Establishment of Review Body to Consider Statutory Conditions of Employment of School Teachers

Orders of the Day — School Teachers' Pay and Conditions (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 6th June 1991.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 4:45 pm, 6th June 1991

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 1, line 5, after 'shall', insert `after consultation with those representing the interests of local education authorities, school teachers and governers,'. The amendment has the merit of being simple, brief and overwhelmingly convincing. Indeed, it is not a planted amendment, an allegation that I understand was made in my absence about a sophisticated question that I tabled some time ago.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

That was meant to be praise.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I am always grateful to receive praise from the hon. Gentleman.

I hope that the Minister will be able to accept the purpose of the amendment. It is intended to ensure that a consultation process is written into the Bill before the pay review body is established. As the pay review body is set up, the various bodies with obvious interests should be consulted and those should involve local education authorities, teachers and governors. I must point out that the spelling of "governors" on the amendment paper is not my responsibility. It is inaccurate and I fear that it is a printer's error. It is not the fault of the draftsmen.

I have heard many Government replies to amendments like amendment No. 5 and I can anticipate the Minister's reply. He may say that this is not something that needs to be written into the Bill. He may also say that the composition of the review body is set out in the schedule and that is true. He will say that there are regulations about the procedures of the review body in the schedule and that is also true. He will also say that there is enough guidance for the review body set out in clause 1 to ensure that it does its job properly.

As the Minister will understand—and this point will be raised again when we consider amendment No. 9—everyone interested in this subject and those affected by it are concerned about the independence of the review body. They can express their views most forcefully about that by writing in a consultation clause. I hope that the overwhelming and unequivocal merit of the amendment will commend itself to the Government and that they will prove to be conciliatory and supportive of those in the profession. I hope that we can end this debate in a few minutes without a Division or acrimony.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

I welcome the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) to our debate, even at this late stage. I apologise for having to give him the reply that he anticipated.

The review body is not a negotiating committee, as I am sure he is aware. It is not constituted from nominees representing the various interested parties. The members of the review body will be chosen by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister as the people best fitted to give him independent advice. We have made it clear all along that we intend the school teachers' review body to operate on exactly the same basis as the other review bodies, which are not and have never been constituted of representatives of different parts of the profession whose pay they determined. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey may be interested to know that the health service review bodies specifically exclude representatives of those involved in the health service professions whose pay they determine.

There has never been a suggestion that the other review bodies have not been sufficiently informed or understanding about the professions involved. I am not aware of any doubts that have been raised about their competence. The amendment may be intended to ensure that the interested parties can put forward names for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to consider. If that is the case, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be reassured to learn that they will be free to do that. However, to write in a requirement to consult along the lines suggested in the amendment would be contrary to the principle of an independent review body.

It might follow from the amendment that appointments should be made only if all or a majority of interested parties are content with a particular name. That would clearly be unworkable as each party would want to see its own interest represented. As I have said, the intention is to establish not a representative body but an independent one. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will make appointments to the new review body, exactly as he does to the existing review bodies. I hope that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey, having reflected on that, will withdraw his amendment. If not, I must advise my colleagues to reject it.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 5:30 pm, 6th June 1991

The Minister's and the Government's line is predictable. The answers do not address the specific point. The best that the civil servants could do was to address the answers to a related point. The amendment suggests that there should be consultation before an independent body is set up. I do not ask that there should be representatives of interest groups on the review body. I understand that it is an independent review body.

One matter which the Minister might well anticipate that the people listed in the amendment might have as their interest is whether the body is really independent. In the debate on amendment No. 9, we shall debate whether the body will be serviced independently. The Minister said something that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) may have heard—that this review body would be like all the others. One way in which it does not yet appear that it will be like all the others is that it will have an independent secretariat serviced by the Office of Manpower Economics. If this body is to be like all the others, one factor that the people listed in the amendment will want to ensure before it is set up is that it will have that independence.

I hear what the Minister says, but I do not find it satisfactory. The people who will be affected by the body will not find it satisfactory either. The Prime Minister will receive advice. The list of the great and the good will be trawled. Why cannot he also receive advice from the people most affected?

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

Then that is fine. They have been told by the Minister that they can submit names. But we also ask that they be consulted. The Minister said that the Government were not willing to write that into the Bill or to undergo a consultative process before setting up the review body. That is sad. The other place may find it sad and may be able to deliver the votes to make sure that the proposal goes through. It is often amendments such as this which are accepted in the other place, as the Minister well knows.

Hoping, as we often have to do, that the other unelected House will come to our rescue, I am willing, although reluctantly, to seek the leave of the House to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I understand that amendment No. 1 is not to be moved. Therefore, we come to amendment No. 9.

'Secretariat

  1. 4A(1) The Chairman may appoint one or more employees as he thinks fit to perform all or part of the functions of an independent secretariat to the review body.
  2. (2) The Chairman shall pay to his employee or employees such remuneration and allowances as he may determine.
  3. (3) The employee or employees shall be appointed on such other terms and conditions as he may determine.
  4. (4) A determination under sub-paragraph (2) or (3) above requires the approval of the Secretary of State given with the consent of the Treasury.

  1. 4B(1) Notwithstanding paragraph 4A above, the Chairman may commission any person, body or organisation to perform all or any remaining part of the functions of an independent secretariat.
  2. (2) The Chairman shall pay to any person, body or organisation commissioned under sub-paragraph (1) above such fees as he may determine.
  3. (3) A determination under sub-paragraph (2) above requires the approval of the Secretary of State given with the consent of the Treasury.
  4. 4C Any expenses arising under paragraphs 4A or 4B above shall be met by the Secretary of State.'.

I was interested to hear what the Secretary of State had to say. I welcome him back from Japan. He has obviously missed the fact that the majority of teaching unions are unhappy with the pay review body as it is currently proposed, and with the Bill. Unless the amendment is accepted, we shall be confident that the majority of organisations are against the Bill and support opposition to the Bill.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

So the hon. Lady opposes the Bill.

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

The Minister of State is very impatient. I do not want to raise his blood pressure any more today. Perhaps it would help if he simply listened a little.

The other interesting thing about the speech of the Secretary of State was that he kept reminding us of the value of other pay review bodies, as did his junior Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon). But, of course, one of the major problems with this pay review body, as the hon. Member for Southwark, and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said, is that it is not like other pay review bodies. It gives the teachers' organisations no confidence that the body will be able to act with the independence and determination that other pay review bodies have had. It is in the light of that that I move the amendment.

With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to take hon. Members through the amendment. It starts by saying that The Chairman may appoint one or more employees as he thinks fit. That would put the pay review body in line with other such bodies. The interim advisory committee was serviced by members who were seconded from the Department of Education and Science. Valuable and worthwhile as their work was—I am sure that as individuals those members were honourable and upright and strove to sustain their independence—teachers do not have confidence that a similar method of servicing the new body would sustain its independence, whatever the nature of the Government in power.

The amendment specifically seeks to give the pay review body power to determine the nature of its secretariat and from where it seeks its support in developing, seeking and compiling the additional information on many matters which we—and, indeed, the Secretary of State—wish it to examine. I am sure that the body would need to examine issues such as the London allowance. Indeed, the IAC has said that the new body would have to examine such issues.

The amendment would give the new body power over the new secretariat and the power to commission additional work to support the work of the secretariat. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how critical we, arid both employers and teachers, believe the amendment is. It worries me that the Government have not tabled a similar amendment. They never accept the wording of our amendments. They are always happy to tell us that our wording is not perfect. In those circumstances, I hoped that the Government would table amendments today. However, I hope that, in the absence of that, they will reassure us that they will table amendments in another place.

The Under-Secretary responded to requests from the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) in Committee, as reported in column 87 of Hansard. He recognised that it was important that the secretariat was perceived to be independent. His answer referred back to the practice of the IAC. The answer was not acceptable, certainly to the Opposition. Neither is it acceptable to the National Association of Head Teachers or the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association. Neither of those organisations is happy with the Bill proceeding without a guarantee of the power to fund independent advice, knowledge and support through an independent secretariat.

We have heard many blandishments from the Secretary of State today and outside the House. We have heard blandishments from junior Ministers about their wish to enhance through a teachers' pay review body the professional status of teachers. They will remain blandishments if the Government do not give the pay review body the independent status which teachers and employers seek. The Government cannot say, "Yes, we want you to have professional status, but we are not prepared to let you outside the clutches of the DES for the nature of your information and your secretariat." That is not to say anything wrong about the DES.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

The hon. Lady keeps saying how critical the amendment is and how blandishments will remain blandishments unless we give the undertaking she seeks. If she were satisfied that the review body would have an independent secretariat, would the Labour party change its mind about its opposition to the review body? Is the matter that critical?

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

I might be a new Member, but I am not that new or green. We would need to see the nature of that independence and the wording before we gave assurances —[Interruption.] Conservative Members like to wind me up and I care so passionately about education that I often let them get away with it. Even so, I will not fall into the trap that the right hon. and learned Gentleman sets for me.

We want from the Government a sense of sanity and reasonableness. Even in my darker moments, I like to believe that everyone, including members of the Government, act with the best of intentions. While I want to believe that they do, we must have evidence from them about the Government's commitment to the independence of this body, and to do that they must ensure that it has the same powers as other pay review bodies, none of which has the type of secondment arrangement that the Bill proposes for the secretariat. All other such bodies have power to decide how their secretariats shall be employed, and they all use the Office of Manpower Economics.

The pay review body applying to teachers should have the same powers. In particular, it should have power to commission research and studies from other organisations and have information-gathering abilities. The Government must show that this body will have the ability to live up to what they are claiming for it, and that is the purpose of my amendment.

Photo of Mr John Bowis Mr John Bowis , Battersea

In Committee, we enjoyed many examples of the thinking of the Opposition. On the whole, it was a great debate, featuring the hon. Members for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) and for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) versus their hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg), about the rights and wrongs of shackling teacher unions and pay bargaining.

There followed what might be called a rough coming together of the Opposition, under the banner of the National Union of Teachers, in stout opposition to the other five teacher unions. I am delighted that, in the meantime, the hon. Member for Durham, North-West seems at least to have listened to the voices of some of the other teacher unions.

It is extraordinary that the Opposition have raised the issue today because, as the hon. Lady rightly said, not one member of the Opposition raised the matter in Committee—although she had the grace to say that I broached the subject. I did so because, like my hon. Friends, I had been listening to the teachers in the schools and to their union representatives. It became clear that the overwhelming majority of them supported the Bill and wanted to see it enacted.

Even so, they wanted one element of reassurance to underscore their support for the measure. That reassurance related to the independence, perceived and actual, of the secretariat. It was clear that that was necessary if they were fully to support the review body. They were right to raise the point, and that is why I raised it in Committee.

The most effective way to show independence of intent is to have independence of research in the secretariat that supports the review body. That is why it was important for us to consider the possibility of the Office of Manpower Economics being the body which would support the review body. In no way is that a criticism of the work of the Department of Education and Science or the interim advisory committee.

The Office of Manpower Economics has great experience of comparable pay review bodies, and that enables it to assess technical data, to obtain evidence, to give guidance and to fill the gaps in research as they appear. I gave in Committee an example linked to nurses which might relate to areas of teacher shortage, where such a body would possess the experience to fill in the gaps of such a review body.

5.45 pm

When responding to that debate in Committee, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary fairly said not just that the existing machinery for the interim advisory committee had worked well but that the Office of Manpower Economics had also worked well for those other bodies. The hon. Member for Durham, North-West was neither generous nor accurate in recalling my hon. Friend's reply on that occasion, when he promised to give further consideration to the suggestions that I had made.

I reiterate my request to the Government to look carefully at the need for the teaching profession to be reassured about the real independence of the body and to examine whether the sort of formula that can be provided by the OM E should be the way forward. I feel sure that the Minister has looked into the matter, and I hope that, in the light of my comments, he will respond favourably to my request.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I support the amendment and will answer the question that the Secretary of State put not to me but to the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong). He asked what she would do if the Government accepted the amendment. I—and my hon. Friends, who will be here when the Third Reading is put to the vote—would happily support the Government in that event. Indeed, the position that my hon. Friends and I take will depend on what the Minister says when replying to this debate.

I was not aware before entering the Chamber that the Secretary of State had just returned from Japan. It could turn out to have been a more dangerous journey for him than he thinks, if he has returned more like a tosa dog than when he went. Members concerned with education appear to be travelling far and wide these days. The only reason why I am taking part in the debate—as a recycled environmental educational stand-in, as it were—is that my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) is on his way home after attending his brother's wedding in America. And the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has recently travelled all the way to and from Westminster in search of education.

The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) put his case fairly and moderately. I gather that his main point was not a matter of controversy on Second Reading or in Committee, but it is now clearly an issue of concern. I hope that the Minister, who I have known well for a long time, will take on board the fact that the teachers' associations which support a pay review body believe that the argument for an independent body, independently serviced, is paramount for them in deciding whether they can support the Bill.

Opportunities to get everybody on board—or nearly everybody in this case since the NUT is excluded—are rare. The Minister has an opportunity in the coming half hour or so to get on board all the teachers' unions and associations—as I say, apart from the NUT—and to achieve the support of all hon. Members, apart from Labour Members. It is all his for the taking. So I encourage him to be generous, farsighted and statesmanlike and to do something to win the confidence of all those in, and the many who represent, the teaching profession.

May I add to the points made by the hon. Member for Battersea? First, the Minister knows—there were meetings I understand only this morning on this very issue—that the teachers' associations, including the National Association of Head Teachers, and the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, now say that they cannot support the Bill without an independence provision. Secondly, it appears that Ministers have equivocated on the matter because the original intention seems to have been to have a body on all fours with the other pay review bodies, which are well-respected because they are well serviced by the Office of Manpower Economics. Thirdly, if the members of a pay review body are all appointed by the Prime Minister—I accept that that is the position in the other pay review bodies—so that they are there by power of patronage, they must be seen to be doing their job independently. To do so, they must be able to draw on an independent, professional group of people to advise them, look elsewhere for statistics, and make comparable studies. It is important that that secretariat is independent of the DES and the Treasury. They must be seen to be giving credibility to the pay review body.

If the pay review body is not independent, it will give the impression that it is like the Interim Advisory Committee on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions. It must therefore have a small, manageable back-up secretariat. The other pay review bodies and the professions that look to them for their pay have less of their workings dependent on the direction of the Secretary of State. All the other pay review bodies use the Office of Manpower Economics and there is no logical reason why teachers should not do so too.

The conclusion of the message that has been put to the Minister is that there will be an enormous opportunity for this issue to become relatively impartial and apolitical, as the pay of civil servants, doctors and nurses has now become, because an authoritative body speaks out. That will not be possible if the pay review bodies do not have the support mechanisms to do their job properly. Therefore, the Minister has it for the asking. It is important to the profession that he gives a generous response. I hope that, despite the impression given at the last meeting with representatives of the associations and unions concerned, the Government will agree that an independent secretariat, along the lines of the amendment, will be acceptable.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

It is always a pleasure to join in the debate with the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), even when he is standing in for the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor). I hope that the hon. Member for Truro has had an enjoyable wedding, even if it was his brother's.

The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) was less than charitable to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis). [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Chapman) says that it is uncharacteristic, and I bow to his judgment. My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea was the only person to raise the issue during the debate. There was neither a cheep nor a chirp from the Labour party, who did not recognise the importance of the issue. The reason is obvious—Labour Members had been reading only the National Union of Teachers' brief and were worried only about their relationship with the hon. Members for the City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) and for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). We all miss the hon. Member for Hillsborough, as it is unusual for him to be absent during an education debate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea said, the debate in Committee took place—much to our enjoyment—between the Labour Front Bench and the Labour Back Bench. It was a question of how they could keep their members under control.

The hon. Member for Durham, North-West is, yet again, trying to scratch around to find excuses to oppose the Bill. That has been going on for the 19 or so hours in which we have been debating the Bill. The Opposition still do not know whether they oppose or support a pay review body.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

I shall willingly give way to the hon. Gentleman, but he is still reluctant to make clear his position on the Bill. I fear that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may become somewhat restless if I do not turn my attention to amendment No. 9.

The pay review body must have an efficient, independent and knowledgeable secretariat. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon), said in Committee, two broad options were available: the option that everyone has accepted worked well for the interim advisory committee—neither the unions nor the Opposition have impugned the independence of the secretariat that was provided by the IAC—and the option that operates for the other pay review bodies, where they rely on the OME. We have had to consider which of those two options was the most appropriate. In so doing, we paid attention to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea and noted the views of the professional associations, as put forward by hon. Members.

I am not sure who was meeting who this morning, but I assure the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey that I met no one. However, the views of two of the associations have been made available to us and we have taken account of those. We have also had to take account of the fact that the secretariat needs the right kind of expertise to advise the chairman and members of the review body and carry out the work that the review body thinks appropriate. The chairman must be able to direct the work of the independent secretariat on behalf of the review body. However, there is no need for the chairman personally to employ the staff in the secretariat, as that would go beyond the strict requirements.

The Department of Education and Science will do all it can to ensure that the OME has access to the relevant knowledge and data within the Department. Some of the Department's information would not normally be available to the OME. My right hon. and learned Friend has decided that the review body's secretariat should follow the pattern of the other review bodies and the secretariat should be provided by the OME. Thus, the review body will receive the support and advice of the same kind and quality, including support on statistical and technical matters, from the same independent source as the other review bodies.

Obviously, the secretariat will be answerable to the review body and will work under the review body's direction, specifically under the direction of the chairman. The independence of the secretariat and of the review body will therefore be fully guaranteed.

6 pm

The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) sought an assurance in a throwaway line—my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea also raised this point—that the OME would be able to conduct independent research should it be required to by the review body. Hon. Members will be aware that the OME regularly conducts independent surveys of nursing vacancies, for example, and of the workload and responsibilities of hospital consultants, in its role of helping other review bodies. In addition to that work, the OME has also commissioned special surveys from consultants in the private sector when requested to do so by the review bodies. I am happy to confirm that the OME will be able to provide exactly the same service as it is felt appropriate by the teachers' review body. Furthermore, that body, through its secretariat at the OME, will naturally have access to the relevant data collected by the DES, and it will receive every possible assistance from the DES in the work that it sets out to do.

For my part I could not have been clearer in what I have just said. I have accepted that the OME will provide the secretariat for the review body and I have done so as a result of consideration of the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea. Now it is up to the Opposition to be clear in their turn. Will they support the Bill or not? Will they give the assurances that teachers want? Will they state categorically that they accept a pay review body for school teachers?

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

I understand that we are still dealing with amendment No. 9. This is an historic occasion. I do not believe that I have ever before moved an amendment which the Government have accepted in spirit even if they did not want to include it in the Bill. I therefore claim an important victory for the amendment—[Interruption.] This is, after all, our amendment. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 6:02 pm, 6th June 1991

As no one else seems to want to speak yet, I will go first.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) explained on Second Reading, the Liberal Democrats support the idea of a pay review body as a much better alternative to the IAC. While I was education spokesman, of course, we argued for a return to negotiations. Now that we have had a clear answer to the question about the independence of the secretariat supporting the chairman of the pay review body, this proposal appears far better than the present IAC arrangement. The Secretary of State knows that, now that that matter has been clarified, this proposal is supported by all the professional associations, with the exception of the National Union of Teachers.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Carr) will return before the end of Third Reading because he can confirm that his professional colleagues—for instance, at the school where he taught until earlier this year—overwhelmingly support the idea of a pay review body as a better offer—naturally, in the hope that there will be enough funding to meet the body's recommendations in full. Any professional body would naturally wish that the Government will automatically fund its review body's recommendations.

I, too, await with some interest the revelation of the position to be adopted by Labour's Front-Bench spokesmen. I missed out on the fun in Committee—

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

In any event, I missed the developments in Committee—the quiet running battle between members of the Labour party. We wait to hear from them in a moment.

My party will vote with the Government on Third Reading. My offer to the Minister was unequivocal; this has been one of those occasions in which people can be persuaded to debate—

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

We have not changed our minds.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

That is a bit unfair. Originally, the Government offered no guarantee of an independent secretariat. Now they have said that they will guarantee one, so they have been persuaded to change and not to allow the DES to service the secretariat. I welcome that.

Teachers will be pleased by today's developments. I hope that they will be pleased with a pay review body that now has an independent secretariat. That is a far better arrangement than what we have at present, and the sooner teachers have their pay independently examined and the sooner they are given a pay structure that provides them with the status and objective evaluation of their needs that they require, the better. I hope that all three major parties in the House will endorse that.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth 6:06 pm, 6th June 1991

Like the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), I missed the fun in Committee, but I thought that the hon. Gentleman's remarks were generous. He has unequivocally committed his party to the support of this Bill. I was also pleased to hear the tribute that he paid to the Minister of State. Unfortunately, the Labour party has not been able to bring itself to joining in with the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey. I thought that Opposition Members were very slow to respond to the repeated challenges from my right hon. and hon. Friends on the issue of whether they support the Bill. I certainly hope that they will make their position clear towards the end of this debate and that they will support the Government.

I welcome this Bill. It is markedly different from the original version presented to the House some months ago. Given the Prime Minister's commitment to education, this Bill is a major step forward—[Laughter.] The old jokes are often the best. The Bill will be widely welcomed not only by most of the teaching profession but by all those who are more generally associated with education, including parents and those in industry.

For a long time, teachers have been concerned about their status and about how they are viewed by society. Much of the responsibility for the decline in their position in society lies with them. Only recently, we saw one teachers' union at its annual conference urging industrial action in pursuit of a pay claim. Hon. Members on both sides of the House find that abhorrent. Doctors, lawyers and accountants do not take strike action in pursuit of pay claims, and calls for such action bring the teaching profession into disrepute—especially in the eyes of the parents whose children should be receiving education.

The Bill represents a genuine step forward, and I hope that it will come to be accepted by all the teaching unions, including—who knows?—by the NUT. There is of course a quid pro quo: in return for the introduction of the review body, the unions must undertake not to take strike action against their employers in pursuit of pay claims. But employers are only part of the equation, because when teachers strike they take action against the nations' children, and all hon. Members must deplore that.

For a long time, I have argued in the House that the majority of teachers are committed to their profession and to the children in their charge. The Bill gives teachers an opportunity to confirm that view and it is an important step in improving the esteem in which teachers are held. As some of my hon. Friends have said, teachers are not Government employees. Their pay is not directly financed by the Exchequer, and for that reason the review body should be statutory and should cover conditions as well as pay. To use the words of a former Secretary of State for Education and Science, Sir Keith Joseph, teachers' pay must be good enough to enable the profession to recruit, retain and motivate teachers of good calibre.

Since 1979, there has been a real increase in teachers' pay of about 30 per cent. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State mentioned that in his speech. There is considerable virtue in comparing the proposed review body for teachers with the review bodies for doctors and nurses in the national health service. Significantly, since the inception of their review body about six years ago, nurses have received a pay increase of some 63 per cent. In real terms, that is an increase over the rate of inflation of 22 per cent. If that precedent is anything to go by, teachers can look forward to a substantial improvement in their pay over the next few years. That increase in nurses' pay was not at the expense of jobs, because the number of nurses has considerably increased during the period of the review body. I hope that that answers the point of an Opposition Member, who said that there might be teacher redundancies.

One of the problems which has to be faced is the intransigence of some teacher unions. They and their apologists in the House have long argued that they should be absolutely entitled to take industrial action in pursuit of pay claims, notwithstanding the impact and effect of such action on the nation's children. I am optimistic that wiser counsels in the teacher unions will now prevail. I think that the review body will be widely welcomed by teachers, if not by all their trade unions, and in that I am delighted to have the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler).

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has already said that the review body recommendations will be implemented unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary. I have some difficulty in visualising such reasons. I am pleased to see that the Bill, like its predecessor, provides for schools to decide rates of pay according to their perceived needs, taking into account prevailing local conditions. Grant-maintained schools will be able to make their own arrangements, as was proposed in the original Bill. That will be widely welcomed, at least by Conservative Members.

I am pleased to see that clause 3 requires governors in grant-maintained schools to consult teachers before applying for exemption from the national pay and conditions system. That matter was discussed at some length in Committee when it considered the original Bill. I received representations on the issue, and was pleased to support them.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth

Given the hon. Gentleman's support for the Bill, I am tempted to call him my hon. Friend.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

That would be going too far.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the opt-out provision for grant-maintained schools. My colleagues and I are still unhappy about that, but we intend to vote for Third Reading.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth

I am delighted to hear the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's remark. I shall not seek to press the point lest I open a divide between myself and the hon. Gentleman.

Clause 5 empowers the Secretary of State to make an order defining payments or benefits that are to be regarded as remuneration, and what is, or is not, part of a teacher's professional duties. The clause also enables the Secretary of State to decide the conditions of employment that should be regarded as statutory.

At present, non-statutory conditions of employment are set out in what is known as the Burgundy Book under Conditions of service for school teachers in England and Wales. That book is produced by all the education trade unions, with one marked exception, the Professional Association of Teachers. That is an unfortunate and, I believe, unintentional omission, and I urge Ministers to ensure that all nationally recognised teacher trade unions are party to the negotiations on non-statutory conditions of service. Plainly, it is unfair that one specific union should be excluded. The Professional Association of Teachers brings considerable restraint to the negotiating table, and that should be actively encouraged. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) for their support on that point.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth

I acknowledge that point by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway).

I was pleased to see that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales said in his speech on education: The announcement on a new pay review body for teachers could go a long way to encouraging more first rate people to choose teaching as a career. He is, of course, right and I was delighted to hear his cheerful support. It is the first time that I have been able to quote His Royal Highness in an education debate, and perhaps in future he will take even more interest in education. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

I have never been able to understand the argument that pay negotiations are good only if they are sanctified by a trade union agreement. Negotiations by teachers for teachers at individual schools must have value at least equal to that of a trade union. Once that idea and the concept of greater individual freedom are accepted by teachers they will find it extremely beneficial. Teachers in grant-maintained schools will be able directly to negotiate with their employers, and substantial benefits will flow from that.

Almost by definition, teachers are a particularly articulate group, and should have confidence in their ability to negotiate pay and conditions without recourse to the machinery of a trade union. Teachers need the crutch of a trade union less than most, and that point is further underlined when one remembers that much of the decline in teachers' status has occurred over the past 11 years, when their unions were at their most militant. I suspect that teachers would have been better served by their unions if they had been less inclined to act like a militant shop floor.

There is a persuasive argument that the teaching profession should act more like other professions, such as lawyers, doctors and accountants. Significantly, those professions do very well without the benefit of a central negotiating body. They are well able to negotiate their pay and conditions with individual employers and companies. Their status, their pay and their conditions do not suffer as a result of individuals negotiating individual arrangements.

I support the Bill, and I hope that it will enjoy the full-hearted support of us all, including the official Opposition.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham 6:20 pm, 6th June 1991

The speech of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) was the greatest load of claptrap to which I have had to listen during my time here, which is almost four years. I never heard so much rubbish.

Never could a Bill have emerged from consideration in Committee with so few changes. The Government refused to offer any concessions in Committee, although Opposition Members worked hard to try to get them to do so. It is not surprising that the Government adopted that approach. Indeed, we expected nothing else. The concession by the Government this afternoon will have not one iota of practical effect. The majority of the amendments before us today were irrelevant in any event.

The fact is that teachers have lost their right to negotiate with their employers. As many hon. Members have said, the teachers' rights will not be restored to them, at least under this Government. They have lost their fundamental right for their unions to be able to negotiate their pay and conditions.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

No. The hon. Gentleman had long enough to express his views. I am not giving way.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

I shall not give way. Sit down.

Teachers lost some of their rights when the interim advisory committee was introduced in 1987, and they will continue to lose them. In effect, teachers' negotiating rights came to an end in 1987. I cannot perceive any difference between the IAC and the pay review body that we shall have to accept this evening.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

If the hon. Gentleman is opposed to the concept of a pay review body, why does he think that doctors, nurses and consultants support their review bodies and would be horrified if it were proposed that they should lose them?

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

First, the review bodies that were set up for the doctors, nurses and others were established after consultation with representative organisations. The teachers were not consulted about a review body. Secondly, the review bodies that have been established for doctors and nurses do not determine conditions of employment. The teachers' review body will determine pay and conditions of service, and that is unacceptable.

On Second Reading, I asked the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor), the Liberal Democrats' education spokesman, to explain the difference between the IAC and the pay review body. The hon. Gentleman said that he would explain it in Committee. I put the same question to the hon. Gentleman in Committee, and he said that he had already answered it. It was hardly a conclusive answer, and certainly not an answer that I could readily accept.

In fact, there is no difference between the IAC and the pay review body. Indeed, I would be prepared to argue that the proposed review body will probably be worse than the IAC, because it will not be independent.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

I have checked the Official Report to see what was said on Second Reading, but I have not had time to check whether my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) gave a full answer to the hon. Gentleman's question in Committee. I suggest that there may not be that much difference between the two bodies in practice. It may be that one difference will be the existence of an independent secretariat. The majority of teachers are in favour of the review body, because in general they had a good experience under the IAC.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

That is a matter of opinion. Statistics show that, in 1974, the average pay of teachers was 136 per cent. of non-manual earnings. After the IAC had come to an end, or even during its reign to 1990, the average salary of a teacher was 104 per cent. of non-manual earnings. Teachers did not do very well out of the IAC.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

I shall not give way. I must continue. The Bill allows the Secretary of State to choose the chairman and members of the review body. He can decide what it should discuss. He will be able to amend its recommendations or ignore them and implement what he wants in his own way. When he was interviewed on a radio programme this morning, he denied that and said that he will not have such powers. The Bill's provisions make it clear that he wil have the powers that I have described. The Secretary of State is either misleading the House or he is being economical with the truth.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

Just one moment. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has had a fair say this afternoon; he should let me have my say.

Clause 1(1) states: The Prime Minister shall appoint a body and adds that matters may from time to time be referred to the review body by the Secretary of State. Can anyone other than the Secretary of State submit anything to the review body? Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to answer my question. In Committee, the hon. Member for Truro tabled an amendment that provided, in effect, that it should be the duty of the review body to have regard to any views expressed to it by any organisation representing teachers on matters bearing on the professional status of teachers. The Government rejected it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said on the wireless this morning that anybody could make submissions to the review body, but it was not true.

The Secretary of State told us this morning that he would not be able to overrule the pay review body. However, clause 2(1) states that the Secretary of State may make provision by order giving effect to the recommendations of the review body, with or without modification, or making such other provision with respect to the matters referred to the review body as he thinks fit. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us that he will not be able to overrule the pay review body, but the Bill makes it clear that he will be able to do that and will be in a position to implement anything that he thinks fit.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

I shall give way when I have mentioned a third discrepancy.

Clause 2(5) tells us: the Secretary of State may make a pay and conditions order by virtue of this sub-section if—(b) it appears to the Secretary of State to be expedient to make the provision in question. The Secretary of State will be able to do whatever he likes. He will be able to ignore the review body and implement his proposals as he thinks fits. Perhaps the Secretary of State will explain to us why he said during an interview broadcast on the radio this morning that he would not be able to overrule the review body, when the Bill states clearly in three different places that he will be able to take such action.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

The Bill makes it clear that the pay review body is under a statutory duty to consider matters referred to it by the Secretary of State, but it will be able to consider anything else that is put to it by any other body, including the National Union of Teachers, for which the hon. Gentleman speaks. The Bill makes it clear that, if the Secretary of State wishes to make a substantial modification to the review body's recommendations, he can do so only by obtaining Parliament's consent so to act. All these matters were considered in Committee. I know that the hon. Gentleman is not satisfied, but the reality is far removed from the NUT's advertisement. The hon. Gentleman has been a clear, passionate and consistent opponent of the idea of the review body, but will he vote against Third Reading?

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

I am not satisfied with that answer. Frankly, the Secretary of State has been economical with the truth. Furthermore, I am not speaking on behalf of the National Union of Teachers. I have no connection with the NUT other than that I am a member. I am not a consultant for the NUT. I am a member of another union as well, and I am entitled to speak my opinion; the NUT does not rule me. I have some principles; perhaps the Secretary of State does not. I speak from the heart arid nowhere else.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth

How will the hon. Gentleman vote?

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

I shall vote against the Bill.

In his answer to me, the Secretary of State virtually told us to trust him and trust his actions. Would hon. Members and people throughout the country trust the present Secretary of State for Education and Science? My answer would be no. Those in the health service did not trust him, the teachers do not trust him, and I certainly do not.

When we debated the Education Reform Act 1988, we were told to trust the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he now?"] One may well ask. He is probably out with the dogs or in his kennel or just being got at by a rottweiler. We were told to trust the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, who said that the character of schools that opted out would not be changed within five years. Then the present Secretary of State comes along, and that is forgotten. I do not trust him, and many others will not.

The Secretary of State originally said that he would give the teachers a pay review body only if they gave up their right to take industrial action, but that never appeared in the Bill. The impression he gave was that teachers were militant and were constantly on strike and causing disruption. But if we look carefully at the statistics during the past 20 years—from 1971 to 1991—we see that 1 million days have been lost in the teaching profession through industrial action. Who were the Government in power while all those days were lost? We all know that the Conservative Government were in power—it is they who have antagonised the teaching profession from 1971 and who continue to do so.

It is the democratic right of all people to withdraw their labour, but the pay review body prevents that. The Secretary of State has not made it clear what he will do if teachers take industrial action. Will he abandon the pay review body or use powers to dictate a settlement? He will do the latter. It seems clear that the teachers' unions are not all that much in favour of the pay review body. The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers said in its recent document: The pay review body proposed is far from perfect on the question of composition. It will be appointed by the Prime Minister, although the Association would prefer to have some say on the nominations. Our preference would be for an independent chair with representation split evenly between government on one side and unions on the other. If that is not a negotiating body, I do not know what is. The NASUWT does not like the pay review body, but wants negotiations like everybody else.

The Bill is an abomination. It takes away the rights of teachers to negotiate pay, and I shall vote against it on Third Reading.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North 6:36 pm, 6th June 1991

I think that someone in the House should tell my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State that he is much trusted in education. We in the profession appreciate the stand that he has taken to achieve this legislation, which will profit teachers as they have not been helped for many years.

The hon. Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) said, almost with pride, that 1 million days were lost through teacher strikes, but that is to the shame of teachers, not their credit—[Interruption.] I am choking after listening to the hon. Member for City of Durham for so long; I have now regained my voice.

Anyone who has been in the profession as long as I have—23 years—would be amazed to hear that the five unions—the Secondary Heads Association, the Professional Association of Teachers, the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, the National Association of Schoolmaster/Union of Women Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers—speak with one voice. What is remarkable is that they do so in welcoming the legislation.

We are not surprised, but sorry, that the National Union of Teachers has not come on side—and I believe that it will rue the day. Members of the NUT up and down the country will welcome the legislation when they see the pay review body in action and begin to profit from it, as they will. I think that they will press the NUT to change its view and it will have to do so—[Interruption.] I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) for the glass of water he is offering me and for the light relief that it is providing to the House.

I welcome the pay review body as a suitable replacement for the IAC and particularly as a long-term replacement for the Burnham committee. Having been a member of the profession when it came entirely under the auspices of the Burnham committee, I know, as do other hon. Members, that something new and different was needed to replace it. Under that body, eight of the last 12 efforts to produce agreements ended in strikes and difficulties right across the country. The value of the new organisation that we are to have is that it will provide a suitable mechanism for a time of great change in education at all levels, particularly in schools.

I remember taking part militantly in a battle for higher pay when Lord Eccles was Secretary of State for Education and Science. We called our action "More shekels, less Eccles". We should remember that the Labour party so often speaks with two voices on education; I should like to hear what it thinks about the pay review body and whether it supports it.

I remember standing with a group of teachers when Barbara Castle was Secretary of State for Employment and Anthony Crosland was Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1969. The teachers were striking and Barbara Castle said to the group, "Good luck to you all, I hope you win." She then went back to the Cabinet and voted against rises for teachers. That is the sort of thing I mean—I do not say that unkindly, but factually: the Labour party too often speaks on education with a forked tongue, and teachers do not forget that.

I hope that, as a result of the Bill, there will be a no-strike deal. That would be good for education, teachers and children.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

I did not say that it was in the Bill. If the hon. Lady listened, she would hear what I say. I said that, as a result of the Bill, I hope that we shall see a no-strike deal, because that would benefit everyone involved in the well-being of our children.

The pay review body will facilitate suitable differentials, and more of them, within the profession. More thought needs to be given to that; that will be one of the early tasks of the body when it is established.

I particularly hope that teachers with heavy responsibilities will get the differentials they should have to reward them for the work they do. But even more than that, I hope that good teachers will get increased differentials and that they will not be lured from teaching full time at the chalk face and into administrative jobs and so on. One of the absurdities of the teaching profession is that, the better one is at it, the less teaching one does, because good teachers are promoted to administrative jobs. I believe that the Bill will overcome that.

It is particularly important to say that we need to pay and retain good teachers in secondary schools, and particularly in primary schools. Primary schools are not receiving all the encouragement they should in the form of differentials, and I hope that the new body will bring them more.

No one should imagine that the pay review body will be a means of depressing teachers' pay. I believe that teachers' pay will rise substantially. We as a society need to accept that, face it, know that it will happen and encourage it to happen.

Photo of Mr Michael Carr Mr Michael Carr , Ribble Valley 6:41 pm, 6th June 1991

The hon. Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) referred to the relative position of teachers' pay in the mid-1970s and the IAC days. In the pre-IAC days of the early 1980s, teachers' pay had dropped even lower than that. Many members of my association and many teachers generally were very unhappy pre-IAC—not that they were over-enamoured of the IAC.

Photo of Mr Michael Carr Mr Michael Carr , Ribble Valley

No. I shall keep my remarks brief.

The Burnham committee was a monumental disaster in its latter days. It did not result in any reasonable settlements and was part of the reason for the industrial action. It was not the only reason; the major reason for the industrial action was the fact that the Government refused to pay teachers properly. However, I leave that aside.

We have some reservations about the powers remaining with the Secretary of State in relation to the pay review body. We would have preferred to see fewer powers of direction. Nevertheless, I am happy to join my colleagues in support of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Michael Carr Mr Michael Carr , Ribble Valley

There will be more.

I am happy to support the Bill, since the majority of teachers support the introduction of a pay review body. We have reservations about the terms of the pay review body, and we hope that our reservations will be noted, but in general the majority of teachers and Liberal Democrats support the introduction of the pay review body.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education 6:43 pm, 6th June 1991

Conservative Members have demanded an explanation of the Labour party's position on review bodies. 1 am constantly surprised by that phoney demand because our position on the principle of review bodies is clear. We are in favour of review bodies where they are agreed by the parties concerned and operate in an independent way.

I am also surprised that the Secretary of State's advisers have not briefed him on what I said in the House a year ago today when I was asked by the then Secretary of State what the Labour party would have done. I replied: We would have ensured that there were negotiations between teachers and employers . . . to have allowed free negotiations between teachers and their employers, or had a review body".—[Official Report, 6 June 1990; Vol. 173, c. 740.] We have supported review bodies for the doctors, dentists, nurses and many other groups.

I hope that the Secretary of State, leaving aside the insults to which he usually resorts when he has a weak case, does not try to tax the credibility of the House with a claim that he has been completely consistent on the issue of review bodies and that they are some litmus test of support either for the education service or for the running of a public service. If he does he will have some rather difficult questions to answer, one of which is why he refused a proposal from the unions and the Labour party for a review body for the ambulance personnel—

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Yes, the right hon. and learned Gentleman did—I have the cuttings here—perpetrating havoc in the ambulance service.

The other question is why the right hon. and learned Gentleman turned down the idea of a review body in the House on 27 November 1990 during the debate on the first School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he would commit himself to a review of teachers' pay because the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), who was a candidate for the Conservative leadership, was going round the House saying that there would be a review of teachers' pay if he was elected.

This very Secretary of State sat here, who now says that he has always believed in a review body for teachers since he was at school and has never departed from that belief, who is now claiming that as the most consistent principle in the whole of his political existence, and who, when asked by my hon. Friend about the review body, said: However, I do not believe that we shall embark on a fresh review of pay arrangements when the Bill"— the first Bill, which he now opposes— contains excellent arrangements that should be enacted and put into force."—[Official Report, 27 November 1990; Vol. 181, c. 751.] He then went on to recommend that Bill.

The job of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) is always to read out whatever brief is put in front of him, and he does it elegantly. I understand that that is his job, and I hope that he will get preferment for it. He can live in hope and expectation. I think that he is a good man. But he has tonight made a speech in support of the No. 2 Bill when only six months ago he was making a speech against it in support of the first Bill. He said: I welcome the Bill, because I believe that, over time, it will help to raise teacher morale. One of the things that the hon. Gentleman commended about the previous Bill was that there had been substantial consultations—which is not the case on this Bill—between the Government and teacher unions, as well as employers and local education authorities. On and on he went, and at the end he said: This measure is one way in which we can show our support for teachers and direct more money towards them." —[Official Report, 27 November 1990; Vol. 1981, c. 781–4.] The Secretary of State and the hon. Gentleman have experienced an interesting conversion.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

Does that mean that we are all agreed on the ssue—that the Labour party are in favour of the pay review body and that if, God forbid, there were a Labour Government, they would not go back on the review body?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I am coming to that. I am certainly in favour of review bodies. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is here, because he experienced a personal conversion when he chaired the private Conservative seminar in January on the future of Conservative education policy. I have been sent a copy of the report, which says: There is a crisis of confidence amongst teachers of such growing magnitude that it now threatens the entire spectrum of the Government's educational reforms. I am not surprised that, for the first time since he gave up Cabinet office, the right hon. Gentleman has come to our debates, no doubt to learn from the Labour party's policy how it would deal with that crisis of confidence.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

What is the answer to my question?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

The answer to the question is this. On Second Reading we put down a reasoned amendment. By the way, the Liberal Democrats voted in favour of it. That reasoned amendment, apart from objecting to the way in which the Secretary of State had treated the House and members of the Standing Committee by suspending the previous Bill without explanation, spelled out our three conditions for supporting the review body.

We said that we declined to give a Second Reading to the Bill, first, because it contained no proposals to raise teachers' professionalism by the establishment of a general teachers council; secondly, because the policies of the Government had led to a serious decline in the morale, motivation, recruitment and retention of teachers and in their relative pay; and thirdly, because it gave unacceptable powers to the Secretary of State to issue directions to the pay review body. Those were the tests.

I am grateful for what the Minister said about an independent secretariat under the Office of Manpower Economics. There is no cavilling about that; we are grateful to him. However, the conditions that we set out on Second Reading have not been satisfied. I spoke at length on Second Reading about the issue of powers.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South

Will Labour vote against the Bill?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

We shall vote against the Bill. It is the Opposition's job to scrutinise legislation. It is not enough for Ministers to say, "Trust us." As my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) said, why on earth should we trust the Government when they have broken their word time and again? They have told us, "There is no reason to accept the amendment; you need only trust us." That is what they said about the five-year period before grant-maintained schools could change their character. When they abolished housing benefit, they said "Trust us, there is a vocation hardship allowance," but they have now abolished it.

The Bill, unlike the arrangements for any other review body, gives the Secretary of State the power to issue directions to the review body in advance. It is an unqualified power, and there is no reason for it.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The hon. Gentleman will know that I have joined him many times in criticising Government policy. He has heard my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Carr) say that we are unhappy about the powers. He rightly said that we voted for the Labour party's reasoned amendment, but the problem is that this is our last chance to vote on the Bill. The issue, surely, is whether the proposals on offer—with all the disadvantages that we have mentioned—are better or worse than the present system. I find it difficult to believe that the Labour party does not think that they are an improvement, and therefore feels that it must vote against the Bill. I do not understand.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

It is a most extraordinary proposition for a member of the Opposition to advance, that we should give the Government the legislation. I expect that the hon. Gentleman will vote for the council tax, because it can be argued that it is marginally better than the poll tax. If the hon. Gentleman reads the reasoned amendment, for which he voted only a few weeks ago, and the Bill, which has been unamended on the principal provisions to which we objected, I should be surprised if he joins the Government in the Lobby.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

Every now and again, the hon. Gentleman gets near to his case. For the first time, he has revealed that he will vote against the Bill. Therefore, he is voting against a review body. He is trying to throw it out, either to return to the interim advisory committee or, more likely, to Burnham. The only reason he can give for that is one line in clause 1(4), which says: The Secretary of State may give directions to the review body as to considerations to which they are to have regard. Is that the reason? Does the hon. Gentleman expect us to believe that, on that basis, the Labour party is flatly against a review body for teachers?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Yes. Clause 1 is the operative clause of the Bill. It gives the Secretary of State unprecedented powers to give directions to the review body, but Ministers have no such powers to give directions to other review bodies. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will now say that he accepts our arguments, we will not vote against the Bill.

We are discussing the machinery for settling pay. Anybody would think that we were discussing the record of a Government who had been beneficence itself and had paid teachers properly. Despite the Secretary of State's flim-flam, since 1987 teachers have had no pay increase; their pay, relative to other groups, has declined. In this pre-election year, the Secretary of State may be trying to screw from his colleagues in the Treasury some real-terms increases for this year, but were the Government re-elected, which they will not be, they could not increase investment in education because of their prior commitment to cut taxation to 20p in the pound. I am sure that the Secretary of State will not say that that is being abandoned.

We want agreed machinery for the settlement of teachers' pay and a Government who are committed to paying teachers properly. We have neither from the Government, and we will vote against the Bill.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science 6:55 pm, 6th June 1991

At quite an early stage of our 19 hours of debate on the Bill, I accused the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) of using weasel words on the principle. Any self-respecting weasel would blush with shame at the policy that has been advanced by the hon. Gentleman.

Most of this evening's debate has been conducted in an atmosphere of considerable hilarity, despite this being an extremely serious subject. At times, we have resembled a good-natured school debating society rather than the usual atmosphere of the House. The reason is not only the bonhomie of the participants in the debate—there is a good-natured selection from the three parties—but because the position of the official Opposition is farcical. I have never heard a sillier attitude to a Bill that is popular with the profession at which it is directed.

We have had 19 hours of debate, at the end of which the denouement is that the official Opposition will vote against the review body. In the last year before an election, that means that, if they were elected, they would get rid of the review body. They would use some other method of negotiating teachers' pay that ensured the right to strike, on which the hon. Member for Blackburn laid so much emphasis when we first debated the Bill. It is all of a piece with their commitment to industrial action, which they have demonstrated when teachers have taken it in the past.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Education and Science

Not by law. No law takes the right to strike from nurses or doctors. No law will take away from teachers the right to strike. Those professions, which have a review body, are stopped from taking industrial action by their commitment to their pupils, to their patients, to the general public and to the services on which they lay such value.

At times, Labour Members have behaved like delegates in the halls and corridors of the NUT conference at Easter, and have passionately defended the right to strike. In the past, they have shown their enthusiasm for industrial action in schools. It is not farcical but deeply tragic that the Labour party still espouses such views on a great public service like the education service because it cannot think of a reason for taking that view that they dare state clearly in public.

We have had 19 hours of debate, but most of the speeches of Labour Members were on aspects of education that had nothing to do with the settlement of pay. They said anything they could think of to keep the debate going while they sustained that attitude. The hon. Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) has been wholly consistent. The same can be said of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). On this issue at least, they are on the left of their party, and are wholly committed to the idea of industrial action in the state education service, when necessary.

The members of the Opposition Front Bench cannot think of any sensible reasons for opposing the Bill. The nearest we got to hearing one was when the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) moved an amendment emphasising how critical it was that the review body should have an independent secretariat, as all the others have. She made the case for the Office of Manpower Economics, and cited the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, the National Association of Head Teachers, and two other unions, who had begun to express reservations about the review body that they had first supported, when they thought that the Office of Manpower Economics might not be providing the secretariat.

The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), in a perfectly straightforward speech, said that that aspect was important and that they might go with the NAHT if we did not satisfy them on that point. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, who took the Bill through Committee with great skill and industry, explained that there would be a secretariat like that of the OME.

It is interesting that that point, which determined whether the Liberals would vote for the Bill on Third Reading, and which was critical to the attitude taken by Labour, was not raised by either party until this stage in our 19 hours of debate. Neither of them had thought about it before. It was my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) who in Committee urged that the OME should serve as the secretariat—and who received from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary an undertaking that it would.

The only reason that Labour has for opposing the Bill is that which the hon. Member for Blackburn came very near to admitting. It is that the National Union of Teachers is dictating to the Labour party what its position should be. Anyone who reads the NUT's full-page advertisements in the morning newspapers and compares them with the Government's policies and the contents of the Bill knows that the NUT cannot think of any reasons in reality for opposing the Bill. The NUT's stated reasons are based on a totally inaccurate representation of the proposition that we have put forward.

The NUT is driven forward by its constitution, which enables some extremely left-wing teachers to attend meetings at seaside towns, at which they impose on their union a ridiculous policy that is contrary to the opinions of most of the NUT's members—and which says that the union is against a pay review body and in favour of militant industrial action and the use of industrial muscle in the classroom instead.

The nearest that the hon. Member for Blackburn came to admitting the real reason for his opposition was when he said that Labour's views on review bodies are clear—that it is in favour of them, when they are agreed to by the parties concerned. The NUT does not agree to a review body. The Labour party cannot agree to a review body. The Labour party is about to vote against a review body and commit itself to a policy on the state education service that is dictated by a wholly militant and unrepresentative minority.

The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Carr), who is himself a former teacher, rightly said that the majority of teachers welcome the establishment of an independent review body, and look forward to having their pay determined in the way that doctors and the clinical professions have enjoyed for many years.

The Government have brought forward the review body because we believe that not only the teachers but the public support the idea of giving that professional status to teachers. If one has any commitment to education, it makes obvious common sense that there ought never to be industrial action in the classroom. It does mean asking teachers to make the sacrifice of giving up the possibility of taking industrial action, and therefore it is right that the Government should offer to submit themselves to the independent advisory review body, which will enable us to make proper provision for teachers in future—perhaps of the generous kind anticipated by my hon. Friend the Minister of State—without the risk of industrial action returning to the classroom.

I described Labour's position as farcical. It is positively damaging. It reveals that the allegedly new-style Labour party, with all the advice that its leaders have taken from their image-makers as to their clothes, costumes and presentation, is bereft of independent action when it comes to a serious conflict of opinion with one of the more militant trade unions in the public service, the National Union of Teachers.

If Labour ever returned to government, presumably it would—as its vote tonight suggests—repeal the review body. If it were returned to government, who would ever believe that it would face up to one of the white-collar professional trade unions whenever it was confronted by a challenge over any significant issue? Who believes that Labour would have the courage to resist industrial action, and would not deal with any crisis in a damaging way?

Farcical is how I have described Labour's attitude. Disgraceful is what I could call it. I invite Labour to go ahead with its vote. I has taken Labour Members 19 hours to reach the stage at which they should creep with shame to the Lobby that they intend to enter, where they will show their true colours by voting against one of the most welcome and important Bills that the education service has seen in a generation.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 280, Noes 172.

Division No. 159][7.05 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertCarr, Michael
Aitken, JonathanCarrington, Matthew
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelCarttiss, Michael
Amos, AlanCash, William
Arbuthnot, JamesChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Chapman, Sydney
Arnold, Sir ThomasChope, Christopher
Ashby, DavidClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Aspinwall, JackClark, Rt Hon Sir William
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Baldry, TonyColvin, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Conway, Derek
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Batiste, SpencerCoombs, Simon(Swindon)
Beggs, RoyCope, Rt Hon John
Beith, A. J.Cormack, Patrick
Bellingham, HenryCouchman, James
Bellotti, DavidCran, James
Bendall, VivianCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Curry, David
Benyon, W.Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bevan, David GilroyDavis, David (Boothferry)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Devlin, Tim
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterDickens, Geoffrey
Boscawen, Hon RobertDicks, Terry
Boswell, TimDorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, PeterDunn, Bob
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaDurant, Sir Anthony
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Dykes, Hugh
Bowis, JohnEggar, Tim
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesEmery, Sir Peter
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinEvennett, David
Brazier, JulianFairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bright, GrahamFallon, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFavell, Tony
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Fearn, Ronald
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Fenner, Dame Peggy
Buck, Sir AntonyField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Budgen, NicholasFookes, Dame Janet
Burns, SimonForman, Nigel
Butler, ChrisForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Butterfill, JohnForth, Eric
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Fox, Sir Marcus
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Franks, Cecil
Freeman, RogerMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
French, DouglasMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Fry, PeterMadel, David
Gale, RogerMalins, Humfrey
Gardiner, Sir GeorgeMans, Keith
Garel-Jones, TristanMaples, John
Gill, ChristopherMarlow, Tony
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMaude, Hon Francis
Glyn, Dr Sir AlanMawhinney, Dr Brian
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Goodlad, AlastairMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMellor, Rt Hon David
Gorst, JohnMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Miller, Sir Hal
Greenway, Harry (Eating N)Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Miscampbell, Norman
Gregory, ConalMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Grist, IanMonro, Sir Hector
Ground, PatrickMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Grylls, MichaelMoore, Rt Hon John
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMorrison, Sir Charles
Hague, WilliamMoss, Malcolm
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Neale, Sir Gerrard
Hampson, Dr KeithNelson, Anthony
Hanley, JeremyNeubert, Sir Michael
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Nicholls, Patrick
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Harris, DavidNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Haselhurst, AlanNorris, Steve
Hawkins, ChristopherOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hayes, JerryOppenheim, Phillip
Hayward, RobertPage, Richard
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidPaice, James
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Patnick, Irvine
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hill, JamesPawsey, James
Hind, KennethPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Holt, RichardPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hordern, Sir PeterPorter, David (Waveney)
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelPowell, William (Corby)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Price, Sir David
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Redwood, John
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Rhodes James, Robert
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Riddick, Graham
Hunt, Rt Hon DavidRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hunter, AndrewRoberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Irvine, MichaelRossi, Sir Hugh
Jack, MichaelRost, Peter
Jackson, RobertRumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Janman, TimRyder, Rt Hon Richard
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreySackville, Hon Tom
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Sayeed, Jonathan
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Kennedy, CharlesShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Key, RobertShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Kirkhope, TimothyShersby, Michael
Knapman, RogerSims, Roger
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lang, Rt Hon IanSpeller, Tony
Latham, MichaelSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Lawrence, IvanSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Stanbrook, Ivor
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Stern, Michael
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterStevens, Lewis
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSumberg, David
McCrindle, Sir RobertSummerson, Hugo
Macfarlane, Sir NeilTapsell, Sir Peter
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnTaylor, Ian (Esher)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Maclean, DavidTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Temple-Morris, PeterWells, Bowen
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Wheeler, Sir John
Townend, John (Bridlington)Whitney, Ray
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)Widdecombe, Ann
Tracey, RichardWiggin, Jerry
Tredinnick, DavidWilkinson, John
Trippier, DavidWilshire, David
Twinn, Dr IanWinterton, Mrs Ann
Viggers, PeterWinterton, Nicholas
Waldegrave, Rt Hon WilliamWood, Timothy
Walden, GeorgeWoodcock, Dr. Mike
Walker, Bill (T'side North)Yeo, Tim
Wallace, James
Waller, GaryTellers for the Ayes:
Walters, Sir DennisMr. David Lightbown and
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)Mr. John M. Taylor.
Watts, John
NOES
Abbott, Ms DianeCunliffe, Lawrence
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.)Dalyell, Tam
Anderson, DonaldDarling, Alistair
Archer, Rt Hon PeterDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Armstrong, HilaryDavies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Ashton, JoeDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Dewar, Donald
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Dixon, Don
Barron, KevinDobson, Frank
Battle, JohnDoran, Frank
Beckett, MargaretDuffy, A. E. P.
Bell, StuartDunnachie, Jimmy
Benn, Rt Hon TonyDunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Eadie, Alexander
Blair, TonyEastham, Ken
Blunkett, DavidEdwards, Huw
Boateng, PaulFatchett, Derek
Boyes, RolandFields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bradley, KeithFisher, Mark
Bray, Dr JeremyFlynn, Paul
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Foster, Derek
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Foulkes, George
Caborn, RichardFraser, John
Callaghan, JimFyfe, Maria
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Galloway, George
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Canavan, DennisGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clelland, DavidGodman, Dr Norman A.
Clwyd, Mrs AnnGolding, Mrs Llin
Cohen, HarryGordon, Mildred
Corbyn, JeremyGraham, Thomas
Cousins, JimGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Cox, TomGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Crowther, StanGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Cryer, BobGrocott, Bruce
Cummings, JohnHain, Peter
Harman, Ms HarrietPatchett, Terry
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyPendry, Tom
Heal, Mrs SylviaPike, Peter L.
Healey, Rt Hon DenisPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hinchliffe, DavidPrescott, John
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)Primarolo, Dawn
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Radice, Giles
Hood, JimmyRandall, Stuart
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Redmond, Martin
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hoyle, DougReid, Dr John
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Richardson, Jo
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Robertson, George
Illsley, EricRobinson, Geoffrey
Ingram, AdamRogers, Allan
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRooker, Jeff
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilRooney, Terence
Lamond, JamesRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Leadbitter, TedRowlands, Ted
Leighton, RonRuddock, Joan
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Sedgemore, Brian
Livingstone, KenSheerman, Barry
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lofthouse, GeoffreyShore, Rt Hon Peter
Loyden, EddieShort, Clare
McAllion, JohnSkinner, Dennis
McAvoy, ThomasSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Macdonald, Calum A.Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Soley, Clive
McLeish, HenrySpearing, Nigel
McMaster, GordonSteinberg, Gerry
McNamara, KevinStott, Roger
Madden, MaxStrang, Gavin
Mahon, Mrs AliceStraw, Jack
Marek, Dr JohnTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Turner, Dennis
Martlew, EricVaz, Keith
Meacher, MichaelWalley, Joan
Meale, AlanWarden, Gareth (Gower)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Moonie, Dr LewisWilson, Brian
Morgan, RhodriWinnick, David
Morley, ElliotWise, Mrs Audrey
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Worthington, Tony
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wray, Jimmy
Mullin, ChrisYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Murphy, Paul
Nellist, DaveTellers for the Noes:
O'Hara, EdwardMr. Frank Haynes and
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyMr. Robert N. Wareing.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.