Amendment made: In page 3, line 22, leave out from "subsection" to end of line 25 and insert:
in relation to a committee, the Secretary of State shall consult the bodies which are to be presented on the committee in accordance with any determinations made by him under section 1 of this Act which are for the time being in force".—[Mr.Prentice.]
I beg to move, in page 3, line 25, at the end to insert:
(3) The arrangements made under subsection (1) of this section shall contain provisions whereby a reference to arbitration shall not be made unless the chairman of the committee after consulting the committee has ruled that an agreement cannot be reached on a particular point or points.
I make no apology for moving the Amendment, because it deals with an important matter which has been raised at other stages. The basic reason is that considerable disquiet exists over the provision for arbitration in the Bill. This disquiet exists among teachers' organisations and people who are concerned with the principles of free trade unionism and collective bargaining.
At present, it is left to the Minister to decide whether a matter shall be referred to arbitration. I am not concerned with the position under the present Minister, but we must face the fact that he will not always be there, and some of us have memories of previous Ministers who took actions that we felt were not particularly correct at the time. As the Clause stands, the Minister will decide whether to refer a matter to arbitration after consulting various bodies. There are many such bodies. The amazing fact is that if one of these bodies objected the Minister could presumably declare that certain questions could not be decided other than by reference to arbitration.
In effect, it seems that the Minister will decide whether or not deadlock has been reached on any issue which is being discussed by the committee. It is therefore possible that the matter could be sent to arbitration in the face of the united opposition of the teachers' panel. This would mean, in effect, that we had compulsory arbitration. That is why considerable disquiet exists among many people who have been considering the effects of the Bill.
Further, it appears that the Secretary of State could withhold his decision to go to arbitration. Since the Secretary of State is represented on the management side it means that the management—almost, but not quite, with a majority—has an unfair advantage, in that it is able to compel representatives of employees to accept arbitration whereas the representatives of the employees have no such right in respect of the management. The representatives of management and employees are not evenly matched, and it is extremely important at this stage to try to redress that adverse balance.
Hitherto, the principle of compulsory arbitration has not been generally applied in peace time. I know that it applies in the case of salary settlements for firemen and the police, and I also know that during the war the Minister of Labour could refer a dispute to the National Arbitration Tribunal and that its decision was binding upon both sides. But comparing that arrangement with the present one gives rise to considerable disquiet, because the present one writes into the Bill an advantage to the employers' side.
In my view, the idea that management and labour are completely equal is at best somewhat fictional, especially in cases where management consists of the State or local authorities. In those circumstances we must consider what is being done and ask ourselves why teachers should be selected as guinea pigs for this experiment.
No special conditions apply as in the case of the police or firemen. We know that suggestions of compulsory arbitration would produce a near riot if made in connection with the negotiations carried out in other industries. There is, I think, a long-term danger in this innovation. We must all face the fact that in modern society there is a tendency to centralise power. There is what one might call a centripetal factor in the disposition of power in modern society, which is reflected in the growth of monopolies and oligarchies in industry, and also in the advance of the power of the State into many new fields. This' tendency has been expedited on a worldwide scale.
While I am an uncompromising Socialist who makes no bones about his belief in the extension of public ownership, I also believe that we should resist this centripetal or centralising tendency in modern society. Therefore, I think we must resist the provisions in this Clause which place more power in the hands of the Minister. It may be said that I am elevating quite a trifling development to the level of a principle, but great changes often result from the accumulation of many small changes. If one studies the way in which changes in society occur, one will discover that they do not result from a sweeping revolution as much as from gradual changes which add up to a very large change. I therefore appeal to the Minister to realise the disquiet which is aroused and the tendency which exists and I hope that he will be able to afford some satisfaction to people who feel as I do.
At previous stages in the discussion on this Bill I indicated that I was unhappy about proposals for compulsory arbitration and put forward suggestions. In this Amendment there is a new suggestion, that the independent chairman, after consulting the committee, should decide whether a matter be referred to arbitration. I should be happier with another arrangement, but if the independent chairman rather than the Minister has the right to decide whether deadlock has been reached, after consulting the Committee, some of the anxieties which we feel will be removed. This Amendment, I consider, would help to redress some of the adverse balance to which I referred earlier.
People may ask what we do if deadlock arises. It would be up to the independent chairman to decide when that situation had been reached. I grant to hon. Members who may raise this point that it may be inconvenient should deadlock be reached. But collective bargaining is an inconvenient arrangement in any case. It would be much more convenient if the Minister were able to lay down decisions without referring to the representatives of the employees at all. But in a free society, where we have collective bargaining, we have to provide means for the representatives of the employees to have a say in these matters. We must respect their right to say "No", even if it happens to be inconvenient. After all, other industries manage without proposals for compulsory arbitration. Often, they reach deadlock. Why on earth can we not have a similar arrangement for teachers? Are we more afraid that they may hold our society up to ransom? What is the reason for it? I do not understand it.
I think that if we introduced the provisions provided by this Amendment we should be considerably helped in resolving the difficulties to which I have referred. In the first place, we should succeed in satisfying the employees or their representatives that we were giving them a fair crack of the whip. We must realise that in industry today many of the difficulties which arise are caused by the fact that there is no consultation and that there is insufficient respect for the views which employees may hold. I think that democracy means something more than a vote at the polling stations every two or three years. It means conscious participation and the opportunity for participation in all decisions which are made in all spheres of life—and this means our workaday lives as well as the exercise of our rights in political democracy.
I think that this issue is raised in this Clause which we are discussing. I think it will be a particularly bad omen if teachers start off feeling dissatisfied with the machinery. If they feel dissatisfaction with the machinery, it is quite clear that at the later stage, if they are not satisfied with the fruits which result from the negotiations, they will blame that machinery.
I hope that the Minister will feel, accordingly, that he can accept the Amendment. I want to impress upon him that these thing to which I have referred this evening reflect real feelings and real anxieties among teachers and their representatives. I recognise that at other stages, statements were made by my hon. Friends in Committee in particular which sought to resolve the difficulties to which I have referred, but I do not think that those statements went far enough. I want to point out the powers which will be put in the hands of the Minister even as the Bill stands. The Minister decides the form of arbitration, he decides the points to be submitted to arbitration, he decides whether arbitration is to be resorted to at all, he decides when arbitration is to we resorted to and then, if arbitration is used and if natural economic circumstances prevail, the Secretary of State, with the consent of both Houses may overturn a settlement. I have dropped many objections which I felt to this Bill, but this one which I feel is crucial.
Let us be quite clear that arbitration as things stand could be resorted to before negotiations had been exhausted. In 1962, at first, £9 million was offered to the teachers. The Minister might, at this stage, because no further agreement had been reached, under the present Bill—had it been in operation—have said that deadlock had been reached and immediately, the matter would have been referred to arbitration procedure. In fact, negotiations continued and, eventually, a settlement in February, 1963, awarded £20 million to the teachers.
This indicates the way in which arbitration could cut across collective bargaining and across negotiations and could prevent a satisfactory settlement from being reached. We must consider that in the Bill we are determining machinery which may last for a generation, and we must recognise that it would be much more difficult later to alter that machinery. While, therefore, there is time, I hope that my hon. Friends will consider very carefully the points which I have made and will go as far as they can with me to give some satisfaction on these issues.
I make no apology for the fact that I have taken some time in the House on this question. I have been an active trade unionist for a number of years, and I know how strongly those who work in teaching or in orther industries feel in matters of this sort. It is all very well for us at this level to dismiss their feelings with a wave of the hand or a benign smile. These issues are important, and I therefore plead that we should give them very serious consideration, because satisfaction on the part of employees, particularly in a vital sector of our economy such as teaching, is essential if our society is to succeed and is to go forward in the future.
I very much hope that my right hon. Friends will give weight to the points which I have raised this evening and consider how far they can go with me on these issues, which are of vital importance.
My hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr.Newens) has no need to apologise for taking some time of the House on this issue. It is of great value to all of us that it has been raised in the form in which he has raised it, because clearly there has been anxiety about Clause 3 and about the nature of arbitration. We discussed this on Second Reading and in Committee, and it is valuable to return to it tonight. I begin by saying that I shall be able to accept not the Amendment as it stands but the purpose of the Amendment, and I thereby hope to go a great deal of the way to meet the points which my hon. Friend made.
Perhaps before dealing with the rôle of the chairman, which is central to the Amendment, I may be allowed to comment that in moving the Amendment my hon. Friend was referring to his view on the Clause and was attackinig the concept of arbitration as it is contained in the Bill. On this there is clearly a difference of view between him and the Government which has come out in previous discussions. But I assure him, as I attempted to assure him in Committee, that it is wrong to describe the rôle of the Secretary of State in the terms in which he described it a few moments ago.
I remind him and the House that the Clause says that
The Secretary of State shall make arrangements
for determining these matters and that it goes on to say that before making arrangements he shall consult the bodies represented on the committee. As we have explained in previous stages, what we have in mind is a delicate set of arrangements by which this can be determined. It is not a simple power of the Secretary of State to decide all things in the way in which my hon. Friend suggested.
In doing so, we have in mind two objectives. One is to draw up arrangements by which it will not be possible for negotiations to be in a state of perpetual deadlock. The phrase "perpetual deadlock" was used by my hon. Friend on Second Reading and the word "perpetual" should be stressed, because we are seeking to make arrangements by which there may be some way out of perpetual deadlock. It should be realised that the deadlock would apply to either side and that it might be the employing side which insisted—
I ask those who are in favour of leaving the situation in the state where perpetual deadlock is possible to recognise that it would apply to either side and that it might mean, for example, that the employing side could insist on there being deadlock, which might mean that existing salaries would go on being paid and that there was no way out. This consideration is on the whole question of whether Clause 3 should be in the Bill.
One of our objectives being to avoid perpetual deadlock, our other objective—and I stress this strongly, as I did in Committee—is to avoid any issue going prematurely to arbitration before every possible means has been explored of resolving the deadlock. It is on this that I accept the intention of the Amendment; that the rôle of the chairman could be quite important.
It is encouraging to note that throughout the stages of the Bill this suggestion has come up several times. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) suggested that the chairman might have a positive rôle to play and my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) also took this view as a result of his long experience of these matters. Since my hon. Friend the Member for Epping, with his experience of the N.U.T., has also made this suggestion, it is encouraging to note that there is an consensus of opinion emerging, with which the Government would wish to be associated, that this is indeed an important suggestion.
As hon. Members know, we are committed to consulting with the bodies represented on the committees to draw up these arrangements for arbitration, Those consultations cannot take place formally until the Bill has become law, but they can take place informally and, in fact, I can tell the House that we have drawn up the draft of a series of suggestions which we are about to send to the teachers' organisations and local authorities for their comments on the way these arrangements would work.
I am glad to take this opportunity to say that this draft will provide for arrangements by which no issue can go to arbitration until every possible opportunity of reaching agreement has been exhausted. Further, if there is disagreement about that between the two sides—in other words, if one side thinks that there is no further opportunity of reaching agreement and the other side thinks that there is—then it should be the chairman of the committee who should give a ruling on whether the stage has been reached for the matter to go to arbitration. Thus we have put into these draft arrangements precisely the point contained in the Amendment.
I must emphasise that this is a draft which still has to be considered by the other bodies. Obviously we will have to consider their views on it. I am encouraged by the fact that there has been support in the House from hon. Members on both sides, from hon. Members with varying experience of this matter, but I cannot anticipate at this moment what formal views may be given by either the teachers' organisations or the local authorities. It is certainly our view that the rôle of the chairman should be the rôle as proposed in the Amendment.
I ask my hon. Friend to withdraw the Amendment because it would be wrong to write it as it stands into the Bill. It would be wrong for three reasons. First, it would be contrary to the principle that arrangements should be made in consultation with the various parties. Secondly, if we are going to think of writing in one aspect of the arrangements, we must think of writing them all in—and various of the bodies concerned, the teachers' organisations or local authorities, might argue the case for some other paragraphs of the arrangements to be the subjects of Amendment, and we would have to take time to consider those matters.
Thirdly, I would resist the Amendment in the literal sense because I think that it would make things too permanent. It would mean amending legislation if we ever wanted to alter this arrangement. We have in mind that, once agreed, these should be standing arrangements, and though arrangements that we could regard as standing for a long time, something that could be amended at a future date by any party proposing to the others that that should be done. Indeed, the rôle of the chairman himself must depend in some measure on the views taken by him at a particular time. If experience turned out badly, he might prefer a lesser rôle.
We therefore have to be flexible in this matter, so we think that it would be wrong to write the Amendment into the Bill. I hope that I have given my hon. Friend sufficient assurance that we accept the principle of the Amendment and want the arrangements, if the other parties agree, to contain precisely the principle that he has put before the House this evening.
I think that the answer to that question is contained in the wording of the Clause, because subsection (2) states
Before making any arrangements … the Secretary of State shall consult the bodies…".
That would apply to any alteration to the arrangement. The Secretary of State would have to consult the bodies. Similarly, if any body wanted to propose alterations, the Secretary of State would have to consult all the other bodies before any changes were made.
We have before as what are, in effect, alternative forms of a single principle. As the House knows, from the Second Reading debate onwards I have always taken the view that this is one of the crucial issues that will have to be faced, either during the passage of the Bill or in the working arrangements which succeed its passage into law. I myself prefer the alternative proposed by the Minister of State to that contained in the Amendment, and as I wish—up to a point, at any rate—to be helpful in this matter, I want to explain why I prefer this flexible form to the rigid form proposed by the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens).
I think that I am right in saying that the difference between the two forms is the difference between the rigidity of an Act of Parliament and flexibility—that is, the right of the Secretary of State to make arrangements from time to time. The Minister of State was quite right in saying that it was I—or, if not I, someone on this side of the Chamber, amongst others, who suggested on Second Reading that the chairman of the arbitrary body should have a positive rôle to play in determining this crucial issue.
It is as well to be quite clear what the crucial issue is. If we are to have a system of arbitration built into the negotiating machinery for the remuneration of teachers, it comes into operation when deadlock has been reached, or after deadlock has been reached and, one hopes, not until then. The ideal solution is that the committee, or committees, agree. I do not think anyone would doubt this. The question is: who is to decide when deadlock has been reached? This is the point at issue. It could go on like a running sore. The hon. Member for Epping thought that the position of the parties is not equal. The position of the parties is not the same, but that does not mean that they are not equal. Each has a weapon of negotiation, but it is in each case a different weapon. Each is vulnerable to pressure of a different kind. There have been examples in recent years of this vulnerability in both directions.
The old sanction of Burnham as it was unaltered—it is this which I think the hon. Member has forgotten—was that if no agreement was reached under Burnham, there being thereafter no arbitration procedure to resort to, the teachers were under pressure precisely because they got no increase of pay until they agreed. That was a very considerable sanction in practice over the years and one which was very generally recognised both in the teaching profession and by those concerned with educational matters. It is precisely this pressure on the teachers, to which they are quite certainly vulnerable, which would continue to remain if the hon. Member's basic objection to a built-in arbitral procedure were allowed to remain. I think that he has overlooked that point.
On the other hand, the teachers have a very powerful weapon. They can keep the negotiations going because the Minister, whoever he may be, is vulnerable to pressure in this House. The teachers on more occasions than one have used that weapon with quite considerable effect. I have always expressed the view, and I expressed it again, that the object which everyone should seek to achieve in discussing this matter ought if possible to be to take this kind of thing out of party politics, indeed, out of political pressure, and to put in a system of negotiating machinery which would give dignity to the profession and dignity to public life.
The dignity of both is basically offended by what has been going on in recent years under the continuation of the old machinery which, as I have said throughout these proceedings, I regard as obsolete. But that means, in effect, that both parties ought to face in that negotiating machinery the fact that the original weapon which they were entitled to use is taken away from them in the ultimate resort and where deadlock has been genuinely reached neither the employers would be able to withhold any form of award indefinitely, nor indefinitely could this matter be made the resort of political pressure in this House.
For a certain period this may be legitimate, but in the end this negotiating procedure will work only if the arbitration procedure is built in. I think that is what the Minister meant when he talked about the avoidance of perpetual deadlock. I must apologise, no less than the hon. Member for Epping did, for taking some time on this matter, but it is one of the crucial discussions we must have. He described this form of arbitration as compulsory arbitration. That, in trade union ears, is often a red rag to a bull—if a red rag can be anything in anyone's ears. I do not wholly agree with the hon. Member. The words "compulsory arbitration" contain a multitude of quite different meanings. This, again, was a circumstance which I think he overlooked.
All arbitrations are, in a sense, compulsory once both sides are bound to accept the award. An ordinary commercial arbitration based on an arbitration agreement is compulsory and will be enforced by the courts in the sense that the parties will not be allowed to litigate in preference to arbitration. This is compulsory only in the sense that—given certain circumstances—it becomes automatic, that is to say, the arbitration is built in as part of the negotiating machinery.
This is true. It is not a unique case in industry and it is not a unique case in the public service. Some industries go in for a built-in arbitral procedure. Some do not. There is no uniform pattern over industry and, so far as I can see, there is no reason why there should be a uniform pattern over industry.
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an example which occurs in industry or in the public service, apart from the police and firemen, where the State is represented in the negotiating machinery and also has the right to declare that a matter shall go to arbitration? If he could give a similar example, I might consider the matter further. I do not know of any such example.
That is not what the Minister proposes here, as I understand it. He proposes that in the arrangements which the Secretary of State makes the chairman of the arbitral board shall play a positive rôle just as the hon. Gentleman suggests. Where we are not at one, however, is in complaining that the basic arbitral procedure under the Bill is compulsory arbitration.
I want to explain to the hon. Gentleman why we differ about this. All I was saying—it is a rather different point to that put to me by the hon. Gentleman—is that this is not the only case where an industry or a public service has a built-in arbitral procedure as part of its negotiating machinery, to be resorted to where deadlock is arrived at. The kind of arbitration which is called compulsory arbitration and which, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, because, although I know that he thinks that nobody on this side of the House knows anything about either trade unions or arbitration—
In Committee the hon. Gentleman did, but he has not suggested it this evening. Perhaps he has learned a little already since the Committee stage. What offends trade unionists, rightly or wrongly, is not that an arbitral procedure should be built into negotiating machinery, but that an arbitration should be made a condition of the right of withdrawal of labour. In that sense, this is not compulsory arbitration in any shape or form. Therefore, to describe this proposed machinery as compulsory arbitration is misleading, because the phrase is equivocal. It can have a perfectly innocent sense from the trade union point of view, as this has. It can have a very sinister sense, which this has not.
On that assumption, the only objection I see to what is proposed which can be argued at this stage, until we try the arrangements and until they have been worked out in negotiation, is that it may compromise the position of the chairman of the board of arbitrators so that he loses his authority with the side against whom he chooses in declaring a deadlock. This could quite easily happen, because the situation under which he will exercise his authority in this respect in declaring the deadlock will be one, and can ex hypothesi only be one, in which one side wants to go to arbitration and the other does not, one side saying, "Deadlock has been reached. We must go to arbitration", the other saying, "Deadlock has not been reached. We must not go". If this happens, and the chairman is given the power which it is now apparently conceded he should be given, it means that at that stage he must choose between the two sides and decide in favour of one.
The condition upon which this suggestion will work rests upon the proposition that, if the chairman is asked to do this and he does it, he must not lose the respect or confidence or good will of either side, either the winning side or the losing side, because otherwise some other arrangement will have to be found. Nobody can tell for an instant until this is tried out whether that will happen. No form of machinery can be written into these arrangements which will not ultimately have to survive the test of experience.
The reason I prefer the Minister's present draft to the Amendment is that if this is tried and does not work the Minister can have a second shot at it. If it is tried and it works he will not, of course, need a second shot, whereas under the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member if he tries it and it does not work he will have to come to the House for amending legislation—amending legislation which ex hypothesi could only be proposed to the House if some kind of unseemly and undesirable event such as I have tried to describe occurred.
I share the doubt of the hon. Member for Epping about past Ministers, present Ministers and future Ministers. He tried to wrap it up a bit. He evidently had some doubts about how long the Minister was likely to remain in office, because he founded his case upon the supposition that future Ministers might be more like those who preceded the present Minister and, therefore, ex hypothesi would be less agreeable to him. Let me assure the hon. Member that his fears in one respect are only too well grounded.
I do not think that the Minister will be in office longer than the hon. Member supposes but I assure him that when the time comes he will find a Minister from this side of the House just as agreeable to do business with.
The other argument was a philosophical argument based in the same kind of country, which the hon. Member put as the centripetal force—
Although I am not an official of the National Union of Teachers, I shall go on calling it centripetal as long as I like. However the hon. Member pronounces it, that is what he would avoid.
I have heard that speech made from this side of the House. Indeed, I think I have made it myself from time to time. It leads to a peroration which says that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The only thing that I find strange about the hon. Member's argument is that he says, "I do not agree with the restriction of the power of the State when it is applied to anybody else. It is only when it is applied to me that I do not like it". This is what we on this side of the House do not altogether accept. Nevertheless, I hope that despite this difference of philosophy in which the hon. Gentleman plays the part of St. Augustine saying to the good Lord, "Lord make me chaste, but not now" or"Make anybody chaste but not me", in spite of the hon. Member's illogical opposition to the centripetal force of the State when it applies to himself but not when it is applied to industry, I hope that he will realise that both Front Benches are against him.
As they now form, so I read in today's paper, part of one joint Establishment, I hope that he will feel that the power of argument is overwhelmingly on the other side.
I want to thank the Minister for his elucidation of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr.Newens) on this Clause. After listening to the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), I am not so sure that the teachers would not have some genuine fears if we were to return to the past. It is precisely because of these fears that the teachers have raised this matter with many of us on this side of the House.
We have had representation and letters from the National Union of Teachers about this problem and the words "compulsory arbitration" have been bandied about. The words of my hon. Friend the Minister of State have gone some way to alleviate the fear which exists concerning this question of compulsory arbitration.
In the trade union world as a whole, as the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone has suggested, this has connotations which are not happy to trade unionists. They feel that for an employer, whether the State or anyone else, to have the right to submit a case to arbitration compulsorily and for an employee to accept the terms of such an arbitration award makes a complete mockery of any previous negotiation which has taken place in the industry and any form of collective bargaining that has gone before.
The National Union of Teachers is concerned about this matter at a national level. It was prepared to accept the Minister's original draft and it has, I think, subsequently raised doubts with him on this matter. We have to carry with us an important part of the teaching profession at a very difficult time when, over the past and in recent years, its members have been greatly disturbed about the whole form of the negotiating machinery, which has been violated by the party opposite; the Burnham Committee was destroyed by hon. Members opposite. Because of that, people feel that they need assurance in the new form of machinery which has been introduced.
Despite the jocular remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone about future Ministers of Education, we on this side have no doubt about the wisdom and sincerity of my right hon. Friend and the manner in which he will conduct himself in the committee and his association with the organisations. They look, however, to a form of machinery to be set up which will have a fairly permanent basis over a considerable number of years. For that reason, we have to carry the teaching profession with us. There are other people outside the teaching profession who are watching the form of negotiation which is being set up and they want to be sure that it not only appears just, but is just.
The remarks made tonight by my hon. Friend the Minister of State go some way to clearing up the doubts which exist, and I hope that these remarks will go out from this House to the organisations concerned. I am assured by my hon. Friend's remarks that he will await the opinions of those organisations and consult them further. Because of that, I am more satisfied. This short debate on arbitration has been important and I hope that when future negotiations take place, the Minister will bear in mind the points that my hon. Friends have made tonight.
Far be it from me to disagree with anything that has been said. The only point I wish to make is that in Standing Committee we had exactly the same sort of argument. This is almost a complete repetition of what we had there. We all understood the case to be well made by the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) and his hon. Friends. The point was a sincere and legitimate one for the National Union of Teachers to put forward, as the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) has said.
We all understood that on the previous occasion in Standing Committee, the hon. Member did not wish to press the Amendment to a Division. It was a sheer accident that a Division happened to be called. Anyway, it passed off. What disturbs me is that here we are on Report, with exactly the same performance, and the same players.
The hon. Gentleman asks "Why not?" But what is the object of the second exercise? Is the hon. Gentleman going to carry this Amendment to a Division? Exactly the same thing is happening all over again. The hon. Gentleman has had exactly the same reply. The Minister says, "We are not going to have it written into the Bill." Why raise the matter a second time? Is it just a little more window dressing to please his friends on the N.U.T. or does he really mean what he says?
If I may follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden), I would point out that the Bill is the property of the House. It is not the property of the Standing Committee. I should have thought that those of us who were not members of the Standing Committee were entitled to hear some of the arguments and to take part in the debate. We could not have taken part in this discussion on the Second Reading. To that extent, therefore, my hon. Friends are justified in having put down this Amendment.
Having heard my hon. Friend, I hope that he will withdraw the Amendment. I am entitled to hear what my hon. Friends say, and I am entitled to state my point of view, which is that the Amendment should be withdrawn.
For the first time in my life I am very much in agreement with the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). I thought that for once he had been talking sense.
What have I to learn now? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that this was a philosophical question. It is not. It is a perfectly practical point. The point is that the Treasury and the State are taking an increasing share in the finances of teachers' salaries. This is a practical and not a philosophical point. I am not sure whether St. Augustine would have been in favour of State aid to teachers, but his successors certainly are.
I must declare my interest. I was once a member of the N.A.S. and I left because I thought it was not a union, but an organised agitation. I am now, and have been for a long time, a member of the National Union of Teachers and a local officer, and I am resisting this Amendment. So let not the hon. Member for Selly Oak think that this is an agitation organised by the N.U.T. It is not. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend did not call it an organised agitation. This is a practical discussion among teachers and among Members of this House who are interested in education.
This is a serious point. If the State is to play an increasing part in the payment of teachers' salaries, is it not entitled to play an increasing part in the determination of those salaries by negotiation? I have advised my members that in the future the State may play an even greater part than it does now. I very much hope that it will. We may then face a situation, as forecast by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in which the party opposite will demand an even greater voice in negotiation. I am glad that my right hon. Friend resisted this idea in principle when he spoke on Second Reading.
My hon. Friends have said that the Clause as presented means compulsory arbitration. I do not believe that it does, and in this I follow the reasoning of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. This is not compulsory arbitration. In my view, this Amendment would lead even more to automatic arbitration than the Clause as it stands. We all know what lawyers are. The Amendment says
The arrangements made under subsection (1) … shall contain provisions whereby a reference to arbitration shall not be made unless the chairman of the committee … has ruled that an agreement cannot be reached …
We all know how lawyers' minds work, and we may reach the situation that the
Clause would be interpreted that an arbitration shall be made if the chairman has ruled than an agreement cannot be reached. I am sure that hon. Members with experience of the law will know that that is just how the lawyers would interpret it. They do not ask what Parliament intended. They say, "This is how it appears to us."
It seems to me that if we accept this Amendment we may reach the position where arbitration becomes much more the rule than is at present envisaged under the Clause as it stands. There is the further point that the chairman will become more and more involved in questions of interpretation and will, therefore, lose his impartiality. I do not like arbitration. I am in favour of negotiation. If we reach the situation where agreements cannot be made, where disagreements appear, then one side or other may use that situation to persuade the chairman that there are disagreements, and arbitration will become automatic. We do not want that.
I would feel, therefore, that, with those ideas in mind, my hon. Friend will with draw the Amendment.
With the leave of the House to address it again, I shall be only about one minute, first, to say that there is a good deal of common ground between the two sides of the House on this. I do not want to comment on what has been said, and nor do I find much to comment on in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). I am in the rather disturbing position of agreeing with what he said, although when he said he thought my right hon. Friend would not be long in this office I could not see what sort of reshuffle of the existing Government he was contemplating in the years ahead. However, perhaps it would not be in order to pursue that further.
There are two points to which I would briefly make reference. First, I think that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) was unfair to my hon. Friends. I thought that it was a proposal of value. I am sure that most hon. Members would think it of value to discuss something which is disturbing a number of people outside. Certainly, my right hon. Friend and I welcome the opportunity to clarify once more what are our intentions in this Clause.
Moreover, this was a new point. The Amendment dealing with the rôle of the chairman was not moved in Committee, so this is a new point, and I assume that if it were not the Amendment would not have been called. It is a new point and valuable for that reason, as well as for allowing us to go over this ground again.
My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) voiced once more the fear that we have heard from other quarters about compulsory arbitration. It is important to recognise, as my right hon. Friend did, that these are emotive words, words which have a number of meanings. What we propose here contains an element of compulsion in the sense that if there is deadlock, if it is clear that the methods of pursuing the situation by negotiation have failed, then arrangements will be made by which there will be reference to arbitration, which may be against the wishes of one side of the Committee. In that sense, there is compulsion.
This is not compulsory arbitration in the sense often understood in the trade union movement. I think that he recognises, in what he says, that it is important that all should make this clear to those outside the House who have doubts and fears about it.
Of course, we feel, as my hon. Friend has said, that negotiation is what we want. Arbitration is the last resort, but the fact that arbitration is available will help negotiation in a way which has not been available in the past. As I said earlier, we hope to meet in our draft arrangements the main point of the Amendment. Therefore, I would hope that my hon. Friend would see his way to withdraw the Amendment, bearing that assurance in mind.