Sir Keith Joseph: If my hon. Friend is saying that in recent years pay and conditions have not been negotiated together, I regret that that is the truth. I am grateful to him for encouraging the efforts which the Government are making to bring the two together.
Sir Keith Joseph: The hon. Gentleman is misleading himself. If he looks at the record he will find that in the Select Committee this morning I said that vouchers, after careful examination by the Government, were off the agenda. I have not said I am against them. On the first point, I must seek once again to try to recruit the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues for the great purpose of improving schooling for...
Sir Keith Joseph: Even if some remarks of mine are not greeted as immediate revealed truth, I still maintain that the purpose behind the Top Salaries Review Body's recommendations and the purpose behind the Government's offer to the teachers of additional taxpayers' money for the right package are precisely the same—to recruit, retain and motivate, in this case, teachers of the right quality.
Sir Keith Joseph: Even from my hon. Friend I am not prepared to see unravelled the package on which the Government's offer of additional money from the taxpayer is based.
Sir Keith Joseph: The answer to the hon Gentleman's first question is yes. The answer to the second part of his question is that in 1978 the Labour Cabinet accepted the recommendation of the Top Salaries Review Body for salary increases of 35 per cent. for the grades covered. Why is what was right for a Labour Government in 1978 wrong for a Conservative Government now?
Sir Keith Joseph: Even though the hon. Gentleman's factual assumption is wrong, because broadly the quantity is still at about the same level, he is still right in general to be worried about the quality and types of skills being recruited to the teaching profession. That is why the Government are concerned to find an answer to the long continued shortage of certain skills in teaching and why we are anxious...
Sir Keith Joseph: On 2 May I announced my decision to review the composition of the teachers' panel of the Burnham primary and secondary committee. All the teacher unions have now submitted relevant membership figures, which are under consideration within the Department. I expect to complete the review before the end of the calendar year. I have no present plans to make wider changes in repesentation or to the...
Sir Keith Joseph: I certainly agree that at present the Burnham structure does not seem to have many friends, but that does not mean that it is obvious what could be put in its place, legislative time permitting, which would be better. Nevertheless, the Government are considering the options and will be glad to receive the views of the local education authorities. I am not able to agree with my hon. Friend...
Sir Keith Joseph: I think that my hon. Friend is wrong in attaching all those consequences to the structure itself. It is the representatives of some of the teachers' unions who have drawn those damaging consequences upon the children.
Sir Keith Joseph: The Government's commitment to improved standards remains firm, and we shall continue to pursue the policies for improvement set out in the White Paper "Better Schools" with vigour and determination.
Sir Keith Joseph: My hon. Friend is asking me to agree to that which I cannot immediately accept. Arbitration is available, if both sides agree.
Sir Keith Joseph: I totally reject any idea of a return to comparability. The teachers' increase under Houghton was removed entirely within a very few years, before the end of the life of the then Labour Government, by the inflationary storm to which it helped give rise. Therefore, I think that the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong to encourage more inflation which is itself, in the words of his former party...
Sir Keith Joseph: I had agreed to meet union leaders jointly with employer representatives on 9 May, but the National Union of Teachers declined. I have made plain my readiness to meet representatives of the teachers' side of the Burnham committee to discuss the proposals I made on 21 May.
Sir Keith Joseph: The hon. Gentleman has made so many points that I do not know where to begin. I am willing to meet representatives of any of the teacher unions, including the NUT. It is they who are emphasising professionalism, not me. I repeat that the Top Salaries Review Body recommendation was supported by a Labour Government. Why was it right in 1978 and not now?
Sir Keith Joseph: I do not want to be tempted too far, but the findings of that report give plenty of ground for thought and analysis.
Sir Keith Joseph: I have no present plans to do so.
Sir Keith Joseph: The hon. Gentleman misunderstands the role of the chairman of the Burnham committee. He fills an entirely independent role and presides over the meetings of the two sides of the committee. He takes no direct part in the negotiations. I am always happy to meet him, but I do not think that such a meeting would contribute directly to a settlement of the dispute.
Sir Keith Joseph: I do not anticipate a meeting, and certainly not one on the substance of the dispute.
Sir Keith Joseph: The Government will not proceed further with the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill during this Session and will now consider the appropriate course for the next Session.
Sir Keith Joseph: The teachers, along with all other citizens, are subject to the law of the land. As for the options before the Government, I have told the House that we are considering, for the next Session, which of the options to take.