§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should now like to repeat a Statement which has been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The Statement reads:
"With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement about school teachers' pay and conditions of service in England and Wales.
"For more than two years the local authority employers and the teacher unions have been negotiating about school teachers' pay and conditions. During this time the education of the children in our schools has been repeatedly disrupted. The children have been the victims. The local authorities and teacher unions sought help from ACAS because they were unable to reach a settlement within the Burnham Committee. Limited progress has been made as a result of 846 ACAS's work. Some heads of agreement were negotiated at Coventry in July, but little has been achieved since then. Now, scandalously, further disruption is threatened. A further negotiating meeting is planned for 8th November at Nottingham. I must make the Government's position clear.
"We now also have the Main Committee's report about pay and conditions of service for school teachers in Scotland. My right honourable friend will shortly make a statement giving the Government's response to that report. The Government regard the recommendations in that report relating to the teachers' pay structure, and to their duties and conditions of service, as well judged. We consider that similar arrangements should he adopted in England and Wales, although existing differences in practice mean that it is not appropriate to seek to apply the Main Committee's findings in their entirety to England and Wales. I am therefore writing today to the chairman of the Burnham Committee's Management Panel explaining the additional resources the Government are willing to make available for teachers' pay in England and Wales; and spelling out our conditions for releasing those resources. I have placed a copy of that letter in the Vote Office.
"The Government will make additional resources available only when two very important conditions are delivered. First, there must be a pay structure with differentials which reflect the varying responsibilities of teachers and the need to recruit, retain and motivate teachers throughout the school system and at all stages of their careers. The pay structure envisaged at the Coventry meeting in July does not meet this condition. A structure more in line with the recommendations in the Main Committee's report is necessary, and I have set out such a structure in the letter which I have put in the Vote Office. All teachers will receive higher pay; more than half of them on promoted posts reflecting varying responsibilities. The crucial importance of head teachers, who carry the biggest responsibilities, will be recognised.
"The second condition is that teachers' professional duties must be more sharply defined and clarified leaving no room for ambiguity about their duties and this must be carried through into enforceable contracts of employment. Contracts and conditions of service must be brought into line with the 19 points under discussion at the Coventry meeting. In particular, school teachers should be under an express contractual obligation to cover for absent colleagues, and to he available to work at the direction of head teachers for 1,300 hours over 195 days each year. All of this is set out in more detail in the letter I have placed in the Vote Office.
"In return for delivery of these conditions, teachers' pay would be increased in two instalments. The first instalment would increase average school teachers' pay by 8.2 per cent. from 1st January 1987, and the second instalment would be a further 8.2 per cent. from 1st October 1987. These two instalments would cover the full percentage increase in average school teachers' pay implied by the Main Committee's recommendations. This would settle 847 teachers' pay for 1986–87 and 1987–88. The increase of 8.2 per cent. from 1st January means that teachers' pay will have increased by over 16 per cent. since 30th March this year. Teachers will have had an average 25 per cent. increase over the two years to October 1987. This means that a good honours graduate in his third year would receive after two years' of teaching £10,000, an increase of about 20 per cent. The head of the largest comprehensive would get an increase from £26,250 to £30,500. I want to emphasise that these increases are only justified by the fundamental change in the terms, conditions and structure of the service which must accompany them.
"If, and only if, these conditions are met are the Government prepared to add £118 million in 1986–87 and £490 million in 1987–88 to planned expenditure on education in England and Wales. Education GREs would be increased accordingly. Block grants to local education authorities would be increased by £56 million in 1986–87 and £200 million in 1987–88. The cost of these increases would have to be shared by taxpayers and ratepayers. We estimate that rates would increase by between 2 per cent. and 4 per cent. compared with the decisions that local authorities would otherwise have taken.
"I hope that the meeting at Nottingham will accept the position I have outlined. I look to the employers and unions to act quickly and positively. I must make it clear that the matter must now be resolved on all the terms and conditions I have set out. The Government will not be prepared to amend them further, or to make any additional resources available.
"Now let me turn to the future. Over the last few years it has become widely accepted that the present negotiating machinery should be replaced. The Government therefore intend to repeal the Remuneration of Teachers Act and to bring forward proposals to this House for new machinery which will involve an interim committee to advise the Secretary of State on conditions of service and the distribution of pay within the resources available at the appropriate time.
"The Government are making these proposals in the interests of the whole country. I believe they will be seen as fair and continued disruption will be seen to be unforgivable in these circumstances. My proposals constitute a very special offer for very special people—the children of our nation."
§ My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, we must express our gratitude to the noble Baroness for repeating the Statement made in another place. We welcome it to the limited extent that it is apparent that the Secretary of State has won what purports to be a battle in Cabinet with some of his Cabinet colleagues and has achieved expenditure levels that his predecessor was not able to achieve. That leads us inevitably to ask the Government why the money was not made available two years ago. Why have we had to suffer this long period of disruption in our schools 848 because of the previous intransigence of the Government and their unwillingness to recognise the justifiable demands of teachers for more comparable pay, and also their justifiable demands to make up the losses in real terms and in comparative terms that they have suffered over previous years?
I must ask the noble Baroness whether she thinks that the contract conditions attached to this offer from which, on the face of it, I do not dissent—I have, however, only the first page of the letter to which the noble Baroness refers (the rest apparently not having gone through the photocopier)—can possibly be effective unless there are also the resources in terms of capitation allowances, of improvements to premises and of all the other forms of expenditure other than teachers' pay that are necessary for lasting peace in our schools.
I would also ask the noble Baroness what she thinks will be the effect on the negotiations in Nottingham next week. The Statement refers to the future repeal of the Remuneration of Teachers Act. But, in fact, the Statement itself constitutes a unilateral repudiation of the Remuneration of Teachers Act. The Government have stepped in without waiting for the formal repeal of the Act and they have, in effect, abolished the negotiating machinery. Is it not the case that the Government are seeking in the Statement to take the credit for any success that there may be in subsequent negotiations, and yet are distancing themselves from the possibility of failure or responsibility for the possibility of failure? Is it not in fact the case that the Government will have to take the blame for any failure in the talks and that they cannot take credit for any success that there might be, for this would be achieved despite the actions of the Government today?
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Baroness for repeating the Statement. I wish to reiterate the words of the noble Lord. Lord McIntosh. It is unfortunate that the Statement has come two years too late. All the disruption and distress that the profession, parents and children have endured during that time could have been avoided. Among other things, the question of out-of-school duties for teachers would not have become the bone of contention that it is. As we know, teachers have withdrawn their services from such activities as midday supervision, parents' meetings, supervision of the arrival and departure of children, supervision of out-of-school activities and extracurricular activities. They have been forced to withdraw their voluntary service in what have now become issues for confrontation and matters of binding duties. This has led to the rather harsh words used by the Secretary of State when he refers to there being no ambiguity about teachers' duties, and how they must be sharply defined and clarified. It is regrettable that services and activities freely given previously on a voluntary basis should now become matters of no ambiguity and of sharp definition and clarification. So there is a strong element of tough bargaining.
The Secretary of State refers to the motivation of teachers. The teachers, two years ago, did not need motivation. They need it now only because of two years of de-motivation. Teachers have become so 849 discouraged over this whole unhappy business that now the moment has certainly arrived when they need motivation. It is largely the events of the last two years that have made this necessary.
There is reference to an increase of 25 per cent. over two years to October 1987, which sounds generous. But an increase of 25 per cent. would not have been necessary had teachers' pay initially not been so shamefully low. One union unfortunately threatens further action. The Secretary of State's Statement is couched in somewhat dictatorial and uncompromising terms. It is to be hoped that these will not produce the due reaction from unions and teachers, so that the whole weary process starts up again. We must hope that in the discussions at Nottingham there will be a genuine air of negotiation and not an air of dogmatism or a veiled threat of legislation on the part of the Government.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords for their somewhat muted welcome to the Statement. They both asked the question: why intervene at this stage? Why has it not happened before over the two-year period? It has been necessary to allow negotiations to follow the normal channels. We were told when we reached the Coventry agreement in July that this was an historic agreement, but as events have proved it was being re-written before the ink was dry. One union did not sign and the rest quickly distanced themselves. In the middle of this month they put in a string of extra demands, adding about 50 per cent. to the original Coventry cost. It is for this reason that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has decided to intervene at this stage because, in view of the meetings in Nottingham next week, it is important that the parties can now go there with the Government's position crystal clear on the provisions that we shall make for spending on teachers' pay, on the levels of grant we shall make available, and on the shape of the pay structures on contractual duties and on conditions of service. We hope that on this basis they will be able to achieve a more lasting and beneficial result at Nottingham.
The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, also referred to teachers' duties and motivation. Again, we appreciate that clarity and incentive have been lacking. I apologise to the noble Lord opposite that he does not seem to have the complete version of the letter in which there are 19 points very clearly set out, that we believe will give increased help to teachers in defining their duties and in providing incentives for them.
The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, also suggested that the increase was not very generous. However, I do not feel that 16.4 per cent. over two years is a bad deal. The figure of 8.2 per cent. this year on top of 7.4 per cent. already awarded since 30th March can hardly be called an ungenerous increase. The increase of 16.4 per cent. will take the average salary of teachers in England and Wales from £11,150 to £13,000. By next October teachers will have had an average increase of 25 per cent. over two years. This is a very good offer.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Eden of Winton
My Lords, I am sure my noble friend will recognise that there will be widespread appreciation of the fact that the Secretary 850 of State has been so decisive and clearcut in the action that he has taken in this matter. Nonetheless, does the noble Baroness not feel that this is an extremely generous award in the light of the very widespread disruption that has been caused over recent months during the course of these discussions by some of the members of the teaching profession? Can my noble friend indicate whether any thought has been given to the impact of this award, if it comes to be fulfilled, on the private sector—in which I declare a financial interest—and which no doubt she wishes to see preserved?
Lastly, can my noble friend say whether there is any time scale to be imposed by the end of which agreement is to be achieved—if that is to he the case—or whether the whole matter is to be left open-ended for continuing argument and debate?
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I do not agree with my noble friend that in effect this settlement is a reward for disruption. The Government have been aware of the problems in schools. They have phased in the increase in salaries over a number of years in order to ensure that relativity between teachers and other professions is not entirely lost sight of.
I believe that there may well be an impact on the private sector although the terms of the agreement, which we hope will be reached in Nottingham, do not directly apply to them. With regard to the timescale, this very much depends on the parties in their negotiations in Nottingham. We certainly hope as a result of the Government making their position so clear, and as a result of the long period of time they have had to discuss these matters since Coventry in July, that some agreement will be reached.
§ Viscount Eccles
My Lords, I congratulate the Secretary of State on this deal. I have always thought that competent teachers should be treated and paid in a manner which reflects their importance to the nation. However, I want to be assured that one of the conditions of this deal is that there shall be regular assessments of ability in the classrooms, because it is quite clear that many of the difficulties in the schools today are due to the fact that we have teachers who are not up to the job.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, yes. Appraisal is one of the matters enumerated in the letter which is available in the Library of your Lordships' House. Obviously the Statement referred to the Vote Office in the other place. Appraisal is certainly one of the items mentioned in that list.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that from any point of view the Statement which she has made to the House marks a momentous occasion in the history of the teaching profession and teachers' pay. We must recognise that. I do not want to look back very much because I am quite ready for my modest place in the history of teachers' pay to be overrun by the Baker Report, or the Main Report, or any other report that will settle this unhappy business. But I think that the history of the whole subject would have been different if the committee over which I had the honour to preside 851 were not circumscribed by the statutory conditions and conventions and the history of the whole subject 12 years ago. We were inhibited from making any report on conditions of service. We were stopped from considering the remuneration of any part of the educational system outside the Burnham Report. We therefore had to deal with the higher ranges of teachers' pay and polytechnics but we could not touch the universities. A lot of trouble ensued because we were not able to look at universities at the same time that we were looking at polytechnics.
I drew attention to the main problem in my covering letter on the report, which was separation as between conditions of service and remuneration. I said that nowhere else in the public sector—and probably nowhere else at all—is pay kept entirely separate from conditions of service. The composite job and composite conditions of service have to be taken together to appreciate their full significance and importance. We therefore had to stick to pay. That was a considerable handicap in the work we were doing. We were bold, but we could have been much bolder had we been able to accompany our proposals on pay with something like the package deal that is now open to the teachers. However, that is all I want to say about the past.
It would be unfortunate if the blame for the delay were put on any particular party. I think that everyone was strung up with the past conditions, which were out of date and which it was inopportune to revise and reform while there were strong pressures on pay.
The question that I wish to ask the noble Baroness is this. I am a little unclear—I missed the first two minutes of the Statement—as to the nature of the discussions that will take place at Nottingham. Are they within the machinery of the Burnham system or are they ad hoc to deal with the composite pay and conditions proposals that are being made? Will the Government be represented at the discussions or are we still maintaining the fanciful concept that teachers are employed by local government? These are the problems all the time. Is the machinery that is available for discussion at Nottingham able to negotiate on the total package that has been presented by the Government? If so, then we can hope—I am sure we all do hope—for a settlement to be reached. If they are not competent to settle, where will the final decision be taken?
Can we be assured that this will really be the show in Nottingham when everything will be put on the table and those representing the teaching institutions will be able to reach conclusions, even though in the end they may have to put the totality of what is available to their members by ballot or by other means? Are we approaching the end—that is what I really want to know—because this miserable business cannot go on indefinitely. Here, it seems to me, is the opportunity to reach a settlement. The conditions seem to be pretty tough, but they are negotiable, and that is what the final meeting is all about.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, for his initial remarks in particular. I am glad that the Government have at last met the points that the noble Lord voiced some 12 852 years ago by bringing pay and conditions into one package. Perhaps I might add that now in real terms against the retail price index teachers are back to Houghton levels of pay, thanks to the fact that we have brought inflation under control.
As to the nature of the meeting in Nottingham, as I understand it, the committee is of an ad hoc kind. It was set up for the July meeting in Coventry at the instance of ACAS. As your Lordships will recollect, when the negotiations broke down, the parties brought in ACAS. ACAS suggested the setting up of this ad hoc committee. The committee consists of the employers and representatives of the unions, and an impartial chairman. The Government as such are not represented; but naturally the Government are hopeful that the decision will be made in Nottingham, taking the Government's position into account, and that this statement will be helpful in bringing the disruption and problems to a speedy end.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, would the noble Baroness be good enough to clarify two points arising out of previous questions? First, my noble friend Lord Houghton said that these conditions were negotiable. I read the Statement to mean that they were not negotiable in any way. I wonder whether she can confirm that is the case. Secondly, the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, referred to this as a deal. As I read the Statement, there is no deal. The deal has to be made between the unions and the local authority employers. This is simply an ultimatum made by the Government of the conditions on which the Government are prepared to allocate a modest amount of taxpayers' money and a very large amount of ratepayers' money.
I have one final question genuinely for information. The Statement says,The Government therefore intend to repeal the Remuneration of Teachers Act and to bring forward proposals to this House for new machineryby which the Secretary of State means another place. Does that imply that the new machinery will not be brought before Parliament as a whole, and therefore not brought before your Lordships' House? In what form will the machinery come before Parliament?
§ Viscount Eccles
My Lords, I used the word "deal" in the sense that the Government on the one side are offering money and the teachers on the other side are asked to agree to conditions.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I think I would agree with my noble friend that what is intended is that there should be a balanced package on the lines advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and he expressed it clearly when he said that in no other area is pay divorced from service conditions. I shall try to make the matter clear to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I believe that I said in answer to a previous supplementary that the Government, in making this Statement, have now made their position crystal clear well in advance of the talks in Nottingham so that there is time for the parties to look at the statement and to digest it, and I trust that they will take careful account of what my right honourable friend said.
853 Obviously we have to be patient. The Nottingham talks take place the weekend after next. Once we have the outcome to consider, we shall consider it. I think we have enough actual questions to think about without resorting to hypothetical ones.
There was a final point made by the noble Lord, which now escapes me.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, even if the noble Baroness cannot answer it now, I should like her to write to me about this. The Statement says that the Secretary of State willbring forward proposals to this House for new machinery which will involve an interim committee".My question is whether such proposals should not be brought before Parliament rather than simply before another place. I wonder whether she can advise me in what form it will come before Parliament?
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, if I understand correctly, it will come before Parliament as a whole. If I may be permitted, since the noble Lord offered me that way out, I shall clarify the position and write to him. Indeed, I shall place a letter in the Library so that everybody may be informed.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, it is of course extremely interesting to a Scot to know that the proposal is to model the package on that which has been proposed by the independent Main Committee in Scotland. I am wondering when we shall hear from her right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland what is happening in Scotland about the Main Report. She said it would be shortly—does she know how short "shortly" is?
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I understand that a separate Statement on Scotland has been made in another place, but that it was not requested that it should be repeated in this House.