§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.55 a.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Mr. Butler)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I must apologise to the House for having to take the floor again and to introduce another Bill on the subject of education, but this Bill is a necessary complement to the Education Act which the House passed last year. Its purpose is to bring the superannuation legislation for teachers into conformity with the new layout of the educational system and with the new nomenclature adopted under the Education Act itself. The Teachers (Superannuation) Acts with which hon. Members must be intimately familiar, are cast in such terms and expressions as "public elementary schools" and refer, for example, to "the service of certificated teachers in such public elementary schools." From 1st April, 1945, a date not very far distant, when the Act is brought into operation, the term "elementary" will disappear and elementary schools will no longer exist. It is, therefore, essential to bring the superannuation legislation, which so intimately affects the lives of teachers, into line with the new system.
At the same time, the Government have decided to make one or two small changes in the range of superannuation legislation and to make them in this Bill. They have decided to meet certain developments which have taken place in the range of teachers' service under the Acts as at present defined. No wider revision of superannuation legislation is designed at present. This Bill is, therefore, comparatively modest in scope, but it is fairly complicated in form. That, I think, is typical of superannuation legislation. My main purpose, which is to secure that there is conformity with the lay-out of the new Education Act, is covered by Clause 1 of the Bill. This amends the definition of "contributory service" which is contained in Section 2 of the principal Act of 1925. This Clause replaces that particular Section. Sub-section (1) is so drafted as to continue to cover all types of service which are at present pensionable. The 1311 House will note the extension of the definition of contributory or pensionable service included in this Measure. It now covers supplementary teachers who have hitherto been pensionable under the Local Government (Superannuation) Act, or, in some cases, supplementary teachers who have not been pensionable at all. I will say more about these teachers when I discuss the relevant clauses which affect their case. It should be noted at the opening of our discussion of this Bill that supplementary teachers are to be brought into the general teachers superannuation legislation, which is a very desirable step. To that extent this Bill is an important one.
Picking out points of novelty in the Bill, I will first refer to paragraphs (e) and (g), which extend the definition of "contributory service" to teachers of the mentally defective who are employed by local authorities and by voluntary associations. These have not been hitherto included in the scope of such legislation as we are considering to-day. Under paragraph (c) of Sub-section (2) of the Clause service connected with establishments for social and physical training will be regarded as being service as teachers and, therefore, in appropriate cases they will now be able to regard their service as pensionable. That is a further extension. This paragraph, read with paragraph (f) of Subsection (1), enables the full-time service of those running youth service clubs and community centres to be treated as pensionable, whether under local education authorities or under grant-aided voluntary bodies. That is an extension of the present practice and is again a novelty in superannuation legislation. It is justice to those who perform this type of service. It is needless for me to remind the House that this type of service and these activities have now a definite and important place in the educational system of the country, a place the importance of which is being more and more realised every day. It is only justice that those who perform work of this sort, which is comparable to the work performed by teachers, should be covered by pension arrangements applicable to the education service generally.
Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 deals with educational organisers employed by education authorities. Under the present law the definition of "organisers" is some- 1312 what restricted. It means organisers, to put it in amateur language, who supervise other teachers, and only the service of those who organise and supervise other teachers, such as an organiser of training in physical training or domestic subjects, can have their service treated as pensionable. This refinement is rather too restricted for modern times. It is, therefore, necessary for us to extend pension rights to the service of those experienced teachers who are seconded for other forms of organising work. I have particularly in mind the organisation of the school meals service. The definition of organising service is slightly expanded by Clause 2 (1). Under Sub-section (2), which is a further extension, those employed in an organising capacity by grant-aided voluntary bodies, including the youth service, are also covered. Therefore, the House will see that there are certain extensions simply to cover those whose range of service may be regarded as falling within the education service and who perform duties not dissimilar from those which teachers perform.
Clauses 3 to 6 primarily relate to supplementary teachers and they occupy about one-third of the Bill. Their incredible intricacies conceal an act of justice to the supplementary teacher. I will attempt to explain their contents in language as simple as possible. In passing, it may be said that this act of justice to supplementary teachers is only a further example of the manner in which the Government have attempted, not only in the Education Act, but in other ways, to try to improve the lot of teachers. There are a number of women, mostly in the rural elementary schools, who have no specific educational qualifications, but who help out, assist and supplement the teaching staff, particularly in the smaller schools. These women have never been regarded as teachers for superannuation purposes and their service and description have come under different names. It is the object of the first Schedule of the Bill to make clear what class of teachers we have in mind in the description under these Clauses. For many years latterly supplementary teachers have been serving under the Code. They form a limited class, some few thousands in all, and they serve under general arrangements approved by one of His Majesty's inspectors. Their numbers are declining and in due course they will disappear as a 1313 name and as a class of teacher. I think it therefore all the more incumbent upon us at this stage of pension legislation to look after this army of women who have put in years of work and become more or less permanently established. The new definition of contributory service, unlike the omissions of previous pension legislation, will therefore extend to cover the supplementary teacher.
How are we going to calculate the back service, and the payment of contributions in respect of such back service, if we are to make a proper scheme of pensions for these teachers? With absolute clarity Clauses 3 to 6 explain the arrangements we have in mind. The first point which hon. Members should fix clearly in their minds is that a considerable proportion of these supplementary teachers are contributors under the Local Government Superannuation Act, 1937, and are therefore pensionable under that Act. But not all supplementary teachers are pensionable under that Act, and I will give the House an example. Some of these supplementary teachers work in voluntary schools, in fact many of them do. I explained that they are chiefly to be found in the small rural areas. In these cases, in order to enable them to become pensionable under the Local Government Superannuation Act, a resolution has had to be passed by the local education authority under whom they work applying the local government Act to them, and this has not always been done. Moreover, under the present system such a resolution would apply only to service in a particular school and would not necessarily cover the whole of a teacher's service if she is transferred from one voluntary school to another. Thus even when a supplementary teacher has been pensionable under the Local Government Superannuation Act it has not been possible to ensure continuity.
We now propose to make things clearer and fairer all round. I will explain the matter by taking first those who are contributors, or those who within the previous 12 months have been contributors under the Local Government Superannuation Act. These will continue to be pensionable under that Act unless they elect to transfer to the teachers' superannuation system, which this Bill gives them an opportunity to do. A teacher who elects to change over to the 1314 teachers' superannuation system will be entitled to receive out of the appropriate local superannuation fund the contributions which have already been paid in, so the teacher then holds the contributions in her hands. To secure that back service counts for pension the teacher must pay the appropriate contributions under the Teachers' Superannuation Act, 1925, in regard to any service subsequent to the date, 31st May, 1922. That is taken because it was the date of initiation of our teachers' superannuation legislation. The employers' contributions in respect of such service are to be counted subsequent to 31st March, 1928. The House may well ask why that should be the case. It is because the employers' contributions only started then, the early pension legislation including only the payments by the contributor and not by the employer.
So we have the two dates of 1922 and 1928 established. Where the teachers transfer direct from the local government superannuation scheme to the teachers' superannuation scheme the local education authority employing the teacher will, in lieu of the employers' contribution, pay the Minister from the local superannuation fund the normal transfer value payable on the passing of a local government officer from one authority to another. In all these matters we have the transfer value, and the equivalent will be the same as if a local government officer passed from one authority to another, minus the contributions, to which I referred just now when I said the teacher would have her contributions in her hand, paid back to the teacher, but provided that the sum paid to the Minister does not exceed the contributions otherwise payable by the employer under the Teachers' Superannuation Act, 1925. The reason for this is that it would clearly be illogical if the amount exceeded the sums laid down under the teachers' superannuation scheme. We have, therefore, linked up quite clearly the system of the local government Act and the position and option which such a person can take.
So much for the position of the supplementary teachers who have on 1st April next, or within the preceding 12 months have, been contributors under the Local Government Act. Their case, as the House will see is comparatively simple and easy to understand. But some supplementary teachers have never been contributors under that Act. Some, 1315 owing to a break in their service, may not be so contributing when the Act comes into operation, and have not been so contributing within the previous 12 months. These teachers automatically become contributors under the Teachers' Superannuation Act on 1st April, 1945, and their service thereafter is contributory and pensionable. Such a supplementary teacher will be able to count her back service if she pays the requisite contributions on any service subsequent to 31st May, 1922, the date previously established. Rules which we propose to issue will provide that such payments can be made interest free if they are paid within a two-year period. We are, of course, including that provision because it will obviously be difficult for such persons to find their back contributions, and we propose to include this concession in the rules to help them to do so. It will similarly be necessary for the employing authority, that is the local education authority under whom the teacher was employed when she was first entitled to apply for back service to be counted, to pay to the Minister the employers' contribution—we have been considering the teachers' contribution—for all such back service, wherever rendered subsequent to 31st March, 1928, the date already established for the payment of employers' contribution, as is to be reckoned for pension. Employers' contributions will rank as expenditure of the authority for grant purposes.
It is clear that some supplementary teachers will find difficulty in paying their back contributions, and I am sorry that we have to insist upon this as part of the scheme. I have to do it because, on examining with some care the pensions legislation, I find that the same problem arose in 1925, when certain teachers were disqualified under the School Teachers' Superannuation Act, 1918, and were brought within the scope of the Act of 1925. The view was then taken that as contributions had been paid by all teachers since 1922, the initial date which was established, it was impossible to forgo the need for paying past contributions where the service was brought in retrospectively. Had such a concession been made it would have prejudiced, and probably imperilled, the whole contributory basis of the superannuation scheme.
1316 Therefore, while hon. Members will agree that it will be hard for such teachers to find their contributions, I think it is necessary, in the interests of the scheme as a whole, to insist that these back contributions shall be paid. I indicated that there would be some concession, that if these contributions were paid within two years, there would be no question of interest. What will be the position of the teacher who cannot pay within two years? Such a teacher will be permitted to pay by instalments, except that after the two years' period we shall have to insist on interest. During the further period of her service she will pay by instalments, with an ultimate adjustment, if necessary, on the allowances payable when the pension is due. This represents an Amendment of the existing law with regard to superannuation legislation by the introduction of an important class of teacher who render valuable service, namely the supplementary teacher.
I think that having covered broadly the extent of the range of Clauses 3 to 6, it is only necessary for me to mention, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, certain other amendments of the existing law which are of definite advantage to teachers. Let me take, for example, Clause 7, which provides that teachers returning to service from retirement shall not find their pension prejudiced, as is the case in rare instances under the present law. This is a point to which teachers' organisations attach considerable importance. Perhaps the post to which a teacher returns carries a lower salary than that which the teacher had previous to retirement. Therefore, when the pension is reassessed on an average of pay over a five years' period, which is the rule under the Pensions Act, the ultimate pension is lower than the pension to which the teacher was originally entitled before coming back to do further service.
Under the Bill, by an Amendment included in the Second Schedule, we shall be able to make adjustments about the disallowance of pensions. I would explain this by saying that the superannuated teacher may take up employment, other than contributory employment, paid for from Government sources, or grant-aided from Government sources. If the salary and emoluments of the new work of a teacher are not less than the retiring salary, the pension is suspended. If 1317 it is less the pension is reduced so that the total received is not more than the previous salary as teacher. I think this is right as a general principle, but the present situation is that the actual wording of the present law, in both the Superannuation Acts of 1918 and 1925, is liable to impose undue hardship on teachers. The salary at retirement is taken for this purpose as the actual salary exclusive of unpensionable emoluments. The remuneration of the new employment includes any emoluments with salary, and the result is that the total earnings in the new employment, together with any pension allowances which are permitted, may be less than the salary and emoluments which may have been received at retirement. I shall be able, under the terms of the Second Schedule, to mitigate this hardship. The way I shall mitigate it is by using the Minister's discretion as to disallowances, and that may make this provision a good deal fairer for teachers.
One other point of direct educational value, as well as of pension interest. Under the present law the teacher is allowed absence from contributory service for a year, and provided that he or she pays the full 10 per cent. of contribution, this period can be treated as contributory service, and there is no break in contributory service qualifying the teacher for pension. This present position allows the teacher to transfer to other work to gain experience. During the passage of the Education Act I often referred to the desire which was in the Government's mind that teachers should be given the opportunity of widening their experience, and of gaining some new experience in other branches of life. Contact with different aspects of life will be of assistance, I think, in stimulating the work in the schools.
Moreover, we want to offer teachers the opportunity of secondment to gain educational experience outside teaching itself, and a year's absence might be too short a term in which such experience can be gained. It may be valuable, for example, to gain experience of schools broadcasting. I do not think that would be of much value unless it went on for longer than a year, perhaps for as long as three years. There may be other forms of work which a teacher may want to undertake to widen his or her outlook. This is all the more necessary in view of the immense range 1318 of educational opportunity provided under the Education Act. We have accordingly included an Amendment to Section 2 of the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1937, which hon. Members will find on page 16 of the Bill, allowing the discontinuance of contributory service up to five years, provided that the contributions are paid in full, and the Minister is satisfied that the new work will give further experience of value to the teacher who is undertaking such work. In this way we very considerably extend the concession available under present legislation.
I think that this explanation covers sufficiently the points raised by this Bill. If I may sum them up for the purposes of clarity, the Bill contains a revision of nomenclature, and a definition of contributory service in order to meet the new layout of Education established by the Education Act, and it deals with certain extended forms of teachers' service, notably those of organisers and those employed in the youth service; in this case we do not neglect those working for voluntary associations any more than those working for voluntary authorities. It then deals in more detail, in Clauses 3 to 6, with the position of supplementary teachers, both those who have been, and are, pensionable under the Local Government Superannuation Act, and those who have not had that opportunity. This is a simple act of justice to an important section of teachers. Finally, we seek to amend the law in some minor details, so as to make things fairer, both for the teacher to go away from teaching service to gain wider experience, and for those, for example, who come back to teaching and find that their pension is reduced by reason of their return to perform more service. These are the main amendments made in the course of this Bill.
I hope that if the House is, as I believe it is, ready to give a Second Reading to this Bill, hon. Members will feel they are extending more widely than is possible at present, the beneficent effects of pensions legislation for the teaching profession, a profession which so much deserves such attention. My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will be only too glad, with his wide experience of this subject, to deal with any matters that may be raised in the course of the Debate. I commend the Bill to the attention of the House.
§ 12.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Silkin (Peckham)
I believe this is the first occasion on which my right hon. Friend has appeared in the Parliamentary legislative arena since he became Minister of Education, and I should like to tender him my congratulations. I desire to give a guarded welcome to this Bill—a welcome because it extends the scope of the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1925, brings in classes of persons who are not at present in receipt of superannuation, and generally widens the scope of pensionable employment, something which I think every Member of this House will welcome. I have to be guarded, because I am not sure whether the Bill in fact achieves all that it sets out to do. As my right hon. Friend admitted, the Bill is complicated, highly technical, and sometimes even obscure. I know my right hon. Friend did his best to clarify many of the provisions of the Bill, but unfortunately his speech will not be attached to the Bill, and when it becomes an Act, ordinary persons will have to interpret its very complicated phraseology. I do not blame the Parliamentary draftsmen. I recognise that, particularly in this case, legislation by reference was necessary. If we had not had legislation by reference, possibly the Bill would have been even more complicated. But it is unfortunate that a Measure of this sort, which will have to be interpreted in most of the town-halls of the country, should be as obscure as this Bill is.
The House will be prepared to take this Bill to-day very largely on trust, relying on the beneficent motives of my right hon. Friend, but I hope we shall all examine it closely before it completes its next stage. Clause 1 of the Bill brings in supplementary teachers, and as I understand it, a supplementary teacher is a teacher who is neither certificated nor uncertificated and who does not teach special subjects. I should have thought that any teacher was either certificated or uncertificated, but that only shows the complexity of the subject. Apparently there is a class of person who is neither certificated nor uncertificated, and these are the people who are to be brought into the scope of the Bill. I understand that to be a supplementary teacher one has to be a British subject and vaccinated, and that is all—[Interruption]—and a female. I should like to ask my 1320 right hon. Friend who is to reply whom he has in mind in Clause 1 (1, g)? This says:as a teacher of such kind as may be prescribed employed by a voluntary association which is in receipt of contributions in pursuance of a scheme in force under subsection (2) of section one hundred and two of the Local Government Act, 1929;I thought my right hon. Friend, in opening, said he had in mind persons who were teaching in schools for mental defectives. When I consulted some friends of mine who are highly qualified to advise on this matter, they suggested it might apply to teachers in community centres or clubs. There is a very wide difference between those places and a school for mental, defectives. This does show the obscurity of these provisions. Of course it can mean either, or both, or neither. I have tried very hard to make out to what sort of teacher this was meant to apply, and I feel that perhaps my right hon. Friend will be able to give a further explanation.
Then again in regard to Clause 2 (1). I would like to ask what kind of a person the Minister has in mind. It is apparently a person who is not to a substantial extent concerned with control or supervision of teachers, so it is not an inspector or any person of that kind. I would be glad if my right hon. Friend would explain this I see that the qualifications under Clause 2 (1) and (2) are one and the same thing. They are both persons who are to a substantial extent involved inthe performance of duties of an organising or advisory characterand so on. But, apparently, the person employed by the local authority has to have three years' previous teaching experience. Exactly the same type of person employed, not with a local authority, does not require to have any experience of teaching. Can my right hon. Friend explain why that should be so? Why is a higher qualification required for the same duty in respect of a person employed by a local authority, as compared with a person not so employed? Why, in any case—even if my right hon. Friend can satisfy the House that it is essential for a person employed by a local authority to have had three years' teaching experience—must it be three years' previous experience? Why is my right hon. Friend so rigid about it?
1321 My right hon. Friend gave as an example a person who is organising a meals service as one of the persons who might come within the terms of Sub-section (1). Why is it necessary for such a person to have had three years' previous experience of teaching in order to organise a meals service? I should like to quote a case which I believe my right hon. Friend may have heard about, of a person who has not qualified under previous legislation, being required to have these three years' teaching experience. This was a man trained as a secondary school teacher at Cambridge, who subsequently did two years' full-time service as a teacher, and after that, was employed by the London County Council in connection with its technical institutes for a number of years. He then came back and did one year's part-time teaching at Cambridge. That person's service has not been recognised as three years' service because, I understand, although the Board, in its regulations, is not obliged by Statute to do so, it insists upon three years' full-time service, and one year of the three, in this particular case, was not full time. I had hoped that while my right hon. Friend was dealing with anomalies, he would have dealt with a case like this, and would have given himself the power to exercise some discretion, so that he could have recognised such service as I have described as the requisite three years' teaching service. I hope that the Minister will look at this question and, at any rate, give himself the right to exercise discretion when he thinks it should be exercised.
Then we come to Clause 2 of the Bill. I would like to know whether Clause 2 will cover employment as a clerk to the governors of a maintained school, or the secretary of such a school. If it does, then I would submit that it is probable that the clerk or secretary who is employed in a maintained school would, in any case, be covered by the local government superannuation scheme, but the clerk or secretary of an aided school would not be so covered. Neither, of course, would he be covered by the existing Teachers (Superannuation) Act, because neither of them would normally have had the three years' teaching experience before becoming the clerk or secretary to such a school. I would ask that, in both cases, the 1322 person concerned should come within the provisions of this Bill, whether he be employed in a maintained or aided school. I, therefore, ask that Clause 2 be very carefully scrutinised, in order to remove the anomalies which I have set out, to get rid of the difference between employment by a local authority, and similar employment not by a local authority, and to ensure that the clerk or secretary to school governors will come within the scope of the Bill and will be treated alike, whatever the type of secondary school in which they are employed.
Under Clause 6 (1) and, I think, 6 (4) of the Bill, a local authority is required to pay to the Minister lump sums in respect of employers' contributions, in cases where the supplementary teachers exercise the option conferred upon them under Clause 5 of the Bill. The Minister has made some concessions to teachers who have to find these lump sums. I submit to my right hon. Friend that, in many cases, the local authority concerned will be a small, poor authority and may have some difficulty in raising the lump sums required in respect of supplementary teachers, and I hope he will see his way to granting them similar facilities, for paying over a period, if necessary—and only if necessary, of course—as he is giving to the supplementary teachers. I think that something like the same arrangement for the local authority would probably meet the case—two years without interest and, subsequently, by instalments with interest if the Minister is satisfied that by demanding lump sum payments it would impose an undue burden on the local authority.
There is one other thing to which I would like to refer. Throughout this Bill there is a reference to matters which the Minister will prescribe, and to rules and regulations which he will put into operation. Is it proposed that these matters will come before the House at the same time? Some of them are rather important; indeed, they may go to the root of the Bill, for upon the way in which the Minister prescribes, depends the manner on which the Bill is interpreted. Therefore, I hope the House will have an opportunity of seeing something of the manner in which the Bill will be put into operation by the Minister of Education. I do not think that anything I have said really goes to the root of this Measure. There are a number of things which, by reason of their complexity, I thought it necessary to bring 1323 to the notice of my right hon. Friend, and I have no doubt he will be able to reply to them to the satisfaction of the House. May I repeat that I have very great pleasure in welcoming this Bill?
§ 12.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I wish to raise one or two questions about this Bill which are still not clear to me. Perhaps, at the outset, I might say that this Bill shows the very great range of educational service which now comes under the educational authority, and I think my hon. Friend who has just spoken was somewhat mystified because of it. He mentioned, for instance, mental deficiency. He has only to look any week in the educational papers to see that there are about a dozen different jobs, quite outside teaching, which now fall within the scope of education. Therefore, I am very glad that my right hon. Friend has developed provision for these other persons, and I noticed that recently, in a speech, he went so far as to say that the Act, especially Section 53, wasa charter of co-operation between statutory authorities and voluntary bodies.He went on to say afterwards thatthe voluntary organisations had won their spurs in the second world war,and thatthe new Act was out to encourage variety and voluntary effort.It was, therefore, with complete surprise yesterday that when I rang up a number of voluntary societies, I was informed that they had not been consulted about this Bill. I read the Bill with what care I could and then asked the voluntary organisations if they had any comments to make, because I happened to be interested in these bodies, and because they are doing a job at the present moment, without which there would be an even greater wastage of adolescence—and heaven knows it is bad enough—than is at present going on in the poorer parts of London and elsewhere.
I wish that my right hon. Friend had consulted them over the recent circular dealing with junior clubs for young boys and girls under the age of 14. I can only repeat what they said to me, that they were not officially consulted. Again, there has been a recent circular—both of these circulars I commend, as I commend this Bill—on community centres in which there is a very considerable portion deal 1324 ing with the activities of youth. It seems to me to be a very important matter, and I will say why. There are men and women coming back from the Forces now who, in my opinion, would be admirably suited for work among youths in many ways who would be better at this work than at ordinary formal teaching. It is very important for them to know what chance of a career there is going to be in the next five or ten years.
This superannuation scheme is admirable, as far as it goes, for these voluntary persons; but it is very difficult for them to know exactly where they stand, because many of them have already got schemes of their own. Sometimes such schemes take care of only a portion of the staff—only the administrative staff. I rang up two or three club leaders this morning, and I was told that this was one of their greatest problems, and one which is very much on their conscience. They are employing people, but they cannot tell what is going to happen, perhaps, after five or six years. The point is, how do they fit into this scheme? In most of the contributory schemes, which are worked out, I suppose, by insurance companies, there are clauses by which they can break at a certain point, and receive a lump sum. There are other clauses under which they can get a lump sum on marriage. If some of them contract into this scheme, as I understand they will be able to do, the whole actuarial basis of the schemes of voluntary societies may well be upset.
There are a number of other problems on which I cannot pretend to go into detail; but some of them could have been avoided if there had been further discussion. That is my only point in raising this question of practical and concrete co-operation with the voluntary societies. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), I am still a little vague about the types of persons covered. I did just intervene, when my right hon. Friend was opening, to ask whether those persons who were jointly employed by an authority and a voluntary society would be included in this Bill, and I gather that the answer was "Yes." There is a large and increasing number who are partially paid by voluntary societies and partially by the local education authorities.
How many of them does the Bill affect? It is very difficult to estimate the number but from the fact that about £18,000 is 1325 to be spent by 1950 I calculate that there will be about 1,000 workers, who are paid about £350 a year. What is the prospect that my right hon. Friend is holding out? Does he expect to see a largish increase in this type of work? Does he expect the Bill to cover 500, or 800 and will they include people in young farmers' clubs, workers' educational associations, and scouts? Apart from the persons who are whole-time organisers, or trained psychologists employed by local education authorities, with whom is the Bill meant to deal? It is important to know the range of the voluntary workers covered in the Bill. In a community centre would the warden and the assistants in educational settlements be included in the Bill? I raise this point because it looks to me as if, whatever the Measure might say, there will be this partnership; indeed, my right hon. Friend has recently given his confirmation to the existing arrangement, which is a marriage between statutory and voluntary authorities. If this is to continue it may cover an even wider range of educational effort.
I am extremely glad to see the five years discontinuance. Suppose a teacher goes into voluntary work—of course, it is paid voluntary work but it is for a voluntary organisation—and he or she stays there for two or three years and then comes back to teaching work. I know of one such teacher who is working in Youth Service Volunteers concerned with forestry camps. She is a trained teacher with practical experience, but she prefers to do this work for three or four years. I gather that she will be covered by the Bill. I am very anxious that there shall be a career for persons who are to be what I might call "in and about" the teaching profession, such as organisers, teachers, and workers in accredited voluntary associations. I agree with the National Union of Teachers that they must be trained. They may want to go for a social science degree at a university, and be there perhaps for two or three years, but they will not do it unless they can see the hope of a real career.
I beg my right hon. Friend not to miss this great opportunity, which may present itself this year, of men and women coming back from the Forces, who could, with a year's training, go into this form of youth organisation. After three years in it they would be very good persons to 1326 take part in it in the county colleges. The Bill, modest though it is, contains possibly far-reaching considerations and I would commend very much what has been done. I only hope that in future there will perhaps be greater practical co-operation with those who are carrying the very heavy burdens in the voluntary organisations.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Cove (Aberavon)
The two speeches we have had from this side of the House illustrate the difficulty of discussing the proposals of this highly technical Measure. I was once regarded as a sort of half-time—or half-hearted—expert on the subject of teachers' superannuation, and I once had the job of writing a dictionary about it. I do not know whether there is anything more complicated than this subject. I do not want to discuss the details of the Bill, because that can best be done in Committee, hut I want to say that the Bill is welcomed, as far as it goes, by those who are interested directly in the teaching profession. It extends the scope of the Superannuation Act, and is a step forward towards completing what I now see to be the pattern of the teaching profession which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. It is a contribution to that unification of the profession which I believe he sincerely desires.
I am glad that supplementary teachers are at last brought in. Will the Bill encourage or discourage the future number of supplementary teachers? If it tends to give stability and prospects to supplementary teachers in the future, and therefore, to increase their number, that will be bad. We want to do justice to those supplementary teachers, who have rendered service in the schools, but I believe it is time to end the supplementary teacher system in the schools of this country, I believe that most hon. Members will agree with me. Those teachers have found their places in the rural areas. The rural children have had to suffer from the female who has been vaccinated. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman will set his face against in creasing the supply of supplementary teachers, but I would like to have an assurance from him on that point. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will get his Bill through with unanimity.
§ 12.56 p.m.
§ Professor Gruffydd (University of Wales)
Like other hon. Members who have spoken I welcome the Bill as setting right a good many irregularities in our present system, but, as we have already heard, some irregularities persist. I am very much concerned about such an elementary thing as a definition of supplementary teacher. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give us a definition when he replies to the Debate. For instance, must a supplementary teacher be employed full time? Another question is: Do all the men and women in respect of whose salary a contribution is made by the Ministry, come under the superannuation scheme as amended? If we could have an answer to that question, many difficulties would be cleared away. Lastly, I do not understand the explanation given about the individual who went back to teaching after he had retired. I would like to know on what principle those people are treated differently from any other kind of State servant.
For instance, the Indian civil servant who, on full pension, comes back to this country and takes up a university post under the University Superannuation Scheme, in Britain, receives full pension from the Indian Civil Service and full university pension in addition, not to mention salary, during the time he is working. Perhaps I am asking a difficult question, but I should like to know why there should be difference of treatment between those two classes of people. Notwithstanding those difficulties, I welcome the Bill. I was very concerned to hear the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) depreciate the work of some of the supplementary teachers. Some of them may be poor in quality, but most of those I know are as good as teachers trained at college or university.
§ 12.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
I cannot claim the encomium of the Minister for hon. Members as being familiar with all the details of teachers' superannuation, but I am familiar with one point which was contained in Section 6 of the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1925. My right hon. Friend will know that I tried to amend it during the passage of the Education Bill, but the Amendment was outside the scope of that Measure. The Minister himself now proposes an Amend- 1328 ment in this Bill; I want to know if it achieves the object which I then had in view. It appears to me that Clause 1 which has the effect of reducing the pension of teachers who have returned from retirement to scholastic duties, was dictated by the conditions of a period when there was an excess of teachers. We are not in that position to-day and for a number of years to come there will be a great shortage of teachers. At present, it acts as a deterrent to teachers in returning to take up duties in schools.
Has the Minister power, under the proposed Amendment, to disregard the salary and emoluments mentioned here, simply on the ground that he wants to encourage the return of teachers from retirement to school? The amendment which he proposes says that the Minister may disregard such salary and emoluments if it would be "inequitable" for a superannuation allowance to be suspended or reduced. Does that cover the point that I desire to raise? I can well imagine that it might have to be taken to the courts to be settled. Is it the Minister's intention at least to see that no teacher suffers in his or her pension by coming back to school? I am not competent to speak about the rest of the Bill, but it strikes me, on a superficial reading, as a very good administrative Measure. It is only by the exercise of considerable Parliamentary skill that we are able to get a Second Reading Debate at all.
§ 1.1 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Ede)
My right hon. Friend must feel very gratified by the reception which has been given to this Bill. It is clear, from the large number of technical questions that have been asked, that Members have read the Bill with great care. I will do my best to answer the request of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) for a definition of a supplementary teacher. Perhaps if I answer that question first, I shall be able to deal with some of the other points with greater ease. A supplementary teacher is a woman, over 18 years of age, who can exhibit the signs of successful vaccination, and who is approved by His Majesty's inspector as an appropriate person to teach in a school. That is the definition. These teachers were known 40 years ago as "Article 68's," because 1329 they were then employed under Article 68 of the code. They are an inheritance from the worst days of the elementary school system. A great many Members of this House were educated by them. I was. One of the ladies who educated me, under Article 68 of the code, still survives; and I regarded it as one of the great achievements of my life when I secured for her a pension, under the Local Government Officers (Superannuation) Act, 1922. At present these people are pensionable, in certain cases, under rules made under the Local Government Officers (Superannuation) Act, 1937; but, owing to the way in which those rules were drawn, the legislation applies to them most unevenly. I directed the attention of the House to that problem on 29th March, 1939, when we were considering an amendment to the Act.
This is the amazing position at the moment. If the woman has always been employed in a council school, she can bring in the whole of her service; if she is now employed in a voluntary school, it will depend on the good will of the local authority towards voluntary schools and voluntary school teachers whether they will pass a resolution establishing her post for the provisions of the Act. If she has spent all her time in that school, and the authority will pass such a resolution, the whole of her service can be calculated for pension purposes, but if she has spent part of her time in that school, and part of her time in some other school, only the part which she spends in the school she is in when she retires will count for pension purposes. Very shortly after I was appointed to my present office I had this amazing case brought to my notice. There was a woman employed in a voluntary school, in respect of which the local authority had passed the necessary resolution. Within a month of the time at which she retired owing to the age limit, that school was transferred from the voluntary managers to the local education authority, and became a council school. It was the same school; the children, teachers, and all turned up to the same building; the establishment was carried on exactly as it had been before; but, in spite of that, she lost the whole of her pension rights, and merely received back the contributions she had paid. That, clearly, is the kind of anomaly that ought to be rectified. We 1330 take the position in this Bill that the various arrangements mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Minister ought to ensure that these women shall get as wide a range of pension benefits as it is possible to secure for them. I hope that they will avail themselves very largely of this opportunity. I think the arrangements we have made will enable them to come into this scheme.
Where they are in the local government officers' scheme, they can consider whether it is better for them to remain under that scheme or not. I think the two schemes, actuarily, are about equally valuable, but there is the advantage about the teachers' scheme that it allows a lump sum on retirement, with a reduced annuity, which may make it attractive to some women who desire on retirement to incur a capital liability in the way of providing a home, in which case the teachers' scheme is probably more helpful to them than the local government officers' scheme. Under the teachers' scheme, the annuity is calculated on 80ths, but they get a lump sum, while, under the local government officers' scheme, it is calculated on 60ths for contributory service and on 120ths for non-contributory service, but they do not get the lump sum. It will be a matter of choice for them which scheme they prefer to come into. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) asked whether their numbers would be increased. We intend that there shall be no future recruitment of this class of teachers. That is one of the reasons why we have been able to bring them in. He and I recollect some of the controversies about bringing in even the uncertificated teachers under the old Act. There was some resentment among qualified teachers against bringing in supplementary teachers. Now there is to be no more recruitment; and there will be no reason why we should not act as generously as we can to these survivors. Their numbers have been substantially reduced in recent years.
My hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) asked a number of questions, in giving what he called a guarded welcome to the Bill. I observed the guard rather more than the welcome in the earlier part of his speech, but he gave us a few very generous words at the end, and I hope I shall be able to satisfy him 1331 on most of the questions that he put to me. He asked who would come under Clause 1 (1, g). This extends the definition of contributory service to cover the service of teachers in occupation centres which are under the management of local voluntary associations for mental welfare, who carry out various statutory duties for local authorities under the Mental Deficiency Acts, and who are aided by local authorities. It also covers the service of home teachers under such associations under home training schemes. Those are people whose work is very similar to teaching. Taking the broadest possible view of the education service, they are generally within it, and we desire, on the lines indicated by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), to recognise the very much wider scope of the education service to-day, compared to what it was when the first Teachers' Superannuation Acts were passed. Then it was asked why we should require a higher qualification for a person employed by a local education authority than for a person employed by a voluntary association. That is not quite the way we approach the question. There are certain people, such as meals organisers—who happened to be chosen by my right hon. Friend the Minister—who normally ought to be in the local government officers' superannuation scheme, but on occasions it is desirable that a teacher should be seconded to this work. She may be more capable as an organiser than as a teacher—I have known such persons—and it may well be that she ought to come over to organisation, for the benefit of the service.
What we want to avoid is getting somebody into the teachers' superannuation fund who is not in the teaching service at all, and who is not engaged on work that is cognate to teaching. So we have fixed the minimum of three years' teaching service, to qualify her to remain in the teachers' superannuation fund, if the local authority decide to employ her as a meals organiser or in some such capacity as that. It is quite clear that where a person is employed by a voluntary organisation in some way that links up with the education service sufficiently for us to recognise the connection, that person may have had no teaching service at all and may be in no other superannuation fund—because the kind of people that my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmar- 1332 nock mentioned as being in superannuation schemes are a very limited minority of the people so engaged at the moment. I am afraid that the case he brought to our notice must be one of those cases of detail of which you cannot expect the law to take notice.
§ Mr. Ede
I am very surprised to hear that there are as many as 300 or 400 people engaged by voluntary associations who are in superannuation funds. I am not denying it; if the hon. Member has informed himself, I will, of course, take his word for it. If they are in such numbers as that, it may well be that we ought to examine the position. But I shall be very surprised to hear that the number runs into three figures. I hope that that explanation of the difference between the two Sub-sections to which my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham drew attention will be sufficient for the House.
I do not think that one could expect that the clerk or secretary of the governors of a school should be covered. If it is a maintained school, clearly they ought to be in the local government scheme, if they are whole-time people. This reminds me that I should add that the definition of a supplementary teacher is that she must be employed whole time. If it is a question of the clerk or secretary to an aided body of governors, very rarely is that a full-time job. I know that, occasionally, where the secondary school has a very wealthy foundation, sometimes the estate is so great that it justifies the employment of a whole-time clerk. I am myself, for instance, a governor of Whitgift, and we have a whole-time clerk, and I have no doubt that some of the other wealthy schools of the country have whole-time clerks as well, but I think they should not be regarded as being within the ambit of this Act.
May I say, with regard to the other points raised by the hon. Member, that we have consulted the local education authorities about this Measure and we have secured their assent to it. They did not raise the question that they would like to pay these contributions over an extended period of time. As from 1st April next, all these authorities will either be county boroughs or county councils, and, though there are occasions when they come along and tell us how poor they 1333 are, I do not think they would like it, it we suggested that they could not raise the small sum of money required. I am sure that the county council of which my hon. Friend is a member would regard it as a great insult if we suggested to them that they could not raise the money in the case of the very few supplementary teachers there may be in some of the voluntary schools of London.
§ Mr. Ede
There used to be one or two in the voluntary schools, but they may have disappeared. I hope so. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock asked if the voluntary bodies were not consulted. I am bound to say that we thought that this Measure was quite sufficiently commended to the House by its intrinsic merits. We are very anxious, as the Minister has shown by his speeches, to act in the closest co-operation with them. We have, in fact, greatly benefited in many ways during the past few months by the preparations which we are jointly making for the new Act, and I am sure that, in so far as this Measure applies to people who are employed by them, it will assist them in the work they are doing in the country. We do not, of course, make grants to individual branches of the Young Farmers' Clubs, the Workers' Educational Association and the Scouts, but some of these voluntary associations we assist by direct grants to their headquarters. It will be a matter for consideration, in those cases, whether the people whom they desire to bring into the scheme are, in fact, employed in conjunction with the education service or not.
§ Mr. Lindsay
This is precisely the point which it seemed to me might have been discussed earlier. I have no doubt that these discussions will go on, but I do not take the figures lightly, because, in one voluntary association, there are 60 people involved.
§ Mr. Ede
After all, we are greatly helping them by extending this Measure. Before I was in office, I was frequently approached by teachers who wished to transfer to that form of work, and who asked my advice on whether they should go or not. The one question which one had to ask them straight away was: Are you sure that you are going into a solvent superannuation scheme, and that you will be able to make arrangements whereby, when you reach retiring age, you will not 1334 be worse off than if you had remained as a teacher? By assimilating the two schemes in the way we are doing, we are removing that great difficulty and opening up to these voluntary associations a very much wider area of recruitment than they might otherwise have had. My hon. Friend also asked me about a teacher who left the teaching service for two or three years to go into such a thing as forestry. Quite clearly, that lies within the five years discontinuance of teaching, and, no matter what our relationships may be with the voluntary association, if the teacher is working, she will be able to pay her contributions and the employers' contributions and remain in the scheme.
With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for the University of Wales, and also by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Thomas), we desire to end the anomaly whereby a teacher, by returning to service, may, in fact, have his or her pension reduced, and it virtually means that they will be assured of the original pension, when they retire a second time. After all, the example quoted by the hon. Member for the University of Wales of a retired member of the Indian Civil Service who took a university post is not quite germane, because a university pension scheme is not a Government superannuation scheme, and, they are entitled to make such rules as they like.
§ Professor Gruffydd
There is one question which the right hon. Gentleman has not answered. Will all men and women, in respect of their own contributions and the contributions made by the Minister, come into the superannuation scheme?
§ Mr. Lindsay
I am not quite clear, from Clause 2 (2), whether these people are being brought into the scheme compulsorily or not.
§ Mr. Ede
Surely, it will be for the voluntary body which employs the persons, whether they make it a condition of service and apply to the Minister. After all, these people are servants of the voluntary association, and not of the local education authority or of the Government, and I should have thought that, if the association desired the post to be established, they would make it a condition that the person taking that post would come into the scheme if the Minister approved of that person.
§ Mr. Ede
May I say that that, again, is a question on which I know the House is very concerned, and I will give my hon. Friend an answer before the Committee stage of the Bill? This Measure, in one part of it, merely changes the nomenclature, so as to bring the superannuation Measure into line with the altered phraseology of the Education Act, 1944. It next does a long-delayed act of justice to these supplementary teachers, whose salaries have never been high, whose work has quite frequently been very hard indeed, who have taught in places where education, sometimes, has not been too highly regarded by people who might have made the lot of these women easier. Lastly, it does enable us to take into account the wider extension that education is now occupying in the mind of the country and in the public services of the country. I thank hon. Members for the practical way in which they have discussed the Measure, and hope to have their further co-operation in getting the Bill through Committee.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House.—[Mr. Mathers.]
§ Committee upon Friday.