the right hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), on the very important subject of the reorganisation of secondary education, despite the strong feelings which it arouses, stated that he did not feel that he should act under Section 13 or Section 68 of the 1944 Act as a court of appeal. He made the point that he felt that local initiative and local ideas should play a very large part in this matter. I take this as encouragement that on both sides of the House hon. Members take the view that local freedom matters.
In the new committee representatives of the central Government will now have 15 votes. I regard this as a very great improvement on the previous figure. I would deprecate any idea that this number must be mathematically worked out in terms of the amount of money coming from here, there and everywhere. This change is an instance of the midwife playing an important part in one of the characteristics of the Bill.
There are a number of points on which I should like elucidation. I had many more points to begin with, but the lucidity of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State cleared up a lot of them. Clause 1 refers to the independent chairman. Independent of what? Does it mean that he will be independent simply of the other sides of the negotiating committee? What powers will this independent chairman have? Is he to be more active—I do not mean this in a personal sense; I mean from a power point of view—than past chairmen of the Burnham Committee?
Turning to Clause 3, will there ever be an occasion when the chairman of the new Burnham Committee could act as an arbitrator in the deliberations before the more formal arbitration which may or may not be necessary is reached? I was pleased to hear the reference to the flexibility of arbitration. Going straight to Clause 5, do I assume from this that the existing order may be amended at any time? This is something which I believe teachers' organisations would be very interested to know.
I was pleased to hear it suggested that one of our main aims should be to get the Bill on to the Statute Book very quickly, for 1st April is not far off and there are very long and arduous negotiations to be undertaken. I speak about this with some feeling. I was thinking while hon. Members were speaking that I cannot recall, other than perhaps one occasion, when a teachers' salary award was paid on the required 1st April. There always seems to be some reason for the matter dragging on often until August or September, because it has to percolate its way through the methods of payment of local authorities. This is one very small reason for dissatisfaction. The feeling in the teaching profession is, "Yet again this is dragging on." I hope that the Bill will go through very quickly for that reason.
It is not part of our functions, I understand, to go into the question of what should be discussed in the new Burnham Committee, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) said, we are concerned with teacher supply. As a former teacher, I feel very strongly about this. As a parent with children at State schools, I am very concerned. In January this year my right hon. Friend's predecessor said that we would be 70,000 teachers short at the end of the decade. It is very easy to say to teachers and nurses, "You have a very honourable job. You are doing a worthwhile job for the community". I accept all this. But what matters also is the amount of money which people in the public sector obtain for doing their job. Salary matters a great deal.
In the last 15 years there has been a great growth in differentials—graduate allowance, second degree, good honours degree, length of training, and so on. I have never had reason personally to grumble about this. From a personal point of view, it added considerably to my income.
If I were still teaching, I should have nothing to gain from this—I am speaking for people in another side of the profession concerning education—but I should like to make a plea for a good basic scale. For headmasters, there should be extra payment. The same is true of heads of department, although in many schools I query what this classification means. The graded allowances are largely only a device to pay extra money to certain people, most of whom deserve it. But the people who are left out often equally deserve it. It would be a much better principle to treat teachers as teachers basically and to pay them an excellent wage.
I have some sympathy with those who say, "Look at the length of service". But there are problems here. There are occasions when a teacher may want to leave the service for a short time to do something else which would add to his stature and capabilities as a teacher. If allowances were based on length of service, he or she might lose a place.
I wish that something could be done about the classroom teacher. The teaching profession is an odd profession. As I have argued before in this House, the further one gets from the teaching point the better off one is. It hardly matters what one does as long as it is away from teaching. If a person counts the chalk in some schools he has a post of special responsibility; he is out of the classroom. There is a similar argument in the case of the general practitioner. I concede that we live in an age of specialisation, but the general practitioner is in a position similar to that of the classroom teacher. The position of people like this has been depressed.
I wish, too, that we could look more at the primary school. I have never worked in a primary school, but, on looking at the debate last April which the hon. Member for Lewisham, North mentioned, I found that, according to the figures of the right hon. Member for Handsworth, there were 50,000 people in the primary schools who obtained extra money compared with 30,000 in the secondary schools. This surprised me. I thought that the position was the other way round. One hears of people trying to get a job in a secondary school because of the extra money.
The other evening I had occasion to discuss another matter on television and the question of teachers' salaries came up. I quoted the salary of a sixth form teacher. Consequently, I had a letter from a very irate teacher in Hull who said, "I am on my maximum. I have been teaching for 20 years. I am the deputy head of a primary school. The maximum salary that he can receive is £1,400 per annum." I believe that primary school teaching is a very important part of the education service, and I hope that something will be done about salaries for teachers in these schools.
There are many things that we ought to do to bring our schools into line with modern needs. Of them all, teachers' salaries are among the most important. I hope that the next negotiations will bring about salary scales which will prove that the community is really serious when it says, "We are concerned with education". This would be the first break-through. This would play an important part in creating a better atmosphere in teaching as a whole. Salaries matter. I hope that some good will come out of the Bill and the eventual negotiations.
I say, also—perhaps it conies better from someone within the teaching profession—that I do not believe that there is such a thing as the teaching profession. There is a large gaggle of people with separate interests more concerned with their own separate interests in different types of schools and with different qualifications than they are with the profession as a whole.
My hon. Friend for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Homer) was until recently concerned with negotiations for members of the Fire Service. There are hon. Members here, members of the legal profession, maybe of medicine as well, and none of these would ever have gone as far as they have gone if they had the background of the teaching profession where so many of us are far more concerned with attacking different branches of the teaching profession than with the ultimate good of teaching itself. I believe very strongly that until we in the teaching trade put our own house in order, then united we will not stand but divided we will fall. Half the trouble for low salaries has been the outlook of teachers themselves. We are to blame equally as much as other people in the community.
There has not been sufficient division of opinion in the House on the Bill to justify anything more than a very few words from this Box at the end of the debate.
The first point that I would seek to make is that this debate illustrates something which I have said on many occasions, and that is both the folly and, in the end, the corrupting nature of any attempt to bring the education service too strongly in the path of politics. I have always tried to pursue, in relation to education, as detached a view as I could and I think that this is a proper approach to the matter.
Of course, there are issues upon which the parties are quite likely to differ. It would be a very bad thing, I think, for the education service if the parties did not seek independently to arrive at their own programme. It is quite obvious that we shall differ quite considerably about, for instance, secondary reorganisation. There is no reason why we should not. We shall, perhaps, out of our differences, find a modus vivendi there, and I hope that we may, because sometimes the strongest views are not necessarily the wisest or the best founded.
I do not believe that there is a single field in which this is more true than in that of the remuneration of teachers, and no one could have regretted more than I do the fact that the remuneration of teachers became a matter of party controversy during the last Parliament. Speaking for myself, in the time in which I spent the second term of office that I held at Curzon Street, the whole object of this particular negotiation which has fructified today in the shape of this Bill was to try to devise a method of negotiation of teachers' salaries which would have the effect, not of my imposing or creating a scale which was satisfactory of teachers' remuneration, but a means of negotiating teachers' remuneration which would take it out of party politics.
I believe that there is nothing, in the end, more degrading or corrupting to the profession, or, indeed, to people in public life than to try to turn an election into an auction sale on the remuneration of public servants of any kind. Although I would not seek to differentiate between the types of public servant involved, because I think that it is true in almost every form of public service in its own way, I should have thought that this was, if anything, particularly true of the teaching profession. Therefore, I regret the attack which was made on my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) by the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens).
My own belief is—and I have, after all, been in one House or another of Parliament since 1938—that scarcely has there ever been a Minister of Education who was more universally or properly popular than my right hon. Friend. I would only say that it is, of course, very intelligible that the Opposition—especially after a Government have been in office so long as we have been—should seek to exploit, perhaps mercilessly exploit, the difficulties of a particular Minister who had to face a real problem with an ageing system of negotiation to try to manipulate.
But to my mind nothing could illustrate more completely the ultimate injustice of having done it in the case of my right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth than the production of the Bill today; because, gild it as he might, lucidly expound it as he did, the Secretary of State could not really conceal the fact that this was our Bill. It is no good the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) saying that there has been a lot of plastic surgery on the Bill. I shall tell the House exactly how much and how little plastic surgery there was.
The main features of the Bill, as outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway), were devised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth himself—the presence of representatives of the Minister on the committee on the management side, the availability of arbitration procedure, the affirmative Resolution of both Houses were his conception. The crucial stage in the negotiation came at a later stage and was precisely this: that whereas my right hon. Friend had originally proposed that the Minister should have equality or parity of voting power both on the global sum which was to be negotiated on the management side and on the distribution of it—the crucial point of the negotiation came when the local authority associations conceded parity on the global sum and I persuaded my colleagues that it was not only prudent but right to concede a minority position on the distribution. That was the point at which the negotiation began to go right.
I found some difficulty in the matter. After all, the central Government pay more than half the money and it might be thought, therefore, that to give them parity of voice in this matter was no more than justice. I came to the conclusion, however, and I persuaded my colleagues, that it was right to concede the point on distribution, because I believed—and I think that I was right—that to insist upon parity would be to devise a negotiating machinery which would lead either to agreement or deadlock, but without any possibility of compromise. I am sure that this is right.
The only change—the only plastic surgery—that the Secretary of State has introduced is to substitute for a minority of 20 to 26 a minority of 15 to 26. I have no doubt whatever that had the election gone differently I should have received from the skilful permanent officials in the Ministry the advice to make that concession myself and I have no doubt that I should have taken it. This is the only plastic surgery which has been done and it does not justify pretending that this is anything more than the Bill which which the right hon. Gentleman inherited.
The only other differences that I can detect are these. Some of them are positive improvements and I do not want to cast aspersions upon them. Purely as a matter of presentation, but only as a matter of presentation, it is probably right that the way in which the Bill is drafted on the affirmative Resolution procedure is more attractive than that in which I had originally conceived drafting it. The result is precisely the same.
Technically, and purely as a matter of draftsmanship, the veto of the Secretary of State is discreetly omitted. Under the original draft, the Secretary of State was to use the veto, but the veto would be effective only if he got the Resolution of both Houses. Now, the Resolution of both Houses is inserted without the necessity of the Secretary of State's initiative. The Secretary of State and the House know perfectly well that the Resolution of both House could be obtained only by the Government of the day and on a Motion moved on the initiative of the Secretary of State. There is, therefore, nothing in that change.
On the whole, I prefer the form of words used by the Secretary of State in the Bill—that is to say, "national economic circumstances"—to the form of words which was included in the original draft and borrowed, I think, from the police machinery, of "grave and weighty reasons". I do not believe that in practice there is a ha'p'orth of difference between the two formulae, because I cannot see how the right hon. Gentleman or any Government could propose the affirmative Resolution procedure in either House of Parliament for other than national economic circumstances if from the beginning he had been, as he is to be, a party to the negotiations on distribution and on totality; and on totality he has on the management side parity of voting. However, again I am prepared to concede that a small improvement in drafting has been achieved. If the hon. Member for Southall cares to call this plastic surgery, he may call it plastic surgery. I regard it as almost in the nature of gilding the lily.
The only other point which has really been discussed during the debate have been these. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North was quite right to draw the attention of the House to the relationship of the pledge in the Labour Party manifesto to transfer part of the burden of teachers' salaries from the rates to taxation with the voting rights which the Secretary of State proposes under the machinery set up by the Bill to keep for himself: that is, a minority vote of 15 as against 26. My hon. Friend had a valid point here.
Most people, I think, were coming to the conclusion, and probably now think, that part of the burden of the education service now borne by local taxation should at some stage in this Parliament be transferred to the national Exchequer. The question is whether or not this can be done best by transferring the major part of teachers' salaries.
There are many other ways of doing it. I would say to hon. Members opposite who have failed to see the point that my hon. Friend was seeking to make that if at any stage it is done by the particular method selected and advertised in the manifesto—by raising the proportion of teachers' salaries to 80 or 90 per cent. or, perhaps, something much higher—inevitably, where the money is provided virtually entirely from central funds, a demand will grow up inside the Government machine, which, sooner or later, will be irresistible, that he who pays the piper should ultimately call the tune.
It is precisely because I agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) that it is vital that this should remain a local service and that the Secretary of State was right in conceding a minority position on distribution that I view with some apprehension the selection of the particular method of transferring the burden that commended itself to the draftsmanship of the manifesto. I hope that it will be looked at again.
I cannot share the view of the hon. Member for Epping that a Minister is necessarily guilty of an impertinence because he interests himself from the start in the question of distribution. I do not want necessarily to contradict anything which the hon. Member for Leeds, South said about the necessity for a good basic salary. This is a matter for negotiation inside the new negotiating machinery. As, however, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out to begin with, the Secretary of State is responsible for teacher supply, not only generally, but in particular fields. We all know that the most acute quantitative problem in relation to teacher supply lies very largely in certain categories of teacher and in teaching for particular localities, but particularly in certain categories of teacher.
We all know that despite what is said, with some reason, about a good basic salary, the limiting factor on the totality of candidates coming forward for recruitment is the limitation on places in the teacher training side. It is not a shortage of candidates of suitable quality. Indeed, during the last few years, most unfortunately, candidates of suitable quality—at least, some of them—had to be turned away. This is not so in relation to particular categories of teacher.
The Secretary of State knows perfectly well that in certain categories the teaching profession has to compete with industry, with the universities, with research and with other professions like, for example, civil engineering. It is there that the question of distribution is one which plays a very big part. The Secretary of State, of whatever party, cannot disown that. He cannot be accused of impertinence because he says that the particular categories are not getting a fair share of the cake. It must be something about which, even if only in a minority, he is entitled to express a reasonable opinion.
I hope that the Secretary of State will maintain that view despite much that is said from the other side of the House. The big battalions on the teachers' side of the panel represent, as perhaps they should, unions in which the basic scale looms very large indeed in their outlook. I think that the management side must bear some responsibility for this.
Having said that, I do not want to prolong the debate on what has been, I think, an almost unanimous welcome for the Bill. There is only one other point I shold like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not want to press him today. I asked him a question, and, for perfectly good reasons, I think that he said that he was not prepared to be precise today; but I do not think that he should underestimate the importance of the point I put to him when he was making his opening speech. Who is to decide, and when is to be decided, the point at which the arbitration procedure crystallises? Who is to invoke it?
If we are to get, as I sincerely hope we are to get, a negotiating machinery which will take this thing out of party politics and stop what I believe to be a corrupting influence both upon the profession and upon public life, an attempt simply to turn this into a political issue on one side or the other—if we are to do that, I think we must declare that it is not going to be open to either side, either the management side or the teachers' side, simply to prolong indefinitely negotiations which have, in fact, broken down, in order to bring political pressure instead of using the arbitration procedure. I was very much reassured by what the right hon. Gentleman said, but this is a point which will ultimately have to come out into the open. It is not something which can be swept under the carpet. Sooner or later, a decision must be made. Sooner or later, this House must be apprised of that decision.
I know that, having said what I have said, the Minister of State will say, "Well, of course, that is your fault"—that is, my fault and that of my predecessor in his office—"that this thing has become a party issue."—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I anticipate almost the exact words. Personally, I do not think that it is true. That, however, would take me widely outside the subject of this debate. I hope we may agree in this debate that it is, at least, a desirable objective to take the method of negotiating public servants' salaries outside the range of party politics so that like other matters they can be considered with detachment and in the spirit of what is right, and not on who will get the most votes by offering the largest sum.
First, I should like to add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) on the maiden speech he made and to say that I am sure we all look forward to hearing from him on many future occasions. He spoke with experience of local authorities and brought that experience to bear on what he said. My hon. Friend spoke of his constituency. He said he would have difficulty in speaking of it because of the rules of order, but he overcame the difficulties and showed an ingenuity, which the House will respect, in saying things which are within the rules of order but only just within them. However, it really was a good speech, and I am sure everyone on either side of the House will wish to hear from him again.
The Bill has been generally welcomed on all sides. I was intrigued by the fact that this was acknowledged by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), although his hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) had earlier on seemed to think that the introduction of the Bill was going to be greeted by a great surge of revolt on these benches, and he seemed to be looking forward to this with a certain amount of relish. As he might have expected, and, indeed, perhaps did expect, this is a Bill which was likely to command general support and which has commanded general support and is regarded as very important. I think that all hon. Members who have spoken—and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) brought out the point as clearly as anyone could—agree about the vital importance of getting this machinery right because of its effect on the teaching profession and therefore, of course, its effect on education in general.
I think that the task which falls to me at the end of the debate is to reply as far as I can to some of the detailed points which have been raised. Lest I miss some out I had better put in my alibi straightaway and say that a good many of them were, in the nature of things, Committee points, and can be developed in Committee; but I will try as far as I can to give our view on the main points which have been raised.
Before doing that I cannot resist at least one or two comments on the somewhat controversial aspects of the speeches of the hon. Member for Lewisham, North and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us he did not want party politics brought into education. I always feel a little suspicious when I hear people say that. I think it is one of the sort of traditional debating ploys which are made, not, only about education but many things; by Conservatives particularly, who say they do not want party politics introduced into something, meaning that orthodox Conservative views should prevail and the politics they do not want introduced are Labour ideas. I have heard that sort of thing said so many times, in local government and in this House.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was right in that he did not want teachers' salaries to be a matter for political dispute. That is precisely why it was such a disastrous episode when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) had to bring before the House a Bill which determined teachers' salaries for the following two years. As we said on that occasion from those benches opposite, the House is not the place to determine salaries. Salaries should be determined through negotiating machinery. It was a confession of failure by the previous Government that this matter had to be brought into politics in the way that it was, and we are seeking now more rational machinery to ensure that that sort of thing is very unlikely to happen in the future.
At another point the two speakers on the Opposition Front Bench were saying that after all this was their Bill. Of course, it is quite true that we inherited the main features of it. I must remind them, however, if they need any reminding, that they were in power for a very long time and allowed unsatisfactory machinery to exist for a very long time. They seem to have been groping around for the right tactics to adopt in Opposition, and one of them, I notice, not only on this subject but on other subjects, is to say, when we, after a month in office, do something which they neglected to do during 13 years, "Ah, we thought of it first." They say that after delaying over problems we are now seeking to deal with as a matter of urgency.
The hon. Member talked about "leaving the baby" I think he said it was their baby. Of course it is a baby they left on our doorstep. I must say that the prospects for this baby would not have been so good if it had still got the same parents. Just as the courts of this country can in exceptional circumstances take a child away from its parents, so the electorate has done that in this case Therefore, if the problems here are difficult, the baby has much better prospects than it would have had.
But I really must come back to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, North again. The hon. Gentleman was trying to suggest that we have somehow reversed our position from that which we took in 1963 on the Bill which was then introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Handsworth. In that debate we were not saying that the Burnham machinery was sacrosanct; we were not saying there was no case for making reforms in it. What we were saying was that here was an established machinery, and that the then Minister had upset that machinery, had upset not merely the letter of it but also the spirit of it, and had acted in a way bound to cause controversy and bound to do much harm to the teaching profession and to education. That was what we objected to.
Indeed, the action which was taken by the right hon. Gentleman then was action which will no longer be possible under this Bill. If there is a disagreement on the distribution of an award, and if the Secretary of State's representatives on the management panel are outvoted on that question, as they could be, and if there is then an agreed setttlement between the two sides, under the provisions of the Bill the Secretary of State will have to enact that agreement. He will not be able to act in the way the previous Minister acted in 1963. The reserve powers which we have put into Clause 4 are for very different circumstances. We stand by our criticisms of 1963, and the faults in the Burnham machinery, which we all acknowledge, are not an alibi for the action taken by the previous Minister and the damage which he did to education at that time.
I propose now to comment briefly on something far less controversial which the hon. Gentleman said. He paid a tribute to Sir Thomas Creed for the work that he did for many years as Chairman of the Burnham Committee. I sincerely echo and support that tribute. Sir Thomas showed qualities of patience and wisdom in doing this difficult job over a long period, and I am sure that everyone would want to pay tribute to him and to wish him well in his new post as Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, a post which he took up in September.
Perhaps I might now comment on some of the points which have been raised, taking them in the order of the Clauses, because this might be the most convenient way of doing it.
Clause 1 establishes the Committee, and there has been a certain amount of comment on the formula mentioned by my right hon. Friend, by which, on the management side, it is proposed to have a ratio of 26 votes for the local authorities' representatives as against 15 for the Secretary of State. The hon. Member for Lewisham, North seemed a little critical of that, and perhaps even a little worried. He said that we had gone a little too far, and made too much of a concession to local authorities, but it seems to us that this is the right balance, because it is the local authorities who employ the teachers, and who have the responsibility for day-to-day administration of education in their localities. If I might coin a phrase, the man in Whitehall does not necessarily know best about matters of this kind, and we therefore take a less bureaucratic view than that taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite on matters of this kind.
The hon. Gentleman asked what would happen if the balance of paying for teachers' salaries was altered. This point was also raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter). Perhaps I might point out in passing that my hon. Friend explained that, for good reasons, he could not be present to hear the end of the debate.
This formula is not cointained in the Bill. It is something which has been agreed between the parties, and therefore can be altered by agreement between them without the need to amend the Bill. We do not, however, regard this as merely a temporary formula. On the other hand, we do not regard it as fixed for all time, but we are not approaching it in the spirit of expecting that we shall have to suggest alterations in the foreseeable future.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland asked about the existing committees. As he knows, there are three in operation at the moment. I give my hon. Friend the assurance that we intend to keep the three existing committees, and that we have no immediate plans for adding to them, although again this is something which is not provided for in the Clause and can be altered by agreement without amending legislation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Southall was worried about the wording of Clause 1(2), and wondered whether it meant some change in policy. It does not represent that. It is a rather more complex form of words than that used in the 1944 Act, because we are giving positive recognition to the fact that the Association of Education Committees and the Welsh Joint Committee are represented in this machinery. This was not specifically provided for in past legislation, but we are making sure that what has been happening, and what we intend to continue, is within the law. We are legalising the existing set-up.
My hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) was worried about the possibility that the Secretary of State could come into these negotiations from the start with a fixed idea of a global sum and could have a closed mind on it. My right hon. Friend gave an assurance that this would not be the spirit in which this would be approached. Whereas the Secretary of State's representations, on the management side, would have a decisive say as to the global sum, it would not be a good thing if they came in with a fixed figure in mind from which they could not depart.
A number of points were raised on Clause 3 which deals with arbitration. Perhaps I might point out to those hon. Members who are concerned about this that the Clause says, in subsection (1), that the Secretary of State shall make arrangements for arbitration procedures, and it goes on in subsection (2) to say that before making any arrangements he shall consult the bodies involved in the negotiations. For this reason the Clause is not as precise as some of my hon. Friends might have wished it to be, and some of the questions cannot be answered at this moment because my right hon. Friend is under an obligation to have this consultation.
I think that my right hon. Friend gave the House a clear idea of the kind of principles that he has in mind on this, and I need not go over them again. He obviously must consult the representatives of both the local authorities and the teachers organisations on this before the precise pattern is clear, and he is proceeding to do this as quickly as possible.
Clause 4 deals with the provisions by which Parliament can set aside an arbitration award. This is clearly an important part of the Bill but, as my right hon. Friend said, we regard this as something to be used only in very exceptional circumstances indeed. The hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) took the view that the power should not be confined to circumstances of an economic character. We place great importance on stressing that these are the circumstances, and the only circumstances, in which we would want to ask Parliament to operate this Clause. In other words, that they should be economic circumstances and not money circumstances.
I accept that from the hon. Gentleman, but I was glad in a way to repeat the assurance that it was economic circumstances that we had in mind and not any kind of circumstances which were peculiar to teachers.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that the way we had altered this was merely a technical drafting difference from his own original intentions. We are concerned here to lean as far as possible, and to be seen to be leaning as far as possible, in the direction that it is Parliament which must make this decision, and therefore, in bringing this before Parliament, the Secretary of State has a clear onus of proof on him to show that exceptional economic circumstances exist, and that the teachers are not being singled out from other groups of people in this respect. Therefore, we were very anxious—and I hope that there will be general support for the view that we should be anxious—to have wording here which makes as clear as possible our intention in this respect.
Some hon. Members were concerned about retrospection. Incidentally, this is another matter in which we have done a little plastic surgery on the original intentions. There is one point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman overlooked. We have drawn this in wider terms than he intended, but I can say clearly to the hon. Member for Ton-bridge (Mr. Hornby), who was worried about this, that we are not intending to develop a situation in which retrospection would overlap a previous contract. We have discussed this point with local authorities and teachers' associations and they agree with us that this was not the intention.
There are two ways in which this subsection will be of value. One is that if negotiations take rather longer than is expected and go on beyond the date of expiry of an old contract, retrospection should be available, as it normally is in most other kinds of industrial relations.
Secondly—and this is where we have gone a little further than the right hon. Gentleman intended—in a profession as complex as this, with so many special cases, it has been found in practice that there are anomalies and errors, and people who may have done less well under the formula established than anyone intended they should. Therefore, to correct this it may be necessary to arrange for retrospection, and retrospection which, in that kind of case, might go back beyond the date on which the previous contract expired. We are aware of the danger there would be to local Government finances if this operated too widely, but in the context in which I have spoken I do not think that this is a real danger. My hon. Friend the Member for Southall was concerned about that.
In introducing this Measure to reform the machinery we recognise that it has existed for over 40 years and that it has many very good features which have stood the test of time. Those features will be strengthened by removing some of the weaker aspects of the set-up, but we are hoping to retain and improve the situation as it relates to collective bargaining. This is central to our purpose today. We retain, as a correct forum for this bargaining, a statutory committee on which the two sides—the employing side and the teachers associations have equal voting strength on the committee itself, with an independent chairman.
We retain the system by which the outcome of these negotiations is a statutory order, which is binding on all parties. These are the central and the best features of the old Burnham machinery, that we are not merely retaining but strengthening, by removing some of the defects that have arisen.
What is new is the rôle of the Secretary of State. As hon. Members on both sides have recognised, the Secretary of State has always had a rôle in this, and must inevitably do so, partly because of the financial aspects and his responsibility for asking Parliament to grant Supply and partly because of his general responsibility for education and the fact that the teacher supply question is central to that. We are seeking to rationalise the rôle of the Secretary of State—in some ways to strengthen it and in some ways to weaken it as compared with the sort of power used by the right hon. Gentleman who was the previous Minister in 1963. We are trying to make it a realistic rôle in relation to the real circumstances of the case.
The other new features, such as the introduction of arbitration and retrospection, put right faults which have emerged over a period and which should have been removed earlier. What we are seeking to create is a piece of modern negotiating machinery which meets the real needs of the case. Clearly, the success of this operation depends not just on the machinery but on the spirit in which it is operated by the teachers' organisations, local authorities and the Government, all of whom have obligations to each other and an overriding obligation to the children.
Part of our obligation is to get this machinery into operation with as much speed as we can. The existing provisions expire on 31st March next year, and the need, therefore, is not merely to establish the new machinery but to use it for negotiations and to get those negotiations completed, if possible, before 31st March or, at the very least, very soon afterwards, so that a new settlement can take effect. Therefore, we are entitled to ask those hon. Members on both sides who have given a welcome to the Bill to help us to give it a speedy passage through Committee, so that we can get on with the job and open up what we all hope will be an era of constructive good will in this very important sphere of our national life.