I have already announced the Government's decisions on the recommendations from the Scottish Joint Council for Teachers' Salaries and I hope to issue soon draft Regulations containing the new salary scales.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his announcement has provoked a grave crisis of confidence among teachers in Scotland? Is he further aware that his cut in the salary recommendations of the Scottish Joint Council and his decision to refer the reduced scale to the Prices and Incomes Board is contrary to the spirit of the three-year agreement reached with the teachers in 1963 and is undermining the negotiating machinery for the future?
Will not this have a lamentable effect on recruitment of teachers? Does it not mean that the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to raise the school leaving age in 1970 because of lack of teachers?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it is perhaps a pity that he should have referred this to the Prices and Incomes Board? As the House knows, there have been a number of occasions when the teachers and the Secretary of State have not seen eye to eye. One does not want to create the feeling that the Secretary of State is running out on his direct responsibility by referring these things to the Prices and Incomes Board.
I do not think that that follows. We have to keep in mind the present situation. There is no doubt about the 13 per cent. increase. The departure made on the last occasion—when the English teachers had a settlement which lasted two years whereas the Scottish teachers had one lasting three years—which has led to leap-frogging, may well have put Scottish teachers into an adverse position and it is purely on that aspect that we decided to refer the matter to the Board.
Can my right hon. Friend say why, having been given the recommendations of the National Joint Council, he has now found it necessary to refer the matter to the Board? What is the purpose of this reference? Perhaps I can just explain that the point—
My hon. Friend should appreciate that this is the first point at which the Secretary of State comes into the whole question of negotiations and that the Secretary of State is entitled—and has the statutory power—to accept, reject or modify. It may well be that we should look at the position in relation to whether or not there should be change in that system and I am prepared to do so.
Mr. Edward M. Taylor:
Can the Secretary of State explain why he thinks it worth while to sacrifice the good will of the teaching profession for the sake of 2 per cent.? If changes had to be made, why did he not take the opportunity to try to spread the shortage of teachers throughout Scotland by introducing special incentives for particular areas? Why should Glasgow, for example, have to carry such an unreasonable share of the teacher shortage?
I hope that the hon. Gentleman realises that those representations can still be made. The position is that draft Regulations have to lie on the table for 40 days and during that time representations can be made to the Secretary of State on the very kind of matters which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned. We should not get it into our heads that the Secretary of State just rubber stamps everything. The position according to the law is that the agreement on the Scottish Joint Council is made between the local authorities and the teachers, and it is only after that that the Secretary of State has his say in the matter.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that no Government have ever agreed that they should surrender the right to control the nation's finances to any outside body, however desirable such people may believe themselves to be?
I can assure my right hon. Friend that even recent history shows that there have been modifications of agreements which have come from the Scottish Joint Council and its predecessor.