I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 8, leave out
'or by the managers of a grant-aided school'.
This might appear a somewhat unnecessary amendment, but we hope that it will elicit information from the Government and certainly some explanation of the
speeches made by the Secretary of State and his colleagues on Second Reading. We wish to establish from the Government how many teachers are involved in grant-aided schools. The numbers were the basis of considerable controversy on Second Reading, and the Secretary of State will appreciate that he has a great deal of explaining to do.
If we examine the Official Report for 25th October we shall see that the Secretary of State used as his justification for the Bill the fact that unemployed teachers would be given jobs. We then asked him to give some idea of the numbers involved and he said:
… I believe that on 1st January about 400 teachers in Scottish schools will be affected by the Bill in one way or another. That is the extent by which, by making room in schools, we could be making jobs available for newly qualified teachers who at present find it difficult to obtain jobs."—[Official Report, 25th October 1976; Vol. 918, c. 52.]
That was a clear statement, and we asked for details. We were told that because the September 1976 survey was not available details of numbers in grant-aided schools and other schools could not be given. Therefore, I was astonished to hear from Mr. Docherty, the respected General Secretary of the Scottish Secondary Schoolmasters' Association, that the day after that debate he received a letter from the Scottish Education Department, and with it a table headed
Number of teachers over age 65 in service as at September 1976.
The reference on that statement gave the impression that this was the up-to-date figure for September 1976. Figures included in that table caused great concern and astonishment to hon. Members who thought that the Bill was aimed at justifying the saving of teacher jobs because we discovered that those teachers in full-time employment, according to the table, totalled only 183.
I notice, as I did on Second Reading, that when the Opposition mention something that is particularly embarrassing, the Secretary of State engages in a loud personal conversation. That is a good guide that we have hit on something which the Government have bungled.
The figure is significant because the other teachers concerned—temporary, part-time or occasional—are on such short-term contracts that their services can be dispensed with irrespective of the Bill. Of the total number of teachers, 117 are in primary schools, about 45 in secondary schools and probably, although we do not know, a considerable proportion of the 45 will be teachers of subjects such as maths where there is a shortage. The Bill will not have the effect of creating more jobs.
In the debate on 25th October the Secretary of State said that he could not give any details but in a letter to the Scottish Secondary Schoolmasters Association he gave a full and detailed statement. Has there been a mistake in the make-up of the figures? Did the Scottish Office make that mistake by referring to September 1976 when it meant September 1975? Even that would not answer the situation because in a statement in another place Lord Kirkhill said that the figure for September 1975 was about 300.
We are dealing with the numbers of teachers in grant-aided schools. Unless the Secretary of State can give us an explanation on the amendment it will be difficult for us to proceed. It is outrageous for the Government to have misled the House and to ask us to approve the inclusion of grant-aided schools without any indication of the numbers involved. It is not for the Secretary of State to give the House instructions on order. He has a bit of a cheek if he says that there will be an explanation forthcoming later when the House has already been misled. Either Mr. Docherty was misled or we were misled.
I thought it might have been a mistake involving the year and Mr. Docherty, in a frantic telephone conversation this morning, was told that there had been a mistake. He was told that the statement did not mean what it said and that the figures came from the year before. If that is the case, why did Lord Kirkhill say that the 1975 figure was about 300? The Secretary of State has a lot of explaining to do.
Our concern is for the numbers involved. Surely the Secretary of State can give us some indication of the numbers. The information given to Mr. Docherty showed that the reason for the new legislation is to deal with one permanent primary school teacher, no secondary school teachers and 1·5 special teachers in grant-aided schools. A total of seven part-timers are employed in grant-aided schools but they can be dismissed under existing legislation.
In which school does the one primary schoolteacher work? Is it a school where it might be difficult to recruit someone else and is the teacher male or female? The Government are taking up the valuable time of the House to deal with a situation which, according to the statement given to Mr. Docherty but not to us, concerns one full-time permanent teacher and 1·5 special teachers in grant-aided schools. How is it possible to have 1·5 permanent teachers? Where are they and will the Bill be of real help to them? As I said on Second Reading, I have a feeling that the Bill, instead of saving teachers' jobs, is just a cosmetic to cover other Government embarrassments over teacher unemployment and industrial policy.
I declare an interest because my 4½-year-old son has just started at a grant-aided school in Glasgow. Is it right for a Government which intends to phase out grants to grant-aided schools to write into permanent legislation a restriction on the freedom of action of schools which will shortly receive no grants at all?
The issue is important though small and beyond it there is the whole credibility of the Secretary of State who specifically told the House that the September 1976 figures were not available. He told us that 400 teaching jobs would be made available. He should explain precisely how, if one dismisses 50 part-time teachers, 50 new jobs are created. The Secretary of State was misleading the House.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Spring-burn (Mr. Buchanan) recently asked how many teachers over 65 years of age are in temporary, part-time or occasional posts and therefore not directly affected by the Bill and how many are employed
in one-teacher or two-teacher schools. He was told:
The estimate of 400 to which my right hon. Friend referred on 25th October—cannot be broken down into the categories requested." —[Official Report, 2nd November 1976, Vol. 918, c. 504.]
If that is so, how was it possible for the categories to be broken down to Mr. Docherty the day after the debate? There is something strange going on. I feel that it is an attempt by the Government to give the impression that the Bill will achieve more than it will.
I can see no point in writing in a specific provision about grant-aided schools when, as far as I can see, no secondary teachers are involved and only one primary teacher is involved, and when the grants for the grant-aided schools are being phased out because of the Government's scandalous vendetta against those schools.
The Scottish National Party's attitude to the grant-aided schools is already clear, but the principle behind the debate is very important. Scottish teachers feel an increasing lack of confidence in the Scottish Office as it seems to be unable to produce statistics when asked for them in the House. On Second Reading several of us, from different parties, asked for the numbers affected by the Bill. It is extremely disappointing that only research by organisations outwith the House has provided the figures on which we have come to depend.
It appears that there are 416 teachers over the age of 65, but 145 are part-time according to the Scottish Education Department statistics kindly provided by the SSTA. Incidentally, I point out to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) that that is the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and not the Schoolmasters' Association. There is quite a difference. Part-time teachers in Scotland have already suffered the indignity of being asked to leave during the present crisis, many of them having already given years of inestimable service to the local community. We all know that 145 part-time jobs do not make 145 full-time jobs. How many jobs does the Secretary of State estimate would become available if the 145 part-time teachers were replaced by the new teacher who could not find employment?
Is the figure of 184 full-time permanent teachers the one with which the Bill deals, or is it 400? What exactly is the figure the Scottish Office has in mind? Most hon. Members have rather confused attitudes towards the Bill because they are unsure about the number of jobs available. Only a categorical assurance that the Secretary of State knows the numbers involved will ensure that the Bill is given its Third Reading.
Over the weekend I was interviewed by a representative of Mr. Docherty's association, the SSTA, who told me that one of the main reasons for the Bill was to find employment for newly qualified teachers. We have heard that 400 teachers could be found employment if we passed the Bill. I have heard many figures bandied about—400, 300 and now 180. I was told at the weekend that if we took account of those who could have their services terminated by the ordinary statutory rights of local education authorities and those over age but teaching subjects for which there is a shortage of teachers—for example, engineering, science and maths—we should find that not more than 60 teachers would be affected by the Bill. A wide variety of figures are being trotted around. It would be in the interests of us all to have something more definite.
I have a great respect for many of the teachers with whom we are dealing. Whatever we decide today, we should all express our gratitude to those men and women who have devoted their time to helping us, especially during periods of serious teacher shortage. The officer in charge of Lanarkshire was out night after night knocking on doors to encourage teachers to help us out during the days of grave shortage. We should record our appreciation to them for their loyal service during those difficult times.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) said that the Secretary of State had stated that he could not break down the figure of 400. I wonder why not. I could have understood it before the reorganisation of local government, when we had about 30 local education authorities. It would then have been quite a problem preparing reports showing the number of teachers over 65, the subjects they taught and those who would automatically be asked to retire when the Bill became law. But today we have only 12 education authorities and it should not be so difficult. Has any effort been made by my right hon. Friend's Department to find out from the 12 regional authorities the numbers of teachers over 65 and the subjects they are teaching? Since my meeting with the SSTA representative, I am convinced that steps should be taken to place before the House clear details of the number of teachers affected.
I am glad to join the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) in his tribute to the older teachers who helped out in Scottish education for such a long time when we were short of teachers. Their help was nowhere more important than in the hon. Gentleman's area, then Lanarkshire but now Strathclyde.
I want to add my strong criticism of the handling of this legislation by the Scottish Office. The Under-Secretary talks about raising standards. He hopes for better standards, but, as the draft of the letter on the subject is so woefully inadequate in terms of literacy and numeracy, he has a long way to go.
Our first demand must be for a clear statement on what went wrong with the computer in the Scottish Office which resulted in the House and no doubt Ministers themselves being completely misled. I cannot imagine that they would have introduced the Bill if they had known what they were talking about. When we have a great economic crisis and many other problems to deal with, it is difficult to justify taking up the time of the House with a Bill that apparently will retire compulsorily only about 180 teachers. Some of those teachers are specialists in mathematics and science whose departure can be ill afforded, bearing in mind that so many of the teachers without posts are not qualified in mathematics and science. I shall, of course, be relating this situation particularly to the grant-aided schools, where the situation is even more incredible.
The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) said that we all know the policy of the SNP in relation to the grant aided schools. But she did not go on, for the benefit of the House and the world at large, to say that the SNP had set out hell-bent to abolish them, as have the present Socialist Government. We on the Conservative Benches realise the value and importance of the grant-aided schools and the grant-aided system in Scotland, as well as the right of managers to appoint or retire their teachers as they and the teaching association feel correct.
The SSTA, so ably led by Mr. Docherty, has brought to the notice of the House the apparently incompatible terms of the letter sent by the Scottish Education Department to Mr. Docherty. It grieves me to know that that splendid Department has fallen so rapidly on to the rocks under the guidance of the Minister. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) chortles away but he does not know that at one time the SED was operating extremely effectively. What is of concern is that here we have a letter written by the Department and compounded by Lord Kirkhill in another place. The present disorganisation in the Department is incomprehensible. The Minister has a great deal to explain away, such as the figures and the drafting of the letter in relation to the numbers of teachers available in schools, particularly those available to teach in grant-aided schools who would be compulsorily retired under the Bill.
It seems surprising that the Minister should include a clause apparently affecting one primary school teacher in Scotland. Does he really think that it is good value for money or a proper use of the Government's time? Surely they could be doing better things than legislating to retire one teacher. Mr. Malloch must be spinning like a top at the thought. The Minister has a great deal of explaining to do before the House can accept that what he is proposing is more than a charade of practical legislation about Scottish education.
We on the Conservative Benches are particularly anxious about the numbers encouraged into colleges of education by the Minister in September last year when he had all the facts before him. We are still awaiting answers to our questions about why he did it. The hon. Gentleman still does not know and is not prepared to answer those questions. The House is eagerly awaiting answers. Will the hon. Gentleman try to reconcile the inconsistencies in the statistical information over the past two months about teacher supply and teacher retirement, because the House is so far confounded by his efforts?
The House has heard from several speakers how hopelessly irrelevant the Bill is to the educational needs of Scotland. I do not wish to go over the general argument. The amendment specifically relates to grant-aided schools and I would draw attention to something of significant importance. We have heard a number of references about the hopelessness of the information made available to the House, particularly during the Second Reading debate.
I want to make a specific reference to a positive mis-statement made by the Minister in respect of education in Scotland during the Second Reading debate. It was a positive misleading of the House and unless the hon. Gentleman corrects it, or withdraws it, it could do considerable harm to one particular individual in Scotland.
During Second Reading I raised the case of Dundee High School which is a grant-aided and co-educational school. I referred to the problem which that school had raised with the Scottish Education Department, namely, that its present rector is due to become 65 this month. The school raised this matter some months ago before the Bill had even been contemplated. The school has invited the rector to remain after his 65th birthday—until June of next year—in order that he can supervise the internal reorganisation of the school. As a result of this Bill the rector would be obliged to retire on 1st January next year with a maximum extension of three months—a period which is less than that required by his school in the interests of the school and the pupils.
I raised this matter with the Minister and pleaded with him to reconsider it because of the harmful effect that the Government's policy would have with regard to this particular school. The answer that I got from the Minister was not only disappointing but turned out to be totally inaccurate and misleading. In the Official Report of Monday 25th
October, during Second Reading the Minister referred to my comments and said:
The hon. Member for Edinburgh Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) referred to the decision about the rector of Dundee High School.
The Minister then went on to say:
That situation has nothing to do with the Bill. The situation of a rector, which is a promoted post was decided in 1969 when the teaching profession, unions and local authorities were unanimous in the view that a promoted teacher had to retire at 65."—[Official Report, 25th October, 1976; Vol. 918, c. 96.]
What the Minister was saying, quite unambiguously and unequivocally was that the position of the rector of Dundee High School was in no way affected by the Bill or prejudiced by it because the situation had already been resolved seven years ago.
I must inform the Minister that he clearly had not read his own legislation when he made that statement. There is a substantial difference in the present situation, as proposed in the Bill, compared with the situation under the 1969 Education (Scotland) Act. If the Minister will refer—perhaps for the first time—to the 1969 Act he will see that Section 16(1) states quite specifically:
Except where his employer otherwise determines, every teacher … shall retire"—
at a certain age, and in the case of promoted posts at the age of 65.
In other words, not that he must retire at 65 irrespective of whether his employers determined otherwise. It was on that basis, under the provisions of the 1969 Act, that Dundee High School made its invitation to the rector to continue and he agreed to do so until June of next year in order to supervise the reorganisation of that grant-aided school.
In case there is any doubt about this matter, or that the school might have been confused, I asked the school after the Minister made his reply last Monday and the letter I have received states:
The employer in this case is the Board of Governors or Managers of the School and they determined, prior to the Retirement of Teachers (Scotland) Bill that the Rector should continue in his post until the end of the present session, i.e. the end of June 1977. Before coming to this decision reference was made to the Scottish Education Department
—the Minister's own Department—
in Edinburgh, who referred us to Section 16 of the 1969 Act and confirmed that what we intended was perfectly in order.
I look forward to the Minister's reply. Last Monday he said categorically that this Bill made not the slightest difference to the position of the rector of Dundee High School. It is clear from the Bill, but we have also a statement from the SED to the high school, that prior to the publication of the Bill the rector would have been able to continue as the school hoped. As a result of the Bill, that will no longer be possible.
The Minister did not answer that question last Monday. He misled the House, albeit innocently. I hope therefore that he will not only make clear the legal position but also concede that the position of the rector will be severely prejudiced by the Bill in its present form. I hope that he will be man enough to accept now that some flexibility is required, that the present position is undesirable and that the legislation should be amended in terms of this amendment and by means of other amendments which will extend the period for people in promoted posts until after the age of 65.
It is unusual and unfortunate when the House is misled in this way. I hope that the Minister will now have the grace to agree that he unwittingly misled the House and to concede this point in the interests of justice.
I wonder who is misleading whom. I respect the intellectual fidelity of hon. Members, but the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) said that this matter concerned the future of the grant-aided schools. I thing that he had better read the record. I am a Bedouin who believes in Greek tragedy, and I see that as a classic case of misleading the House.
Then there is the numbers game, the throwing of the legal dice to decide whether an area will get a grant-aided school and therefore—so Opposition Members claim—children the opportunity of a better education. I hope that the Minister will resist the amendment. This tendency to play the numbers game is not consonant with the principle of the amendment.
The amendment is a very narrow one and has nothing to do with much of the debate that we have heard so far. I hope that hon. Members will take the advice of the Secretary of State, who told the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) when he went into the numbers game that if a debate on the Question That the clause stand part of the Bill were allowed, my right hon. Friend would clear up the matter of one group of figures against another.
We were not questioning figures. We asked a simple question. The Minister said on 25th that figures were not available. But Mr. Docherty got a table headed "September 1976". Therefore, either Mr. Docherty was misled or the House was misled. It must be one or the other. The Minister could at least answer that point of principle, quite apart from the detailed explanation. That is a straight question requiring a straight answer—"Yes" or "No".
Could I prevail on the hon. Member to take the advice of my right hon. Friend? My right hon. Friend will certainly convey to the House in his answer enough information to clear up the doubts in the hon. Member's mind and in the minds of any other hon. Members. I ask him to consider that proposition.
I stand by what I said at the beginning, that this is a very narrow amendment. I am bound to deal with the amendment. I hope that I shall not be taken to be impudent about the conduct of the Chair if I also say that the comments by the hon. Member for Edinburgh Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) had nothing to do with the amendment. However, with your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall try to answer his questions and his accusation that I misled the House.
The purpose of the amendment is to remove from the application of the proposed new Section 16 any teacher employed by managers of a grant-aided school which is a grant-aided secondary school or a grant-aided residential special school. I regret to say that the amendment is not acceptable to the Government. The present Section 16 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1969 applies both to teachers employed by the managers of a grant-aided school and to those employed by an education authority and requires them to retire from a promoted post at the age of 65 and from any other post at the age of 70, unless the employers otherwise determine.
This section will be replaced from the date of commencement of the Bill by the proposed new Section 16. If the new section does not apply to teachers employed by the managers of grant-aided schools, there will be no statutory provisions governing the retiring age of teachers employed by such managers. As long as the managers of such schools receive public money in the form of grant aid, the conditions of service of teachers in them should not differ substantially from those which apply to teachers in education authority schools.
The amendment is also defective, because it does not remove the reference to managers of grant-aided schools in line 19 on page 1. I would ask the Committee to resist the amendment.
Perhaps I might now try to answer the questions raised by the hon. Member for Pentlands. The substance of our debates was the whole question of promoted and non-promoted teachers. It was a unanimous decision, which had the acceptance of the teaching unions, that promoted teachers should retire at 65 in order to open up the promotional stream. That was accepted by everyone, with no furore. The hon. Member for Pentlands wrote to me about the rector of Dundee High School and I replied to him in the letter to which he referred.
When I referred to the debate, it was in the context of the general provision, which we had agreed in 1969, that teachers in promoted posts should retire at 65 anyway. The Bill would allow three months' discretion. We believe that the correct way of tackling this problem—
The Minister refers to the letter that he wrote to me. I never mentioned it, because it contained nothing of substance. I was referring to the Minister's statement in the House last Monday. I raised the matter with him, as he remembers. I must repeat the words that he used:
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) referred to the decision about the rector of Dundee High School. That situation has nothing to do with the Bill."—[Official Report, 25th October 1976: Vol. 918, c. 96.]
That is what the Minister said, but any examination of the Bill reveals that it has an enormous amount to do with the Bill. But for the Bill, the rector could continue in office as the school, the parents and everyone else wish until June next year. As a result of the Bill he will be able to remain there only for three months after 1st January. That is the consequence of this Bill and of nothing else. Would the Minister concede that?
We do not want to split hairs or spend an inordinate time on this amendment, because in this context it is in a sense out of order. On Second Reading, we discussed the contents of the letter in which I replied to the hon. Member, referring to the rector. I was saying at that time that the situation in Dundee was such that surely a replacement could be found from among all the teachers in the Tayside region who could fill this position. I was saying that surely this man was not irreplaceable. The hon. Gentleman will remember that I made that point and said that the whole point of retiring from promoted posts at 65 was to open the possibility of promotion to those posts. That was how I described it in the context of the debate. If I misled the hon. Gentleman, I apologise, but he knows that was not my intention.
I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman, who is gracious at times, accepts that. The argument is still the same.
No person is so irreplaceable that a teacher on Tayside could not be found to do the same job as the rector of Dundee. I have great faith in the quality of teachers in Scotland. To settle the argument, if I gave a different impression, I apologise to the hon. Gentleman.
In the context of the debate we were talking about promoted posts at 65 and the need to open promotion opportunities for teachers in non-promoted posts. I was arguing on the principle that no one is irreplaceable—certainly not headmasters of schools, be they grant-aided or ordinary comprehensive secondary schools. I hope that will be accepted by the hon. Member for Pentlands. We must resist the amendment.
I accept that the Minister did not deliberately intend to mislead the House, but the fact remains that he did. I am happy that he has at last conceded that point, albeit reluctantly.
The Minister may be right to say that it is generally accepted that persons in promoted posts should retire at the age of 65 with various extensions for limited periods if the school wishes. But that is not the issue. In the instance to which I drew his attention the question was whether there should be certain flexibility to allow the rector to continue not indefinitely, but for another eight or nine weeks because he was supervising the overall internal reorganisation of the school. In the view of the governors, that will take several months to complete. If the rector who initiated that reorganisation has to leave before it is completed, I suggest that a completely new teacher, who may be a very good rector, cannot reasonably be expected to take over such a complex and substantial reorganisation.
The hon. Gentleman clearly demonstrates the nonsense involved by suggesting that, instead of the Government writing inflexibility into the Bill so that common sense can coincide with its terms, we should have a rigid Bill, but re-employ the rector as an ordinary teacher for a couple of months to complete the reorganisation.
The hon. Gentleman is obviously having a bit of fun. There is flexibility in the Bill to allow the rector to stay on if he is engaged in reorganising the school. But he could do that without being rector. On the other hand, it shows a damaging view of the way in which the affairs of that school are run that one man should be totally responsible for everything that happens and, if he goes, there is utter chaos and collapse.
Clearly the hon. Gentleman has never been responsible for or been involved in running any large organisation, be it a school, industry, a trade union or anything else. Perhaps it is just as well. Clearly if the school is going through intensive reorganisation, success or otherwise will depend on the leadership provided by the person in charge of the reorganisation. To withdraw the rector, not by accident but by design, just before the reorganisation is complete is bound to increase the problems.
The Bill in its present form is foolishly rigid. It is not meant to re-enact common sense. It is simply concerned with choosing an unnecessary formula which will not have any substantial effect on education prospects in Scotland. I hope that the Minister realises that he is asking the Committee to approve a rigid statute that does not relate to standards of common sense. That is not what legislation is for.
The Bill has already resulted in considerable resentment. This type of approach is certain to increase the resentment already felt by many in the teaching profession. In at least one instance it will lead to serious problems in the reorganisation of an important school.
The Minister has given a most disgraceful reply from the Dispatch Box. It was totally inadequate in meeting the arguments which have been put forward by the Opposition. If the Minister's arguments are to be so lacking in reason and fact on other amendments, we are in for a long, hard night's work. I hope that he will continue better than he started, because he has not given us any confidence so far.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) put forward an unequivocal argument when she referred to grant-aided schools. It is interesting to have the views of the Scottish National Party repeated.
One point really annoyed me in the Minister's reply. Having had to sit opposite the Minister on another Bill earlier in this Session, I know that, whenever he is lacking in argument, he tries to put up a smoke screen of other reasons which have no relation to the amendment under discussion. That is what the hon. Gentleman did this afternoon in lecturing the Committee on procedure in the presence of the Chairman. We shall listen to the Chairman regarding procedure, but not the hon. Gentleman.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) made it clear that we cannot proceed to further debates on this clause without knowing the basis of fact on which it is formed. It is all very well for the Secretary of State to intervene and to say that he will give us the figures on the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill. But, by the time we reach that stage, we shall have finished with this amendment. We want to know what is involved now.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart was entirely right to refer to the figures which have been given in earlier debates and to the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and to ask which were right. What confidence can we have in any figures put forward by the Government when so many different figures have been bandied about? The Secretary of State could have helped the Committee if he had been prepared to give this information at an earlier stage. It is difficult to form a proper opinion when the Government are not prepared to give the necessary information to enable us to continue.
The Minister has not dealt with the one basic question put to him by my hon. Friend. We have been put in a difficulty, because of the Secretary of State's intransigence, in coming to a proper decision on the amendment. I put that to one side. The Minister has completely failed to answer the question: how many teachers are involved? The Minister should have been prepared to answer that question. My hon. Friend put forward the figures which he thought were involved: one full-time teacher in primary schools, none in secondary schools, and 1·5, whatever that may mean, in special schools. We want to know whether the Minister will give us an answer on that point and tell us how many are involved in relation to the amendment.
The Minister appeared to be so worked up about procedure that he was not prepared to give us the information. This makes me very nervous as to what may happen when we come to the motion That the Clause stand part of the Bill. If the Minister cannot give us the information on this one small point, what confidence can we have that the Government will be any more forthcoming or accurate later? For that reason, if for no other, I am particularly disappointed with the Minister's argument.
With regard to the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), this again focuses the inadequacy of the Minister's reply. The Minister makes little of the one person concerned in relation to Dundee High School. He seems to think that because there is only one person concerned, it is a special case and ought not to cause any difficulty. But that argument is equally applicable to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart. If only one primary schoolteacher and 1·5 special schoolteachers are involved, that is not very important either. Therefore, if the Minister tries to belittle the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Pentlands, he is in effect giving strength to the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart. If this is of so little importance, why does the Minister not accept our amendment? The Minister has shown himself to be thoroughly stubborn. He has shown that the Bill is really of little importance, because so few people are involved.
Concerning the main burden of the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Pentlands as to the rector of Dundee High School, the Minister is saying that because the Government have a Bill with blanket provision for a particular purpose covering all teachers, he is completely unprepared to consider a special situation in a particular school, which our amendment would help cover. That is what makes us on the Conservative side very critical of the whole approach of the Government to education in Scotland at the present time.
The Government are simply not prepared to deal with the special needs of particular groups in particular schools. If I were involved in teaching in Scotland I should be horrified at the insensitivity of the Minister to the particular problem of Dundee High School. The view put forward by the managers is a thoroughly reasonable one. There is a major reorganisation taking place and they have asked for special conditions in regard to the rector. This is not for another year or two but just for a matter of weeks, so that they can continue to the end of the 1976–77 school session and carry through to its conclusion the reorganisation that is taking place.
By trying to apply his blanket solution to a particular case, the Minister has not shown himself to be worthy of his responsibilities of looking after education in Scotland at the present time. He is quite insensitive to the needs of education in Scotland.
In listening to the debate I could not help reflecting on the reluctance of the Minister and of the Secretary of State to give to the House the statistics which would help it to come to a better conclusion, knowing that there is confusion and conflict about the figures. One wonders—this point was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries
(Mr. Monro)—what has happened to the numeracy of the Scottish Education Department. The Prime Minister has been urging a return to better educational standards. The Scottish Education Department, and the Minister responsible for that Department, would do well to try to improve their standards and to set an example themselves. In failing to put right the record in regard to numbers they are failing the House. They are not enabling the House to deal properly with these amendments.
I appreciate that the amendment does not affect many people but, given the inadequacy of the Government's reply, their total unwillingness and failure to provide the information which would help the House, and the insensitivity of the Minister towards these special cases, I have no hesitation in advising my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the amendment and to vote against the Government.
|Division No. 369.]||AYES||[4.55 p.m.|
|Arnold, Tom||Fry, Peter||Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Mawby, Ray|
|Awdry, Daniel||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Baker, Kenneth||Goodhew, Victor||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Banks, Robert||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)|
|Bell, Ronald||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Mills, Peter|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Benyon, W.||Gray, Hamish||Moate, Roger|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Grieve, Percy||Monro, Hector|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grist, Ian||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hall, Sir John||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Hannam, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)|
|Brittan, Leon||Havers, Sir Michael||Nelson, Anthony|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Hawkins, Paul||Neubert, Michael|
|Brotherton, Michael||Hayhoe, Barney||Newton, Tony|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Heseltine, Michael||Noll, John|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hicks, Robert||Onslow, Cranley|
|Buck, Antony||Higgins, Terence L.||Page, John (Harrow West)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hunt, David (Wirral)||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Percival, Ian|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|Clegg, Walter||Jopling, Michael||Raison, Timothy|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Rathbone, Tim|
|Cope, John||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Cordle, John H.||King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)|
|Corrie, John||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Kitson, Sir Timothy||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Knight, Mrs Jill||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Knox, David||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Drayson, Burnaby||Latham, Michael (Melton)||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Durant, Tony||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Dykes, Hugh||Luce, Richard||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Farr, John||Macfarlane, Nell||Shepherd, Colin|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||MacGregor, John||Shersby, Michael|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Madel, David||Silvester, Fred|
|Forman, Nigel||Marten, Neil||Sims, Roger|
|Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||Mates, Michael||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Fox, Marcus||Mather, Carol||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Sproat, Iain||Walder, David (Clitheroe)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Stradling Thomas, J.||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)||Wall, Patrick|
|Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)||Walters, Dennis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Tebbit, Norman||Wiggin, Jerry||Mr. Spencer Le Marehant and|
|Townsend, Cyril D.||Winterton, Nicholas||Mr. Michael Roberts.|
|Abse, Leo||Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Prescott, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Hatton, Frank||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Archer, Peter||Henderson, Douglas||Reid, George|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Hooson, Emlyn||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Roper, John|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Hunter, Adam||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Bates, Alf||Janner, Greville||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Beith. A. J.||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Selby, Harry|
|Bishop, E. S.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||John, Brynmor||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Silverman, Julius|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Small, William|
|Buchan, Norman||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Campbell, Ian||Judd, Frank||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Kaufman, Gerald||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Cant, R. B.||Kelley, Richard||Stallard, A. W.|
|Carmichael, Nell||Kerr, Russell||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Cartwright, John||Lambie, David||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Cocks, Rt Han Michael||Lamond, James||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Coleman, Donald||Leadbitter, Ted||Sloddart, David|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)||Strang, Gavin|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Lipton, Marcus||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Lomas, Kenneth||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Crawford, Douglas||McCartney, Hugh||Thompson, George|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||MacCormick, Iain||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Deakins, Eric||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Tierney, Sydney|
|de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||McElhone, Frank||Tomney, Frank|
|Dempsey, James||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Doig, Peter||Mackintosh, John P.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Dormand, J. D.||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||McNamara, Kevin||Ward, Michael|
|Eadie, Alex||Madden, Max||Walkins, David|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Watt, Hamish|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Welsh, Andrew|
|English, Michael||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||White, James (Pollock)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Mendelson, John||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Faulds, Andrew||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Molloy, William||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Ford, Ben||Moonman, Eric||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Forrester, John||Murray. Rt Hon Ronald King||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Newens, Stanley||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Orbach, Maurice||Woodall, Alec|
|Gilbert, Dr John||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Woof, Robert|
|Ginsburg, David||Ovenden, John||Wriggles worth, Ian|
|Golding, John||Palmer, Arthur|
|Gourlay, Harry||Pardoe, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Park, George||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Hardy, Peter||Parker, John||Mr. Ted. Graham.|
|Harper, Joseph||Penhaligon, David|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Phipps, Dr Colin|
I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 1, line 11, leave out paragraph (a) and (b) and insert—
I am sorry that it falls to me to move this amendment. Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) is indisposed.
It is depressing to move an amendment with a good case bearing in mind that in the last Division the Government were again supported by the votes of Scottish National Party Members. It is disappointing that, despite our good argument, once again the Scottish National Party saved the Government from defeat.
This is a very good series of amendments and I can best explain it by saying that we propose three alternatives to the commencing date of 1st January 1977, The first alternative, which we think the best one is contained in Amendments Nos. 5 and 10. What, in our view, is the second best alternative is contained in Amendment No. 2, 1st March 1977. The third best of our alternatives is 31st December 1976, that proposed in Amendment No. 3.
We are trying to change the commencement date of this Bill because it is generally agreed in the teaching profession that if the Government had wanted to select any one date which was the worst possible from the point of view of the interests of the teachers, 1st January 1977 was that date.
We propose a change, namely, that the date should be fixed by order at a later stage after consultation with the teachers. It is important that there should be an opportunity and time for consultation on this issue before the Bill is implemented. The Secretary of State must accept that his assurance that consultation was undertaken on this Bill was a strange one. If any other group of work people or professionals had been treated in this scandalous way there would have been a walk out. The teachers' associations received a copy of the outline of this Bill on 6th July and were asked to make submissions on its merits by 12th July. The Bill was presented, and introduced into the House of Lords on 13th July. It is unlikely that the Bill was not printed before the official date of submissions, and it is clear that insufficient time was given for consideration of the teachers' submissions.
The Bill should begin on a date later than 1st January in order to put the situation right. If 1st January is retained it could have a serious and adverse effect on pensions of teachers who lose their jobs. The Pensions (Increase) Act provides for pension increases to be paid to public service pensioners in accordance with increases in the cost of living. There was a 10-minute rule Bill on that issue today. The increases are at different rates, depending whether the pension starts in the six-month period from 2nd January to 1st July or 2nd July to 1st January, both dates inclusive. The formula is complicated, but basically the pensions in the latter period obtain an increase based on the cost of living for one year, while those in the former period obtain an increase based on the cost of living for only the second half of the same year. Both are paid with effect from the same date so the pension which begins on 1st January attracts a bigger increase than the one which begins on 2nd January, because the former begins in the first half of the review year, and the latter in the second half.
The Bill stipulates that those at present over 65 shall retire no later than 1st January 1977. The majority of teachers' associations and local authorities which have looked at this Bill would say that this means that the last day of service for those who do not resign but allow the Bill to operate will be 1st January 1977. Their pensions therefore will begin on 2nd January 1977 and they will lose the effect of a six-month cost of living increase because of one day's difference in the date of retirement. By having the date 1st January 1977 teachers could lose pension increase equivalent to six months rise in the cost of living. Therefore, the Government's date is most inappropriate.
The House will be aware that some time ago we passed the Employment Protection Bill which said that people were entitled to periods of notice, and it improved these rights considerably. A Person was entitled to one week's notice for each year of employment up to a maximum of 12. If we retain 1st January, this being November, it will be quite impossible to give people the proper period of notice. We cannot give a teacher 12 weeks' notice if his or her employment is to terminate on 1st January. Therefore this date could mean that we are depriving teachers of their statutory rights to notice, which might be as much as 12 weeks. This is outrageous and quite wrong.
Another reason for changing the date is that under the contract of service drawn up between the employing authorities and the teachers' associations, the teacher is entitled to his salary up to and including the last day of the Christmas holiday. That would mean, but for this Bill, that a teacher who terminated his employment at the end of the present term would be entitled to pay up to 7th, 8th or 9th January. That is more than a week's wages. If we keep 1st January as the date, teachers will lose that.
There is the question of precedent. What we are proposing in Amendment No. 5 is the same procedure as that in the Education (Scotland) Act 1969 which this Bill replaces. Therefore, there is a good case for saying that 1st January is the wrong date. Not only is it wrong, it is the very worst possible date. It means that teachers could lose up to six months' pension increases, it deprives them of statutory rights under the Employment Protection Act, and it deprives them of payment for about a week's holiday. In these circumstances we should change the date.
The best way to change it is not to name another date but to say that the Act should come into force on a date to be specified in a statutory instrument after consultations. An alternative suggestion is to insert the date 1st March 1977. This would enable the employing organisations to give the teachers the proper period of notice under the Employment Protection Act, and it would remove the serious injustice in relation to pensions. A third suggestion is that the date should be changed to 31st December 1976 which might go some way to dealing with the pension point. I hope the Government will accept one of these suggestions.
If we leave 1st January in the Bill we shall do a very real injustice to the teachers who may be affected by the Bill's provisions. The number affected may well be relatively small, and nothing like the 400 mentioned by the Secretary of State in the last debate. But even if it affects only a handful, those teachers have the right to justice. If the date is not changed, there will be no justice.
It was very obvious in the debate last Monday on Second Reading that many hon. Members on all sides of the House were very concerned about the date chosen for implementation of this Bill. The arguments against the date are quite obvious because they affect the pension rights of the teachers concerned. Whatever reservations we may have about this legislation, we must ensure that those directly affected by it will receive the protection to which they are entitled as members of a worthwhile profession.
The fact that 1st January 1977 was chosen at all indicates the lack of consultation with the teachers' organisations concerned. I hope that the Government intend to begin consultations as soon as possible with all teachers' organisations, although one particular organisation has been most vociferous in its condemnation of the date chosen.
This reflects the nature of this Bill which has been rushed through its various stages by the Government, and exemplified by the Secretary of State in his opening remarks last week. During our discussion on the Bill he said that the commencement date of 1st January 1977 was chosen as the earliest date on which the new provisions could come into force. It would therefore appear that it was chosen for the Government's administrative convenience, rather than out of genuine concern for Scottish education. I shall certainly be listening with great interest to the Secretary of State's reply.
I hope that the Government will not stick rigidly to the date of 1st January 1977. I believe it would herald New Year bitterness, albeit for only a few people. There has been a great deal of talk about the vast differences involved for some people in the choice of date. I want the Secretary of State to give way on this point and to show some flexibility. I imagine that the best possible date would be 1st March 1977, but if that cannot be acceded to by my right hon. Friend, I hope that at least he will agree to 31st December 1976.
I wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) who put the argument forward so eloquently and emphatically that there is no need to go into it in any detail except to indicate my strong support. I believe that the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) was generous in suggesting that the date was chosen for administrative convenience. I believe that the Government just took any date out of a hat and included it in the Bill. The date they have chosen appears to have no relevance to the situation.
I hope that the Secretary of State will explain why he chose 1st January. He did not make it the least bit clear on Second Reading. Presumably he read the Bill in draft in the legislation committee and must have decided whether 1st January was the right date. Did he consult the teachers' associations? The SSTA has made firm representations. Personally, I have not had memoranda or representations from the EIS or the SSTA, and so I should like to know whether the Secretary of State consulted them. Did he consult the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities? Did they all agree to the date that the Government have proposed? It seems incredible that the Government should have chosen the one date that would penalise teachers, and we are therefore entitled to know why they chose it.
I believe that 1st March would be the earliest convenient date on which to implement a Bill which, as it progresses, appears to affect fewer and fewer teachers. I lend my support to the date of 1st March.
It seems that the Government cannot win in their choice of dates. The debate has centred almost exclusively on the question of teachers' pensions. Representations have been made to me which have been deeply concerned with the position of teachers who will lose pension rights under the Bill.
The idea behind the Bill, which seems to have been totally forgotten, is to require teachers at the top end of the age scale to move out of teaching in order to make room for newly-trained teachers. Therefore it seems self-evident that a balance must be struck somewhere. If the Bill is to have any effect in the current scholastic year, clearly an attempt must be made to implement it on the earliest possible date in order to make jobs available for teachers as quickly as possible while at the same time making sure that justice is done to teachers.
The Government have gone a fair way in the Bill to give some flexibility to local authorities, either on grounds of hardship to individual teachers or on grounds of educational need in individual schools, to allow teachers to remain on where they are capable of doing the job. Whichever date had been chosen—whether 31st December 1976 or 1st February 1977—the Government would have been criticised both in the House and in the teaching profession.
The Bill is not particularly welcome. It is seen as a response to a very difficult position in which teachers have been trained but have no jobs. In such a circumstance there are bound to be rough edges. No matter how one seeks to deal with that circumstance, some teachers are bound to fall on the wrong side of the line for pensions or wage increases. If the Government were persuaded that the date should be 31st March 1977, I am sure that there would be those who complained that that was a bad date because the teaching profession might be due another increase on 1st April which would affect pensions.
Opposition Members who pretend that they are searching for absolute justice should recognise that it is not so easy to achieve as it might seem. Nevertheless, I lend my support to those who seek to postpone the date until 31st March. If the Government accepted that change they would do more justice and would show that they had flexibility and an open mind.
It is with pleasure that I often follow the speeches of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), but seldom have I heard him put up such a hesitant and uncertain defence of Government policy. This time he concluded, after not very powerful rhetoric, that he disagreed with them anyway.
There seems to be general agreement in the debate so far that the Government should consider giving way on this matter. I was not present on 25th October—
I was in Europe. It would be a pity if the Government were not prepared to make exceptions but were quite happy to create anomalies. The original contribution from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) demonstrated most effectively that if the Bill goes through in its present form it could result in injustice to a considerable number of people. Clearly that is something that we should seek to avoid. I therefore lend my support to the amendment.
Far too much attention has been devoted to the operative date of the Bill. The date was chosen as the first practicable date in all the circumstances for bringing the Bill into operation. However, any teacher likely to be affected by it can retire voluntarily at any time, and any teacher who does not want to retire on 1st January 1977 because of his pension can retire today, tomorrow or on 31st December 1976.
It is not such a daft argument, as the hon. Member will learn if he listens. I should explain why I do not think 1st December 1976 provides any improvement in the Bill, particularly on the question of pensions.
Anyone who, because of pension considerations, was worrying about retiring on 1st January could retire voluntarily at any time between now and 31st December. This is understood by teachers, who are remarkably well informed about the pension implications of particular retirement dates. There is no question of anyone being forced to stay on until 1st January and thereby losing a pension increase. That cannot happen with the Bill as drafted. Those affected by the Bill will not all have to leave on 1st January. It is a matter largely for the discretion of education authorities. Many teachers will carry on, some for a considerable time after that date. It is simply an operative date—the earliest date on which someone can be compelled to go—and not the date on which all 65-year-old teachers will be removed from our schools. I hope that I have made clear that this date is not as significant as some hon. Members seem to think.
Two arguments have been raised in the debate—pensions and the period of notice. They are contrary arguments. One set of amendments has an operative date before 1st January and the other a date two months later. If the argument is that 1st January will create an injustice for those who retire before the end of this year—an argument which I do not accept—the date 1st March would make their situation even worse.
I hope the hon. Gentleman will let me complete what I have to say. He might even be a little more cheerful then and not his usual disgruntled and disagreeable self.
There is no merit in putting 31st December rather than 1st January in the Bill. Those who have advocated this date have done so under a misunderstanding.
However, there is the other argument about period of notice and an operative date of 1st March. The provisions of the Bill relate to retirement and not to dismissal, redundancy or other forms of termination of employment, and I am advised that the normal notice given by authorities under the Contracts of Employment Act would not be necessary. We are dealing with retirements which are statutorily laid down.
If we adopted 1st January as the operative date, there would be no legal difficulty about giving notice to teachers. However, I have always taken the view that we should be reasonable in these matters and, even if there were no legal requirement, it could be argued that, since the Bill is going through in November, there is only a short time until 1st January and that therefore it would be reasonable to have a later commencement date so that education authorities who wished to ask teachers to leave on the operative date would be able to give them reasonable notice.
I had intended, in any case, in the circular which I shall send when the Bill receives Royal Assent, to tell local authorities that I hoped that in exercising their powers they would give reasonable notice to teachers. I have had a letter from the General Secretary of the EIS making the same point.
On balance, I think that the best thing that the House could do would be to accept the amendments providing for a commencement date of 1st March. No one could then be accused of giving too short a period of notice.
When I send out the circular, I shall say that although the date has been put forward by two months, I hope that authorities which wish to retire teachers on the operative date—now 1st March—will still take the decision as soon as possible and, if possible, give the teachers notice immediately so that reasonable notice is given to all individuals.
I am grateful to the Government for accepting our arguments, agreeing to change the date and accepting that injustice would have been done otherwise.
I am glad that he accepted our arguments and am grateful for the assurance that we might get not just a sensible decision as a result of a Conservative initiative but also a smile on the face of the Secretary of State. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 1, line 16, at end insert—
'(2) For avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that the date of the teacher's attaining age 65 and 31st December 1976 shall be the last dates of teaching service of the teachers specified in heads (a) and (b) respectively in subsection (1) above.
(3) In the case of teachers specified in head (b) of subsection (1) above, an education authority or managers of a grant-aided school shall make to a teacher payment in lieu of salary and of notice of termination of employment to which he would otherwise have been entitled but for the application of the provisions of this Act.'.
Clearly we cannot proceed with this amendment in detail and have a vote on it because it refers to the situation which existed before the House made the two
amendments a few moments ago. However, the Secretary of State said in his reply to those amendments that because we were substituting a new retirement date, teachers would not be entitled to a period of notice. Does he think that this is fair or reasonable? We are not just substituting a new retirement date; we are removing teachers' right to work.
If the Under-Secretary, instead of doing important work here, were a 66-year-old teacher in a Glasgow school, he would, before this Bill was introduced, have had the right to work in an unpromoted post for a considerable period. This right is now being removed and is changing teachers' expectations of employment and income.
Have the Government considered the full implications of saying that teachers whose employment prospects are being destroyed by the Bill—albeit from a better date—should not be entitled to any notice? Has the Secretary of State cleared this with the Secretary of State for Employment? Quite apart from the legal aspect, is it fair to make a change in a person's prospects and expectations of employment and to give him no period of notice?
I had great difficulty understanding the first part of the amendment when it was tabled and I still find difficulty understanding it. It is in the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan). I think that it was related to what my hon. Friend was suggesting in Amendment No. 5, but it was almost certainly misconceived and would have had almost the opposite effect to that which he sought to achieve. I think that the hon. Member for Cathcart has made clear that he does not expect the amendment to be accepted.
Paragraph (3) is more easily understood and I note what the hon. Member for Cathcart said about it. By putting forward the date, we are probably dealing with an immediate situation as far as notice is concerned. Whatever the legal requirements and the fact that we are dealing with retirement rather than normal termination of employment, authorities should behave in a reasonable way and give people reasonable notice.
This is not a matter that concerns only teachers. It concerns many other people in the public service who are able to be employed at the discretion of their respective authority but who could be required to retire at a particular time because they have passed the normal retiring age. There is no particular problem for teachers. They are not in a position that is different from that of any other public servants.
I do not know what the amendment means by
payment in lieu of salary".
If that is a suggestion that some compensation should be paid, I cannot accept it. I do not know any basis on which we could calculate compensation for a teacher who is asked to retire at the age of 65 and who goes to the authority and says "But you do not appreciate that if you had not asked me to retire now I had intended to continue until I was 70. Will you compensate me for those five years?" There is no way in which we could make that calculation. I do not think that compensation is relevant.
The amendment is fairly obscure about what
payment in lieu of salary
would mean. I hope that with the new date and a reasonable degree of notice that we need not worry about payment in lieu of salary. I believe we can assume that authorities will behave reasonably. If we were to write something into the Bill, apart from creating a precedent for many other public servants, which could be extremely expensive, there would be no basis on which to make the payments.
I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 2, line 11, at end add—
'(3B) In exercising their discretionary powers under subsection (2) above, education authorities shall give consideration to the date of entry or re-entry into the teaching profession of the teacher concerned and, in particular, to whether the teacher was recruited under the special recruitment scheme, in so far as these factors affect pension entitlement'.
The House will recall that on Second Reading it was pointed out by the Government that the local authorities, in operating their discretionary powers under the Bill, would be reasonable. I am making two suggestions with which I hope the Government will at least agree even if they cannot accept the amendment.
We want to draw attention to the position of those who entered the profession under the special recruitment scheme, people who entered teaching rather late in life and did so with the expectation that they would have the right to work until 70, thereby increasing their salary and their pension. Some of these people have had limited service and, because of the Bill, will be deprived of the right to work for a further few years to add to their salary and pension. We are talking about a lot of money because five years, as a result of Houghton, can result in a substantial increase in salary. As pension is based on an individual's salary at the end of his employment, it can mean a great deal of money.
If an authority were faced with the prospect of putting out of employment three teachers out of five, I hope that it might at least have regard to the fact that one of the teachers, for example, entered through the special recruitment scheme and would have only a small pension on retirement. I hope that it would appreciate that the Bill would remove the prospects that they were offered on recruitment.
We have to bear in mind that not so long ago, in the golden age of the Conservative Government, we were appealing to people of advanced years to go into teaching to help solve the problem of a teacher shortage. Happily we were able to remove that problem, largely due to the splendid work of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) when he was in the Scottish Office. We now have a glut. However, many people came into the teaching profession in the hope and expectation, along with almost a sense of public duty, of helping out in meeting a real problem.
I am proposing that in exercising its discretion an education authority, should take into account representations from teachers' professional organisation. There have been disturbing indications during the debate and over the past few weeks that there has been a worsening of relations between the administration of the Scottish Office and the teachers' professional organisations. That is something that worries and concerns us all. There have always been extremely good relations in the past, but there are now disturbing indications that information has not been available and that other information has perhaps been misleading. Further, the teachers' associations, and one in particular, have been complaining about a lack of consultation.
I hope that the Government will at least agree that in principle the education authorities should take into account representations from the professional organisations in exercising their discretionary powers.
I can remember, along with most lion. Members now present, the days when we were trying to recruit people into the teaching profession. Many schemes were put up to get them into the net, so to speak. We are now involved in retiring them. There were clearly rather bad forecasts and rather bad machinery. I want to know what the Scottish Office is doing to improve the machinery and the forecasting. I have asked this question before and received no answer. I wonder whether I shall have an answer today.
The purpose of the amendment is to specify certain factors that an education authority should be required to take into account in deciding whether it is appropriate to re-employ a retired teacher. There is much to be said—much has been said—in favour of each of the factors that are set out in the amendment. Although I am asking the Committee to reject the amendments, that is not because I consider that an education authority should not take any of these factors into account should it consider it appropriate to do so.
The main reason that I am asking the Committee to reject the amendments is that I consider that an education authority should be given the widest possible discretion to determine in all the circumstances which factors are relevant to a particular case when considering whether to re-employ a retired teacher. If we specifically require an education authority to take into account certain factors, that might be construed as indicating that they are the only factors that it should take into account. Further, it could mean that an authority would give undue importance to those factors at the expense of others that it might be argued are of equal importance, or even of greater importance. For example, a factor to be borne in mind may well be the existence of a large number of unemployed teachers in the authority's area.
I think it is appropriate for Parliament to trust local authorities to exercise their discretion properly after taking into account all the relevant factors in a particular case. I see no reason to doubt that an education authority would exercise its powers to employ a retired teacher in anything but a sympathetic manner.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) referred to consultation with the teachers' organisations and their relations with the Scottish Office. In my period of office, extending just over a year, the association of myself and my right hon. Friend with the teachers' unions has never been better. I see their representatives very often, both formally and informally. I can assure the Committee that in the many discussions that I have had with them they have always understood our position. It is their duty to represent their members in the best possible way, and I expect them to do so. However, taking into account that duty, they understand to a large degree the problems facing the Government.
It is the desire of my right hon. Friend and myself that education authorities, in considering whether they should reemploy teachers or whether they should employ teachers at all, should show some concern for the late entrant and those who came in under the special recruitment scheme. I believe that local authorities, especially the regional authorities, will take that into account. Indeed, COSLA has given an assurance to my right hon. Friend and myself that it will treat such cases in a most sympathetic manner.
Although I am sympathetic to the amendments, I think that they would limit the discretion of local authorities. To some extent I share the view expressed by the hon. Member for Cathcart, but I think he will agree that his experience of Glasgow Corporation as an education authority allowed him to come to the conclusion that it always treats teachers in a most reasonable way. That pattern has continued with Strathclyde and other regional authorities. I am confident that the authorities will take into account the views expressed by the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that they will have some concern for the late entrants or those in special circumstances. There could be a number of categories where an education authority has to have regard to the domestic or financial circumstances of a teacher they might employ. I hope that the House will accept that position.
I am very surprised that the Minister has not read the Second Reading proceedings. I will repeat my question. All of us remember the days when we were agitating and thinking up schemes to get teachers into the profession. We were short of teachers. Now we are doing our best to encourage them to retire early. Clearly, the forecasts were faulty. I am not blaming anyone for that. I do not know why the forecasts were faulty. However, what is the Scottish Office doing now to improve the forecasts? Does it have any machinery for doing so? What is it doing about this matter for the future, so that we shall not be faced with this sort of problem in the years to come?
The hon. Gentleman has always been reasonable in debate. I assure him that my right hon. Friend is sending out a document for consultation on the projected figures for people entering the training colleges. The hon. Member may remember that we debated this important point recently, on the Education Bill. I am sure that the House would not want me now to go into the arguments as to who was responsible for the large number of teachers leaving the colleges this year. Suffice it to say that another Government were in power during that time.
However, without drawing out the argument any further, I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend has taken steps to ensure that the forecasting is improved, and a document will be going to various bodies concerned with the matter within the next few weeks.
The Minister is like a football team that started the season badly and then fell away. His answers are getting worse and worse. He does not even know his facts. He knows very well that the secondary school teachers who came out of the colleges of education during the past summer went there under his jurisdiction just over a year ago. Why is it that over the last two years the Minister has allowed the intake to colleges of education for graduate secondary teachers to increase when the situation was staring him in the face?
Would the Minister mind reading the White Paper of December 1972—obviously he has never done so—which made a very accurate forecast of the situation, provided that the intakes were reduced each year? The Minister did not do that, and that is the reason for the present trouble.
Before the Minister gets excited and takes off, let me say that I accept responsibility for those who went to the colleges in September 1973, but not those who went in 1974 or 1975. What is more important is that had we not been in the present miserable economic situation, we would have employed the teachers concerned.
There is a host of questions to be answered. May we have the answers now?
I share my hon. Friend's annoyance at the Minister's inadequate reply. The Government cannot give a good reply. The facts are staring them in the face. The reason why we are in this desperate situation is that there was too much recruitment in 1974 and 1975, years in which the Under-Secretary had responsibility for this matter, although not just in his present capacity. I am afraid that this is a rather sad tale of miscalculation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Hutchison), in his very courteous way, has always said, all we can do is to forget the past and to say "Let us make sure that we do much better in the future."
I am afraid that minimum standards in Scottish schools can mean a lot of things. What the Conservative Party stands for is ever-increasing standards of attainment and success. The only sure way of achieving this will be if the SNP starts supporting the Conservatives in bringing down the present Government. In the only Division we have had on this matter the SNP supported the Government solidly. However, we are in danger of straying. We hope for the best for the future. In the light of the Minister's assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
I was asked earlier about teacher numbers and I promised that I would make a statement. This seems to be the most sensible point at which to make the statement.
Clearly, there has been some confusion about the number of teachers who will be affected by the Bill. I am glad of this opportunity of trying to clear up some of the confusion.
There have been a number of references to numbers, including that made by my noble Friend, Lord Kirkhill, in the other place on 27th July, reported at c. 1274 of Hansard. I also dealt with the question of numbers on Second Reading in this House. Also, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave Answers to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) on 20th October and 1st November. Those Answers are relevant. There have also been letters written by my Department to Mr. Docherty, the General Secretary of the SSTA, which dealt with the question of numbers. I should like to pick up points arising from all these references.
To explain the position it is necessary to distinguish between three groups of teachers who are at present employed over the age of 65. Some of the confusion has arisen—not all of it, unfortunately—because of confusion about the kinds of teachers about whom we are talking. First, there are promoted teachers, who have, at the employing authority's discretion, been kept in post beyond the age of 65—I am talking about the present position—although they had no entitlement to that since their age of retiral was 65.
Secondly, there are employed in the schools at present unpromoted teachers who have the discretion to stay on beyond the age of 65 as they have a retiral age of 70 and have exercised that discretion.
Thirdly, there are teachers who have actually retired but have later come back to the schools and are employed by the authorities under arrangements which they have made between themselves and the authorities. This group will comprise teachers who were promoted and teachers who were unpromoted at the date of their retirement.
The first category, promoted teachers kept on beyond the age of 65, are affected by the Bill because the Bill restricts employment in a promoted post after that age to only three months.
The second group, the unpromoted teachers, are those most affected by the Bill since the discretion about employment after the age of 65 is removed from the individual teacher and given to the employing authority.
The third group of teachers, mainly those who have retired and come back, are affected by the Bill to the extent that it will now be possible for authorities to offer contracts with a maximum of only one year. I do not have detailed information about those teachers of this category employed in the schools at present, but a large number of them will certainly be employed on a temporary basis or subject to short periods of notice. In practice the Bill will not affect those so employed, although it may affect others.
I come to the figures that have been given. Generally speaking, the figures were given in response to questions which were put in a particular way. The figures given by Lord Kirkhill referred to full-time posts, both promoted and unpromoted. As he said, the total number at the beginning of the 1975–76 Session was about 300.
The Answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Springburn on 20th October referred to unpromoted teachers only but, in giving the figure of 500 for education authority schools, the Answer took account of the full-time equivalent of teachers employed only part-time. The detailed figures for education authority schools were as follows: full-time permanent 243, full-time temporary 96, part-time with full-time equivalent 157 and occasional, four. That gives a total of 500 to which we can add 13 similarly calculated for grant-aided schools.
The statistics that we collect do not show the kind of contract which part-time teachers had with their respective authorities, so that it is impossible from those statistics—which were gathered for another purpose—to give the exact numbers affected by the Bill. In any case, the statistics were at September 1975.
Mr. Docherty wrote two letters to the Department on 15th September, one to the Statistics Branch and one to the Superannuation Branch. The letters did not ask specifically for the numbers of teachers affected by the Bill but were in more general terms. The letter to the Statistics Branch asked how many non-promoted teachers over 65 were at present in service. I have to apologise to the House and Mr. Docherty, and I do so publicly, for I am sorry to say that the reply to Mr. Docherty was inaccurate, as the figures given were stated to be at September 1976 when they were the 1975 figures. That clears up the question asked by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) at the beginning of our debates about my having said that the 1976 figures were not available although apparently they were given to Mr. Docherty. There was a mistake. The heading on the letter should have been "September 1975" instead of "September 1976".
Unfortunately, the Statistics Department interpreted the wording of Mr. Docherty's letter as referring to those of the age of 66 and over, and the figures were given on that basis.
I regret these errors—one perhaps a misunderstanding and the other a simple error by my Department—especially as the figures given formed the basis of a letter which Mr. Docherty subsequently wrote to hon. Members. He was perfectly entitled to write that letter and to draw some, but not all, of the conclusions he drew from the figures he received from the Department.
Mr. Docherty's letter to the superannuation branch asked for the number of non-promoted teachers over 65 in reckonable service—that is, reckonable for superannuation purposes. Superannuation records are kept up to date on a day-to-day basis and the reply showed that at the latest date—September 1976—there were about 460 teachers aged 65 or over in service. About 50 of these had indicated their intention to retire by December 1976. It is impossible to know how many of these retirals would have happened in any case and how many were in anticipation of the Bill.
Moreover, these figures, as the letter to Mr. Docherty explained, included promoted as well as unpromoted teachers, and also a small number of teachers who would be employed outside the school sector and some who are no doubt employed in further education where the retiral provisions are exactly similar to those in the schools. The Bill will, therefore, affect further education teachers in the same way as it affects teachers in schools.
It is fair to assume that most of those in reckonable service are employed full time or, if not, on a fairly long-term basis, but the superannuation records, which are kept for other reasons, do not make that distinction. They are concerned with teachers in relation to pensions, not with teachers moving from one kind of service to another.
When I said in the Second Reading debate on 25th October that I believed that by 1st January about 400 teachers in Scottish schools would be affected by the Bill in one way or another, I did not distinguish between promoted and unpromoted teachers. That was a fair statement but I made clear at the time that the position was uncertain.
Looking back at the various statements that have been made and the various answers to different questions, I regret that I did not explain the figures in more detail during my Second Reading speech. Had I done so at least some of the confusion that has since arisen might have been prevented. In fairness, I cannot give a better figure than I gave in my Second Reading speech. The figure may be less than 400; it is unlikely to be more. I hope that the Committee will accept that the figure I gave was given in good faith. If it turns out in the event to be an overestimate, I very much regret it, but even when the Bill is implemented it will be difficult to find out exactly how many teachers are affected by it.
I apologise for giving wrong figures to Mr. Docherty and the confusion which has caused a large number of hon. Members a great deal of inconvenience. I also apologise if, in dealing with the matter on Second Reading in rather less detail than I have done today, I inadvertently misled several hon. Members when what I said was taken with other answers that have been given. I hope that what I have said today will be recognised to be as good a statement as I can make about the figures and as a fair statement of the position.
We are not simply dealing with the number of people who will be immediately affected by the Bill. Whatever the numbers are, the main purpose of the Bill remains. The Bill has a significance beyond the next few months, as it is meant to provide permanently for the overall change in teacher supply from a period of acute shortage to the present period of overall surplus and the prospect over the next few years of getting teacher supply and demand properly into balance. If in the event it turns out that all our figures are wrong—I hope that will not be so—a significant number of teachers will still be involved. The changes made by the Bill are necessary to enable us to move into the new situation of teacher surplus. I hope that that statement will be helpful to the Committee.
The Minister has made an almost unprecedented apology to the Committee for the figures he gave to the SSTA being apparently for the wrong date, incorrect and covering the wrong period. He also made a generous apology for his speech in the Second Reading debate. We should be less than gracious if we did not accept his handsome apology for the serious lack of information on a Bill which is being rushed through at the end of the Session. We are entitled to ask the Minister what steps are being taken to give us the information we want, which is not the detailed information to which he referred.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Spring-burn (Mr. Buchanan) asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on 1st November:
… how many of the estimated 400 school teachers over 65 years of age at present in service in Scotland in unpromoted posts are in temporary, part-time or occasional posts …".
The Answer was given by the Under-Secretary of State as follows:
The estimate of 400 cannot be broken down into the categories requested." —[Official Report, 1st November 1976; Vol. 918, c. 504.]
If the figure for September 1975 is available, why is it not now possible to break up the figures into the categories requested?
Another query relates to the Secretary of State's Second Reading speech on 25th October. The right hon. Gentleman then said that he believed that the numbers affected would amount to 400 teachers, but added:
That is the extent to which, by making room in the schools, we could be making jobs available for newly qualified teachers who at present find it difficult to obtain jobs."—[Official Report, 25th October 1976; Vol. 918, c. 52.]
He did not then say that there would be 400 affected, but that there would be 400 spare jobs. We now hear that that is probably not the case—in other words, that even if the figure of 400 teachers is correct, there will not be 400 jobs available. We understand that they cover all categories affected, including unpromoted positions, and that the figure of 400 includes temporary, part-time and occasional teachers.
On thing that stands out a mile is that if one has 20 part-time teachers at age of 65 and decides to make them redundant or to retire them, one does not replace them with 20 young teachers from the colleges. Perhaps we may be told by the Minister the number of full-time equivalent teachers who might be put out of post to create that number of jobs.
I am worried that the situation, according to the break-up figures for September and October 1975, will mean that instead of these provisions covering 416 teachers above the age of 66, the actual figure will be only 180 permanent teachers and only 46 secondary school teachers. Is there any information available about the number of those teachers who are teaching subjects in which there is a shortage? We are trying to arrive at a rough estimate as to how many jobs could be made available depending on the discretion of the local authorities. What would be ideal for that purpose would be for the House to have a statement showing how many teachers are serving in the schools who are 65 years or over and who possibly will be affected by the Bill. That should not be too difficult a task since there are only a small number of education authorities. We are told by the Secretary of State that the September 1976 survey is not yet available. When will it be available?
If the Government bring forward a Bill at this end of the Session, the least one expects is that they will make some kind of estimate of the number of jobs likely to be made available if local authorities were to apply the Bill rigidly—and obviously they will not do so. We are unhappy about a situation when the Government admit that they do not know how many teachers may be affected or how many new jobs will be created. This underlines our view that the Bill is basically a cosmetic operation.
I wish to ask four straight questions of detail. In the statement handed to Mr. Docherty, which we now understand was incorrect, there was a note stating that the source was "TF/1/2, October 1976". Was that also an error? One can understand a typist or secretary putting in the wrong date, but it is strange that the source also should be wrong. May we be told why?
Secondly, if it was possible to give separate details about different categories of teachers in respect of September 1975, why is it not possible to give some split in respect of September 1976, as would appear to be the case, judging by the Written Answer given by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland on Monday, at c. 504 of Hansard.
Thirdly, as the Minister has admitted that the figure of 400 teachers may be wrong, does he also withdraw the statement made on Second Reading to the effect that by making room in the schools he could make jobs available for newly qualified teachers? That is a significant point.
Lastly, when shall we be given the September 1976 figures, and, indeed, why can we not have them now? It is disturbing that this Bill is being rushed through in order to give the general public the impression that many jobs are being created for young teachers, when the fact is that the numbers involved are very small indeed, and when the Government do not even appear to know those numbers.
I do not want to repeat the exact words that I used on Second Reading. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) drew attention to my statement that by making room in the schools we could make jobs available for newly qualified teachers who were finding difficulty in obtaining jobs. I did not definitely say that we would be doing so. I said in a later passage that the number of teachers involved would depend on how local authorities exercised their discretion. I was at pains to explain that on Second Reading, and I also wish to do so today.
I have never said that all teachers over the age of 65 would come out of schools on 1st January. Indeed, the Opposition's view was that it would be grossly unfair for all teachers over 65 to be removed from school forthwith. Therefore, the immediate impact will depend on how authorities deal with individual cases. If hon. Members will examine the words I used on Second Reading, they will see that I made the matter quite clear. I am sure that it is within the understanding of all who have taken an interest in the Bill that that was the situation.
I turn to the parliamentary Answer that was given to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) on Monday. The figure of 400 used last week was largely related to the superannuation figures which were the most up-to-date figures we had, but they are gathered for other purposes and do not make the distinction which I was asked to make between the categories of part-time and full-time teachers. They are individual teachers, not equivalent full-time posts. I cannot split the superannuation records, and shall never be able to do so, unless those records are kept in a different way. If hon. Members will examine in tomorrow's Hansard what I said a little earlier, they will see that I made a strong case for basing the estimates on the superannuation figures, particularly since the other figures are a year out of date. We can make reasonable assumptions because most of the figures relate to reckonable service and full-time permanent posts.
The hon. Gentleman may not have quite understood that when I spoke of part-time teachers my figures concerned full-time equivalents, so many more teachers are involved. If one removed part-time teachers from the schools, one would make available an equivalent number of full-time jobs. I also made clear in my statement that most of those part-time teachers would not be affected by the Bill because they have arrangements with the authorities which probably provide for a short period of notice on either side.
If, having read my statement, hon. Members still feel that I have not clarified the situation sufficiently, I shall try to explain further by correspondence. No doubt Mr. Docherty will look carefully at what I have said and if he should challenge my figures, I shall be pleased to examine what he says.
The hon. Member for Cathcart mentioned the wording of the statement given to Mr. Docherty. There is no significance in the date. It was the date on which the letter was typed. The reference TF/1/2 refers to two of the large branches in the Scottish Education Department and so far as I know they have no special significance.
I am sorry that the information from the September 1976 statistical survey is not available. The information is still coming in and will not be available for some time. The Scottish Education Department collects a large number of statistics and we are always reluctant to add ad hoc inquiries to its duties, even for a good reason. We are trying not to impose additional burdens on local authorities. With hindsight, perhaps it might have been better to conduct a general, straight ad hoc survey a month or two ago to get the figures. Perhaps that would have been sensible, but we did not do it. The principle behind the Bill remains the same, whatever the numbers involved.
The Secretary of State has failed to answer some of my questions. Were the figures that he read out in his original statement substitutes for those in the statement given to Mr. Docherty, or are they more up to date? Were the figures of 243 permanent teachers and 96 full-time teachers those which Mr. Docherty should have got for last year, or are they more up to date?
Surely we can expect to be told how many teachers over the age of 65 are teaching in Scottish schools. That information should be readily available. One would also expect the number of full-time teachers to be readily available. Those are basic figures which should be available to hon. Members when considering a Bill of this kind.
The Government have postponed the State opening of Parliament because there is too much business. One therefore assumes that the Government will be careful about what legislation they introduce. If the Government argue the case for a Bill to be introduced at the end of the Session, one expects them to have some idea of the figures involved.
The Minister has explained the problems and the mistakes that he has made. When will the September 1976 figures be available? Is the delay caused because the local authorities have not sent in their returns yet, or because the Scottish Education Department has not had time to process them? May we have a statement on the September 1976 figures similar to that given to Mr. Docherty?
The hon. Member asked whether the figures that I gave were a substitute for those given to Mr. Docherty. The answer is "Yes". If the hon. Member examines my statement he will see that the breakdown adds up to the 500 education authority unpromoted teachers concerned at September 1975.
In view of what has happened, I shall see whether I can get the figures from the September survey brought forward more rapidly than would otherwise be possible, because the normal processes take some considerable time. On Second Reading I said that I would make available to the House the information on September 1976 as soon as I got it. I shall do that even if it is information which does or does not justify what I have said. I shall try to obtain the information as a kind of special exercise.
I wanted to make a statement to the House this afternoon rather than write private letters to my hon. Friend the Member for Springburn or to Mr. Docherty, because I thought that all hon. Members should know the position.