I beg to move, amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 5, at beginning insert
'After the making of an Order under subsection (1A) below'.
With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 8, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
'(1A) Subsection (1) of this section will come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall come into effect until after such period of consultation as appears to him to be reasonable following publication of proposals in the form of a White Paper as to arrangements for determining the remuneration of teachers.'.
No. 9, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
'(1A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall be made until after the coming into effect of an agreement with respect to the remuneration of school teachers (and such other matters as the parties to that agreement may determine) agreed between organisations representing school teachers and their employers.'.
No. 10, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
(1A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall come into effect until after the publication of a report by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service as to arrangements for the remuneration of teachers.'.
No. 11, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
'(1A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall come into effect until after the laying before Parliament of a report by a Parliamentary tribunal of inquiry appointed to examine and report on arrangements for determining the remuneration of teachers.'.
No. 12, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
'(1A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall come into effect before the conclusion of consultation with associations of local education authorities, such organisations representing school teachers as appear to him to be concerned, and any local education authority with whom consultation appears to him to be desirable, and the laying before Parliament of a report of the results of such consultation.'.
No. 13, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
'(1 A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall come into effect until after the laying before Parliament of a report by an independent inquiry into arrangements for determining the future remuneration of teachers whose members shall be appointed in equal proportions by the Secretary of State, organisations representing school teachers and associations of local education authorities.'.
No. 14, in page 1, line 5, at end insert—
(1B) No Order shall be made under subsection (1 A) above unless a draft of the Order has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.'
No. 17, in page 1, leave out lines 7 to 12 and insert
', together with conditions of employment, by measures which encourage and promote the full development and realisation of machinery for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment between local education authorities and teachers' unions and associations, or by such other methods as will allow representatives of such unions, associations and local authorities to participate in the determination of these matters.'.
No. 18, in page 1, line 10, at end insert
'provided that no such provision shall have the effect of altering the terms of any agreement as to remuneration or other matters between employers and organisations representing teachers agreed before the passage of this Act.'.
No. 19, in page 1, line 11, leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert
'in the cases of school teachers and teachers in further education, by provisions agreed between, or settled in a manner agreed between teachers and their employers.'.
No. 20, in page 1, line 11, leave out 'having effect under this Act' and insert
'agreed between or settled in a manner agreed between, teachers and their employers'.
No. 22, in page 1, line 12, at end insert
'and agreed between, or settled in a manner agreed between, teachers and their employers.'.
New clause 7—Remuneration and conditions of employment—
'Subject to the further provisions of this Act the remuneration and conditions of employment of teachers shall be in accordance with provisions agreed between or settled in a manner agreed between teachers and their employers.'.
New Clause 8—National collective agreements—
'(1) There shall be reported to the Secretary of State any national collective agreement made between teachers and their employers as to remuneration and/or conditions of employment.
(2) Upon receipt of such a report as is mentioned in subsection (1) of this section the Secretary of State shall unless in his view national economic circumstances otherwise require make provision by order made by statutory instrument giving effect to the provisions of such a report as regards remuneration.
(3) In the event that the Secretary of State decides by reason of national economic circumstances to make no such order as is mentioned in subsection (2) of this section he shall call for a further report of the Advisory Committee on the matters contained in a report made under subsetion (1) of this section.
(4) Where such further report is required to be submitted by the Advisory Committee the Committee shall consult:—
and shall thereafter prepare and submit to the Secretary of State the further report requested by him specifying the provisions as to remuneration and conditions of employment recommended by them.
(5) Upon receipt of such further report of the Advisory Committee the Secretary of State shall subject to the provisions of section 4 of this Act, make provision by order made by statutory instrument giving effect to the recommendations of the Committee as to remuneration and shall notify the appropriate body or bodies constituted for the negotiation of national collective agreements between teachers and their employers of his acceptance of the recommendations of the Committee as regards conditions of employment.
(6) Upon receipt of notification from the Secretary of State of his approval of the recommendations as regards conditions of employment, the appropriate body constituted for the negotiation of national collective agreements between
teachers and their employers shall adopt such recommendations which shall then formally have effect as terms of the contracts of employment of teachers to whom the recommendations apply.'.
The purpose of this group of amendments is to introduce a period and process of consultation before the Remuneration of Teachers Act is repealed, and to insert into the Bill the collective bargaining that the Bill seeks to abolish. No education Bill in recent times has been introduced in such a peremptory and authoritarian way. There has been no process of consultation with teachers, local authorities and parents about this Bill. In addition, the Secretary of State is trying to railroad this legislation through Parliament. There has been no manifesto commitment, no Green paper or White paper.
While the hon. Gentleman is on this important point about consultation and the speed with which the Bill has come forward, will he confirm reports that I have received? They say that he was in consultation with the union leaders and some Labour council representatives during the negotiations leading up to the joint councils-unions proposals, and that the objective of those consultations was to come up with a package that would be acceptable to the Opposition but not to the Government? Was the Leader of the Opposition involved in those discussions? Will the hon. Gentleman make available in the Library details of what transpired in those discussions?
Throughout this whole sorry dispute, lasting for two years, I and my hon. Friends have been trying to achieve peace. I wish that the same could be said for the Conservative party.
The Committee stage is being taken only two days after Second Reading. The time allocated for it is only one parliamentary day. Normally, we take 20 or 30 hours in Committee and controversial Bills take even longer. We are told that the Bill will be introduced in the other place next week. Such haste and lack of consultation might have been justified in time of war or to stop terrorism, but it cannot be justified in the case of this highly controversial Bill. I remind hon. Members that it abolishes collective bargaining until 1990 and puts in its place a system of naked ministerial diktat.
The Secretary of State has continually sought to disguise what the Bill does. On 27 November, in reply to my question whether the Bill would enable him to impose a settlement, the Secretary of State told the House that it would give him powers similar to those that he already has, but he knew, as he said it, that his reply was misleading. Under the Remuneration of Teachers Act, which clause 1 is abolishing, the Secretary of State does not have the power to impose a settlement. He has the power only to set aside an arbitration award, and then only after an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament. If there is agreement in the Burnham committee, the Secretary of State has to accept that. As I said on Second Reading, that is one of the reasons why the Bill is being rushed through in such haste. Even under section 89 of the 1944 Act, the Secretary of State could only accept or reject the Burnham recommendations. The Secretary of State was misleading the House on 27 November and he knew he was. He should at least have the grace to apologise for that.
Similarly, in his Second Reading speech, the Secretary of State showed a lack of candour. The Secretary of State did not explain what was in the Bill. He left it to the Minister of State to tell the House—as far as she was able—what the Bill contained.
Although hon. Members were barracking my speech on Second Reading, there was a sudden period of surprised silence when I explained what the Bill really contained. Obviously, they had not read the Bill, and it would appear that the Secretary of State had not read it either. I want to let Conservative Members into a secret, as I suspect that they still have not read the Bill even though it contains only seven clauses. It proposes that the Secretary of State shall impose his solution without negotiation and irrespective of the suggestions from the advisory committee.
The Bill abolishes negotiating rights and gives the Secretary of State sweeping ministerial powers over a long period of time. He cannot simply claim that the proposals are meant to cover just one year. They are not; they are intended for three years. Indeed, if we count the retrospective powers, they cover four years. The Secretary of State should have the common honesty and decency to admit that. Frankly, I would respect him more if he did. He should take a leaf out of the previous Secretary of State's book. Whatever criticisms I made of him, I never accused him of lacking candour. If he had produced such a Bill, he would have had the decency and honesty to tell the House exactly what it contained.
The Secretary of State's speech on Second Reading and the way in which he treated the House was disgraceful. I advise him to stop smiling and start telling the truth, which is that the Bill abolishes collective bargaining. Ministers have made a case for reforming the Burnham committee, and I broadly accept it. The Opposition agree that there is a need to discuss pay and conditions together. Indeed, we may have said that before the Government said it. We also believe that the Government have to be properly represented at the bargaining table.
As many hon. Members stated on Second Reading, we strongly believe that as the Government pay 46 per cent. of the total salaries bill, they should be represented at the negotiating table. There is no question about that. However, they have entirely failed to make a case for abolishing collective bargaining. That is what the Bill proposes and that is the issue that the Government must address.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) made an excellent speech on Second Reading. He said that in a pluralist society, people should have the right to belong to a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employers. Does the Secretary of State agree with that statement? Does he agree that teachers, organised in unions, should have the right to bargain with their employers? What is his answer? Perhaps I should give him a moment to seek advice, although it should not take much advice to answer that question.
As Ministers will be aware, once the Bill comes into force, 400,000 teachers will have fewer bargaining rights than any other group of public servants. I remind the House that civil servants at least have the Whitley council machinery, yet the teachers will have no bargaining machinery whatsoever. Nurses, doctors and the Armed Forces have independent review bodies that publish reports on pay. The teachers will not even have that. We want the Government to accept an amendment about publishing regular reports. At least that would be something.
No one can pretend that the advisory committee is anything other than the Secretary of State's poodle. Certainly, it is not an independent review body in the normal definition of such a body.
Teachers' organisations, including the National Union of Teachers and the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, that have already taken up the case with the relevant authorities, are correct to say that the Secretary of State's Bill contravenes articles 7 and 8 of the International Labour Organisation convention 151 regarding the rights of public employees, which has been ratified by this Government. It also contravenes article 4 of ILO convention 98 and article 6 of the European social charter. Are the Government really claiming that they mistrust teachers so much that they are to be uniquely deprived of bargaining rights, even if to do that contravenes international and European convention and law?
Does my hon. Friend agree that, if the intention of the Bill is to bring peace to the teaching profession, the imposition of pay settlements is a prescription for disaster?
I believe that the Secretary of State has embarked on an extremely dangerous course and a dangerous gamble. To impose a settlement either now or in the future is a dangerous game to play. I warn him that he may not realise the consequences of his action. I very much hope that there will be peace in the classroom. After what has happened during the past two years, no one wants further disruption. However, the Secretary of State's action is very ill-advised and dangerous.
The hon. Gentleman has quite rightly referred to the amount of disruption over the past two years. Faced with that disruption, the continuing disarray of the trade unions and the lack of agreement between the unions, and acknowledging that my right hon. Friend has a clear responsibility to the nation's children, what else can we expect him to do? Clearly he cannot allow matters to drag on indefinitely. He has a great responsibility and he is entirely right to discharge it.
We shall deal with that issue in the next group of amendments. However, I repeat the point that I made on Second Reading—that I do not believe that there is a great deal between the Government's position announced on 30 October and the ACAS agreement. The difference between the two sides is marginal. If the Secretary of State is really interested in an agreement, he can achieve one. Is he really interested in an agreement? I sometimes doubt it.
Has the Secretary of State taken legal advice on whether his Bill contravenes the various conventions to which I have referred? I hope that he will answer that later. If the Government can take this action against the teachers, there is nothing to stop them from bringing in further Bills to clobber other groups of public employees—for example, health employees and local authority workers. It would be easy for the Government to remove all bargaining rights from workers in local government and the nationalised industries. Nothing that this Government might do would surprise me.
I cannot understand why the Government cannot accept the proposals for a reformed bargaining machinery that have already been agreed between the employers and the teachers, and which meet the criteria for which the Government have been asking—that pay and conditions should be discussed together and that the Government should be strongly represented at the negotiating table. I cannot understand why the Government do not eagerly accept and support that agreement. That would be the sensible thing to do.
We certainly support the ACAS agreement and believe that it should be implemented. Of course, reform on those lines is one thing—we warmly support it—but the abolition of collective bargaining, which is contained in the Bill, is another. The Government accept that bargaining on those lines works well for teachers in further education—indeed, the Secretary of State said that on Second Reading. He has not abolished collective bargaining in further education. If the machinery that links pay and conditions works well for teachers in further education, why should it not work well for teachers in schools? Again, the Secretary of State has not answered that question.
The Bill takes away bargaining rights not from the teachers, but from local authorities. What is the justification for that? They, not the Government, employ the teachers. Ratepayers, not the Government, pay the majority of the bill for teachers' salaries. Yet, under this proposed legislation, both ratepayers and local government will be disfranchised. Yes, they will be consulted—but the Secretary of State or the advisory body, if they so wish, will be entitled to ignore what they say. They have the whip hand.
My hon. Friend has raised an exceedingly important point. Conceivably, there could be an extravagant Government with an extravagant Secretary of State who wanted to give in to teachers and pay them enormous salaries. That would place a burden on local authorities that ratepayers could not be expected to bear. The argument cuts both ways. The Secretary of State now tells us that it is his business to decide how much teachers will get—perhaps too little, perhaps too much. Therefore, the employers—the people who pay the bulk of the salaries—are completely in his hands. He can consult them, but he does not have to pay any attention to what they say. Therefore, a serious matter could arise for local education authorities if this sort of legislation were to be passed.
My hon. Friend raises a good point. What underlines what my hon. Friend says is that we need a balance, on the management side, between local authorities representing ratepayers and the Government representing taxpayers. We need to have teachers on the other side. That is the sensible way to go about it. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State seems to believe that he alone, and not local authorities, has the unique insight and wisdom to determine teachers' pay. When the hon. Lady—is she a right hon. Lady yet?
The hon. Lady soon will be, I am sure. When she was a local authority representative, she had quite a few points to put forward and thought that people should take notice of what she said. Indeed, sometimes she said some sensible things.
I should have thought that the Secretary of State would respect the good sense of local authorities. He should have written into the Bill a way of ensuring that they had real determination and influence on what happens. I do not mean the lip service that he pays in the Bill to consultation, but the giving of proper bargaining rights to local authorities. There is a strong case for that.
There was no mention in the opening speech—of course there was not much in it—or in the speech that the hon. Lady made in which she tried to justify the Bill, of how Ministers justify taking rights from local authorities, who are the employers of the teachers. With the Bill, we shall reach an extraordinary situation in which the Secretary of State can, unilaterally, impose not only pay rates but contracts of employment, even when the Government or the Secretary of State are not the employer. Again, the Secretary of State says that he alone has the wisdom, the intelligence and the wit to know what should be in a contract of employment and that the employers do not have anything much to contribute. That is absurd.
If we examine the Bill, the realities of collective bargaining, the realities of the teachers' employment situation, the need to have local authorities properly represented and the need to ensure that teachers are able to bargain collectively about pay and, of course, conditions, we must come down in favour of collective bargaining.
Irrespective of the present position and the inadequacies of Burnham, which are freely admitted by all hon. Members, it is wrong in principle and a breathtaking leap in logic for the Secretary of State to argue a case for getting rid of collective bargaining. That is a totally authoritarian solution to a problem that can be solved in other ways. The way forward has already been suggested—it is by and through the ACAS agreement. We argue for the purpose of these amendments, which is to restore collective bargaining to the Bill and to try to make some sense of a Bill that would otherwise be totally disastrous.
I was surprised by the speech made by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice). For the past two years he has worked hand in glove with the Labour party in a way that has been unhelpful to schools.
The general secretary of the NUT has gone around the country often saying disruptive things. At a meeting in Ealing, for example, he said that he was delighted that there were strikes in 14 schools. He thought it was excellent. He was supported at that meeting by the Militant Tendency, the hard-Left Labour councillors, and just one or two so-called parents. That is the sort of disruption that the hon. Gentleman supports. He argues that we shall lose something precious in the form of the bargaining that we have had. In the breath before that, he agreed with Conservative Members that the Burnham committee no longer performed a useful function and should go.
I shall give way later.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that, as a teacher, I lived under the workings of the Burnham committee for 23 years. For most of those years, there was precious little bargaining. The teachers' position was dictated by the National Union of Teachers, which had a majority on the teachers' panel. I have never belonged to the NUT, and never will. The NUT has never fully represented the interests of career teachers. That is its great failing. When the teachers' union to which I and my colleagues belonged put forward our views, they were always overridden by the NUT. It insisted on its views being put forward.
I shall not be diverted from the point that I make, even if Opposition Members do not like it. They talk of democracy. For generations, from the teachers' point of view, there has been no democracy under Burnham. We listened to the hon. Member for Durham, North for 20 to 25 minutes. I think that I might be allowed just a few minutes. I did not speak on Second Reading, and it is time that the House heard from a real teacher.
Since the NUT lost its majority on the Burnham committee, there has been fairer representation of the teachers' views because they could no longer be ridden over by the NUT majority. The NUT majority meant that there was no genuine bargaining on the teachers' side formerly.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who has made my next point for me. The NUT lost its majority in 1985, as I said and as the hon. Gentleman acknowledged. It now seeks to dominate the teachers' position by disruptive tactics. Having lost its position democratically, it seeks to impose its view in a dictatorial way.
On a point of order, Mr. Walker. I think that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) should be asked to withdraw a statement to the effect that I or any other hon. Member is in the pay of an organisation in order merely to put that organisation's view in the Chamber. I should have thought that it is totally out of order for such a statement to be made. I would ask the hon. Gentleman if he would kindly withdraw.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Walker. Would it not be helpful if honourable colleagues were to declare their interests and advise the Committee that perhaps they are representing the views of a particular section of the community or of an industry?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Walker. I think that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) included me in his comments about hon. Gentlemen being in the pay of the NUT. I hope that he will withdraw that comment. May I say that I have never received a penny from the National Union of Teachers. I am in no way responsible to that organisation, nor do I speak on its behalf. It would be useful if the hon. Gentleman got his facts right.
As for the comment by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), if we were all to declare our interests, I suspect that there would never be questions or speeches in the House by Conservative Members, because they are paid so much from outside the House of Commons.
I did not notice that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) was there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I certainly was not referring to him. The hon. Member for Greenwich knows that I have great respect for him. I think that he would concede that he is a consultant to the NUT. I do not know whether he is paid anything for that or whether money is paid into an association in which he is interested—perhaps his Labour association or some such body. I think that the hon. Gentleman will have to clarify the position when he speaks. He certainly has an interest in the NUT.
Order. With respect, that is not sufficient. We are all hon. Members. We all declare our interests in the Register of Members' Interests. Certainly, many hon. Members receive remuneration from interests outside the House, but it would be improper to say that hon. Members were being paid for expressing their views. If the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) said, or meant, that the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) was being paid for what he said in the House, he should withdraw.
May we proceed, Mr. Walker? I have never talked about money. I simply say that the hon. Gentleman is paid—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I have nothing to withdraw. I have never talked about money, Mr. Walker. I said that the hon. Member for Greenwich is paid attention by the NUT. I leave him when he makes his speech to clarify any other aspect in respect of which he is paid cash. I am not interested in that.
Order. If the hon. Member for Ealing, North is saying that he never expressed in the words attributed to him the views which are alleged against him, the Committee should accept that. If that is what the hon. Member is saying, we should proceed.
I do not think that it is parliamentary for me to be called a sneak by a hon. Member who does not know what the word means. If I implied in any way that the hon. Member for Greenwich was paid money by the NUT, I withdraw. None the less, the hon. Gentleman is a consultant to the NUT. I am surprised that he protests to such an extent. He has a real interest in advancing the views of the NUT.
On a point of order, Mr. Walker. I seek your guidance, because this matter came up on Monday. The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) regularly speaks, and we all listen to him with great interest, but he has never declared in any speech, so far as I am able to ascertain, that he is the parliamentary consultant to the National Union of Teachers and whether there is financial help to his association, to his office or to him. I do not care what happens.
Order. It is open to any hon. Member or any member of the public to obtain a copy of the Register of Members' Interests. Hon. Members are required to declare their interests in the Register. I assume that if the hon. Member for Greenwich has such an interest, it is recorded in the Register. That matter is rather different from the one to which I was drawing the Committee's attention arising from the remarks of the hon. Member for Ealing, North. The hon. Member for Ealing, North has generously cleared up that matter, and I think that we should now proceed.
On a point of order, Mr. Walker. Is it in order for hon. Members to read continually from the Register? Under the name of the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) the Register records his employment outside the House as a part-time lecturer and an examiner of the London Regional Examining Board. Does that put the hon. Gentleman—
Order. The hon. Member for Rhonda (Mr. Rogers) has only confirmed what I have said—that the facts are available in the Register, which is available to every Member and every member of the public. Now perhaps we can return to the debate.
I think that I have made it clear that, until November 1985, the NUT had by its position on Burnham dictated the teachers' bargaining position. There has been no genuine bargaining in the view of the vast majority of teachers. Since then, the NUT has continued to attempt to dictate to teachers by disruptive tactics. That will not do. The hon. Member for Durham, North talked of a loss of the teachers' bargaining position. I regret to say that he was not talking about anything substantial. Teachers may well find that, over the next two or three years, their bargaining position will be enhanced by the Bill.
There have been enough interruptions. I shall not give way any more, not even to the hon. Member for Greenwich. I gave way to him to clarify his point, and we must leave it at that. We accept that there is continual disruption and shouting by the Opposition. It is well known that, if hon. Members have nothing to say, they shout.
The present position under the Bill is analogous with the 1960s; it was a little different, but not all that different. There was discussion with the teaching profession, as there is now, on the need for higher pay. Some of us took part in a campaign calling for "More shekels, less Eccles". Sir David Eccles was then the Minister for Education. The hon. Member for Hillsborough was in the profession at the time. He would remember the "More shekels, less Eccles" campaign.
He cannot have much of a memory, then. Sir David Eccles picked up that campaign and forced the teaching profession into a debate similar to the one into which it is being forced now. The debate then, as now, was about paying teachers to persuade them to take the extra responsibility of headship, deputy headship, head of department, apparently small posts such as looking after stock in a school and the many posts in between. Sir David Eccles forced a debate on those issues and the profession could not make up its mind how it wanted to be paid.
Today we are in a similar position. The basic question facing the profession, which the Bill and the amendments force us to consider once more, is how the profession shall be paid to secure a viable structure in schools which will enable them to run. This amendment will not help that position.
In my last school there were 152 teachers. It was necessary to pay about 100 of them special allowances ranging between the salary paid to the deputy head at the top and to those on a scale 2 post, with varying positions of responsibility in between. Some of those allowances had to be used to persuade teachers to teach subjects where posts could not be filled by teachers being paid the basic scale. The amendments will not change that position or improve it. The Bill is neutral on that. It is up to the profession to continue to work towards obtaining the right structure by arguing for it.
My final analogy with 1963 is that then, as now, the profession was totally divided. Today, five unions are opposed in one way or another to the ACAS deal. The position is confused and in urgent need of a resolution by one means or another. The amendments will not assist the position and I oppose them.
I am glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway). Normally, as I understand it, it is the practice in Committee to give way relatively freely. I shall certainly give way to Conservative Members, or indeed to Labour Members, if they wish to intervene, according to the more informal procedure in Committee.
For the benefit of the hon. Member for Ealing, North and anyone else who is in any doubt, I shall explain the relationship which I and one or two of my hon. Friends enjoy with the NUT. I joined that union 33 years ago when I first became a teacher. Indeed, I joined it before I became a teacher, when I was still in training. I joined it knowing that my first job was in a grammar school, where the normal practice in those days was to be a member of the Assistant Masters Association. I believed strongly in a united profession, and the NUT is the union which accepts people regardless of their position in the teaching world—whether they are primary school teachers, secondary teachers or head teachers, and whether they teach in grammar schools—as they were in the old days—or in secondary modern schools. That seemed to be the best way of achieving what I believe, and hope, is the objective of all hon. Members who take an interest in education—a united profession.
If my hon. Friend looked at "Dod" he would discover that the hon. Member for Ealing, North is a founder and chairman of the London Schools Horse Society and the British Horse Society's award of merit. Those are his great achievements.
I got the impression that the hon. Member for Ealing, North was a member of a trade union. Clearly it is not the NAS/UWT. Whichever union it is, I understand and perhaps sympathise a little with it because of the way in which its views were overridden by the majority on the Burnham committee. I sympathise with it because, sitting in opposition, my views are often overridden by the larger number of Conservative Members. It is only occasionally, on such matters as the Shops Bill, where there is serious division among Conservative Members, that the views of Labour Members—which are sometimes correct, as the views of Conservative Members are sometimes incorrect—are listened to. That is a good example of the way in which we are constantly overridden.
The union to which the hon. Member for Ealing, North belongs may have been overridden in the past by the NUT, but the effect of this legislation is that any union will be overridden by the Secretary of State. No union, however big or small, can, under this legislation, do more than be consulted.
My hon. Friend has led me straight on to the essential point behind the amendments. As he said, a consequence of the Bill is the extraordinary position of the Secretary of State making decisions on behalf of employers and employees. A Minister or a Secretary of State making decisions on what shall be paid and what differentials shall exist, which must then be followed willy-nilly by employers and employees, is almost unprecedented.
At the beginning of the Bill—this may be remarked upon, so we had better dispose of it immediately—in the explanatory memorandum, the section entitled "Financial effects of the Bill" states:
The expenditure of local authorities on teachers' pay will continue to be taken into account for the purpose of rate support grant.
That is nice to know, but the point that I made when I intervened during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) is that the local authority and the ratepayer in that area will have to pay rates not according to decisions made democratically by the local authority or local authority associations, or through the fair process of negotiation, but by the diktat of the Secretary of State.
The effect of the Bill will be far more sinister than that. As my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North said, on pay and conditions the Secretary of State is appointing himself as the employer and as the employee representative—the trade union—in place of those who hitherto had those responsibilities. This is the first step in the process of setting up a national teacher service. A vital part of the employers' function will be removed from them.
On Second Reading we noticed the extent to which the Government's approach was centralised. I am convinced that this is the first step on a slippery slope towards national pay and conditions. The next step will be a national curriculum. Local education authorities will be abolished and decisions about what is taught, and how it is taught, will be made centrally by the Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Department of Education and Science and such consultative or advisory committees as it may please him to set up and whose advice it may please him to follow.
The Secretary of State has taken that devastating step, completely out of line with the tradition of British education this century. The Education Act 1944 described our education service as a national service locally administered. There was a partnership between the Secretary of State, the Department of Education and Science and the local education authorities, in which teachers, through their representative organisations, played an important part. Those were the three parts of our education service in which decisions could be made. Indeed, in individual schools, head teachers could operate within considerable margins when deciding on the education that they could provide.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned a partnership stretching back to 1944. Is it not a fundamental truth that that partnership has broken down and that the education service has been all over the place since this disruption? No Secretary of State could sit idly by and allow the matter to drag on.
The hon. Gentleman is right to regret the disruption in our schools and to say that during the past few years the partnership has broken down. I blame that breakdown on the previous Secretary of State. Alas, this Secretary of State is only following the tradition set by his predecessor. When he took office, with his honeyed words about the way in which he would operate the education service, a few of us were deceived about his intentions, but the Bill demonstrates what his intentions were from the start. He intends to operate the education service in a dictatorial and authoritarian fashion, and that is why the partnership has broken down.
When I was a junior Minister, although not in the Department of Education and Science, I remember how the Department operated in partnership with the Confederation of Local Education Authorities and how it consulted the teachers regularly. It operated by consultation and consent.
The hon. Gentleman's description of the breakdown of the partnership is inaccurate. It broke down because two of the parties—the school teachers representatives and the local authorities — attempted to impose on the Government what they regarded as a settlement. They tried to exclude the Government from the partnership.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples) suggested that the Government were being excluded. Does my hon. Friend agree that clause after clause was inserted in the ACAS agreement because of pressure by the Government? There is considerable evidence in that agreement of the way in which the local authorities and the teacher unions have met the desires of the Secretary of State.
That is true, and it is not the end of the matter. There is no doubt that the employers and employees were ready and willing to negotiate with the Secretary of State to try to reach an agreement that would be acceptable to all sides. Indeed, although the settlement that was agreed at Coventry and Nottingham would have meant more expenditure and a series of pay scales that may not have suited the Secretary of State's priorities perfectly, there is no doubt that it was all open to negotiation. The Secretary of State has shut the door on the possibility of negotiation between the various parts of the education service.
The Secretary of State has insulted the local education authorities and teacher organisations. It is not surprising that a representative lobby, fully supported by the NUT, is attending the House this afternoon. The teachers have been devalued by the Secretary of State's behaviour.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not trying to skate over the point, but he talks about the employers as though they were a unanimous group. He will know that the employers—the local authorities—were not in agreement. Labour authorities may have been in agreement, but I believe I am right in saying that some of those so-called employers walked out. May I repeat a point that was made on Second Reading? Outside this place, most people understand an employer as being the person who pays. Until the Opposition recognise that, we will get nowhere.
The hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) is saying that no local authority is an employer. Every local authority depends on rate support grant, so ultimately the Government are the employer. That is the only interpretation that I can put on his argument.
I can only interpret what the hon. Gentleman said in that sense because, as he knows, the local education authority writes the cheques, pays teachers' salaries and pays the other expenses of running an education service. Of course it receives funds from central Government to assist it in doing that, but there is no doubt in my mind that the employer is the local education authority. The relationship is being interfered with seriously as a result of the Bill.
I am no supporter—indeed, we would not find a single supporter in the House—of the continuation of the Burnham committee. The amendments are an attempt to discover ways in which an agreement can be reached to reflect the shape of our education service, which is different from the service in France or in other countries which have a national system of education.
The hon. Gentleman should note that amendment No. 13 says that an order should be made following
a report by an independent inquiry".
The independent inquiry proposed by Labour Members is to consist of members
appointed in equal proportions by the Secretary of State, organisations representing school teachers and associations of local education authorities.
The hon. Gentleman has completely failed to observe that the Bill provides an opportunity for genuine independent assessment, whereas that is avoided under the amendment and we shall be back to square one in no time at all.
That is all very interesting, but we are not discussing that amendment. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the amendments that were called by you, Mr. Walker, he will discover that the amendment to which he referred is not on the list. The hon. Gentleman was wrong to refer to amendment No. 13.
I do not pretend to put forward the best arrangements for negotiations to take place. That is a difficult issue that would have to be decided as a consequence of consultations between the Secretary of State and representatives of the local education authorities and the teachers' organisations. The House cannot make such decisions.
It would be exceedingly difficult to ensure that all parties had an opportunity to see that their special interests were properly represented in whatever negotiating machinery was finally set up. However, that is the way that it should be done. If it is not done in that way, and if we follow the purposes of the Bill, which provide the Secretary of State with authoritarian powers, we shall destroy the arrangement and philosophy of the British education system and establish a national education system.
That may be desirable, and it may be what Conservative Members want but it is not what I want. I have always thought that one of the great strengths of our education system is that it allows room for differences to suit regional requirements and reflects democratically expressed opinions, through the local authorities. That room for difference also has the marvellous effect of making experimentation possible in our education system — for example, the comprehensive experiment and others—
They have hardly resulted from experimentation at a local level. The hon. Gentleman quotes something that has been imposed by central Government. That is hardly in line with the sort of experimentation and educational advance that has been made by people such as the late Sir Alec Clegg and others, who have pioneered new developments in education at local level, which later have had an impact on the education system as a whole. I value localism in education and am against national authoritarianism, and that is why I shall vote in favour of the amendment.
I followed the speech of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) with some interest. He declared that our education system was distinctive, and so it is. It is distinctively barmy, because any situation in which the person who provides the money is not involved in the hiring and firing of any of the staff, and in which the person who hires and fires staff is not responsible for their day-to-day deployment, and in which the day-to-day deployment of the staff is put into the hands of somebody who neither provides the money nor hires and fires the staff, is a certain recipe for disaster. The extraordinary thing about the British education system is the way in which, over a long period, good will has enabled an unworkable system to tick along. The Secretary of State's proposals are an inevitable consequence of the breakdown of a system that was inherently unstable from the beginning.
However, the hon. Gentleman also said that he foresaw a dramatic centralisation of the British education system. I hope that he is wrong, and I think that he is wrong for two reasons. First, I have reservations about exposing any Secretary of State—even one with the broad shoulders of my right hon. Friend, or any less robust successor—to a constant round of direct negotiations on the details of pay, year in, year out. I hope that his proposals will be the first step to a radical change in the system of teachers' remuneration, because that is long overdue.
Secondly, we need a system under which schools are provided with a budget, out of which the head teachers would make the necessary allocations. That would allow them to chose whether they will have more staff and less equipment or more equipment and fewer staff. It is absurd to operate a system that is full of highly intelligent, dedicated, conscientious people and pretend that they are totally incapable of running more than a nugatory budget.
When teachers complain—as they frequently do—that they are under-remunerated, it might pay them to look at one or two other professions—for example, that of speech therapy. I have some knowledge of that profession, because my wife teaches within it. A district speech therapist with a salary of about £10,000 per year—[Interruption.] It is interesting that Opposition Members—from sedentary positions—pay no attention when one attempts to widen the debate in any way, shape or form.
I assure the hon. Gentleman that we feel very strongly about the under-payment of speech therapists. We have tabled a motion to try to increase their wages, after many years of struggling to help them. Will the hon. Gentleman tell his wife that?
My wife follows those matters with considerable interest. My point is not so much that speech therapists are under-remunerated, as that a district speech therapist who, like a teacher, is a graduate, will be responsible for a budget of somewhere between £250,000 and £500,000, on a salary of about £10,000 per year. The idea that the professional confreres of speech therapists, professions such as teaching, are incapable of handling money is an insult to the teaching profession. However, that is an inevitable consequence of the extraordinarily ramshackle system of dividing financial responsibility from personnel responsibility, or from day-to-day administration.
I do not know what experience that hon. Gentleman has of teaching and of teachers. Does he agree that a teacher in the classroom wants not money in the hand but adequate resources, adequate time and adequate colleagues with which to do a collective job? Financial administration is best dealt with by other people. Indeed, in some large secondary schools the capitation sums, the accounting and the calculation of how much money can be put into staffing, or how much into the equipment, is left in the capable hands of bursars who are accountable to headmasters. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that is the right division of labour for a professional teacher?
The divorce of the allocation of resources, however small, which relates to the way in which one does one's job, from the doing of that job, is one of the reasons why so many professions are in some trouble these days. I could not agree more that there is a real need in schools for someone with the duties of a bursar to look after such things as the capital stock, repair and maintenance and the collection of moneys. But the administration of a department, the deployment of teachers within that department and the trade-off between hours in the classroom or the laboratory and doing other things, should be on the basis of having a budget to administer. It is demeaning to the teaching profession that most teachers are regarded by whomever is supposed to employ them as being incompetent and not to be trusted with money. The time is long overdue for schools to be run by people who control and understand the resources. That might even breed a clearer understanding of where the resources come from in the first place.
I hope that the change in the nature of the negotiations is the first step towards a decentralisation of the education system and a combining of the personnel and financial administration functions. My goodness me, there is a need for a change in the nature of negotiations which, hitherto, have provided a form of contract which means that, the moment everybody stops doing what they regard as voluntary, the system falls to bits. Anything more absurd than that would be hard to find. For that reason, I shall support the Government.
The amendments centre on the right to free collective bargaining for teachers. It was interesting that in two interventions during the debate Conservative Members were either invited to say, or, during the course of their contributions, failed to say, whether they agreed with free collective bargaining for teachers.
The first occasion was when my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) asked the Secretary of State whether he agreed with free collective bargaining for teachers. It may be uncharacteristic of the Secretary of State, but he remained silent. There are not many days or occasions since he took over that office that he has remained silent, but on this occasion that was a pregnant and meaningful silence. We now know from his refusal to intervene that he does not agree with free collective bargaining for teachers.
Another contribution was made by the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), and, even by his standards, I think that it is one that he may well regret. During the course of that speech, he was challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) to say whether he agreed with free collective bargaining for teachers. The hon. Gentleman tried to obfuscate the issue. That is not difficult for him because he does that regularly on any issue, but on this occasion he did so as a tactic. It was obvious from that tactic that the hon. Gentleman did not want to say in the House and on the record that he also disagreed with free collective bargaining for teachers.
The indictment against Conservative Members is strong. We have the silence of the Secretary of State and the silence of the hon. Member for Ealing, North, a combination that means they they are likely to be taken at their word; such weight and intellectual ability combined to give the impression and to lead to the conclusion that the Government are opposed to free collective bargaining.
We need not take the argument much further, but the argument was made in other terms on Monday evening by the Minister of State. On Second Reading, the hon. Lady accused me of saying that the Government are trying to remove the negotiating rights of teachers. She almost gave the impression, despite all that we have heard, that that was a scurrilous and unfounded accusation on my part. But the hon. Lady went to to say:
The Government have not denied that the teachers' unions have a role in pay determination. I assure the House that there will be no shortage of consultation."—[Official Report, 8 December 1986; Vol.107, c. 111.]
The hon. Lady nods in agreement and I am happy that she does so. She is making my case and that of my hon. Friends, the teachers' unions and the teachers. The hon. Lady is saying that she does not believe in collective bargaining for teachers.
Bargaining is a process which involves the two parties giving and taking and coming to a joint arrangement. That is the nature of bargaining. The hon. Lady offers consultation, but she knows, as we all do from the Government's record, that consultation simply means listening, not acting on, agreeing with or moving towards the views that come from the other party. What the hon. Lady said will be recorded and emphasised time and again because she has stated clearly what her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and her hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North failed to state—she is against bargaining for teachers.
I believe in the right of free collective bargaining, but I fail to see how the frequent references to consultation and the provision for consultation, to which my hon. Friend the Minister referred, combined with the right of the teachers' organisations to take whatever industrial action they deem fit, as that is clearly not proscribed by the Bill, does not constitute just as free collective bargaining arrangements as are available in any other section of industry. It is a travesty to suggest that it is not perfectly retained here, but with the difference that it is now clear to whom the teachers should be directing their efforts, and that is to my right hon. Friend. That clarification is in the interests of both sides.
I am disappointed with that intervention. I acquired a warm respect for the hon. Gentleman during the debates on the Education (No. 2) Bill earlier this year. He had a great deal to contribute to the education debate. [Interruption.] However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) says from a sedentary position, that intervention was not up to the hon. Gentleman's usual standard.
Let me explain why. The hon. Gentleman is trying to equate bargaining and consultation. Let me give him an example to think about from his own constituency. For example, if, in Oxford, Leyland decided that all decisions about pay would be made by the managing director or the chairman of the company, the unions could come along, or perhaps come along—it is not clear from the Bill whether they would, on analogous terms, have that right—and make their presentation. They would be "consulted", to use the Minister of State's term, in that way. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that is a fundamentally different process from that which currently takes place in British Leyland on the determination of pay? Let me describe the process, so that he can be clear before he answers.
What takes place currently on pay determination is that the two sides, management and the trade unions, sit and negotiate across the table until they come to a joint agreement. The nature of bargaining is a joint agreement; the nature of consultation is unilateral decision-making. If the hon. Gentleman wants to return to Oxford and argue with his constituents and their trade union representatives that consultation is the same as collective bargaining, he may be in for a shock and a rude awakening. However, I shall listen with interest to what he has to say.
The hon. Gentleman knows that in any bargaining arrangement that the two sides make, the terms upon which they are prepared to settle are quite clear. Movement towards an eventually agreed settlement takes account of a number of factors, not least the right of employees, subject to the arrangements that are provided for under the trade union Acts, to ballot their members and to withdraw their labour, if they regard the settlement as unsatisfactory. Were the proposals that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to include a waiver of the right to withdraw labour, I should have more sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's point, but clearly they do not. It is a matter of sophistry to decide whether there is a meaningful distinction between negotiation and consultation. Teachers will be just as able in the future as they are at present to make the full weight of their argument felt in negotiations and consultations with my right hon. Friend.
I do not want to labour the point for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman, but as we have a great deal of time it may be worth one more try. There is a fundamental difference between what the hon. Gentleman regards as consultation and the process of negotiation. However, he was almost there; there was a moment when I thought that there was a joining of hands across the Chamber, and we await the intellectual awakening of Conservative Members. At that moment the hon. Gentleman said that one party starts in one position, that the other party starts in another position and that then, through the process of applied pressure, which may be the threat of industrial action or the threat of dismissal by the employer, there is movement on both sides. That is implicit in bargaining but it is not implicit in consultation. It is intrinsic to the nature of bargaining but it is not intrinsic to the nature of negotiation. I hope that the hon. Gentleman takes my point fully and that he will join us in the Lobby when we vote on the amendment.
In the context of amendments Nos. 8, 12 and new clause 8, will the hon. Gentleman explain why the Opposition place such emphasis upon consultation? New clause 8 provides for national collective agreements, and it is implicit in the amendments to which the hon. Gentleman is speaking that there will be consultation. However, he seems to be suggesting that consultation is not very useful. Will he please explain how he comes to that conclusion?
I am trying to differentiate between the collective bargaining process and the consultation process in industrial negotiations. If the hon. Gentleman had recognised that fact, he would also have recognised that his intervention was otiose. He may be able to make his point later. We shall look forward to it, and from his track record there is no reason to suspect that he will not make it. I was simply trying to distinguish between collective bargaining and consultation.
I shall give way to my hon. Friend in a moment. It is obvious that he has something to say on this point.
The conclusion that can be drawn from the comments on Monday night of the Minister of State, which were clear and distinct, is that she does not believe in free collective bargaining. She believes that teachers deserve only to be consulted.
My hon. Friend has made the distinction between consultation and collective bargaining absolutely clear to me. He may not have made it clear to Conservative Members, but it is possible that they do not want to listen. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) has read the amendments. Had he read them, he would have seen that their purpose is to provide for a consultation process before the repeal of the Act. The hon. Gentleman is confusing two processes. He would have been well advised to read the amendments before intervening.
I am always prepared to listen to your guidance, Mr. Walker, because it is obviously based on a great deal of experience. I shall give the answer to the hon. Member for Northampton, North outside the Chamber, not in these proceedings.
We have made a distinction between collective bargaining and consultation. Now I wish to consider some of the reasons that have been given by Conservative Members as to why the Burnham committee should be scrapped. Both sides of the House agree that the Burnham procedures and the Burnham machinery have failed. Therefore, we have to consider what to put in their place. In one of his more imaginative comments, the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) asked what else could have been done; he said that it has to be, as it is provided for in the Bill. Simply to shrug his shoulders and ask what else could have been done showed a lack of willingness on his part to put his great intellectual powers to good use.
The speech of the Minister of State on Monday night was full of interesting comments. Those of my hon. Friends who were not in the House on Monday night missed a great treat. Some of the Minister's hon. Friends must have been profoundly disappointed by it, if they were not there on Monday night. I recommend them to read the report of her speech in Hansard. She said that the Bill is needed because the Burnham machinery and procedures have failed. For that reason, she said that there must be interim arrangements, involving an advisory committee.
I say with the greatest possible respect to the hon. Lady that that is a jump in logic that in itself is illogical. She is suggesting that there is no alternative to the Burnham machinery other than the Bill of her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. That is clearly not the case. The ACAS agreement which is on the table contains provisions relating to a national joint council for negotiations on teachers' pay and conditions. The hon. Lady does not agree with the national joint council approach, an approach which, Mr. Walker, as you know from your past industrial relations experience, is used in very many industries. If the hon. Lady cares to intervene at this stage, perhaps she will tell us why she does not agree with it. She makes the illogical suggestion that there is no alternative to it. I should have thought that she would recognise that there is an alternative, and I shall advance that argument a stage further.
The hon. Lady referred in her speech to our suggestion concerning the European social charter.
I know that the hon. Gentleman was completely disillusioned by the few years that he spent as a Member of the European Parliament. Perhaps we shall hear about it during the evening.
I refer to the European social charter only because it has been cited in the context of this debate and the Minister of State responded to it. The Minister said that article 6(2) requests Governments to promote voluntary collective bargaining, where necessary and when appropriate. My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) realised that the Minister had made a crucial point because he tried to intervene to obtain clarification. However, the hon. Lady would not give way. Then she said:
The article clearly recognises that circumstances can occur in which voluntary negotiations are not appropriate."—[Official Report, 8 December 1986; Vol. 107, c. 110.]
In other words, the Government see their way out of their obligations under the European social charter by arguing that the voluntary negotiation system is not deemed by the Government to be appropriate.
No, I shall not give way for the moment; I will in a minute.
If that is not appropriate for teachers—that is what the Government and the hon. Lady are saying—the same argument could be applied not just to teachers but to every group of public sector employee. Our debate tonight on the Bill extends beyond teachers' pay and conditions to each and every public sector employees.
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. However, the Government's track record does not suggest that there will not be an extension to other public sector employees. We have already seen from the Government the ability to take away fundamental trade union rights at GCHQ. Now they say to us, "But the teachers are another special case." How many more special cases will there be in the public sector before the country realises that it is an attack upon the fundamental rights of public sector employees?
The hon. Gentleman talks about other public sector workers, but in such cases negotiating machinery already exists, negotiations are going on, and there is not the same industrial relations upset in other spheres of the public sector as in the teaching profession. The hon. Gentleman cannot escape the fact that the dispute in the teaching profession goes back many months. Many months ago ACAS offered to intervene, and the unions said, "Not interested."
I should like to build on the hon. Gentleman's intervention. He is saying that the argument for abolishing the machinery, which is similar to the argument used by the Minister of State, is that there have been difficult negotiations with the teachers. Are we to believe—I think we are, from what the hon. Gentleman says—that if those difficult negotiations are reproduced for local authority manual or white collar workers, or for Health Service staff, the same decision will be taken? That is why I said that the warning that comes from the debate and from the Bill is not just for teachers but for each and every public sector employee who is in danger of losing fundamental rights. Once the Government are tempted down that road, they will continue on it, and they will continue to attack trade union rights.
The hon. Gentleman is referring to new clause 8. Subsection (2) states that any national collective agreement must be referred to the Secretary of State by way of a report. This is the crucial bit. The subsection says that upon receipt of such a report, the Secretary of State "shall"—not "may"—
unless in his view national economic circumstances otherwise require make provision by order … giving effect to the provisions of such a report".
New clause 8 shoots the hon. Gentleman's argument straight in the foot. This is what the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) will have to concede, too. Apart from the fact that our clause 3 provides for consultation and Opposition amendments Nos. 8 to 14 do so too, new clause 8 is a spurious and fraudulent attempt to convince people that they are negotiating in an exercise to provide national collective agreements. The let-out is contained in these very provisions. The paragraph contains the words "in his view", so that is not justifiable, and the let-out is:
unless in his view national economic circumstances otherwise require".
Therefore, the new clause is completely worthless. I hope that the unions will take account of that.
I think that the hon. Gentleman must have read the point that I was about to make. On new clause 8, he should recognise that there would be collective bargaining and one would build upon the partnership in education. I have heard some Conservative Members say that that partnership has broken down. One will not renew it by adopting the Government's policies; one will rebuild it only by the recognition that is implicit and explicit in new clause 8. That is why the new clause refers to collective bargaining for unions and employers, and that is why the new clause also refers to the role of the Secretary of State. I must move forward—
Before my hon. Friend moves forward, I should like to ask him whether he agrees that far too much emphasis has been placed on the agreements breaking down between the teachers and the employers, so something must be done. Nothing has been said about why the agreements have been breaking down, and why there has been so much fuss. Is not part of the reason the continual hammering that the teachers have had from the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The equipment grants have been slashed, and class sizes have been too high. They have been driven into the ground at every possible opportunity. Would not support of the teachers have been a better way to attack the problem in the education system than what the Government propose in this odious Bill?
My hon. Friend has made a perceptive point, given the noises from Conservative Benches. He is absolutely right to say that, since the Government were elected in 1979, they have taken every opportunity to denigrate and devalue the contribution that teachers make to society. The Bill is part of that process. The Government have been determined to attack teachers.
I have no difficulty at all. In the three years or so that I have been a Member of the House of Commons, I have listened to Conservative Members at every education Question Time and in every debate. They have attacked teachers as a collective body or as individuals. If the hon. Gentleman popped into the House more often when it was dealing with education business, he would realise that there is no difficulty in reconciling those two points.
Before my hon. Friend does move forward again, if what the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) says is true, that is a result of the Clegg award. The Conservative Government were not responsible for that, and they berated us for leaving them such a legacy. We were proud of that legacy. That award is the reason why the teachers got a decent rise. The Labour Government were responsible.
I totally agree with my hon. Friend. It is interesting to look at the history of the dispute and of pay in the public sector since 1979. As my hon. Friend rightly says, in the early months and years of the Government's period of office, every attempt was made to criticise the Clegg award and the Clegg machinery. My hon. Friend is right that many public sector employees welcomed the machinery and saw the benefit of it.
I shall now move forward in my argument. I almost apologised to you, Mr. Walker, for giving way to one or two hon. Members, but I suspect that some Conservative Members are trying to delay this important debate. I cannot understand the reason for that.
On several occasions, today and on Second Reading, we have heard the argument from Conservative Members that it is the taxpayer who pays the bill for teachers, so the taxpayer has the right to demand the machinery that is set out in the Bill. That is an interesting argument. I should like to quote from a press release issued by the Department
of Education and Science on 28 November this year, which was the day when the Secretary of State published his Bill. He said:
Taxpayers and ratepayers who pay teachers' salaries are entitled to have a system which produces results.
Conservative Members will notice a slight shift in the argument. In today's debate and on Second Reading, we talked about taxpayers, but on 28 November, announcing the publication of the Bill, the Secretary of State also talked about ratepayers. I wonder why reference to ratepayers has been dropped in subsequent arguments, and I think that I know the reason. Perhaps the Secretary of State will not intervene again, so let me explain to the House. The reason is simply this. If one wants to have representatives of the taxpayers, our political system provides representatives of the taxpayers. The taxpayers' representative could be said to be a Minister and the ratepayers' representative could be said to be a local authority councillor. We have a system that is based on that principle, and it is called local government.
Hon. Members may have noticed that this Government do not have any great liking for local government, and perhaps that is one reason why reference to it has been deleted from any subsequent argument. But I suspect that there is another reason, and that is that the Bill does not allow local government to participate or negotiate in any way. The Secretary of State has taken away from the teachers' pay discussions the immediate representatives of their employers—namely, local government. That is typical of the Government's attack on local government. The Bill represents a fundamental attack not only on teachers but on our constitution.
The taxpayer argument is dangerous, and Conservative Members should think about it before going ahead with the Bill. As my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich said, the implication is that such legislation could apply to all other public sector employees. We now know that the Government do not believe in free collective bargaining for teachers. Judging by what the Government have said, they can foresee circumstances in which collective bargaining could be removed from other groups of public sector employees. We also know that the taxpayer argument could be used to take bargaining rights from all public sector workers. You were right, Mr. Deputy Speaker, not to allow me to talk about nurses' pay, although I am sure that you realise that the Bill has implications that go far beyond the teachers' dispute, and extend deep into the public sector.
I shall conclude—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I always like to play the populist card, and I realised that Conservative Members thought that this was the moment. I suspect that I shall have another opportunity to speak tonight, and it is always a mistake to have too much of a good thing all at the same time. Consequently, I shall bring my remarks to a conclusion. The other night, however, I said that I would oppose the Bill vehemently because it attacks an intrinsic right in any pluralist democracy—the right to belong to a trade union and for it to bargain collectively on behalf of its individual members. If Conservative Members listen to both sides of the argument, they will realise something that they probably know in their hearts, which is that being a trade union member is of little value if one does not have the ability to make representations and to bargain collectively with one's employer. In a democratic society, that is a fundamental right.
The history of western Europe and even of industrial relations in the United States shows that democratic Governments have tried to further that right to bargain collectively. For example, the Wagner legislation, which dates back to the 1930s, gave trade union organisations the right to develop collective bargaining. It imposed obligations on employers to bargain freely and in good faith with individual trade unions and groups of workers. That legislation was not limited to the United States and has been reproduced in many parts of western Europe.
My hon. Friend has stressed the importance of unions having the right to bargain collectively on behalf of individuals. But is not the obverse also true? If a trade union does not have the right to bargain collectively, the inducement or need to join that union is greatly diminished. Consequently, the Bill's effect, and one of its purposes, is deliberately to undermine and destroy the appeal that trade unionism has for teachers. People will thus be driven into making individual bargains, which will obviously prove to be less satisfactory to them and will undermine the coherence and partnership of education as a whole.
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. In western Europe and the United States, the trend has been to preserve democracy and to build on trade unionism and collective bargaining. The Government are going in the opposite direction. The debate and these amendments are important. I had hoped that I would win some support from Conservative Members. However, the power of my argument has obviously been enough to win me one supporter at least, as the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), who represents the Liberal party, has at last joined us in the Chamber—[Interruption.] I see that he is just disappearing, but at least one Liberal Member has given the debate a little of his time.
Having listened to our arguments and having understood the rights involved, I hope that at least some Conservative Members will join us in voting for the amendments.
It will be apparent to all those who listened to the 40-minute lecture from the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) that he used to be a lecturer on industrial relations. He gave us a detailed but rather academic exposition on the difference between consultation and collective bargaining. In practice, it means relatively little, as much depends on the procedures and on how much they overlap. For the purposes of this debate, the significant and practical point is whether the arrangements that now exist have worked, and they patently have not.
I am as committed an enthusiast for the principle of collective bargaining as the hon. Member for Leeds, Central, but although teachers are important, it is the children in our schools who matter most. We have waited too long for a resolution of the dispute. The difference between the Opposition and the Government can be seen in the way in which we approach the present stalemate and seek to break out of it. The Opposition want a long-term solution. I believe that any long-term solution must involve a more formalised arrangement for collective bargaining. The Government propose a short-term solution to an immediate problem, and on that basis I am very willing to support it.
I am prepared to accept this short-term solution because I have urged my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State before to go further and faster than he did in the Education (No. 2) Bill and substantially to devolve power to the governing bodies of schools. After the next election, that must be one of our earliest priorities. A long-term solution to the collective bargaining arrangements within the teaching profession must wait for that fundamental reform of the way in which the education budget is administered.
Thus, we must find a short-term solution to this difficult problem. I would not have spoken if the right hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) had responded to my intervention. However, he completely ignored my questions, so I feel bound to repeat them in more detail. I am delighted that he has resumed his seat, as those questions are of fundamental importance. Why have the collective bargaining arrangements broken down, and what was the Opposition's role in their failure? That question must be put firmly on the agenda for this debate.
The right hon. Member for Durham, North is straining at the leash to reply, but I shall give him an opportunity later to put the record straight. Several questions have been put to me. During the course of the negotiations between the unions and the employers there were repeated and obvious moments when Labour party representatives on both sides of the table left the room on the understanding of the others present that they intended to consult the right hon. Gentleman. I put that to the right hon. Gentleman — [Interruption.] I apologise, is he simply an hon. Gentleman? I am sure that that is an ommission that time will remedy. There will, after the next election, be a vacancy for the post of Leader of the Opposition and, by tradition, the Leader of the Opposition is a Member of the Privy Council. I am sure that it is only a matter of time before the hon. Gentleman is a candidate for that post.
My point is that the hon. Member for Durham, North said that over the course of the past two years, he has made repeated interventions with a view to trying to ease a settlement between the two parties. If that is correct, it is fair. However, I have to say to him that many people are rather suspicious of some of his interventions and I want to give the hon. Gentleman the opportunity of facing squarely up to the points that have been put to me. I cast no aspersions. I am simply giving him an opportunity to answer the points that have been put to me by many trade unionists who are involved in the education world and who are concerned at the way in which his interventions may have led, for example, to the walk-out of some of the employers' representatives.
There were some helpful points in the package that was put forward. It may be that the hon. Member for Durham, North—
I am referring to the entire package of amendments, because they were proposed on the basis that they were an alternative system for collective bargaining to replace those being put forward by the Government. I am saying that there would be no need for those amendments if the obstacles to collective bargaining that exist were removed.
The hon. Member for Durham, North and others have made repeated references to the attempts of the parties to settle the disputes directly between themselves—employers and unions. I would very much like that to be a solution. I would have that as a preferred solution. However, there appear to be obstacles to that and the amendments that have been proposed will present further obstacles to that process. On that basis I would suggest, Mr. Walker, although I am always bound by your guidance, that what I am saying is directly relevant—as will be the response I hope, from the hon. Member for Durham, North. Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman has now left his seat as I come to the point I wish to put to him.
In the package that has been brought forward there are, on public record, some points of common accord. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has accepted that many parts of the package are helpful. However, there are two sticking points that relate to the amount of money involved in the package and the question of incentive payments. I want to know, and I think that everybody is entitled to know, what interventions the hon. Member for Durham, North made on those two points. It has been suggested to me that his interventions on those points were designed to produce a package that would be acceptable to the Labour party but unacceptable to the Government and that, in fact, the dispute is being prolonged for electoral purposes by the Labour party. If that is so, it is a disgrace. It is a disgrace that the country should know about.
It is perhaps a matter of ultimate regret that, although it was obvious what question I was going to put to the hon. Member for Durham, North, he has walked out of the Chamber rather than respond to the points I have made. I have no doubt that if I sit down shortly he will come back in when the opportunity to respond has passed by. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will keep pressing the hon. Gentleman to respond to those points because I intend to make them again and again until we get clear answers as to exactly why he intervened in the negotiations, whether he did so with the authority of the Leader of the Opposition and the extent to which those interventions caused the failure of negotiations on those points and prolonged the dispute.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) was speaking on behalf of his union, Equity. It sounded as if he was standing in the Royal Shakespeare theatre. The departure of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) whatever he has gone out to do, alarmed the hon. Gentleman to the extent that we heard the last great soliloquy of "Othello" during his speech.
I have not begun speaking precisely to the amendment yet. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) has a reputation in the House for intervening in the middle of the first sentence of any Labour Member.
Before I deal with amendment No 8 and other amendments, I want to say that the hon. Member for Elmet is not unknown to me. He and his wife were both councillors in Sheffield for many years. He has spent his conscious life struggling against free collective bargaining in trade unions.
Let me say a few more words about the hon. Gentleman before I give way.
The hon. Gentleman is on the record in Sheffield as being totally opposed to trade unions. However, he said tonight that, like Labour Members, he believes in the principle of free collective bargaining. He does not. That is nonsense. He is utterly and totally opposed to free collective bargaining, just as the Secretary of State is. Before I go any further, let me warm the cockles of the hearts of Conservative members by saying that there are no Members of the Liberal party or the Social Democratic party in the Chamber.
I am sure that the hon. Lady would like to stop me in mid-sentence again, but I will not let her.
It is appalling to see the Conservative party, with sickening unanimity, agreeing to the total violation of democracy contained in the Bill.
The House will judge the accuracy of the hon. Gentleman's general comments by virtue of the fact that I have never been a councillor in Sheffield. My wife was a councillor and on her first election she won her seat by 19 votes largely due to the fact that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) spoke against her.
I am not allowed to say that the hon. Gentleman has distorted the truth but he knows that he has. The hon. Gentleman, as is fashionable these days, could plead the fifth amendment.
I want to speak about this horrific Bill. I was saying, when interrupted by the hon. Member for Elmet, who has a ready wit, as an actor must, that there is sickening unanimity within the Conservative party. I believe that Conservative Members—some of whom I know very well and respect—have pocketed their democracy. There is the unanimity of the graveyard on the matter of democracy within the Tory party. Even hon. Members that I have been in Committee with and listened to with great respect are going along with this diktat as if, in some way, there was a process of democracy in it. They know as well as I do that the reason for the Bill is that the Government are weary of negotiation. They have not got anywhere and, like any dictatorial grouping, they finally want a short cut. They have decided to get rid of democracy. It is no use their denying that. The TUC and all the unions are watching with great care this most serious debate on the most important education measure since the 1944 Act. Unlike the 1944 Act, which sought to advance the cause of education, with this Bill the Government are doing their undemocratic utmost to stifle the advance of education. The amendments seek to redeem the Government's reputation, which is steadily being lost, by taking a tiny step in the direction of democracy. Amendment No. 8 is a good example. I was about to refer to it when I was rudely interrupted by the hon. Member for Lancaster, who accused me of not wishing to discuss these matters.
Unlike most hon. Members, I sat on the Burnham committee for some years. I will explain to the House exactly what that committee was. Its members were elected in competition within the unions and the employing bodies. The only members who were not elected were those representing the Government.
They were appointed. Tory Governments and, sadly, Labour Governments, appointed a couple of representatives, but those representatives carried 15 votes—the Secretary of State will correct me if I am wrong—so they could sway the committee by putting their foot down on behalf of the Government. [Interruption.] That is not like the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) I have served with him on so many Committees that I almost called him my hon. Friend. But for the present leadership, I believe that he would have been Chairman of the Select Committee.
Clause 1 will repeal the Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965. Before doing that, the Government took all kinds of steps to make the elected Burnham committee unworkable. The teachers, weary at seeing the committee stymied by the Government, agreed that it should go. They believed that it would be replaced by something equally if not more democratic, but the provisions in the Bill have nothing whatever to do with democracy. The Secretary of State will appoint every member of the new body without any democratic process whatever.
The hon. Gentleman has clearly not read the Bill. I would not make a statement like that without evidence. Let the Secretary of State give us an answer. He failed to reply to me on Monday about the Bill going for Royal Assent on 19 December. He can deny that now if he likes, although it is not relevant to this debate.
I was already here for much of that time, while the hon. Gentleman was fighting madly to get here.
The interruption from the Secretary of State was not unexpected. I see that he still has the same smile on his face. He would look well waving from a carriage with that smile. Perhaps I may quote Lord Hailsham, one of the right hon. Gentleman's noble Friends. Indeed, I believe that one is supposed to call him the right noble Lord. Lord Hailsham is a democrat who believes that people should be elected. He noticed that when a party was elected with an overwhelming majority there was a tendency to be dizzy with success and drunk with power. He described such a Government—he was, of course, referring to a Labour Government at the time—as an elected dictatorship. As a result of their own interventions, the Tories succeeded in obtaining a bigger majority but a smaller vote in the last election than in the previous election.
They are now pushing things through for which they have no mandate whatever and which are a total violation of democracy, despite their claim that they have been elected and thus have the right to do virtually anything.
The Bill destroys the whole process of negotiation. The trade unions, the Labour party and many other people are watching this debate closely, because if the Bill is accepted the Tories will seek to destroy free negotiation in the public sector generally and then, judging from their reputation since 1979, to attack the trade unions generally. This is being carefully watched by the TUC, the president of which is not unknown to the National Union of Teachers. [Interruption.] Do I even have to tell the Tories his name? Harry will tell them, although he was in the National Association of Schoolmasters rather than the NUT, weren't you, Harry?
Conservative Members have listened, sometimes noisily but mostly with care, yet we have had very few answers from the Labour party. We believe in collective bargaining if the circumstances exist for it to function properly, but how can the free collective bargaining that the hon. Gentleman holds so sacred operate when there are six unions who cannot agree among themselves and 104 separate employer organisations?
The hon. Gentleman, like the Minister, is always insisting on one condition—he has got to have his condition. However, I respect his views even though he does not respect mine. The hon. Gentleman may say that we never give him the expected answers, but quite frankly if I gave him the answer that he expects Big Ben would strike 13. He would never accept any answer. When the hon. Gentleman protests—methinks he protests too much—that he believes in collective bargaining, like the other member of Equity, the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), he does not fool us. The hon. Gentleman believes in the Bill. The Bill is totally and utterly opposed to any programme of democracy or any free collective bargaining.
On Monday night I was present for the debate on the Bill. I left the Chamber to perform a natural function. [Interruption.] I went to eat. I am sure that everybody denounced me for leaving the Chamber. When I returned I made a brief speech. It was shortened by the continual intervention of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash). He is not here at present. The hon. Gentleman intervenes in every speech if hon. Members are daft enough to let him. I think that Conservative Members think the same as I do about that hon. Gentleman.
I went out of the House to pick up a copy of The London Evening Standard which always claims it has standards. On the front page it said "Victory". The victory apparently was against Mr. Chirac. We understand now that Mr. Mitterrand had told Mr. Chirac repeatedly not to introduce the Bill because it would cause endless trouble.
Mr. Chirac went ahead and put forward a Bill, not as draconian as this one, but a Bill that upset large numbers of people, and finally he had to withdraw it. I am not saying that this Bill will be withdrawn by this unregenerate Government and their Minister who, frankly, does not understand state education.
The Bill is causing unnecessary trouble. If the money had been provided two years ago, there would be no trouble now. I appeal to the Minister to put in the place of the advisory council a freely, honourably elected organisation which will discuss the issues democratically and honestly. If we did that, the Government and ourselves would not be in this present mess. I ask him to do something democratic to help education rather than attack free collective bargaining, thereby disrupting our schools and setting back education for years.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). I recall his interventions and questions in the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts between 1979 and 1983. I honestly do not think that, if that Select Committee were considering the Bill, the hon. Gentleman would have painted such a lurid picture. He spoke of Domesday, comparisons with France, a terrible attack on trade union rights—
It is not a terrible Bill. In a few words I wish to explain to the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members why I do not believe that to be the case.
First, the Bill is a temporary measure; it expires in March 1990. Before that time there must be a general election. There may be two general elections and I hope—
I cannot concentrate too well at the moment, but I shall give way to my hon. Friend shortly.
There may be more than one general election and I hope that education is a major issue of any election. Having listened to the past two and a half hours of debate, anyone would think that what is being proposed will last year after year. That is not so. The central point is that a new system of bargaining must be created for the teaching profession. The present system has broken down, but one cannot create a new system overnight. Collective bargaining works only if there is a recognised and reasonable framework within which it can operate. That framework exists in other public sector industries, but it has not always been the case.
The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett)—I am sorry that he has left the Chamber—painted a picture of an unending flow of marvellous collective bargaining in the United States and western Europe. The hon. Gentleman conveniently forgot that, from time to time, collective bargaining has been interrupted by democratically elected Governments. There were the statutory wage policies imposed by the Labour party and the Conservative party—some of my hon. Friends voted for that between 1970 and 1974, although they wish to forget it. My hon. Friends may have changed their minds—and indeed a party can change its mind on such matters.
I remember that, in the 1960s, the late President Kennedy intervened in the collective bargaining process within the steel industry and imposed a settlement. The history of collective bargaining is not an even progress towards paradise, it is a bumpy ride. The Government have had to bring in the Bill because of difficulties in the teaching profession.
The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) often mentions ACAS. I think that he is a convert to the role of ACAS in this dispute. I wish the hon. Gentleman had said in 1985—many of us did—that ACAS should intervene—and at a much earlier stage than the unions agreed. I remind the hon. Gentleman that in June 1985 ACAS formally asked all unions to come to it and to start negotiations on how to get out of the problem. My goodness, there was a problem in 1985. School after school was disrupted, parent after parent was worried about how his child would do in the O and A-level examinations in 1985. Some unions did not respond positively to ACAS. Frankly, the Opposition did not push anything like as hard as they should have done about this matter.
The hon. Gentleman was a supporter of the idea of ACAS coming into the negotiations, but as I recall, the Secretary of State did not respond to his request, which he made during Question Time. I wish to inform him, for the record, that I was in close contact with ACAS throughout 1985 and I strongly supported its intervention which led to the trade unions and the employers getting together under the ACAS agreement. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is saying that he supports the ACAS agreement.
In October 1985 the then chairman of employers made a wage offer and the general secretary of the NAS/UWT said that there should be early discussions, without preconditions, of that offer. The hon. Gentleman should note the date. The NUT would have nothing to do with it. There was another three months of do-nothingism and classroom disruption and another three months of parents getting more and more worried as the 1986 O and A-level examinations approached.
No Government can sit idly by and wash their hands of the matter.
I shall give way in a moment.
Another trade union decided to disrupt and cause trouble in the autumn of 1985, even when its sister unions were calling for early discussions on the improved pay offer put forward by the then chairman of the Labour employers.
The hon. Gentleman has made an implied criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) for not pushing for negotiation. But what was the Secretary of State doing all that time? The Secretary of State has a role and a responsibility for education. He should have tried to get the parties together, but time after time he washed his hands of the entire matter. He did not produce the money.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is wrong. If he studies Hansard he will see that the former Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), consistently welcomed the intervention of ACAS in the summer of 1985. He was as aghast as we were that we had another three months of standstill in autumn 1985 because the NUT would not respond to the NAS/UWT request that there should be early discussions.
Opposition Members' other worry concerns the funding of education. Since 1979, there has been a steady increase in central funding of certain subjects. The hon. Member for Hillsborough has supported that. He has signed the agreement of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts that the Secretary of State should take additional powers and strengthen the curriculum when he feels that it is defective. I know that the hon. Member will remember that there was such a recommendation in one of our reports. Nevertheless, the Opposition worry about centralism. The curriculum has been improved and the Secretary of State has done his duty by the 1944 Act.
The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that I want something balanced. We have visited many countries to study their education systems. I know that, like me, he wants the utmost democracy, but with the Bill the Secretary of State is taking powers that are draconian in the extreme. Everything for which we have struggled for years is under ruthless attack. I cannot believe that many Conservative Members quite understand that. I know them and I cannot believe that they are going along with the Bill.
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have studied the Bill carefully and I do not believe that it gives the Secretary of State draconian powers.
It would not be right for me now to discuss new clause 11, which I have tabled, but my right hon. and hon. Friends have said many times that they want schools to have greater control over how money is spent and for teachers to have greater power to make adjustments to salaries as and when they think fit. That is an example of our democratising the education service. We are trying to make head teachers more responsive to what parents want.
To listen to Opposition Members, one would think that these temporary powers will somehow be used to cause a mighty collision with the trade unions in the teaching profession. I do not believe that anything like that will occur. The Bill is simply a bridge to try to achieve a settlement while we build in improved negotiating machinery.
If my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State does nothing, the dispute will drag on. Of course the dispute is upsetting to teachers, ratepayers and the Government, but it is supremely upsetting to parents, who are desperately worried that, if it goes on, their children's examination results will suffer and that that will affect their job opportunities. The Bill is simply a temporary bridge to try and achieve a settlement. I have listened to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State often, and I cannot believe that he wants to do anything other than work with the teaching trade unions to build a better education service.
The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) is reading the Bill with rose-tinted spectacles. I do not doubt that the Secretary of State and other Conservative Members agree with his definition of the Bill's purpose, but I am afraid that I cannot isolate what is being done from other trends and the actions and attitudes of the Secretary of State. I deplore the fact that the Secretary of State announced education policy on a sympathetic television programme. I hope that he will say something about that when he winds up the debate.
We must consider the Bill in the context of the crisis that has emerged in Burnham and of the pattern in education, in regard to which the Secretary of State's irresponsible attitude on television last Sunday was but the latest emanation.
The ideas might have been good, but it is not in order to discuss that now.
If the Secretary of State is to fulfil his duties and responsibilities, he should produce a White Paper, make a statement in the House and make a speech about his plans. He should adhere to the customary procedures rather than come out with one or two superficially attractive ideas on a sympathetic television programme that is watched by millions of people. I am not suggesting that he does not have a right to go on such a programme, but if he makes statements in that way he is not fulfilling his proper function as Secretary of State in a parliamentary democracy.
I am a member of the National Union of Teachers. I taught in the classroom for 14 years before I came here. My tone might therefore be less light-hearted than that of some Conservative Members appears to be. When one has been at the bottom of the heap for 14 years, one understands a little more about the feelings of people who are being made to feel almost like peasants or peons. I challenge Conservative Members, especially those who have been in one of the caring professions—I see one present—to imagine what they would feel if their historic negotiating machinery, which had been built up over nearly a century, was swept away by a Secretary of State who came in from another Department and presented a Bill such as this, which is being pushed through the House within one week. Experience of being at the bottom of the heap is the basis of my feelings, and the Secretary of State knows that, but for a single vote on a certain selection panel in 1970, that is where I would be now.
I also taught for 14 years and feel that I can intervene on the basis of some experience. During the hon. Gentleman's 14 years of membership of the NUT, what positive input did he have into that union's debates to overcome the inner flaw of Burnham—the separation of pay and conditions?
I am still a member of the NUT. During my 14 years as a teacher, I was a member of my local association and of wider areas and I went to conference. The arrangements under which the Burnham committee operated were set down in the Education Act 1944. That Act was the fixed point within which the various bodies manoeuvred until 1963, when Lord Boyle of Handsworth, who was then Secretary of State, introduced his infamous Boyle's law, which is the predecessor of this Bill. I have no doubt that the people who drafted the Bill examined Boyle's law first, but they have taken twice the length to do the same job.
The difficulties that were perhaps apparent in the education world after 1944 did not centre on difficulty with the operation of the Burnham committee. Things were very gentlemanly, or ladylike—I must be careful with the modern idiom. I was a member of the west Lambeth branch of the NUT. It was regarded as a militant association. I do not know what educational establishment the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) was in, but when NUT representatives went to speak to their colleagues on the teachers' panel of the Burnham committee and their partners, the employers—that was the attitude taken—little was said about figures. It was not until 1957 that the west Lambeth association put a resolution to the annual general meeting of the NUT that we wanted to see a basic scale of £600 to £1,200 a year for teachers. Until that time, those who went into negotiation on Burnham did not have any mandate from the conference.
My reply to the hon. Gentleman is that at that time much more important matters in education were on the table than the apparent snagging up of Burnham, which has apparently happened now, although I do not believe that the statutory structure bequeathed to us by Michael Stewart, now Lord Stewart of Fulham, was as bad as has been made out. It has been snagged up more by personalities and events than by the statutory framework which the Bill seeks to replace.
Lord Boyle of Handsworth set the ball rolling 23 years ago by rejecting an agreement selectively agreed by teachers and employers. That agreement did not come after such difficulties as we have experienced in the past two or three years. It was reached after perhaps three months. On the flimsy excuse that differentials were not adequate, the officials persuaded Sir Edward Boyle, as he was then, that he should use his reserve powers under the 1944 Act and reject that agreement, as he had a statutory right to do.
The impact on staff rooms around the country was great. I had the privilege of teaching at Wandsworth school—now, alas, defunct through falling rolls. We had a fine collection of staff members who had worked together for five or six years without knowing what letters came after other people's names, without wondering what institutions others went to, or whether they had letters after their names at all. There were some two-year trained teachers taking A-levels in the sixth form, and there were some well-qualified, first-class honours graduates taking nearly remedial pupils. The proud boast of the headmaster of that school was that the most expensive department of the school was the remedial department.
When the Boyle bombshell burst, so great was the indignation at that school that a number of us went on unofficial strike and went to Curzon street to try to interview Lord Boyle, whom we regarded as selling out the education service through his arrogant approach. As we were mounting the steps, it emerged that of the three of us in the delegation selected to speak for those who had taken off the last period of school to try to make an impact, one was a member of the Liberal party, one was a member of the Conservative party and one was a member of the Labour party. We were all in receipt of special responsibility allowances, and we were all going on unofficial strike against being paid more. The best of British education was found in that staff room. We knew that once the Boyle Bill went through, any Secretary of State, ever after, would have powers of virtual dictatorship on the Burnham committee and that that would cause trouble and difficulty.
I shall not say that the last few years of trouble and difficulty have been entirely and only the fault of the way in which the Secretary of State has used his powers, either directly and indirectly. Every Conservative Member will know that the previous Secretary of State had some definite ideas about what he wanted out of Burnham, and over the three years of travail that we have had, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) had his share in fouling up the system. One could go on arguing for years about relative responsibilities, but he played a part.
The 1963 Bill was the predecessor of this Bill. Between 1965 and 1985 we had, not the Boyle Act, but the Stewart Act, the one that is with us now. The difficulties that we face have not been inevitable within the working of that Act. Let me explan why I think that in education there must be a balance between corporate responsibility and individual limited licence. The essential element of what we try to do in the House in our parliamentary democracy is one of the great philosophical themes about which we can agree.
A great deal has been heard recently about the wishes of parents. However, the wishes of parents in one school are not the only important factor. There is the concern of the public as a whole, and that group of people have a corporate responsibility. If there is anybody who represents that public responsibility it is the Secretary of State, whether he be the one who is sitting in the Chamber, his predecessor, or his successor. That person is a public trustee. He is not at the apex of line management.
The Secretary of State is not like the Minister for Health, who is a super-manager. Whether or not he has a health board, the Minister for Health is in line management. He has the whole of the health industry, to use phrases that Conservative Members like to use, and he is at the apex of it. However, the Secretary of State is a public trustee for the whole nation. His remit is not only in the public sector, but is in the private sector too. He has responsibility for the licensing of schools, making sure that teachers are there, and so on. It is a big and responsible remit and he is the representative of the nation and the public at large, all of whom have an interest in the future and, therefore, by definition, in our educational establishment, and not just those who are fortunate enough to have children at school at the time.
There are also the representatives of the local interest, those who are living in the close community, whether it be Nottingham, Rugby, Leicester or any of these optimum-sized towns which are so characteristic in Britain. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels) nodding, because what is right for Leicester may not be right for Rugby, Nottingham or Newham. The local public also have an interest, and their corporate and collective representative is the local education authority.
What about those who operate the system — the employees, the teachers? This set of amendments is about the corporate identity of teachers and their interests. They, as a group, can be exploited. It is easy to exploit teachers because, by and large, teachers have a conscience about what they are doing. They know just how vital their job is. I can remember the psychological strain of the few months before I came to this place, which was caused by being responsible for 500 pupils in a London secondary school. That strain was very great, especially as a munificent Ministry of Education had given me just a room to share with three other people.
No, it was far worse. That school was built in 1956 and was subject to the Horsbrugh cuts. Teaching is a much more exacting job than being a Member of Parliament.
It is easy for parents and the public to exploit teachers. The teachers should collectively state that they want a remuneration broadly equivalent to that received by other people discharging similar responsibilities.
Dame Florence Horsbrugh was a very well-known politician in the 1950s. When I joined the teaching profession, she suddenly decided that schools should not be as well provided for as they had been. There was a series of building cuts, and that meant that when I began teaching I walked around 19 rooms a week. I recall that the day after the Horsbrugh cuts were announced the evening papers had a placard that read, "Credit squeeze off—Official." Difficulties with resources from Tory Governments are not new; we have had them for the past 30 years.
There is a corporate responsibility of and a corporate need for teachers to get together. Many people have asked why the unions scrap rather than get together. Conservative Members may not understand what has happened. The history of education in this country is, sadly, unlike that of Germany and some other continental countries. In 1902, instead of reorganising around a rational system, the then Tory Government did a spatchcock job in the Education Act 1902. It is all very well for the Secretary of State to shed tears over decisions taken in Germany in the last century, but similar decisions should have been taken in Britain in 1902.
In 1902 there were many different schools with different traditions—grammar schools, the so-called public schools, technical schools, the all-age schools in rural areas and—after the 1920s—the new central schools in city areas. As class distinctions were, to put it bluntly, very much to the fore in those days, each type of school with its own tradition had its own collective association organised in counties and districts. At one stage the National Union of Teachers represented a rather wider range of staff than it does today. However, there was a dispute about equal pay, and one section of members—now represented by a leading union—hived off from the NUT. The unions and associations have reflected, and still reflect, some of the deep historic roots of our educational structure.
Conservative Members may forget that, unless the traditions, aspirations and attitudes are reflected in some form of collective bargaining, the ventilation of those aspirations will be suppressed. We all know that, if people believe that their case is not being put or if their gut feelings are not aired, they will not be happy with the form of discussion.
I believe that a wide range of traditions, practices and aspirations have come together over the years on the Burnham committee. That is not necessarily a disadvantage, because it adequately and properly reflects some of the traditions, backgrounds and positive virtues of the variety in our system. That is what Conservative Members must confront. However, the Secretary of State comes along with very strong views on how education should be conducted. He says that he wants to weed out the bad teachers.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) was challenged about criticisms of teachers. Anyone who can use the words "weed out bad teachers" has misunderstood the position. That is rather like saying "Weed out bad MPs"—[Interruption.] The public have a chance to do that every five years. They will make their judgment and that is not a partisan point.
If a teacher is appointed, passes his probationary year, is registered with the Secretary of State—he is given a number and is therefore qualified—and is regarded as suitable for selection and training—paid for at public expense — there should be an obligation on the profession and teaching organisations to improve the standard of teachers. That is what we want. I am glad to see Conservative Members nodding. However, the Secretary of State has marched in and said that he wants to weed out the weak and bad teachers. What a way to start negotiations.
My hon. Friend has made a serious point and given us another example of the Government's hypocrisy. As I have always said and as I am sure that the Secretary of State will agree, there is nothing worse than the teacher who does not reach the required standard to continue as a teacher for the rest of his life. The education of thousands of children is involved.
There are several remedies for the problem. First—and I cannot understand why this has not been tried—if by the end of a three-year training period, the trainers do not realise that certain students will not become successful teachers, the trainers are not up to the job. Secondly, there used to be a one-year probationary teaching period during which teachers were examined by Her Majesty's inspectors and a local authority. I am not sure whether that procedure is still followed. I support my hon. Friend's point. There should be no question of weeding out. Decisions should be taken in the first year. The Government have been hypocritical. Why have they not done something about that, when they have been in power since 1979?
I should like to come in on cue. Before the intervention of the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand), the hon. Gentleman asked a rhetorical question along the lines of: "What are the Government going to do about the teachers who, as a result of appraisal, are considered not to be performing well?" I remind him that I have announced an increase in in-service training next year amounting to £200 million. That is the largest amount of money that we have devoted within the education service to the in-service training of teachers, and it will allow about 100,000 teachers next year—approximately a quarter of the profession—to have courses lasting for up to four weeks.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State, because his motives in that regard are exceptional. If I may revert to the dimensions of the classroom — which perhaps even he has not understood—in-service training should be carried out in the school. It cannot necessarily be carried out through courses. By his reply, the Secretary of State shows that he has to some extent misunderstood the point. A teacher may be incapable of doing the job. A teacher may be magnificent in one school, but, when he goes to a difficult area, he may not be able to cope with the classes or the social surroundings in which the school is situated. What he needs more than most is encouragement, help and assistance from his colleagues.
I am glad that my hon. Friend agrees. When I was elected to Parliament, I left behind a school in which, nearly every evening, I had to stay behind with one or other of my colleague teachers and talk about the problems that they faced day after day. I also had to deal with some weeping teachers, weeping parents and weeping children. Teachers need assistance from their colleagues.
When a good teacher is selected to be a head of department, head of house, tutor or whatever, he does not think about promotion or about the next rung on the ladder, about which the Secretary of State is so keen. The teacher is giving out to his colleagues. That is the motivation. The satisfaction that he gets from doing a good job and helping his colleagues and the children transcends a great deal of the so-called career structure. Many of the assumptions about collective bargaining made by Conservative Members are quite wrong and out of keeping with what happens.
People working in a metal-working factory, or even in Sainsburys, Woolworths, or Boots, have managerial expertise and operate on a set of criteria. Those dealing with human beings have different criteria. To some extent, these are opposite rules. Despite that, the Secretary of State believes that a career structure with wider differentials will do the trick. I shall not say that it is not welcome because of the extra pay, but I suggest that the Secretary of State's assumptions about what motivates teachers are not as accurate as they might be.
I appreciate a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman has said. There is much common ground. The message that I get from head teachers in my constituency is that these differentials are needed not to attract teachers but to retain them, in particular in areas of high employment—thank goodness there are some—where they seek other jobs.
The hon. Gentleman is right. On this issue, there is a good deal of agreement among practical teachers. I have encountered difficulties, particularly with craft and technical training. It is impossible, even for schools with a high reputation and good collegiate atmosphere, to hold teachers, because they are offered jobs elsewhere with higher rates of pay. I suggest—again, this is a matter directly related to collective bargaining—that we need a structure of remuneration that reflects the demands for comparable skills and services in the general market.
The Secretary of State is bringing market forces into the classroom to an inappropriate degree, and in the end that will cause disaster. We shall be doing away with the power and responsibility of local education authorities. If they are not responsible in negotiations for directly determining the remuneration of teachers, their raison d'etre will disappear. Will local education authorities be reduced to the status of employers of caretakers, repairers of windows and wholesale suppliers of textbooks, soap and cleaning materials? That will happen if Conservative Members' wishes are taken to their logical conclusion. Local education authorities will be quartermaster agents of Queen Elizabeth house. That is what the Secretary of State will end up with—indeed, he more or less said so when he talked about city technology colleges being the forerunners of a new system.
Corporate collective bargaining is necessary in our education system. Every partner, including the Secretary of State, represents a corporate interest. Unless the partners can express that interest and co-operate within a satisfactory and proper statutory framework, the cooperative needs of education will not be met. The present legislation may need some amendment, but it does not need the changes that we are considering tonight.
I wish to make a brief speech, if only because the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) spoke for about 40 minutes. It is significant that, so far, this batch of amendments has attracted more than four hours' debate. The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) sought to suggest that the distinctions between the ACAS proposals in Nottingham and those of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State were relatively small.
The hon. Gentleman shows his agreement. He will be aware that we are not considering small distinctions. We are talking about nearly £85 million. Even in the context of Government spending, that is not a small sum.
I have pointed out a number of times, as has, I think, even the Secretary of State, that if the date of implementation—I am talking not about the January date but about the autumn date—is moved a month, it will immediately save over £40 million. The hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do.
Even if we accept what the hon. Gentleman said, we are still talking in terms of another £45 million. Even then, as he knows, that is not the end of the difference between the two sides. Arguments about conditions of service still have not been resolved. The hon. Gentleman should understand that the increase proposed by my right hon. Friend amounts to about 16·5 per cent. In anybody's language, that is a substantial increase. I am amazed that we do not have more agreement from Labour Members on these major points.
The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) made much the same point. He appeared to forget the 16·5 per cent. increase and the £600 million. He also forgot the talks and protracted negotiations which have gone on month in and month out. They have not brought any solution.
The hon. Gentleman referred to centralisation. He chose to forget circular 10/65. He chose to forget the Education Act 1976 which was passed when he was a member of the Government. I shall refresh his memory. That Act was centralist in the most extreme form. It took away the right of local education authorities to decide their own form of education. It said, "Whether thou likes it or not, thou shalt go comprehensive." God knows, many of our children have regretted that decision. That decision was made by his colleague, known to us as Shirl the Pearl in the days when she was more Socialist than Democrat. I remind the Member for Greenwich that we shall not take any lectures on centralisation from him or from his Opposition colleagues.
Of course, the hon. Gentleman will recall that direct grant schools were abolished by his right hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice), will he not? I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman's opinion is now. In my speech, I referred to the education service as a national service locally administered. National Government have every right to lay down general parameters within which the local authority runs the education service. The Government are taking away all rights with regard to the negotiation of pay and conditions. Does the hon. Gentleman see the difference between taking away those rights and those general parameters in respect of the way in which primary or secondary education is organised?
On the subject of centralisation, I wonder whether my hon. Friend would give hope to his constituents by assuring them that our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will in no way agree to a system of comprehensivisation from a Socialist local authority in Warwickshire?
I am more than delighted to listen to my hon. Friend, but he must appreciate that it is with some difficulty that I put words in my right hon. Friend's mouth. However, I do not have the slightest doubt that my right hon. Friend will carefully consider any proposals made to him. I hope that he will listen carefully to the representations of Warwickshire Members of Parliament who happen to believe deeply in the principle of grammar schools.
I thought that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) was not being as fair as he might have been to my hon. Friend the Minister of State. The full quotation of her words is in Hansard. She said:
we tried hard within the Burnham machinery to make it work, but we did not succeed. That is why the Bill is needed, that is why we must have some interim arrangements for involving an advisory committee, and that is why the Bill provides for consultation with the local authorities and the unions and why the Government's conclusion should be referred to Parliament.
Frankly, I see no reason why my hon. Friend should in any way be ashamed of her admirable phrase.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to note the term used by the Minister of State—
provides for consultation with the local authorities and the unions".—[Official Report, 8 December 1986; Vol. 107, c. 109.]
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is right to chastise me for not going further in the quotation. But if I had done so, it would have made my case even stronger.
The hon. Gentleman is mistaken, and not for the first time. On Monday, he drew an analogy between my speech and football. The hon. Gentleman will recall that instance, so I shall not bore the Committee with it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Norris) scored well against the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett). He scored and scored again. The point that he made so effectively is worth repeating. First, he said that there is no taking away the right to join trade unions, as the hon. Member for Leeds, Central sought to imply at one stage.
Oh yes, the hon. Gentleman did. Secondly, my hon. Friend brought out with his usual eloquence the point that the right to strike remains. [Interruption.] Of course I regret teachers going on strike. But the right to strike remains. It is still there to be used.
The hon. Gentleman referred to me, and he obviously follows the usual courtesies. He rightly said that the loss of the right to bargain, if that is what it is—it is a matter of dispute between us—does not imply the loss of the right to strike. If the unions have the right only to consult, and not to bargain, will not the Bill make it almost inevitable that the only recourse to action will be industrial action? Is there not a danger that, through this legislation, the Government will precipitate industrial action rather than ease industrial relations problems?
That is a typically gloomy interpretation by the hon. Gentleman. One of his problems is his total inability to see anything worth while in any legislation introduced by the Government. He has a closed mind. If he intends to fulfill his ambition and sit on the Labour Front Bench, he must do something about that.
The justification for the legislation is to be found in the events in Coventry and Nottingham. The legislation is justified by the lack of agreement and the long dispute which has affected so many of our children. The discussions on pay and conditions have ground on month after gloomy month. The only result is that four of the six unions involved have come out firmly against the Nottingham agreement. As the negotiations have continued, the gulf has widened, not the reverse. It is significant that those four unions represent between one third and one half of teachers' union membership. The Opposition must understand that.
Clearly, Burnham is outdated. It has outlived its usefulness. It has become blunted by abuse. If the unions cannot agree among themselves, and agreement is still out of sight after months of abortive talks, what should my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State do? He has a clear duty imposed on him by the House to ensure adequate teaching for our children. That is what he is doing. That is the object of the legislation.
Government have a duty to the nation's children and a duty to bring order into the negotiations. The Bill, which provides for an interim committee and for consultations with local education authorities and with unions, will be more constructive than Burnham ever was. It will be more constructive than the recent discussions which sought to emphasise differences. Therefore, I urge my hon. Friends and Labour Members to reject the amendments.
We have heard a lot of talk from Conservative Members about Burnham having outlived its usefulness and not being worthy of consideration, but we have heard no reason why it has outlived its usefulness or as to the underlying problems in the teaching profesion which have led to so much discontent. It is a pity that Conservative Members, especially the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), simply say, "Something must be done. Therefore, the Secretary of State is introducing this Bill, which will solve the problems."
The Bill will not solve these problems. It will make them worse. Morale in education is at rock bottom already. Teachers have been hammered year in, year out. The Bill will do nothing about that. It will impose one more burden that teachers will have to bear. They will not be able to negotiate freely or, indeed, at all. Consulations will be reduced to a sham. Teachers will be bound hand and foot and will be required to do the bidding of the Secretary of State.
My hon. Friend made a valid point about teacher morale. He restricted that remark to teachers in primary and secondary education but I am sure that he will agree that the collapse in teacher morale has occurred at all levels in the education system and is not restricted to primary and secondary teachers. Of course, that is a direct result of the Government's policy and their general attack on education.
Of course my hon. Friend is right. The Bill mentions teachers in further education, and we shall discuss that in later amendments.
The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth told us what the Conservative party is about in resisting—as I suspect it will—many of the amendments. It is in favour of grammar schools and against comprehensive schools. Conservative Members believe that grammar schools were good and that comprehensive schools are bad. They believe in the assisted places scheme and in private education. They will resist the amendments—a large range of which seek to improve the Bill in a small way—partly for those reasons. Having said that, even if the amendments were accepted—they cannot all be accepted because they overlap a little—the Bill would still be extremely bad.
Will the hon. Gentleman withdraw that remark? Some of us have in our own local education authorities—I stress "our own"—supported a steady, reasonable turnover to comprehensive education. He must withdraw the remark that we are against comprehensive education and not try to smear the entire Conservative party as being against comprehensive education. That is completely wrong and downright mischievous.
I reject the charge that my remarks were mischievous. I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I tainted him when I said that Conservative Members believe that comprehensive education is bad. However, the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth clearly spelt that out. He was, and perhaps is, a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department of Education and Science.
I shall clarify the matter. I speak purely as a freelance. I am not a Parliamentary Private Secretary, although I had the honour of being one to my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson), in three great Departments of State: the Department of Education and Science, the DHSS and the Northern Ireland Office. Any qualities which I now possess are entirely due to my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that clear. I thought that he was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Education and Science. His views will be made public through the Official Report. I am convinced that when his views are published, the public will see the true nature of the Tory party today. Of course, I have always accepted that the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) and several other Conservative Members are interested in comprehensive education, but at present the Conservative party is not interested and does not wish a better education system.
Does my hon. Friend agree that a hard core of the Right who are in command in the Conservative party are totally opposed to comprehensive education? More than 90 per cent. of children are educated in comprehensive schools, but none of them dare attack that fact, because Conservative-voting parents are happy to have their children in comprehensive education.
I shall reply to my hon. Friend within the context of the amendments. His point is correct. That is why, when we vote on these amendments, the Government will try to resist them. The amendments would make a bad and odious Bill slightly less odious. But I suspect that nevertheless, the amendments will be voted down.
So far, the hon. Gentleman's speech has been full of inaccuracies. I am anxious to support the present proven system in the eastern area of Warwickshire because all my children were educated in that system. I speak with knowledge as a parent about what goes on. I tell the hon. Gentleman straight from the shoulder that those schools do a first-rate job. I have no desire to see them wrecked on the altar of political dogma, which is what the hon. Gentleman advocates.
I am not saying that some grammar schools do not do a good job. But, of course, it is at the expense of other schools. That is the point. The Conservative party has always been for the privileged classes that know the value of education and can make adequate plans for their offspring. That is not always possible for everyone.
Perhaps in supporting the amendments I can give the House some of the flavour of the problems that have made it necessary for the Government to try to do something. Of course, they did the wrong thing. They produced a Bill which would remove all negotiating rights from the unions. In the 1970s, the teaching profession was, by and large, losing esteem in the public eye. It took the Houghton committee to investigate what should be done, and it produced an excellent report. The Houghton pay scales were not attained, although they were very nearly attained because of the Clegg awards in 1979 and 1980. Since then—this is why the Bill is being discussed today—there has been an erosion of teachers' pay from 1981 and 1982 through to 1986. There has been a slow erosion of teachers' pay and facilities in schools.
I shall assist the hon. Gentleman. When we came into office, the index of average teachers' salaries on the retail prices index was taken to be 100. In 1975, under Labour, it was 117. So, in three years of Labour Government it fell from 117 to 100. At the end of the implementation of my proposals in October next year, it will be 127.
I am always mindful of the amendments. The Secretary of State's comments are important and pertinent to the amendments, because if everything was well in education neither the Bill nor the amendments would be before us. The Secretary of State quoted the figures at they were when the Conservative party came into office, but of course the Clegg awards were initiated and agreed by the Labour Government. It would have been fairer if he had quoted his figures from the time that the Clegg awards were implemented. That was what I was referring to. From then, salaries went down.
Does my hon. Friend accept that it is much more relevant to compare teachers' salaries with other salaries? At the end of the Houghton awards he teachers' index was 100. It has now increased to 294, yet the average non-manual earnings of men and women increased during the same period from 100 to about 359. Compared with other non-manual workers, teachers have lost out steadily throughout the period, and that losing out accelerated after 1979.
Would it not have ben more accurate to make a comparison between the post-Clegg award and the current level of teachers' salaries? My hon. Friend will have noted that the Secretary of State did not make that comparison. He talked about what the figures may be in a few months' time. If the comparison had been made on the basis on which my hon. Friend was arguing and which I have just suggested, his conclusions would have been valid.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Perhaps I did not put it as succinctly as I could have done. That is precisely what I meant. If the Secretary of State asks for the figures from his civil servants in the Box, he will discover that that is the true position.
The Bill will remove all negotiating rights from teachers. The Secretary of State will dictate conditions and remuneration. There will be an advisory committee, but he will not have to accept its recommendations. He will not even have to consult very far. He may consult if he wishes, but he need not take any notice of the advice given to him.
The problem has been caused not only by the erosion of teachers' pay during the past five or six years but because the Government have tried to cut public expenditure wherever possible. It does not matter to them where it is or even if it is a small amount; if it can be saved, the Government will try to save it. The result is that our schools are in the worst state that I can remember. In many cases, equipment is completely inadequate. I could give an example in my constituency, but I suspect that I would be ruled out of order if I did so. The general position is that the capital available and the equipment in schools are at the worst level that I can remember.
As my hon. Friend says, it is recognised by the inspectorate. That is why we have this problem and that is why the Bill was introduced. We have tabled the amendments so that some collective negotiating machinery can remain after the Bill is passed. I suspect that, with their majority, the Government will railroad the Bill through the House. No doubt we shall have to sit very late tonight, but we shall give the Bill careful and detailed consideration before we let them have it.
Does my hon. Friend know that the Secretary of State visited Sheffield, which has major problems with the fabric of some of its school buildings? Those problems put pressure on the teaching profession, so much so that, for the first time in a long time, the local press has considered the matter important enough to make it a major campaigning item and has circulated all the Members of Parliament for Sheffield to draw the matter sharply to their attention and to try to pressurise the Government into providing better facilities in Sheffield.
What we must also realize—this is unfortunate for many Conservative Members—is that in the inner cities, where unemployment is extremely high, children see their brothers and sisters leaving school without jobs. That in itself harms morale in school and puts pressure on teachers. This Administration have constantly attacked the education service, culminating in the imposition of this Bill. We are tabling amendments to try to mitigate its worst effects. I hope that the Secretary of State will take on board my hon. Friend's point.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He rather anticipated my remarks, because I was about to make some progress in my speech by saying that I have received many representations from teachers and from members of the public about the mess into which the Government have got the country. I do not blame the present Secretary of State or the Minister for that; I blame the Government because of their general economic policies and because they believe that all public expenditure is bad and must be cut, if possible.
I have received some material and letters which I wish to place on record because they will add to the debate and may allow Conservative Members to make up their minds, and perhaps to decide that the legislation is not the best way forward and that we should allow collective bargaining and negotiation, which is what the amendments seek to do. First, may I quote from the parliamentary briefing that I received from the NUT. I dare say that many hon. Members received it. It quotes a letter fom the Minister for Education, H. A. Fisher, to Lord Burnham on 25 November 1919:
I am keenly alive to the great embarrassments and great public disadvantage consequent upon disputes between the Local Education Authorities and the teachers in their employment on the question of salaries"—
things have not changed very much, have they?—
and when in July last I proposed that the Associations of Local Education Authorities and the National Union of Teachers should come together to form a Standing Joint Committee, I did so in the hope and belief that 'an orderly and progressive solution' of an extremely difficult and complicated problem would be best reached in that way. I felt sure that it was better"—
[HON. MEMBERS: "Boring."] Conservative Members may find it boring—I suspect because they are not interested in making this a better Bill.
The hon. Gentleman might have received a copy, but not everyone has. It is an important quotation that should be placed on the record so that the public knows what is happening.
The letter continues:
I felt sure that it was better for the Local Education Authorities, to whom under our English system of public education so great responsibilities are assigned, and for the Teaching Profession, and for the State, that the problems should be settled if possible by agreement rather than by direct intervention on my part. My confidence has been fully justified.
That statement is the complete opposite in every way possible to what the Government propose. I defy any Conservative Member to find any common ground between that statement and the Bill. The House should ask why, in the space of 67 years, we have moved from black to white. Something must be wrong if such a thing can happen in a comparatively short period.
During that period, we have had the development of local government. It is true that the local government system has developed, but the basic processes of oganisation in central and local government have remained the same. I subscribe completely to the view expressed in 1919, that the employers and teachers should be able to get on with it and to reach an agreement.
The problem is, of course, that by blocking grant restrictions and by grant holdbacks the Government stop the employers and the teachers from reaching an agreement. The amendment is fundamental to the Bill because it would allow a measure of negotiation between the employers and the teachers, before the Secretary of State exercises any of the powers that he would have under the Bill.
The briefing that I have received from the NUT says:
The Bill removes all negotiating rights and establishes in their stead an Advisory Committee with members appointed by the Secretary of State himself. … The Secretary of State has depicted the Bill as a measure to bring to an end the present dispute over teachers' pay. This is a deliberate misrepresentation of the purpose of the legislation which seeks to conceal the implications for democracy and civil rights. The Bill removes negotiating rights for teachers, and does not seek to improve the negotiating arrangements.
The NUT can say that again, because it is absolutely right. The Secretary of State's proposals make no provision for negotiation, but sweep it away completely. The teachers would be left almost on their own. The Government tried that with GCHQ—I do not think that they will win that argument—and they are now trying again with the teachers.
Other public servants, as well as other professions, have national joint councils of some sort, for example, there is the building and civil engineering NJC, the engineering NJC, and the electricians NJC. The chief executives and the chief officers of local authorities have NJCs, as do the probation service, the justices' clerks, the municipal airports, and the Police Service Federated Ranks. Local authority fire brigades also have councils where negotiations can take place. The industrial Civil Service has a joint co-ordinating committee and the non-industrial Civil Service has the national Whitley council. The National Health Service has eight Whitley councils including a general Whitley council, and there are councils for ambulance officers, administrative and clerical grades, ancillary staff, community dental services staff, medical and hospital staff, scientific and professional staff, and laboratory staff and technicians.
All those public servants have co-ordinating councils of some sort. So, why are teachers' negotiating rights to be swept away? I shall gladly give way to any Conservative Member who can tell me why negotiating rights will be swept away from the teachers.
My hon. Friend has just read out a very interesting list. If one considers the present actions of the Secretary of State and applies them to the joint coordinating councils and to other organisations or negotiating bodies, the trade unions in this country appear to be coming under tremendous pressure from the actions of this very centralised Government, and that will affect many tens of thousands of workers.
Although the House is in Committee, our discussions today have serious implications for many trade unions. Within a few months the Government could centralise, or take away the negotiating rights of many thousands of workers. The Government are becoming very dictatorial and appear to be moving further to the Right. In years to come, imagine that—
There is not much danger of making a speech when my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) is on his feet because he will be speaking for at least another three hours. I need clarification on points as they arise. My hon. Friend made the important point that the Bill is one of the most serious to come before the House in terms of the wider trade union movement.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for underlining the importance of the points that I have made. The Bill is special because it relates only to the teachers. It does not even apply to teachers in further education, to whom, at present, the Bill seeks to give some negotiating rights. That is why we have tabled the amendments. My hon. Friend has made an important point and I hope that he will rise and seek to catch your eye, Mr. Armstrong, later in the debate, and make that point in his own way and in his own good time. I should be interested to hear what he has to say.
The amendments seek to retain some sort of negotiating machinery and some consultation between the teachers' and the employers' organisations. Although there were problems with the Burnham committee, an agreement was signed between four out of the six authorities about 10 days ago. However, the Government made it clear that they would not fund the full cost—whatever pay levels were awarded by that agreement. Of course, if the Government do not fund the full cost, the local authorities and the employers' organisations are subject to grant withdrawals, grant holdbacks and to losing grants if they decide to pay more than the Government are prepared to fund. That is a serious criticism of the present situation in local government as it relates to the employers.
There would be no problem if the Government did not interfere. The Government could even say, "If you go over and above what we recommend, we shall not fund it and you will have to pay for it out of your rate income." In that case, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, the Government insist, as their overriding policy, on grant holdbacks, on blocking grants and on trying to strangle the local authorities. In the recent haggling, the result has been that employers and teachers have not known which way to turn, so they are taking a long time to reach an agreement.
Another problem besetting the Government is that many of the employers' organisations are Labour-controlled. I should be deviating again from the amendment if I were to pursue that argument further so I shall leave it. However, I am sure that that fact is at the back of the Government's mind.
I have received a lot of letters. However, I shall quote just one paragraph from a letter from Mr. Gordon Donaldson, the general secretary of the Clwyd division, who has explained the Bill succinctly, in a way that the Government would not dare:
We see this Bill as a device to set aside the agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service negotiated at ACAS by the Unions and the Local Authority Employers. The Bill, if passed, may well ensure an end to peace and calm in the schools of your constituency".
I take that very seriously indeed. That is why we have tabled the amendments. They would at least allow some negotiation.
He is a teacher, whether in a primary or secondary school I do not know. That criticism is levelled at me, and my hon. Friend has caught me out. However, I do know that Mr. Donaldson has long experience of the profession and is committed to raising education standards in Britain. He has the welfare of the children at heart, which the Government do not, whatever the ritual mouthings of various Conservative Members when they ask, "What about the children?" If they were really concerned about the children, they would have good, well-paid teachers who considered themselves to be professionals with a job to do to the best of their ability, who had the equipment necessary to do it. The Government do not do such things. They try to cut money and lower morale as much as possible. Then, like the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), they say, "Look at these dreadful comprehensives. Look at private schools instead. They are a lot better." I think that I have interpreted what the hon. Gentleman said reasonably correctly.
I have a copy of a letter that was sent to the Secretary of State, signed by Doug McAvoy, the deputy general secretary of the NUT. It is an extremely good letter and I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) agrees. No doubt that is why Conservative Members made disdainful noises when I referred to it. That letter addressed all the problems, in particular the withdrawal of negotiating rights, and the amendments have been tabled to try to retrieve the position. The letter is also signed by Fred Smithies, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers, Geoff Beynon and Joyce Baird, joint general secretaries of the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association and Peter Snape, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association. It is dated 5 December 1986.
I appreciate that some hon. Members have a copy of the letter, but some do not. It says:
Dear Secretary of State, The recent negotiations with the employers have covered four issues, one of which was that of future negotiating machinery.
We know that if the Bill is enacted without these amendments there will be no future negotiating machinery. The letter continues:
Considerable publicity has been given to the differences of view held by the various teacher organisations on the total package agreed with the local authority employers. Whilst there may be some division of view about the whole of the package, there are no divisions among the four undersigned teacher organisations on the issue of negotiating machinery.
Those are the major teacher organisations involved on the Burnham committee. They command much respect within that committee. Indeed, they command a majority within the Burnham committee.
The letter goes on to say:
Section 7 of the provisional agreement sets out the agreed views of the teacher organisations together with employers.
I shall not dwell on section 7, because that matter will be more properly addressed when we consider the next set of amendments. However, the letter is pertinent to the amendments that we are considering and the complete abrogation of the negotiating machinery.
The letter continues:
for a National Joint Council to deal with pay and other conditions of service for teachers and in so doing acknowledges the need for discussions with you on your role in the new negotiating machinery.
The unions are even prepared to go to the Secretary of State and say that they would like to discuss the matter with him and come to an agreement. They are all reasonable, fair-minded and moderate people who want the best for our children and the country. They do not
want to see strife, and they want to see morale within the industry increase. Therefore, they are prepared to see the Secretary of State to consider what can be done.
However instead we see a Bill that is being rushed through. It received its Second Reading on Monday, and today, two days later, we are discussing it in Committee and the Government think that there is so little in the Bill that it can be given its Third Reading before midnight. That is simply not true. The Bill is one of the most serious that I remember in my life on this planet, in as much as it takes negotiating rights away from employees.
I do not think that I should attempt to give an opinion. I shall only say that I think that the reply is the Bill, and that is why we have had to put down the amendments that we are debating. We have the Bill. We have the Secretary of State's answer. I do not think that he will withdraw it, although that is what he should do. If he did, I am sure that my hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench would be happy not to press the amendments. Let us go away and see whether we can come to an agreement. If we can do that, there clearly will be no need to press the amendments.
Let me finish the letter. Its final paragraph says:
We are united in our opposition to your Bill 'Teachers' Pay and Conditions' which removes from teacher organisations the right to direct negotiations. We urge you to reconsider your position and to accept the principle that any new negotiating machinery for teachers' pay and conditions of service should include direct negotiation.
That is a sensible and reasonable request. The signatories are prepared to see the Secretary of State to hammer out a generally agreed solution.
It is not too late to do that. I do not accept the reasons given by some Conservative Members that this has been going on for two years and that it is time to put a stop to it; that we should get a sword and cut the Gordian knot and impose a settlement. There is no need for that. Reasonable people would not go that way. However, in many of their acts the Government have not been reasonable or responsible. They have been guided by one aim above everything else—to give more privilege to the rich and to cut public spending for those who need it.
Some hon. Members may not be familiar with the Gordian knot. If that term is to be used again, it might be to the advantage of the Committee if my hon. Friend were to explain its background.
I suspect that I would be ruled out of order. I see, Mr. Armstrong, that you are nodding vigorously. I have tried your patience on a number of occasions. However, I have tried to keep within the ambit of the debate and to address myself to the amendments. However, I have not yet reached the amendments and I want to consider them in a little more detail later.
I had a letter from the Secondary Heads Association. One might have thought that it would support the Secretary of State, as the National Association of Head Teachers has done. However, it takes a different line. That letter, dated 2 December, from T. P. Snape, the general secretary says:
1. The SHA cannot accept the principle that Teachers Pay and Conditions should be determined by the Secretary of State advised by a Committee on which they have no representation as of right. While we accept that the Burnham Committee has outlived its usefulness, and that both pay and conditions should be negotiated in the same forum, we nevertheless remain strongly of the opinion that settlement imposed by the government, even after consultation with those who the Minister wishes to consult, is unjust, undemocratic, and in the last analysis, totally unworkable. You cannot legislate to ensure the commitment of teachers; our fear is that many currently in the profession will simply ignore any conditions imposed by statute, and that the Government will be impotent to do anything about it. In short, we see this proposed legislation as inevitably leading to further protracted periods of unrest and disruption in the schools.
What can be clearer than that?
The hon. Gentleman says that it is magic. I do not know whether his selectors will think that it is magic when they see what is likely to happen. The lowering of morale, which is already low, will lead to even more difficulties. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will at least share with me the sentiment that we want better education for our children, not education that is continuously disrupted by outside influences.
I have here, too, a letter dated 3 December 1986 from the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, the career teachers union. It is a long letter, which contains a very important passage relating to these amendments. It deals with the abolition of the negotiating and consultation procedures. It regards their abolition as the most damaging part of the Bill. I, too, believe that it is the most damaging part of the Bill. If the negotiating procedures were to be swept away, we should enter a period of discontent and difficulty in our schools.
The NAS/UWT says:
On the question of negotiating machinery the NAS/UWT has led the way in calling for fundamental changes to the present structure. We recognise Burnham's failings and support proposals to unite negotiations of pay and conditions of service in one forum. We are very much opposed to the attempt to take determination of these matters completely out of the hands of the directly elected representatives of the nation's teachers.
The NAS/UWT there says in unequivocal terms that it does not like this part of the Bill and the sweeping way of negotiating rights. Why, therefore, are the Government so obdurate? Would it not be possible for them to introduce a new clause in the other place that would allow for more than just consultation, even if it amounted to only the professional teachers' organisations having the right to representation on the advisory committee? However, that
has to be left for the schedule and I shall not delve into that topic, because if I were to do so I should be ruled out of order straight away.
In its letter, the NAS/UWT also says:
Such a move would cause considerable resentment among the vast majority of teachers who naturally want the right to have their voice heard in detailed discussions over the complex issues of teachers' pay and conditions. A more realistic way of seeking to reduce future conflict in negotiations would be the establishment of a mechanism to maintain the level of teachers' pay in relation to their comparators. We note with considerable regret that such a guarantee is another important element missing in the recently"—
I am nearly at the end of the letters from which I wish to quote, Mr. Armstrong. There is only one more. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) for his timely intervention.
The letter is dated 3 December. It then says:
We note with considerable regret that such a guarantee is another important element missing in the recently signed agreement.
If the Secretary of State were to agree to the NAS/UWT's suggestion and provide machinery whereby salaries were fixed by means of comparators to arrive at a settlement, it would be accepted by the teaching profession. It is accepted by the police, the Army and the fire service. Why is it not possible to have something like that for the teaching profession? The NAS/UWT's suggestion is sensible. It would do away with the need for clause 1 and these amendments.
I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman that I am referring only to the letters, not to the final part of my speech.
The Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association has also written an interesting letter. It says:
As a matter of principle, however, we totally reject the suggestion that the Government's interest and your responsibilities are such as to justify the effective abolition of collective bargaining procedures between the organisations which represent teachers and their employing authorities.
Not merely do we regard the rights of employees to negotiate direct with their employers as being a fundamental characteristic of a democratic society, we are convinced that orderly industrial relations can in the long term flow only from such a process.
A professional organisation is again saying that it is convinced that if this is to be put right it can be put right only if we retain some form of negotiating procedure, to which the amendments address themselves.
The union then says:
We therefore cannot accept that the Government is justified in seeking to confer upon you (and your possible successors)"—
the letter is written to the Secretary of State—
the power to determine teachers' pay and conditions as you think fit. Nor do we accept that the consultative arrangements
the Bill proposes are at all adequate to ensure that teachers will consider your determinations to be equitable. It is, in our view, far more likely that teachers, deeply resentful of terms and conditions implemented by government imposition, will lose all impulse to contribute the commitment which lies beyond their purely contractual obligations.
That is a new point that is not mentioned in the other letters. Teachers do much more than their contracts demand. It is upon that commitment that the quality of the education service relies.
The letter contiues:
We urge the Government with all the sincerity at our command to reconsider what we are convinced to be an unwise and tragically counter-productive initiative. Because of the widespread interest in the matter, I am releasing this letter to the media.
I hope that the Government will take that plea seriously. If the quality of teaching is to be over and above that which would be regarded by the Secretary of State as adequate, teachers have to be motivated. If they have to be motivated, they have to be satisfied with their terms and conditions of employment. They have to be satisfied with their salary. They must have high morale.
If clause 1 is not amended—I hasten to add that even if it is, it will still be a bad Bill—those things will not be achieved. I have letters from teahers' organisations, from the SHA, the NAS/UWT, and the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, which spell it out clearly. They say, "Why cannot the Secretary of State give us something, and say that some negotiation will be allowed at a future stage?" If that cannot be done now in Committee, we shall do it later in the other place.
I should like to refer next to the International Labour Organisation convention that was ratified by the United Kingdom in March 1980. It deals with negotiations and the rights of individuals acting collectively to take part in collective negotiations and agreements affecting their terms and conditions of service.
As my hon. Friend has now been speaking for nearly an hour, I wonder whether I can summarise that part of his speech. For a long time the Secretary of State has been rejecting the opinion of many professional bodies, and he is bulldozing legislation through the House of Commons against all that professional advice. On the other hand, he is trying to tell young people that teachers are responsible and should be looked up to, yet he is denigrating them by rejecting all that professional advice. Then he says that the teachers should act professionally towards the young people. Does that summarise the first hour of my hon. Friend's speech?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his succinct summary. I have taken a little longer, but it is an extremely important matter, to which the Government should pay attention. I am sorry that so far we have not been able to make them see the error of their ways in introducing the Bill.
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) will agree with this, because he was on the same Committee as I was. In a previous incarnation, when the Secretary of State was at the Department of the Environment, there was the same seeking of professional opinion and setting it aside during the abolition of the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils. Perhaps history is repeating itself, as can be seen in the first hour of the contribution by my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek).
On a point of order, Mr. Armstrong. One of the Ministers who is now present will reply to the important points that my hon. Friend is making, yet the three of them are just talking.
This is important. I should like to rephrase what I have just said. I hope that the Secretary of State is master in his own house, in the Department of Education and Science, and not doing the bidding of the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing street. I suspect that he is doing the bidding of the Prime Minister, but it would be nice if, for once, he broke out and said, "In view of all the opinion in all parts of the country, let us treat the teachers like the grown-up, responsible beings they are and allow them negotiations and some say in how their profession should develop." That is all that we in the Opposition are asking for. Is it too much to have some movement by the Government on that issue?
Let me make progress and refer to the ILO convention. I shall not be long. [HON. MEMBERS: "GO on."] The convention was ratified by the United Kingdom in March 1980. I am at a loss because I have two pieces of paper—a National Union of Teachers' briefing and a photocopy of the convention.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. In that case, I shall confine myself to article 7. It states:
Measures appropriate to national conditions shall be taken, where necessary, to encourage and promote the full development and utilisation of machinery for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment between the public authorities concerned and public employees' organisations, or of such other methods as will allow representatives of public employees to participate in the determination of these matters.
Hon. Members should note the last few words. Where are they in the Bill? Where is participation mentioned? There is no participation. It is diktat by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. He will decide. He will consult if he wishes, make a recommendation, implement it and there will be no appeal. We shall all like it or lump it. That is the way that the Government are going. They will not succeed.
I am not a lawyer. Perhaps some of my hon. Friends will develop this point later. I wonder whether we should be debating the amendments and whether the Bill should be before us in its present form because it is counter to the ILO convention ratified by the United Kingdom.
; My hon. Friend is making a serious point. There is a widespread belief that the Bill breaches international law, including an ILO convention. Like him, I am not a lawyer. Does he believe that the Attorney-General has been consulted on those matters by the Government and the Prime Minister? Has the Solicitor-General been consulted? If they have, does my hon. Friend think that they have offered a view and, if so, what does he think that view is?
Does my hon. Friend think that if they were consulted they were encouraged, perhaps over a weekend, to write a letter that was private and confidential? If that was so, is my hon. Friend not as surprised as I am that the letter has not been widely leaked and brought into the public domain via the Press Association?
I understand the reluctance of my hon. Friend to get involved in the Australian connection. One thing puzzles me. My hon. Friend may come to it later. It is the date of deratification of an ILO convention. A year or so ago I took part in many debates in the House on ILO convention 26, which was deratified by the Government. That convention protected the wages of people under 21. A year's notice had to be given before the ILO convention could be deratified. Would the Government have to give similar notice when applying for deratification of this ILO convention? If that was so, it might delay the passage of the Bill.
My hon. Friend makes an important point. If I give the information on the convention, perhaps my hon. Friend can comment on it in his own speech if he catches your eye, Sir Paul. However, I do not know the answer to my hon. Friend's question. I know that some of the amendments seek to change the date of the Bill's implementation from, I think, 1987 to 1988, or from 1986 to 1987. I just wonder whether we were wise to table our amendments, as they may give the Government an excuse to deratify the convention, if that is what they have to do for the Bill to be enacted. However, I am an eternal optimist, and I still hope that the Government will see the folly of their ways and will change the Bill in some way.
I see that he is shaking his head, but in case he does wish to speak, I shall try to bring my remarks to an expeditious conclusion—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO".] The hon. Gentleman asked me about the shape of my speech, and the answer is that I am trying to get the Government to think again and to allow some sort of negotiation.
Later, I shall go quickly through the amendments. Several options have been put forward, and I am grateful to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench for thinking up so many possibilities, as they give the Secretary of State something to go on. But the right hon. Gentleman can also fall back on letters from the teachers' organisations promising co-operation and help, and asking why they, as sensible and reasonable people, cannot talk to him in order to hammer out an agreement.
In pressing these amendments, we are trying to give the Government a partial way out. The Bill will still be bad, but if they accept some of the amendments or reject them but introduce similar amendments in the other place we shall, in some way, have succeeded. That is not a party point. I believe that there is unease among certain sections of the Conservative party. That unease may not be the same as the unease that we feel, but some Conservative Members are uneasy about the fact that if the Bill is unamended, it will give the Secretary of State draconian powers to impose conditions, and will enable him to do without any negotiating machinery. That is why we have tabled the amendments. We wish to enable some sort of negotiations to take place.
Article 8 of the ILO convention is very short, and says:
The settlement of disputes arising in connection with the determination of terms and conditions of employment shall be sought, as may be appropriate to national conditions, through negotiation"—
hon. Members should note the use of the word "negotiation"—
between the parties or through independent and impartial machinery, such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration, established in such a manner as to ensure the confidence of the parties involved.
Article 8 says that there does not have to be negotiation. We, of course, would like negotiation, but if we cannot have that, article 8 at least offers a way out. It talks about "mediation, conciliation and arbitration". The confidence of the parties involved must be maintained, and the machinery must be impartial.
But with respect to the Secretary of State, the Bill will not give teachers or their organisations any such confidence, because they will have no say about who is appointed to the advisory body. They will suspect that the whole business will be rigged, so that they will not only have no say but will be trodden on by the Government, just as they have been for the past five or six years.
I do not apologise for reading out another two articles, as they are important in that they might make the Government think again. The ILO convention on the right to organise and collective bargaining, convention No. 98, was ratified by the United Kingdom in June 1950. I do not know whether we are withdrawing from it, but I should like to read out two of its articles. I shall be brief, but I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) will pursue the subject at greater length later.
Articles 3 and 4 state:
Machinery appropriate to national conditions shall be established, where necessary, for the purpose of ensuring respect for the right to organise as defined in the preceding articles.
Measures appropriate to national conditions shall be taken, where necessary, to encourage and promote the full development and utilisation of machinery for voluntary negotiation"—
the reference is to voluntary negotiation, but the word "negotiation" is still there—
between employers or employers' organisations and workers' organisations, with a view to the regulation of terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements.
I could say a lot more, but it does not need saying. The four articles that I have read out are clear and succinct. The interpretation of them by any reasonable man in the street—
I apologise to my hon. Friend. In this House, the man includes the woman, and the woman includes the man.
Any reasonable man or woman in the street would think that clause 1 runs counter to the spirit of the ILO conventions, and perhaps to the letter of the law and to conventions that the United Kingdom has signed in times past. I shall be interested to hear what the Secretary of State has to say. I hope that he will answer some of our points honestly and that he will not do what some Ministers do, in shifting the argument sideways and producing statistics that do not meet the criticisms made.
I hope that he will not try to acquit himself like that, but that he will be honest and will tell us if some of our arguments have merit.
I do not wish to truncate this important part of my hon. Friend's speech on the ILO conventions. However, it occurred to me that other international treaties or obligations might be abrogated by the clause, especially if it is not amended. I was thinking of the European social charter. Does my hon. Friend have any material on that, so that he can at least enlighten Opposition Members?
I do have some material, but I am sorry to say that it is not with me. Earlier, there must have been 14 or 15 Tory Members in the Chamber and only about six or seven Labour Members, but there are now so few Tory Members in the Chamber that a Labour Member has had to go and sit on their side in order to make up the numbers. I do not know whether that means that some Conservative Members are not interested in having a decent system of education. It is a great pity that so few Conservative Members should be present.
Amendment No. 2 is merely consequential, but amendments Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 also appear on the Order Paper. The Secretary of State has no doubt read them and taken them into consideration. As my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) said, those amendments would not introduce a form of negotiation, but they might open the way for that.
Amendment No. 8 states:
'(1A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall come into effect until after such period of consultation as appears to him to be reasonable following publication of proposals in the form of a White Paper as to arrangements for determining the remuneration of teachers.'.
Proposals for the remuneration of teachers could no doubt be agreed between the professional organisations concerned, and between the local education authorities. I know the Government's complexion, so I am not asking
at this stage for free negotiations between the different parties. However, amendment No. 8 would allow an element of negotiation or at least, perhaps, consultation so that the professional organisations are heard and partake in any decisions.
If the Secretary of State does not like that amendment, there is always amendment No. 9.
I agree with my hon. Friend, it is a good one. It states:
(1A) Subsection (1) of this section shall come into effect after the making of an Order by the Secretary of State, and no such Order shall be made until after the coming into effect of an agreement with respect to the remuneration of school teachers (and such other matters as the parties to that agreement may determine) agreed between organisations representing school teachers and their employers.'.
I prefer that amendment. It may be that the Secretary of State prefers the previous amendment. I would be happy with the previous amendment if he thinks that amendment No. 9 goes too far.
If the Secretary of State does not like those two amendments, there is amendment No. 10.
I am hoping to concentrate his mind on this matter. There is a serious point here. We have had letters and a lobby this afternoon and Labour Members have had much comment from their constituents and have received many letters about the state of our schools and the education system.
Amendment No. 10 states:
No such Order shall come into effect until after the publication of a report by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service as to arrangements for the remuneration of teachers.'.
I will not say too much about that, because we can discuss it with the next set of amendments. It is an important amendment. Let us see what ACAS has to say about it. ACAS is a body that I think has earned the respect of employees and employers. I hope that Conservative Members will agree with that. It is an extremely good body. Why not let it do something about this matter? I would be prepared to go so far as to let the Secretary of State give ACAS the terms of reference, but let ACAS see what it can produce in order to bring about an acceptable solution between the employers in one corner, the employees' organisations in the other and the Government in a third corner.
If the Secretary of State does not like amendment No. 10, there is amendment No. 11. It was tabled, again, by my hon. Friends on the Front Bench. It states:
no such Order shall come into effect until after the laying before Parliament of a report by a Parliamentary tribunal of inquiry appointed to examine and report on arrangements for determining the remuneration of teachers.'.
I would need to be persuaded that that would be the best way forward. I do not know whether parliamentary tribunals of inquiry would come up with the beef at the end of the day. I would prefer the ACAS solution or amendment No. 9. We do not know what is in the Secretary of State's mind. It may be that he would like amendment No. 11 so that he could have a quick, short, sharp parliamentary tribunal of inquiry which could produce a solution.
If the Secretary of State does not like that, there is amendment No. 12. It contains another suggestion. I shall not read it all, so that I do not detain the House too long. It states:
no such Order shall come into effect before the conclusion of consultation with associations of local education authorities, such organisations representing school teachers as appear to him to be concerned, and any local education authority with whom consultation appears to him to be desirable, and the laying before Parliament of a report of the results of such consultation.'.
That in no way seeks to tie the Secretary of State's hands, it says that he can consult those whom he thinks are interested parties. Therefore, he can decide with whom he consults. It does not dictate to him in any way whatsover. Why can he not do that? He can consult and then he would have to lay before Parliament a report of the results of that consultation.
I am not very keen on amendment No. 12. It is better to have amendment No. 12 than no amendment at all, but I would prefer some of the earlier amendments.
If the Secretary of State does not like any of those amendments, there is amendment No. 13.—[Interruption.] It is to clause 1. Again, I shall not read it all. It makes another suggestion as to what the Secretary of State could do. It states:
no such Order shall come into effect until after the laying before Parliament of a report by an independent inquiry into arrangements for determining the future remuneration of teachers whose members shall be appointed in equal proportions by the Secretary of State, organisations representing school teachers and associations of local education authorities.
I do not think that the Secretary of State can plead ignorance about what to do, because there are plenty of amendments to choose from. I am not particularly keen on amendment No. 13. It would be a little bit stilted and could produce an ungainly sequence of events. Having said that, I would rather have amendment No. 13 than no amendment at all. My preference is still for amendment No. 9. I expect that the Secretary of State would not want that one, as I recommend amendment No. 10. That is probably the professional amendment that he could go for in his capacity.
If he does not like amendment No. 13, there is amendment No. 14. It is slightly different. Whatever the Secretary of State does, an order should be laid before the House and approved by resolution of both Houses. I do not mind whether he does that, but he should do something along the lines of one of the amendments I have mentioned.
There are many other amendments in the sequence that we are discussing. Amendment No. 17 is very clear to hon. Members who have read it. It states:
leave out lines 7 to 12 and insert ', together with conditions of employment, by measures which encourage and promote the full development and realisation of machinery for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment between local education authorities and teachers' unions and associations, or by such other methods as will allow representatives of such unions, associations and local authorities to participate in the determination of these matters.'.
It is an extremely important amendment. The Secretary of State must do something that would allow professional teacher organisations and LEAs to be able to negotiate.
We must remember that at the end of the day it is the local authorities that provide most of the money in the teachers' pay bill, not the Government. It used to be different, but Government policies, such as they are, change. It is now the LEAs that pay the most. If we could change the local government system so that if LEAs want to pay over and above the odds they have to find the money from their own rate income, it would get rid of many problems. I recommend amendment No. 17 to the House. It is an eminently suitable amendment and I hope that it is passed.
Amendment Nos. 18 and 19 are basically in the same tenor. Amendment No. 18 states:
no such provisions shall have the effect of altering the terms of any agreement as to remuneration or other matters between employers and organisations representing teachers agreed before the passage of this Act.'.
That would be sensible, because the Bill will already do a lot of damage and there is no point rubbing salt into the wounds by retrospectively altering terms and conditions. Teachers do not know what the Secretary of State will do. The Bill gives him so many overriding and arbitrary powers that he can do almost anything. Clearly an amendment along the lines of No. 18 is very necessary. I hope that we will have a separate vote on that amendment as it is one of the most important amendments before us.
Amendment No. 19 states:
line 11, leave paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert 'in the cases of school teachers and teachers in further education, by provisions agreed between, or settled in a manner agreed between teachers and their employers.'.
I shall not say any more about that. It is a simple matter of trying to get agreement, consultation, participation and negotiation between the different parties. That is the only way that we will make progress in a civilised society. We ought to have moved from the slave state where one has people who dictate to others. We have moved on, I hope, at least in Europe, from the age of dictatorship. That was 40 years ago, not so long ago, but we should have moved on. We should move on now from the age of dictatorial Secretaries of State for Education and Science to having Secretaries of State for Education and Science who see their role as that of mediators, to guide, persuade and educate and to get the agreement, grudging or not, and voluntary co-operation of the parties involved. Unfortunately, we do not have that.
Amendment No. 20, which is very short, is in the same vein and I commend it to the House. No doubt my hon. Friends will wish to comment on that important amendment in their contributions. I shall also not comment on amendment No. 22, which is on similar lines.
If the Secretary of State does not like any of the amendments, there is new clause 7 or new clause 8, which is quite comprehensive. New clause 7 states:
'Subject to the further provisions of this Act the remuneration and conditions of employment of teachers shall be in accordance with provisions agreed between or settled in a manner agreed between teachers and their employers.'.
That is a straightforward statement of what we all want, but although it is only three lines it is probably too big for the Secretary of State to accept. Nevertheless, he should at least accept the principle and put down a properly drafted amendment giving reality to that principle at a later stage.
New clause 8, which I shall not read out, offers another possibility if the Secretary of State does not like any of the amendments. I pay tribute to my hon. Friends on the Front Bench for tabling so many amendments and offering the Secretary of State so many possibilities. There is certainly plenty of material in new clause 8 that the Secretary of State could usefully consider. I am sure that he has read it—it would be rude to suggest that he has not—and I shall be interested to hear his views.
I have dealt at some length with the arguments against this draconian Bill. I have been a Member of Parliament for only three and a half years or so—
—and I have never seen a Bill with such arbitrary and draconian powers. It might almost be described as Stalinist. The Secretary of State cannot wish to go down in history as one who acted like a dictator from the middle years of this century or a slave owner from an earlier stage in the development of civilisation. He ought to want to be remembered as the person who brought peace to the teaching profession, improved standards of education, raised the morale of teaching staff and improved the quality of equipment for our children, but so far I have heard nothing to suggest that that is his wish. What is wrong? Can he not think on his own rather than taking the Prime Minister's advise all the time? Will he not think of the children and of the teachers who want to serve those children and accept at least one of the amendments?
I shall be brief. I do not intend to emulate the hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) who spoke for about an hour and a half.
Conservative Members have full confidence in the Secretary of State and in the Bill. We also have full confidence in the Secretary of State and in the Bill. We also have full confidence in the parents and in the children who will be going to school to be taught by teachers who will be better paid and have better promotion prospects, greater incentives and a genuine career structure, which the hon. Members for Wrexham and for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) seem to want to knock.
On a point of order, Sir Paul. You will recall that a number of points of order were raised at the beginning of the Committee. The Leader of the House said that there had been difficulties at the printers so that the amendments were not available for members of the Committee until 11.30 am today. I should be most grateful if you would make inquiries to see what the printing situation is tonight. Hon. Members will clearly be anxious to have copies of Hansard available at the correct hour tomorrow morning so that everyone can read the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek). We shall also require further copies of amendments that have not been debated by them. Perhaps you could intervene to brief us on the printing situation, as it is clearly a matter of great concern to the Committee.
The hon. Member for Durham, North and his hon. Friends have introduced the Opposition amendments, none of which I or, I believe, any of my hon. Friends support. Nevertheless, it is the right of the Opposition to bring forward amendments for debate.
What depresses me is the negative, defeatist way in which they have done so. Their attitude mirrors that of the NUS—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] The National Union of Students has also always used bully-boy tactics. The National Union of Teachers, for which the Opposition seem to be the mouthpiece, wants peace on its own terms rather than on terms that will help the majority of teachers. The NUT has only 216,000 members while the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers has 122,000 and the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association has 118,000, so the NUT no longer represents all the teachers.
After the events in Nottingham and Coventry, it is clear that all the amendments before us have been tabled in conjunction with the NUT in a bloody-minded attempt to prevent any kind of agreement being reached. As my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) implied earlier , it is obviously a campaign to gain electoral advantage. They will not win. In all the leaflets that, unfortunately, have been quoted by the hon. Member for Wrexham including one called "The Right to Negotiate", there was not one reference to the children. That is what annoys me most.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned Mr. Fisher, the Minister for Education; but Mr. Fisher immediately went on to say that we all want peace in our schools. Leaving out that reference does not fool me because the attitude of the NUT is not likely to lead to peace. I want our schools to be free of union battles on school ground. While Labour Members continue their disruptive campaign, there will be nothing but continued unrest. Our children are suffering.
There have been negotiations at ACAS, but it has not been helpful to us. The Government put forward five allowances, yet ACAS put forward only two. The great concern is that ACAS could not formulate the important salary structure that we need with adequate financial incentives for all teachers to ensure that each teacher has genuine promotion prospects. There is nothing wrong with that and we should be encouraging that. Therefore, the problems are to be blamed totally on the teachers' unions and the local authority employers. The negotiations have taken two years, during which there has been recurrent disruption in the classrooms.
ACAS came in because a Burnham committee agreement could not be reached because the NUT held the majority on the committee. I am glad that Opposition Members accept that Burnham has broken down, although if they did not like it, why did they not put forward an alternative? A statutory body is required, and my right hon. Friend will introduce that. We want the work of ACAS to be looked at again. We want to be sure that any extra spending put forward is the result of careful thought.
As I said on Monday, the most important thing is that £600 million is on the table. If the hon.