§ 3.3 p.m.
§ Report received.
§ Clause 1 [Termination of existing arrangements]:
§ Baroness Seear moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 5, at end insert—
("( ) The provisions having effect under this Act shall govern the remuneration and other conditions of employment of schoolteachers until permanent arrangements have been established in a manner agreed between teachers, their employers and the Secretary of State or until the expiry of this Act under section 6, whichever is the sooner.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I am aware, as your Lordships will be, that on all sides of the House there is unanimous agreement about the objectives of the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill, which are to overcome the disruption in schools, to get the schools working again, to provide a promising career for professional teachers and to establish the kind of education system which will give our children the opportunity to learn and the country, which depends on the schools, the prosperity and kind of civilisation that it seeks. Therefore, there is no disagreement about what the Bill tries to do.
§ On this side of the House there is also unanimous agreement that we wish to return as fast as possible to negotiating procedures so that all those employed in the education service have the right to negotiate their pay and terms and conditions of employment, and so restore to them—as the Bill does not restore it—their common right, as agreed under international conventions, that public employees should be able to take part in such negotiations.
§ In the debate at Second Reading it became clear to me at any rate that the Government also intended that sooner or later there should be a return to free negotiation. However, that is not on the face of the Bill and there is no doubt that the need to have it on the face of the Bill is of prime importance. It is implied in the periods, in the words of the noble Lord who spoke for the Government and in the acceptance of the amendment to include the word "interim"; but it is not on the face of the Bill.
§ There is also agreement that the position of the Secretary of State has to be properly safeguarded. After all, taxpayers' money makes a very large contribution to the total expenditure of the education service. It is agreed that it is right and proper for the Secretary of State to be able to exercise a very powerful influence on the negotiations and on the pay received by teachers throughout our schools.
§ With so much agreement, it may be asked: why have we tabled these amendments this afternoon? We are doing so just because we agree with the primary purpose for which the Government have put forward this Bill; but we do not believe that the Bill as it stands will achieve its purpose. That is the point of these amendments.429
§ Noble Lords on all sides of the House must have received, as I have, a very large number of letters coming from all levels of the educational world, not just from one union but from all unions, from head teachers, administrators and all parts of the education system. These people do not believe that the Bill as it stands will lead to the peace and development inside schools that are the common objective of us all. That is why—and for no other reason—we are moving these amendments today. We believe that the Bill, amended as we propose, stands a very good chance of achieving the peace in our schools that the Government desire and we are convinced that it will not be achieved unless the Bill is amended.
§ Even in today's press we see that there is a danger of further disruption and the threat of another one-day strike. Over the past two years the schools have suffered badly in this way. It is not asking too much that the Bill should be amended so that it can be made acceptable and that peace can return to the schools.
§ I should have said, my Lords, that in moving this amendment I wish at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 5 to 25, if that is acceptable to the House.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, will the noble Baroness tell us whether she is also speaking to Amendments Nos. 18 to 25 and various other large dollops which together seem to make up a fairly coherent whole?
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, they are in fact consequential amendments and it will be easier if I may speak to them together. I thank the noble Lord very much. In my anxiety to start I had forgotten to say that.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I am terribly sorry, but for the purposes of the record and subsequent debate we need to know the other amendments to which the noble Baroness is speaking.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, does the House wish me to name them all? I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 5 to 15, 18 to 25, 27, 30, 33 to 36, 38, 40 to 43, 45 and 46. The amendments are long, but they are in fact not very complex and I think that noble Lords will see that they make up a rational whole. The first intention is to set up a committee. We accept that there has to be a committee because we do not believe that it is possible at this stage to return to a Burnham Mark II, however much we might like to see that in future—and we hope that it will be the near future. However, we accept that at present it is not a practical proposition.
As proposed in the Bill, the Secretary of State will form a committee. However, under our amendment he will form it after consultation with all the interested parties. There is no queston but that the people on the committee will be representative, although we have included in the amendment the right of the employers and the unions to veto an unacceptable person on that committee. That can be done only if there is a two-thirds majority in favour of the proposal. All our amendments require a two-thirds majority for any changes. In that way we hope to avoid the type of disruption by small sections that has bedevilled negotiations over the past two years.
430 The committee will be set up. It will take evidence from teachers, teachers' organisations and employers; and, it will receive recommendations from the Secretary of State. The committee will formulate proposals on the basis of the evidence taken. Those of your Lordships who have sat on such bodies (as I have) will know that by the time the evidence is taken one has a good idea of what is and what it not acceptable.
It is likely that the committee will then be able to put forward recommendations which will command the requisite support. Those recommendations will then go to revised negotiating bodies. In the amendments, we have included proposals for a revision of the negotiating bodies. Those negotiating bodies will work on the basis of a two-thirds majority When the proposals go to those bodies there can be negotiations within the framework of those proposals.
There are then three possibilities. If the proposals are acceptable to both sides of the negotiating body and to the Secretary of State they become operative, and that is the end of the matter. They are confirmed and become the terms and conditions for teachers' employment until there are further negotiations. If the two sides and the Secretary of State decide on alterations which are acceptable to all three parties, including the Secretary of State, they are confirmed and then become the terms and conditions of employment for teachers. At that stage, it is possible to have what amounts to full negotiations. If it is agreed with the Secretary of State, the two sides can alter the proposals that have been put forward. The two sides will have to have the support of two-thirds of those voting. If however the recommendations are unacceptable to either party, they can go back to the committee and if the committee cannot arrive at a settlement with the parties then—and only then—will the matter go to arbitration.
Two proposals will be put before the arbitrator and he must accept one of them. He cannot vary the proposals. The point of that is plain. The fact that the arbitrator must accept one of the proposals will be a tremendous incentive to the parties to put up proposals which will appear sensible to any reasonable arbitrator. If one side puts up totally unacceptable proposals, the arbitrator will obviously accept the other side's proposals.
It is highly improbable that the matter will have to go to arbitration except on rare occasions because we are trying to re-enact a process of sensible negotiation. Within that framework, it is highly probable that it will be possible to arrive at a negotiated settlement. Once the arbitrator has made a decision, the Secretary of State's position is still safeguarded, for at the end of the day he will be able to veto the settlement by an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament, that would be a last resort. It is improbable that that would happen except on rare occasions.
The proposal is included because we recognise the importance of the Secretary of State's right to have the ultimate say if the proposals, having gone through all the stages, were totally unacceptable from the point of view of cost. We have included that proposal because of the amount of public money involved and the economic consequences of an unacceptable degree of expenditure. Those are our proposals.
431 Your Lordships will see that we are putting back onto the face of the Bill the right to negotiate. We believe that to be of the greatest importance. All the correspondence that I have received has emphasised the teachers' anger at the removal of their negotiating rights. Most of us in the House accept what the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said in Committee: that the Government want to get back to a proper negotiating system, but that has not been accepted. It would make a great deal of difference to the attitude of the teachers and the teachers' unions if they knew that negotiating rights were to be built into the Bill as it goes through the House. We believe that that will be crucial in gaining acceptance for the Bill.
If a Bill is produced which is unacceptable to the teachers, how does the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, think that it will be enforced? Nearly 500,000 people are employed in the schools. We agree that we are talking not only about pay but about conditions of employment. How can those conditions be enforced unless the teachers support them? In the end, they must monitor them. There is no system of inspectors and no penalties to be applied to enforce those matters in the schools. We are entirely dependent upon the teachers' willingness to go along with the new conditions which we all want to see. The Bill does not provide the framework to obtain that consent. We believe that our amendments do. I beg to move.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, the amendments are extremely complex. I have no doubt that your Lordships' House could spend many happy hours analysing and re-analysing the syntax, the references to previous legislation and the suitability of the appearance of certain words on the face of the Bill, and all the other things with which we occupy ourselves in matters of this kind.
I should like to appeal to the House not to do any of that but to think only of one thing: how we are to restore the confidence of the education system—the teachers' and the employers'—in the goodwill of the Government and the country, and to see that their self respect is maintained by negotiating rights? That is what the teachers the employers and the parents are asking for; and if the pupils had an adequate say, that is what they would be asking for. Everyone in this country wants an education service free of disruption. The Government's recipe of an interim Bill with government dictation of pay and conditions of service for three years is a recipe for disruption. It is an attack on the self respect of those who take part in the service.
There are matters on which we disagreed at Committee stage. I put forward a series of amendments which spelt out in detail an alternative negotiating structure from that which is to be replaced. The Committee saw fit to reject those proposals. The noble Baroness put forward a series of amendments which would have set up an interim review body. The noble Baroness has moved on from that stage, and she was right to do so. The proposals that the noble Baroness now puts forward are very substantially better than those put forward at Committee stage. As she made clear in her speech, the noble Baroness is now proposing a series of procedures. Although the amendments do not specifically contain negotiation, nevertheless they make provision for negotiation and I 432 recognise that intention and welcome the amendments to that extent.
There are amendments on the Marshalled List in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Irving of Dartford which I hope would make the conditions for negotiation rather clearer, though the provisions leave the actual negotiating procedures as non-statutory and not on the face of the Bill. Noble Lords may have different views about the applicability of any or further solutions of this kind. However, in the end the education service will demand of us that we somehow restore negotiating rights and self-respect to teachers and their employers. In the light of that, with one important qualification, I shall ask my noble friends to support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear.
The important qualification is on Amendment No. 25. The amendment says:The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument direct that a confirmed recommendation shall not take effect or shall take effect subject to such modifications as may be specified in the order".On introducing the amendment the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, referred to the modifications as being modifications of cost. If that were what the amendment said I should be very happy. Clearly it is right that the Secretary of State should have the overriding power to impose a settlement within a budget which the country can afford. It should not be possible for teachers and their employers to impose a settlement which does not meet a nationally politically agreed budget. Unfortunately the amendment goes somewhat further and does not confine modifications to modifications of cost. It permits the Secretary of State to do what Mr. Baker is proposing to do: to impose in detail a series of scales for different levels of teacher and a detailed structure for the teaching profession.
I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, will find it possible to agree that at Third Reading we can put forward an amendment which would meet that point. If that were the case I am sure that we should have no difficulty in reaching agreement on the matter.
For the outside world the details do not matter, though it is important that we in this House should be accurate. However, the important factor is that negotiations should be maintained and that the teachers and the employers should have a recognisable structure in which to conduct the negotiations. On that basis, I invite my friends to support these amendments.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, my objection to this string of amendments is that they are far too suggestive of a permanent arrangement. I emphasise again that we are dealing with an interim period. We describe it as interim. We have written the word "interim" more emphatically into the Bill and we must stick to that context in all that we do. We must emphasise that this interim period has an early end and should be replaced by something more acceptable and more permanent at the end of it. Otherwise the proposals now put forward for meeting the interim situation may well cause the interim period to be prolonged unduly.
433 I wish that we knew the final answer to Amendment No. 28. If only the Government would grasp this nettle and say that the interim period will end after three years and will not be renewed except by fresh legislation through Parliament, then much else would fall into place. But underlying the Government's approach to the extension of the interim period is the possibility that what is interim may be continued. What is continued is in danger of becoming permanent. The measure in operation during the interim period must be seen to be interim because it is too impossible for it to become permanent.
However, this scheme is too feasible a stepping-stone towards a more permanent review body arrangement. Unless there is suitable alternative machinery ready within three years the review body is staring everybody in the face. Unless some more normal machinery for negotiation can be established I am quite convinced that some kind of review body will be the only solution. However, I do not want to anticipate that. I certainly do not want to draft the measure. There are already plenty of examples of review bodies for that solution to be looked at if and when the situation arises. In the meantime, let us have an interim period which is so ridiculous that it cannot be continued. If we accept the proposals in the Bill that will be the situation. I do not mean that it is ridiculous from the point of view of workability, but rather as a permanent arrangement for a great profession in its negotiation machinery. I therefore hope that we shall stick to the idea of the interim period.
I believe that in the three years which lie ahead—I hope that it will be no more—a lot of work will have to be done and much pain will have to be endured on both sides. Both sides will have to sort themselves out. The Government will have to realign the employers' side, which cannot continue as it was under the Burnham machinery. What is the alternative? I suggest that it will have to be an employers' side composed of the Secretary of State for Education, the Secretary of State for the Environment and representatives of the local education authorities. They will be the official side of this Whitley Council. On the trades union side there will have to a good deal of sorting out to identify the representativeness of the several unions. They will have to draw their boundaries of representativeness and define their constituencies. At the present time this is a fluid situation.
I read in the magazine New Society at the weekend that the membership of the National Union of Teachers fell by 13 per cent. from 291,000 to 253,000 between 1979 and 1985 but the Association of Masters and Mistresses increased by 21 per cent. Their membership rose from 89,000 to 122,000. The figure of 21 per cent. was the level of increase in the past two years in that organisation, reflecting, it is stated, the discontent of a number of teachers with the militant policies of other unions.
We then come to the Professional Association of Teachers. Its number has also increased. The magazine Child Education is recently reported to have taken a public opinion poll among 1,800 primary school teachers. It found that 17 per cent. of those in the poll had changed their union allegiance in the past 434 two years. With that floating membership of unions on the teachers' panel side it is obvious that before very long the employers' side and the public will be entitled to know who speaks for whom and what is the strength of their representative capacity. It is impossible to have a teachers' body representing the staff if there are political or ideological differences between them, or if they have differences of emphasis in militancy.
That is not a basis for negotiation. The basis for negotiation is to find one's constituency and represent it, and be able to deliver when agreements may be reached. I mention that with great sadness because it shows one of the great problems in this situation; but it is clear that that has to be sorted out.
In 1944 Butler said, when confronted with a miscellany of associations, "I want one voice". He did not get it then. Now we have seven voices. That is the difficulty. Again, this is an interim solution. The permanent solution lies ahead. Let us limit the interim period and let the Secretary of State take responsibility for that which is in this Bill. There is no need for us to have amendments and embroider around the Government's policies. Let the Secretary of State take the responsibility which the Bill places upon him. Let him go to an advisory committee of his own choosing and make the best of it, but not compromise those whose interests are at stake, who have not been consulted and whose opinions are not being respected in formulating the proposals in this Bill.
I feel that that is the answer, so that we may know where we are going. This scheme is like Halley's Comet crossing the sky—something with a small head and long luminous tails. This will not do. This will cross the sky and leave no possible indication of what may be the basis of our next months or years. Let it be 1990, my Lords, and not a day later, and let us have this matter firmly settled by the Government before we finish today.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I would not want to say anything to dilute the trenchant lucidity of almost everything that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has said about the relevance and appositeness of the very large group of amendments which are before us. At this Report stage they constitute very nearly a new Bill. In my view they have so many provisions of detail in them that they should be discussed in Committee and not by the whole House sitting on Report. But I am not suggesting this should be recommitted because I think the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, is right. What we have here is an interim Bill. I was glad that my noble friend emphasised that on two separate occasions in the record when we were in Committee, and also amended the Bill either twice or three times on the face to make clear that it was interim, and he has a further amendment today. There is no question that this is an interim Bill. There is a question as to how one decides when the interim period has expired. We shall be addressing that later. I have views on that. I shall not delay your Lordships now because the views are not relevant.
I am tempted to make observations about the detail of the amendments, about the fact that there is no provision for the voicing of minority opinions within 435 the machinery set up by the Liberal Party committed to proportional representation so that minority opinions can be heard, but that would be provocative, and I would not wish to provoke the noble Baroness into an argument about that.
I feel the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, is absolutely right in saying that this is a functional little Bill to deal with a major problem, not in a dictatorial way by telling the profession and its employers, "This is how you will do it", but in a permissive and liberal way—using the word in a different sense—permitting the profession and the employers to work out their own solution for as long as it takes, or over a period of three years according to what your Lordships may later decide. That seems to me to be the stark alternative to a dictatorial imposition.
Nobody in this House would like the Secretary of State to say at this stage: "Here is the machinery. Get on with it. It is like that forever". Nor can we let things go on as they are. Since 1981 the profession and its employers have totally failed to come up with a solution. That is the major problem. Since the machinery has broken down there is now a subordinate and urgent problem of how to deliver the money already available to the teachers who are earning it. If we do not do that the children will continue to suffer. I ask your Lordships again to think of the children. The parents have to think of them when they are locked out, when they are not looked after, when the lessons are not taught. There will not be a second chance. They will not be children again. How often have we wished that we could go back to our childhood, and we rue the misuse we made of the lessons we were taught! How much worse if there were lessons missing from the curriculum which we had never received.
The problem is urgent. It is one upon which the professional teachers and their employers should concentrate their minds. They should not be denied their money while they do it. The Bill provides for them to have the money. It provides for them to work out with the Secretary of State and their employers how eventually they should solve this problem. I think we should leave the Bill alone and get on with that.
§ Lord Rochester
My Lords, I should like to support this amendment. I moved an amendment in Committee which was a precursor to this one. It was criticised on a number of counts and I eventually withdrew it for further consideration.
In the amendments we have sought to come to terms with some of the criticisms which were then expressed. I do not wish to labour points unduly which have already been made, but there were three objections raised in Committee. One has again been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby (whose views I always respect), as well as by the noble Lord, Lord Elton. There were three objections which seemed to me to carry weight.
First, it was said that I was wrong to suggest a permanent procedure for determining the pay and conditions of teachers in the future, and that I should have confined what I had to say to interim arrangements set out in the Bill. I suggest that that is precisely what has been done in this case. In the amendments we 436 have met that objection by assigning to the interim committee that is now proposed functions which are different from those assigned to the advisory committee by the Government. There is thus no question in this amendment of the procedure which is now suggested being more than temporary. If it is necessary to underline that still further, perhaps I may point out that in the very first amendment moved by my noble friend Lady Seear it makes it plain that the provisions which we have in mind are to continue until permanent arrangements have been agreed, or (the last clause of the sentence):until the expiry of this Act under Section 6, whichever is the sooner.".If your Lordships will turn to Amendment No. 33—another of those spoken to by my noble friend—you will see that proposes that the word "Advisory" should be left out. That means that the committee which we are now suggesting is essentially an interim one and it is not seen as part of a permanent procedure.
Next, it was said in Committee that the earlier amendment did not state in whom the power to appoint the body which we then had in mind was to be vested, and that that body could not at the same time be called independent and include people drawn from organisations—in particular, teachers' organisations—which represented sectional interests. It will be plain from these amendments that it is the Secretary of State who is to appoint the members of the interim committee which is now proposed; but before exercising that power he must consult with the representatives of the relevant interests. I suggest that nothing could be fairer or more reasonable than that.
The third criticism, which was directed at the earlier amendment, concerned the last stage of the procedure which we then had in mind and which is retained in these amendments; namely, arbitration. I was taken to task in Committee for suggesting that arbitration which would otherwise be binding was to be subject to what I called, I fear rather too loosely, ultimate parliamentary authority, but in Amendment No. 25, to which my noble friend has spoken, I suggest it is clear beyond doubt that it is the Secretary of State who may ultimately reject or modify the findings of the arbitrator by statutory order approved by both Houses of Parliament. I hope also that the rather more precise wording of Amendment No. 13, concerning the powers of the arbitrator to accept or reject recommendations that are referred to him, may help to reassure noble Lords who were concerned about this particular point as regards our proposals in Committee.
In those ways we have sought to take account of the views expressed in Committee, while retaining elements of the earlier proposals that we regard as essential. As I said in Committee, during the interim period—and I stress this once more—in which the arrangements now suggested would operate, our overall aim continues to be at every stage to devise a procedure which encourages the parties to adopt responsible attitudes, to act as single units within each party and to draw closer together in the negotiating process. I hope that in their new and more detailed and, in my view, improved form, these amendments will be supported by your Lordships. I commend them to the House.
§ Baroness Cox
My Lords, some of the general reservations about this amendment have been very eloquently put by my noble friend Lord Elton. I should like to focus upon what seemed to me to be two practical problems with regard to the amendment before us. The first problem is the way in which the rights of minority teachers' unions might or might not be protected. It seems that the opportunity to exercise a veto by two-thirds majority, vis-à-vis membership, could lead to the exclusion of a small union such as the Professional Association of Teachers, a union which lives up to its name by eschewing strike action in the interests of its pupils.
The second problem concerns the procedures to be involved. It seems as though they are potentially very protracted and may be inconclusive. For example, it appears as though there could be four sets of recommendations and/or vetoes from the committee, the Secretary of State, teachers and employers, and that if they could not be agreed upon the matter would go to arbitration. Further, if I understand the matter correctly, that arbitration would be in the form of a pendulum arbitration. That in itself is also a problem, because it is possible that in dealing with the very complex issues of teachers' pay and conditions of service, pendulum arbitration may not be the most appropriate way. After all, they are dealing not with issues of black and white or upper and lower limits, but with very complex professional issues. So far as concerns the practicalities, it seems to me that these proposals could lead to procedures which might be cumbersome and time-consuming, and could in the end lead to rather unsatisfactory conclusions.
Dealing with two more general points, it has been said by both the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, that the Government's proposals may well lead to continued disruption in the classroom, and that has already been threatened. It seems that that kind of threat is extremely unfortunate. I believe that everyone, and not least the parents and the children in our schools, will begin to lose such residual sympathy as they still have with the teaching profession if the threat of further industrial action is raised in an attempt to put pressure on the passage of this Bill.
Our children have suffered long enough; they have suffered for over two years. They desperately need stability in our schools and in the classrooms. I believe that in these discussions we need to hear more about children's rights as well as the rights of the adult. That applies particularly in view of the salary increase which has been offered by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. Let us not forget that what has been offered to our teachers is generous by any standards: 10 per cent. in real terms above the original generous Houghton award. The offer is also generous in comparative terms with other newly-qualified professionals such as doctors and social workers.
I feel that the teaching profession is in danger of appearing churlish and irresponsible if it threatens further industrial action following the passage of this Bill. I believe that the suggestion that this amendment ought to be considered in order to avert such industrial action really is a non sequitur and not a satisfactory argument.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, I wonder whether the House has observed some discrepancy between the attitude of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who moved this series of amendments, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, who is keen for his troops to go into the Lobby in favour of them. It seems to me that the difference could be expressed in this way: the noble Baroness says, "Love my baby"; the noble Lord says, "Love the baby, but for God's sake don't look at it"!
When we come to look at the amendments we can see that, as has been demonstrated by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, they ignore the prime reason for the Bill being before the House; namely, the divisions, both on the side of the employers and on the side of the teachers, that have prevented an agreement for a negotiating machinery. Nor is it the case that the proposals now before us do more than suggest an arbitrary resolution of those difficulties by the provision of two-thirds votes on vital issues. Let us suppose, though it seems to me extraordinary, that any Secretary of State should be compelled, in the case of an advisory committee to himself, to send nominations to external bodies, to have them rejected and then perhaps send another nomination and have it rejected again. Even supposing that we considered that to be a tenable situation, to provide as regards both these bodies that a two-thirds majority should suffice is likely to give on the one side, as set out, a veto to one or two of the larger teachers' unions and on the other side perhaps a veto to a particularly politically aligned group of local authorities.
The same point applies when we come to the recommendations. Once again the Alliance in its amendments appears to have run away from the essential issue, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has said is to provide an interim period during which agreed measures for future negotiation can be worked out by providing a series of—I was about to say "shortcuts", but the cuts are not very short.
The proposals before us are, quite apart from their merit, extraordinarily complicated. If one looks at the various stages and puts them against a calendar, one begins to wonder whether the secret inspiration behind them is not to be found in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which case the one thing of which we could be almost certain is that the teachers would never get any money. The procedures would go on and on and on, and pay settlements would be delayed and delayed. Surely this cannot be in the interests of the teachers. It is not in the interests of the country. I hope that, having given their new thoughts another run, the noble Baroness and her friends will not embarrass the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, by forcing him to go into the Lobby on behalf of amendments which, as he said, are themselves untenable.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
My Lords, I rise to support these amendments. I have a simple mind and I am bound to concede that I find the situation becoming more and more complicated. It seems to me that there are certain simple issues on which the House should be clear. The first issue is that the Bill, as it stands, will not lead to peace; of that I have no doubt whatever. Peace is what we are all seeking.
439 The second issue is that the amendments do not suggest that this Bill is other than temporary. They accept that it is temporary. They do not seek to make it permanent. They are merely seeking to suggest a formula which I hope in the long term should provide an appropriate machinery for determining teachers' salaries and conditions of service.
I have no doubt whatever that the greatest worry in the education service is the disastrous impact of party politics. Therefore, I accept that any idea of establishing a national joint council (or whatever it may be called) more or less following the pattern of the Burnham Committee is not a practical proposition and would lead only to more trouble. As I see it, we must move towards an independent review body.
This is not a revolutionary idea. We apply it to nurses, doctors, the Civil Service, judges and the police. It is almost a standard procedure for those who are engaged in public service. It was rejected for the teachers by the Prime Minister some time ago—a fact which rather surprised me.
The other matter in these amendments which I greatly welcome is the pendulum review procedure. I have been engaged in negotiations with teachers for very many years. The virtue of the pendulum review procedure is that it imposes the need for responsibility. If there is a normal arbitration in which one side says, "We want this much", and the other side says, "We cannot afford more than that much", the general tendency over the years has been to come somewhere in between. Such a procedure encourages teachers to ask for more than they think they will get; and equally it encourages the local authorities to offer less than they hope that they will be able to settle for. The pendulum procedure says to the teachers, "Do not ask for too much. If you are asking unreasonably for too much, you will lose". Equally, it is saying to the local authorities, "Do not offer too little. Unless you make a reasonably responsible offer, you may be rejected". It imposes responsibility on both sides and that is a good thing.
As to the Benjamin independent review body, I see it as the only hope of, if not getting rid of party politics, at least greatly reducing their impact. Therefore I support these amendments in the strongest possible terms.
I have received almost 200 letters while this Bill has been going through your Lordships' House. Almost without exception these letters are from teachers not seeking trouble. They are from teachers who are very worried and very anxious to find an answer to enable them to get on with the job which they want to do; namely, teaching our children. They all say one thing: "Find a settlement, get party politics out of the education service which prospered for 25 years when party politics played no part in it".
I very much commend these amendments as being constructive in their desire to secure peace and lead to permanent arrangements which will then leave us in peace.
§ Baroness Phillips
My Lords, while discussing this amendment, I should like once again to correct the noble Baroness in her statement that the teachers are well paid. I think that she used the words, "The money 440 was generous". This is not true. If the noble Baroness will compare teachers' pay to that of nurses, the nurses are badly paid. That does not make the teachers well paid. I think it is very unfortunate in the course of this debate that we make the teachers emerge as the enemy. We keep emphasising the fact that they are the ones who are working against the children. Teachers have been badly treated and at last they are attempting to do something for themselves. If we are all going to boast about numbers, I suppose I have received as many letters as everbody else, as an ex-teacher. There has never been any suggestion in those letters that they are going to have another strike. I do not know where this idea which has been mooted has come from. What the teachers want is justice. That is not unreasonable, and therefore anything that we attempt to do must be to bend our minds to that.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, if I may follow on what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has said, I have had many letters, as many of your Lordships have. I agree with the noble Lord that the fact that underlines very many of the letters is that the teachers are saying "Please, we want this whole matter resolved. We want peace and we want to get party politics out of this situation to the greatest possible extent that we can."
The question is whether or not the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, is right, and that what is needed is what the Bill is attempting to provide; namely, a short breathing space while everybody can pause and take stock and look at the various options which may be the right ones to go forward with. Or whether or not we can continue the warfare and squabbling and lack of progress which we have at the moment.
Convincing though the noble Baroness Lady Seear, was when she introduced this series of amendments I think that they add up to a system which is not going only to continue the politicisation of the issue but very likely enhance it.
Noble Lords who have chaired an appointed body which is balanced in its membership, but where nobody represents anything in particular—the members represent themselves—will know that that body is usually able to move forward with the general purpose of that particular committee in view. The members bring their various experiences to bear and listen to what people say to them when they consult them, and are constructive. If a body consists of people who feel that they are representing one part or another of those involved in the issue, there is quite different behaviour. Those of us who have chaired the two kinds of body know that. I have chaired both kinds of body on several occasions.
What is being suggested is that two new bodies besides the advisory committee be set up: one consisting of teachers' unions and one of employers. There will be an argument within the bodies as to who is going to be on those bodies. The conditions are set out in Amendment No. 9. It is quite complicated how they have to be set up. As my noble friend Lady Cox said, there is no guarantee that the big boys and girls will not get together to oust the little boys and girls on the teachers' committee. There will have been quite a struggle internally. It is not possible to have 103 local authorities on the employers' committee. So they will 441 have got together in some way to organise that. There will have been a struggle. Before the interim committee is set up at all they have to agree. Within a month they can, by a two-thirds majority, reject individuals proposed on that committee. So you start with a struggle and you start with people who are acceptable to one side and not to another. Eventually you arrive at something the various committees agree.
Then the issues are considered. Looking at the process, the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, very briefly and very ably said that this is like a permanent arrangement—a permanent negotiating and hammering out of agreements. There are six or seven stages at which there is liable to be this kind of disagreement and squabbling in the whole process.
At the end, if everything else fails, there is arbitration—the kind of arbitration where the arbitrator has to accept one suggestion or another, or another. That sort of arbitration is fine if you are deciding one or another level of pay for a set of people. You can do that and it has the effect that has been mentioned, that people tend to bid lower not higher. But these arbitrations are going to be between packages of salaries, very complex salary structures, combined with very complex conditions of service. So it will not be a question of one package necessarily being better than another; it may be that the arbitrator will want to choose a combination. I do not think that that will work, and again it will be a matter for disagreement.
I believe that throughout this proposal—which may be a very well intentioned one—to try to involve people in a different way in the process, there runs a recipe for perpetual argument, disagreement and disgruntlement. Then, at the end of it all, it is suggested that the Secretary of State could turn down by affirmative resolution what the arbitrator had decided. If that is not a disruptive way to end the process, I do not know what is.
On top of all that, it seems to me that this six- or seven-step process may take a very long time. I do not know if the noble Baroness is going to say that she wants it open-ended, but it could well take longer than the three years from now which is proposed. So I think that there are a number of things there which really make the proposed system not at all a good replacement for the simpler, much more flexible suggestion made in the Bill; a suggestion which can give room for plenty of negotiating stances between the Secretary of State and the other bodies and between the other bodies together—but all informal, not set up statutorily. That atmosphere could well produce a good proposal for the future, which might indeed be the independent review body that underlay the first amendment which the noble Baroness moved in Committee and which the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, espoused, but which is not there at all now. That may well be the answer in the end, but it would come at the end of this pause.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, I am surprised at what has been said after my noble friend Lord Rochester had, I thought, clearly pointed out to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, that this is not an open- 442 ended arrangement that we are proposing. The word "interim" remains on our committee in exactly the same way as it was on the Government's committee, and our Amendments Nos. 1, 5 and 33, as my noble friend Lord Rochester said, all emphasise that. If your Lordships later decide that the provisions should come to an end in 1990 without any further extensions, that would apply to these arrangements in exactly the same way as it would apply to the Government's arrangements.
I was also surprised to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, talking of six or seven stages. There are in fact in this procedure an absolute maximum of four stages, at each of which the Secretary of State can intervene, and of course he has the ultimate override, as indeed he always would.
I was also surprised to hear some noble Lords—I think the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and possibly the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy—advance the charge of complexity. Frankly, I think that is rather naïve. We are here in an extremely delicate area of industrial relations which has always caused considerable difficulty. A watch, for example, is complex. Complexity is no argument. You have to get the working parts working harmoniously. That is the secret, and it will not be accomplished by the Bill as it stands.
I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, who spoke of a likely enhancement of politicisation, but the enhancement of politicisation is more likely to come from the Bill than from the arrangements which are proposed in these amendments. We accept that an imposed settlement has become inevitable at this time, but at the same time we say that the Secretary of State must realise that, unless the teachers have an interim framework in which their voice can be heard, there is little chance of his imposed settlement being carried out, and much less of achieving peace in our schools.
I do not think the noble Baronesses, Lady Cox and Lady Carnegy, have quite realised that there are grave practical and administrative difficulties in imposing a contract in great detail between two other bodies both of which are hostile to it, and in putting the duty of implementing it on the very people who most oppose it. How can the Secretary of State expect the heads, after years of staff-room in-fighting, to take on cheerfully the role of fitting the teachers into a pay structure which they resist? The Secondary Heads Association has said,You cannot legislate to ensure the commitment of teachers; our fear is that many currently in the profession will simply ignore any conditions imposed by statute, and that the government will be impotent to do anything about it. In short, we see this proposed legislation as inevitably leading to further protracted periods of unrest and disruption in the schools.Going to the National Association of Head Teachers, who I think represent something like three-quarters of the head teachers in the country, Mr. David Hart the general secretary was quoted in The Times on the 2nd of this month as being worried that some authorities would do nothing to enforce Mr. Baker's 19-point contract. Under the now defunct ACAS agreement so painstakingly reached in November, the unions actually made major concessions on cover for absence, appraisal and hours of contracted work. And, what is more, they 443 undertook to police their side of the agreement. Without that sort of co-operation there is really very little hope of an imposed settlement working.
Now, in these amendments we come forward with proposals that have some chance of getting all the parties on board for an interim period—I repeat interim—that maintains an element of negotiating procedure but ensures that it cannot be sabotaged by minority interests, and which also ensures that the Secretary of State is heard at every stage and leaves the ultimate power in his hands.
On the point of the minority interest which I think was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Beloff—the 75 per cent. trigger for the recognition by the Secretary of State of the teachers and the local authorities body—obviously one has to choose a threshold somewhere. If you raised that threshold to, let us say, 85 per cent., you could then get a body representing 20 per cent. of the teachers, or 20 per cent. of the local authorities from the very outset, knocking the whole scheme on the head. On balance, I think 75 per cent. seems to be a fair percentage to trigger recognition of the representative bodies.
Unless some mechanism is in place, and we believe ours is the best, it is extremely likely—indeed we have already been told this—that there will be further disruption. And, as Mr. Hart said, what we now need is a lengthy period of peace for the sake of the children. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who mentioned the children.
I believe it is worth saying that these proposals have the support of the National Association of Head Teachers, of the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, of the Society of Education Officers and of the Professional Association of Teachers. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, himself had some connection with that body during the process of its foundation. Their Assistant General Secretary writes:I do hope that further debate on this issue succeeds since the Alliance initiative marks a positive and constructive way forward which this Association supports.So they do not appear to share the worries which were expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff.
I am sure that your Lordships will want this debate to draw to a close, but I believe that one other quotation from the Secondary Heads Association would be appropriate:It is the SHA's view that this Bill is a hasty, short term attempt to solve a problem of long standing, and it would be far better to develop a new machinery for the determination of Teachers' Pay and Conditions, by consulting all parties concerned, and arriving at a solution which will command broad support in the profession and in the community generally.".That is what we propose within the time limits specified by the Bill. I hope very much that your Lordships will be able to support these amendments in the Division Lobby.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, I think that all noble Lords who have listened to the debate on these amendments are grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for explaining very clearly a long list of 444 amendments. In dealing with these amendments, I ask your Lordships to bear in mind the reason that we are debating this Bill. It is because the existing system for negotiating teachers' pay, the Burnham Committee, which is representative of the local authority employers and the teachers' unions, has for a long time been unable to achieve a consensus on how teachers' pay ought to be structured. While that has been happening, there has been quite severe disruption in our schools, and, as my noble friend Lord Elton reminded us, those who have suffered have been the children. That is why my right honourable friend has brought forward this Bill.
Clause 1 of the Bill abolishes the Burnham negotiating committee and Clause 2 sets up an interim advisory committee in order to give everyone time to decide on a workable new system for teachers' pay. As your Lordships know; my right honourable friend is accompanying this Bill with a very substantial pay offer. However, these amendments would set up a very different and a more powerful committee. The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, pointed out that among the amendments, there are some which say that the committee is to be advisory, but one has to bear in mind that, under Amendment No. 7, appointments to the committee could be vetoed by the teachers or the local authorities. That sounds suspiciously like a packed jury. As my noble friend Lord Beloff cogently argued, it certainly would not produce an independent committee.
The amendments would set up two more committees. One is to be called a teachers' representative body, and I join with my noble friend Lady Cox in being unable to find anything in the amendments which would prevent the larger unions simply excluding the smaller unions—for instance, the Head Teachers and the Professional Association of Teachers, which my noble friend reminded us stands for not going on strike.
Then there is to be an employers' representative body to represent the local education authority. Apparently the governors of aided schools are to have no place on that body, although they employ 20 per cent. of the teachers of this country. As with the teachers' body, some local education authorities could undoubtedly be excluded, but if noble Lords are saying that the job would be done properly and absolutely fairly, we should have a committee consisting of over 100 members.
When the new committee got down to work, it would invite evidence and representations from the teachers' and the employers' representative bodies. Apparently this process could deal with any matter concerning pay and conditions, so the weight of evidence could be voluminous, although it would not include evidence from those teachers' unions and those local education authorities which had been kept off the representative bodies; nor by right would it include views from the voluntary schools.
Under the amendments, my right honourable friend would be allowed to submit his ideas and then the new committee would decide. However, as the new committee would mainly consist of people sympathetic to the local authorities and the larger teachers' unions, I put it to your Lordships that this 445 would not be an independent review of the kind for which the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, was calling. Nor would it be anything like one.
My noble friend Lady Carnegy criticised these amendments as being a recipe for constant disagreement. I believe that my noble friend was justified in making that remark because there is a very unusual supplement to these proposals. If the timetable permitted—and by this time I think that the teaching profession would be becoming a little impatient—the teachers, the employers and the Secretary of State could think again and put in alternative recommendations, and if nothing could be agreed, there would have to be arbitration. Therefore, there could be as many as four alternative recommendations—not two, with respect to the noble Baroness—before the arbitrator. However, although it may appear to the arbitrator that there is something seriously wrong with each conflicting recommendation, under the amendments he would absolutely have to accept one of them. I understand that this is called pendulum arbitration, and I suggest that it does not seem very appropriate for the complex issues of teachers' pay and conditions.
Then, at the last gasp, after all that, my right honourable friend would be allowed, under the amendments, to go to Parliament and get the whole thing reversed. The Secretary of State's position in the deciding of teachers' pay and conditions is very important. I agree entirely with noble Lords who are proposing these amendments that it must be addressed. But these amendments would so prolong the process of negotiation that at the end the Secretary of State would be in an impossible position if he then felt that a recommendation was unacceptable. I suggest that a great deal more thought needs to be given to the position of the Secretary of State.
I began by saying that the reason for this Bill was that the Burnham negotiating committee on teachers' pay has more or less broken down. Yet these amendments would resurrect the representative features of Burnham. Indeed, the provisions of these amendments are more draconian because they would almost certainly exclude the smaller unions from the process. Then all this would have to be fitted into an enormously complicated system of negotiation. I suggest that the Bill is preferable. The provisions of the Bill set out arrangements for discussion, including discussion personally with my right honourable friend—I gave an assurance on that during the previous stage of the Bill—and for an advisory committee to give advice on intractable issues. I suggest that at the present time that is preferable to these exceedingly complicated amendments that are before us. It is on that simple ground that I ask your Lordships not to support these amendments.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, in replying briefly to this debate, we accept the proposal put forward by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, that at the last stage the Secretary of State's right to override, through affirmative action, should be confined to pay and not to conditions of employment. That perhaps would simplify the matter.
446 The main thrust of opposition has come, first, from a totally misguided interpretation of what we are saying by those speakers in your Lordships' House who have overlooked the fact that this is an interim proposal. There is no question here that we are saying that this is the last word on what should be a permanent solution. It is interim. I believe that that disposes of a good deal of the opposition from a number of your Lordships today.
My next comment will be brief. As a Member of these Benches, I was slightly entertained by the deep concern for the rights of minorities which was put forward by speaker after speaker on the Conservative Benches. We shall let that pass.
It has been said that these are extremely complex proposals. Negotiations and the settlement of pay and conditions is a complicated business. I would remind your Lordships that in some other countries the negotiation of a new agreement—for instance, for steelworkers in the United States—can take months. I believe that the length of time will be protracted only if, on occasion, it goes right to the very end of the proposed procedures. In the vast majority of cases it will not go to the very end. It could indeed be quite swift. As I said in opening, an experienced committee has a pretty good idea of what is going to be acceptable and what is not going to be acceptable. And so the proposals it puts forward will be tailor made in a form which makes it relatively easy for the authorities to accept.
The parties of course have a considerable incentive to accept. Therefore, while there is a last resort procedure to safeguard the position of the Secretary of State, it is extremely improbable that it will very often get to that stage; and, of course, "very often" does not arise because it is interim.
The objections that have been put forward—and I do not think that they are powerful—have not in any way met the major argument for these amendments. The major argument is that there is no support among the teachers for what the Government are proposing to do. No speaker from the other side has said that they have had enthusiastic support, or any support, from any of the teaching organisations. From this side we have pointed out that we have had support from the head teachers; we have had support from the Association of Assistant Masters; and we have had support from the Professional Association of Teachers.
Perhaps most surprisingly of all, we have had a letter of support from the Society of Education Officers. Your Lordships' House will be aware that these are the people who carry the greatest responsibility for education in this country. They are the extremely able men and women up and down the country who are responsible at local level for education. I understand that they have never previously intervened in discussions of this kind. But they are so concerned about what will happen if the Government's proposals go through that they have taken the extremely unusual step—and I have their letter here—of writing in support of these amendments.
The Government have not told us where their support comes from. They have not answered the point that I put at the beginning: how do they propose 447 to see that the conditions are carried out among nearly half-a-million teachers when there is no support for them? The Government must know that all law at the end of the day rests upon consent. They have not got consent. We have. I beg to move.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 124; Not-Contents, 151.448
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Airedale, L.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Alexander of Potterhill, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Leatherland, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Attlee, E.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Avebury, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Bancroft, L.||McGregor of Durris, L.|
|Banks, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Beswick, L.||McNair, L.|
|Birk, B.||Mais, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Bonham-Carter, L.||Meston, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Milford, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Nathan, L.|
|Bullock, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Northfield, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Phillips, B.|
|David, B.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Reilly, L.|
|Dowding, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Edmund-Davies, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Seear, B.|
|Ezra, L.||Serota, B.|
|Falkender, B.||Shackleton, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Flowers, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Foot, L.||Simon, V.|
|Gallacher, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Gladwyn, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Grey, E.||Tanlaw, L.|
|Hampden, V.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Tedder, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Hayter, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Henniker, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Hirshfield, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Hooson, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Hutchinson of Lullington, L.||White, B.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Willis, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Kennet, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Kilbracken, L.||Ypres, E.|
|Allerton, L.||Kitchener, E.|
|Ampthill, L.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Annan, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Arran, E.||Layton, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Bauer, L.||Lloyd George of Dwyfor, E.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Loch, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Long, V.|
|Beloff, L.||Luke, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Lurgan, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Lyell, L.|
|Blyth, L.||McFadzean of Kelvinside, L.|
|Boardman, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Brookes, L.||Marley, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Byron, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Caccia, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Monson, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Moran, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Morris, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mottistone, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Munster, E.|
|Cawley, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Newall, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Norfolk, D.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Cox, B.||Onslow, E.|
|Craigavon, V.||Orkney, E.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Pender, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Penrhyn, L.|
|De Freyne, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Derwent, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Portland, D.|
|Dundee, E,||Quinton, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Elibank, L.||Reay, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Richardson, L.|
|Elles, B.||Rodney, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Romney, E.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Elton, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Erroll of Hale, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Faithfull, B.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Seebohm, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Gainford, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Gormanston, V.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Strange, B.|
|Greenway, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Harris of High Cross, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Henley, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Hereford, Bp.||Torrington, V.|
|Hesketh, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Hives, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Hood, V.||Vivian, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Wolfson, L.|
|Kinnaird, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.449
§ 4.32 p.m.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 9, after ("until") insert ("the Secretary of State has satisfied himself that arrangements have been made in accordance with sections (Teachers' Pay and Conditions Research Unit) and (Arbitration procedure) and").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 2, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 3 and 4. I can claim credit for not speaking to 33 amendments, even though I cannot claim credit for the brevity of the amendments put down in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Irving.
§ In a sense many of the arguments about all these amendments have now taken place on more than one occasion. I do not apologise for that, although I heard the noble Lord, Lord Elton, suggesting that complex amendments might better have come at Committee stage and that there might have been a case for recommittal to Committee on the complex amendments moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. I cannot agree with that. The function of this Report stage ought to be to try to improve on the nature of the amendments put forward at Committee stage. If we cannot seek to go forward now, we are not adequately fulfilling our function as a revising Chamber. If we cannot learn from the lessons of the Committee stage and from the arguments put forward by noble Lords opposite us, whichever side we may be on, then I do not think we are adequately meeting our responsibilities.
§ I accept at once that the Committee has decided that a national joint council with a fully statutory provision for membership on the employers' side and the teachers' side is not acceptable to this House. That was made overwhelmingly clear in a vote at Committee stage, and I do not seek to revive it. However what I seek to put before your Lordships is something rather different, though still with the firm intention of maintaining negotiating rights for teachers and employers. Your Lordships will note that I always say "negotiating rights for teachers and employers", not simply "negotiating rights for teachers", although it is the teachers who have been most vocal in their support of negotiating rights.
§ The problem with any formulation which one might enter into in this House in relation to negotiation is that there is still no full agreement between the different groups of employers and the different groups of teachers on what the composition of any body should be. Therefore it is impossible to think that any precise formulation could merit both the agreement of your Lordships and the wholehearted consent of all significant bodies of teachers and employers. Therefore we come to the conclusion that the actual process of negotiation cannot be statutory; cannot be written on to the face of the Bill. It must be a matter for negotiation between the interested parties in this interim period. All we can do in putting forward amendments of this kind now is to help to facilitate that process, to help to ensure that any negotiating machinery set up is as well-informed as possible about the issues before it, and to ensure that the Secretary of State has full powers to see that it is so informed. At the end of the day, whatever negotiating machinery 450 has been set up and however it conducts the negotiations, we must ensure that there will be a full stop. It must be the case that, with failure to reach agreement, there shall be some arbitration procedure.
§ There is nothing new about this. All these procedures have been adopted at various times, and in particular they apply to other sections of the Civil Service. They find their origins, as noble Lords with an interest in these matters will readily recognise, in a report of the committee of Mr Justice Megaw—a committee of which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, was a distinguished member. They draw on the very detailed and widespread experience in industrial relations of that committee and its members.
§ What the amendments do is to provide the best possible framework for non-statutory negotiation. What they do do is to attempt to make the negotiating process itself statutory or to set out in detail the effect on other parts of the Bill. It would have been possible to put down another 32 amendments which would have spelt out the effect on the advisory committee. I have no doubt that the Minister has a very effective speech pointing out that the amendments will leave an advisory committee alongside the procedures that are proposed in the Bill. If he wants to be spared the trouble of reading it out, I shall gladly spare him the trouble. I recognise that there is an inconsistency there. I thought it important and I think it important that your Lordships should concentrate in this matter on the really significant issue of what sort of procedure can we adopt over the next three years which will be acceptable and avoid disruption in our schools.
§ I cannot leave the matter without referring to one or two of the speeches from the Government Back Benches. One or two noble Lords appeared to think that there is something improper about teachers saying that they cannot see how a Government-imposed settlement can be made to work without disruption in the schools, as if there was something threatening about teachers fearing—because it is a fear and not a threat—disruption in our schools if there is an imposed settlement.
§ I ask your Lordships to think about what will happen in the summer or autumn terms this year if the Bill goes through substantially unamended. It means that the Secretary of State will have to spell out not only the total amount of pay, but also the details, which he outlined at the end of October 1986, of the grades which are to be given the different rises, the steps on each grade and the numbers of promoted posts in each school as well as all the conditions of service which will be on the basis of his 19 points, I have no doubt.
§ In order for the budget which the Secretary of State has set to be implemented, the education authorities who have not been consulted will have to create those posts, otherwise less money will be available than has been promised. All these new posts carrying special responsibility will have to be imposed on the schools, and head teachers will have to take part in selection. There will have to be advertising for these posts. All this must take place before the budget proposed by the Secretary of State can actually be spent.
§ If it is suggested that it is the teachers who are proposing disruption and the teachers who are going to 451 cause difficulty at a time of imposition of a settlement, I believe that is totally misconceived. It is the Government's own proposals which are going to cause the problems because the Government are going to throw into the wastepaper basket all the advances which have been made in recent months towards an agreement on conditions of service and towards at least majority support for proposals on the structure of pay as well as for the total amount of pay. I do not appreciate the continued attempt on the part of some speakers on the Government side to put all the blame for disruption on the teachers who, let it be remembered, have not been involved in disruption of any kind since May 1986.
§ It is necessary to put those points on the record because the matter was raised in relation to the alternative proposals for negotiating procedures. There may be detailed defects in these amendments and it is certainly true that they do not sit as happily in the Bill, as drafted, as one would like. But those problems are not insuperable. We have here a formula, which is capable of being introduced very rapidly, of causing no delay whatsoever and of being adaptable to the needs of the employers and the teachers themselves. I believe that ought to commend itself to the House, and I beg to move.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, attributed to me the view that this Chamber should not be in the business of altering Bills at Committee stage, or indeed at Report stage—
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The noble Lord will forgive me: I did not attribute to the noble Lord the view that they should not be altered in Committee. What the noble Lord implied was that no new substantial amendments should be brought forward at Report stage.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, a fortiori, the noble Lord said that I had said that the Report stage should not be for modifications of changes proposed at Committee stage. We are dealing with a legislative vehicle and my view is that at Committee stage one brings forward the substantive changes that one wants to make, and that at Report stage one may alter the headlights or the size of the wheels but one does not bring in a double-decker bus with a brass band on the top floor, a debating society on the main deck and no conductor for either. That seemed to me what we were about to do.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
Was the noble Lord present at the proceedings on the Financial Services Bill?
§ 4.45 p.m
§ Lord Elton
I believe that one of the rules of your Lordships' Chamber is to make sure that one's procedures are always relevant, and I am concentrating on this Bill. The amendments in question have a number of objections that can be raised against them. I hope and expect that my noble friends will raise them all eloquently and that your Lordships will decide accordingly.
452 However, I am particularly interested to pursue one aspect which may be of very considerable importance. The amendment challenges what has hitherto been one of the fundamental assumptions of Labour Party economic policy and one of the few assumptions which is shared by the Conservative Party and therefore by the Government—that is, that it is necessary for central government to control not only central government expenditure but the totality of government expenditure. That includes expenditure by local authorities and the amount of borrowing which they require to make. Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to finish this speech because I shall probably go on to say a lot of other things that he may regard as mistaken and it will be easier for him to point them out to me once at the end rather than at intervals throughout my intervention.
In the proposed new clause put forward in Amendment No. 3 in subsection (3)(a) and by reference in Amendment No. 4 at subsection (6) a restrictive power is given to the Government in the person of the Secretary of State; but it is only to set a limit on the money spent by central government. The local authorities are left free to spend as much, to raise as much by rates and to borrow as much, as they want to, regardless of the national interest, regardless of the block grant, regardless of interest rates, and so on. In other words, they need consider nothing except their own immediate conception of their own immediate interests when it comes to that part of their expenditure.
I am certain those terms were clearly intentionally drafted to exclude any restriction by central government on local government expenditure except in regard to money provided by central government. On the face of it that appears to be the purpose of the amendment and I must ask the noble Lord to explain, either in an intervention when I sit down or when he winds up, whether this is an unintentional change of his party's policy which is endorsed by his party and presumably was discusssed at their seaside gathering last week, of which I know very little, or whether it is in fact a departure from Labour Party policy which does not have the authorisation of the party, in which case of course he will not be asking us to vote for it and, if he does carry it, it will be an embarrassment to him.
This is not a trivial matter. It always gives pleasure to noble Lords on the Back-Benches on both sides to suggest that their Front-Benchers are somehow out of step with the executive, the Cabinet or whatever. I must admit that there is a certain piquancy in that; but the fact is that the impact of local authority spending on national economics is of crucial importance. I am sorry to go on about my experience. It is not particularly relevant except in this: I had to answer in your Lordships' Chamber for the decisions of central government on central financing, and the really critical point of tension between central government and local government is the amount of expenditure by local authorities. We had a debate last Wednesday on a Motion introduced by my noble friend Lady Cox, in which we discussed the critical importance that this has.
The noble Lord, by his amendment, is in fact surrendering the control of a very large and important slice of local authority spending and borrowing; and I 453 think that your Lordships ought to be aware of that as well as of the technical educational matters when deciding on the amendment.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, I should very much like to speak in support of these amendments. Failing the amendments I have put forward, they would be my choice. I am particularly pleased to see them here because, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said, they are based on the recommendations of the Megaw Committee, consciously or not. That committee sat, after all, for a period of over a year considering the pay of non-industrial civil servants. They came up with proposals which the Government have never fully accepted. A very great deal of work went into the report and many very expert people contributed to it. In my view it is by far the best proposal for a permanent arrangement in respect of non-industrial Civil Service pay. In this case it would be very simply applied to teachers' pay. It has been brought forward as a permanent arrangement. When the interim period is over, I believe this has a great deal to be said for it, and I should like very strongly to support these amendments.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, admitted, in his usual agreeable way, that this series of amendments would start a debate which was to some extent a rèchauffè of the debates which we had at Committee stage. As those debates were quite heated, as he will recall, "rèchauffè" is perhaps an appropriate description of what this does.
He also admitted—and this is perhaps rather damaging—that by putting these two additional bodies into the Bill while not proposing the removal of the advisory committee or of the ordinary machinery which is already in the Bill, he is making what colloquially one could call "a dog's dinner" of the Bill. We are after all at Report stage. If he were to carry this amendment the Bill would go forward to Third Reading, where by convention and by tradition amendments of major importance are very rarely made, in a completely muddled and confused state.
I venture, if I may, a mild protest that the noble Lord speaking for the Opposition from the Opposition Dispatch Box does not bother when putting forward these amendments to put forward consequential amendments, so that if your Lordships were by any chance to accept his amendment the Bill, whether sensible or not, would at least be a coherent and logical whole. What he is asking your Lordships to do now, if he takes this to a Division, is to make a complete nonsense and jumble of the Bill and perhaps leave it to somebody else on Third Reading to try to tidy it up. I suggest that that is not really treating your Lordships' House properly; nor, to quote his own phrase, are we behaving like a responsible revising Chamber.
The proposals themselves are odd and really only come back, as the noble Lord himself did in his speech, to this sacred formula of preserving the negotiating rights of employers and teachers. We have had all this over again. There is nothing in the Bill, as I understand it, to prevent the local authorities and the teachers negotiating to their hearts' content; and if 454 they come out with a sensible and acceptable solution quite clearly the advisory committee would be interested in it and, more importantly, so would my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. So I really suggest to the noble Lord, as to your Lordships, that to go on and on about these so-called negotiating rights and suggest that the Bill would, apparently, automatically wipe out any such negotiations is unrealistic and is not really taking us very far.
I was moreover very interested in what the noble Lord said about disruption—that apparently if there were to be disruption in the schools it would not be the responsibility of those people who were actually effecting the disruption. That is the substance of what he said. What he is saying—and, if I may say so, it amounts to a threat—is that he believes (and several noble Lords have already on the previous set of amendments referred to this) that if the Bill goes through in its present form there will be disruption. There can only be disruption if the teachers see fit, despite the fact that the Government are proposing quite substantial increases in their remuneration, nonetheless to abandon their duties in the schools.
I very much hope, for their sake as well as for the sake of the children, that the teachers do no such thing. They have already damaged themselves very severely in the eyes of public opinion generally by showing a willingness in pursuit of their own ends to prejudice the position and chances of the children for whom they are responsible. Those who were brought up, as I was, to regard the teaching profession as an honourable profession have been disillusioned and depressed by this. And your Lordships must reflect on the response that there must be from the children themselves, to know that the teacher who has appeared to be so interested in their progress, who has shown care and responsibility for them, is suddenly prepared, either of his own volition or on the dictates of his union, to throw all that away and prejudice the academic chances of the child.
As my noble friend Lord Elton said, this is quite a different form of disruption and a much more damaging one than the ordinary industrial dispute. Coalminers come out on strike, as they have been known to do. Eventually they go back and the coal is built up again. But if a child misses a year or two years of proper education, that can never be put back. That is why the teaching profession was always in the past so highly regarded, because it had this special responsibility.
I hope that we shall get this bluntly clear. The teachers' unions—and of course it is the unions rather than the teachers that we are really talking about in this context—may or may not get all that they think they want. They are certainly getting an advance in their earnings of a quite substantial degree. If there is to be any more talk of disruption resulting from this Bill, and from the Government's decisions, let us be quite plain as to where the responsibility for that disruption lies. It does not lie with the Government; it lies with those who disrupt.
After all, most of us from time to time are annoyed by what governments do to us. Sometimes we are annoyed by, for example, decisions on taxation. But in a democratic society such as ours, citizens have to accept the legislation and the legislative decisions of 455 Parliament. Although, as I asked, the teachers do not seem to be getting a bad deal out of this—indeed they seem to have been offered a proportionately higher improvement in their remuneration than almost any other section of society—even if that were not so it is quite wrong for us to conduct this debate on the basis that unless they get exactly what they or their unions want there will be disruption.
The position is that the Government are proposing an interim period during which we can try to get right what has plainly gone wrong. All your Lordships who have spoken earlier have accepted that the Burnham machinery has gone wrong. I think most of your Lordships accept that it will take some time to get it right and the Government's proposal is for a period during which that necessary work can be done. I hope that it will not be work subject to a time-limit, because work subject to a time-limit is apt to be botched. But, so far as the Government are concerned, it will obviously be done as quickly as possible because it is in no one's interest to leave the matter open for so long.
As regards these proposals, quite apart from the weaknesses to which my noble friend Lord Elton referred, the great weakness, as he pointed out, of relaxing control of local authority spending, given the record of the local authorities about which we were talking last week, is a very serious omission indeed. Given that, and given the mess the amendment will make of the Bill, I hope that your Lordships will say to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, "Thank you very much. We would rather not".
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
My Lords, I should like to make one comment on what the noble Lord has just said. I share his view that when I was young the teaching profession was regarded as an honourable profession and I offer no excuse for recent developments. But what the Secretary of State proposes is recognition of an honourable profession is offering a teacher at starting point just £2,000 a year less than is offered to a bus driver.
§ Baroness Turner of Camden
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene, but the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has made a few comments which I feel cannot go without some comment from me. First, he seemed to imply that it is the teachers' unions who are responsible for the disruption and that somehow or other they are not representative of their members. Like many others of your Lordships, I have received lots of letters on this issue; more letters, I think, than on any other issue since I came into your Lordships' House. A very large number of those came from individual teachers and from groups of teachers working in schools.
I had one this morning from a group of teachers in a school. What they say is instructive and interesting, because they are not talking about coming out on strike or anything like that. What they are saying is that they perceive the Bill, as unamended, as being a threat to take away rights that they have enjoyed for a very long time. The say in their letter:The Government can in this way legislate away teachers' democratic rights but they cannot force teachers to be enthusiastic or willing. Indeed this Bill would actually discourage and demoralise 456 teachers and the flood of teachers leaving the profession will continue.It is that kind of issue that we have to be concerned with in your Lordships' House.
I support the amendments in the name of my noble friend. I do not think that they make a dog's breakfast of the Bill. It is a very bad Bill, in my view. The amendments seek to write into the Bill some role for teachers through their organisations and some means by which issues can be resolved. One of the ways in which issues can be resolved is through arbitration and an arbitration board. I speak as one who has served for many years on the Central Arbitration Committee. I believe in arbitration as a way of settling issues, sometimes very complex issues. On the CAC we had to deal with numerous complex issues, often covering many thousands of employees, but we nevertheless managed to arbitrate out way through those difficulties.
For those reasons, I commend the amendments to the House. If passed by your Lordships they will at least demonstrate to teachers that we value them and that we regard them just as highly as other public servants who have some form of input into the way in which their terms and conditions are negotiated.
§ 5 P.m.
§ Lord Butterworth
My Lords, I ask the House to reject the amendments on three grounds. First, the Advisory Committee on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions is flawed because by giving the Secretary of State the power only to limit central government expenditure it attempts to make an important and fundamental constitutional change by a side wind, by something in the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Bill. If Parliament were to be concerned to alter that control it is my submission that this would not be the right or proper way to do it.
Secondly, we have been given no explanation of how the two new bodies, the advisory committee and the arbitration board, would work with the interim advisory committee. This is probably because the advisory committee on pay and conditions and the arbitration board are really seen as pieces of permanent machinery and are not part of any interim machinery for dealing with the present problem. I suggest that at this stage it would be much too early to settle details of arbitration machinery.
It has been said on all sides of the House that what we wish to see is a short period during which negotiating machinery will be laid down. That is the aim which we must seek to achieve. Once we have the permanent machinery, settlements, I hope, will be achieved by negotiation. To begin thinking about writing in arbitration is the wrong way. Once one starts writing in provisions of arbitration, those who are charged with negotiations begin to think of the stance they will take before the ultimate arbitrators instead of getting down to negotiation. Negotiation comes first, and it is only when negotiations fail that one repairs to arbitration.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, we have heard many different excuses from the other side of the House as to why the various amendments put forward from these Benches and from the Alliance Benches 457 would not be an effective solution to the problem. At Committee stage we heard that the proposals were a replica of Burnham, that they gave no role to the Secretary of State and that they made no recognition of the Secretary of State's financial contribution to teachers' pay. In the debate today we have heard a different set of excuses.
For instance, we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and just now from the noble Lord, Lord Butterworth, that the proposals do not recognise the Secretary of State's financial contribution and do not recognise the contribution that the local authority would make and therefore the repercussions on the economy as a whole. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said that the proposals are a dog's dinner. I wonder just how much support there is for the various excuses that have been put forward from the Government Benches and whether the real reason for the opposition is the one put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, who in replying on behalf of the Government to the previous debate said (I think these are his exact words):These amendments would resurrect the representative features of Burnham".In other words, what he was really saying is that the Government do not want the representative features. We ought to hear from the Minister when he comes to reply whether this is the fundamental basis of the Government's case.
There are three possible ways of dealing with the situation. First, we have a body which is capable of negotiating and would involve the employers' and the employees' representatives. When I say "employers' representatives" I take account too of the contribution of the Secretary of State. That is one way to deal with the situation. The second way, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, is to have an independent review body. It would have to be a real independent review body such as we have for doctors' pay. The third alternative is for the Secretary of State himself to undertake the powers of imposing terms and conditions on the teachers.
We recognise that because of the time factor the settlement in the current year will be imposed by the Secretary of State. I must confirm that from the correspondence I have received I have gained the same impression as many other noble Lords and noble Baronesses that this Bill does not carry the confidence of the teachers. If we really want to settle the problem in our schools we have to put forward some kind of arrangement that will gain the confidence of the teaching profession as well as that of the other parties involved. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said when she introduced her amendment, unless you can carry the support of the nearly half a million people employed in the teaching profession there will be no peace in our schools.
If the Government are concerned about safeguarding the academic future of the children—this point was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and I think we would all subscribe to that—they will recognise that they must give some negotiating rights to the two parties involved. I feel sure that by doing so they will create the good will in which permanent machinery can be agreed upon in 458 the years between now and the end of March 1990, when this Bill is due to expire.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, fairly said at the beginning of his remarks that these amendments do not attempt again to put before the House the idea of a national joint council. Indeed, these are amendments which come from a lesser known part of the Burnham negotiating machinery. I understand that for several years now the secretariat of the Burnham Committee has produced an annual pay data report designed to inform the work of the committee. Amendment No. 3 which is the first of the substantive amendments, would give this work to a research unit within the Office of Manpower Economics. Its reports would inform negotiations but it does not appear that the employers' and teachers' organisations would be bound by them in any way.
Nothing is said in the new clauses about the form of negotiations: so presumably that would be left to the employers' organisations and teachers' organisations. They might, for example, decide to exclude an organisation such as the Professional Association of Teachers from the negotiations just as they tried to exclude the Association of Polytechnic Teachers in the further education sector—a matter which I hope has now been put right by my noble friends Lady Cox and Lord Beloff in an amendment carried during the previous stage of the Bill. However, I suppose it is more likely that we would find the Burnham Committee would be reconvened without the Secretary of State's representatives. In answer to the direct question put to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, I believe that that would be going down a one-way road and it would not be in the right direction.
The role of my right honourable friend under these arrangements seems to be decidedly limited. This is the 64,000-dollar question on what the position of the Secretary of State should be in determining pay. My right honourable friend would refer matters to the research unit and he could make proposals to it; but under these amendments he appears to have no place in the negotiations following a report. He could specify a limit on central government's contribution to a settlement but not on the settlement itself.
That is the point to which my noble friend Lord Elton drew attention. It is an important point. Both Labour and Conservative governments have always hitherto concerned themselves with the total of teachers' pay and the total of expenditure on education. It is necessary to do that if education is to be planned alongside competing national priorities such as the health service, defence and pensions. It appears from these amendments that noble Lords opposite now believe that the total education expenditure is a matter to be left entirely to local authorities. They would specify only a government contribution. This is a very big issue, and not only do I disagree with that but I suggest it is something which simply cannot be dealt with in this Bill.
We then come to the second new clause under Amendment No. 4 about which my noble friend Lord Butterworth delivered a few well-chosen words. It appears from this amendment that arbitration could be invoked by the teachers, the employers or my right 459 honourable friend only when the teachers and the employers have failed to agree on something. That is something which has not come out of this afternoon's debate. It is a seriously diminished role for the Secretary of State. If one considers how this procedure would have worked in recent months it appears that the Labour-controlled local authorities and just two teacher unions would have been able to impose the proposals emerging from the Nottingham-London talks in November, even though those proposals were opposed by the Government, are opposed by many teachers, and are, I believe against the interests of the education service. I suggest that that part of Amendment No. 4 cannot be right.
I have to confess that the Government see nothing in these proposals which would produce satisfactory machinery for determining teachers' pay and conditions of service. The members of Burnham Committee would be at it again, informed but not bound by reports from the Office of Manpower Economics. The Government would have to abandon responsibility for planning education expenditure; and the poor old ratepayer would have no protection against extravagant settlements.
Apart from the procedural point effectively dealt with by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, I believe the arrangements in the Bill as drafted will be far better, bearing in mind that we are talking about an interim period. There will be an independent advisory committee. After it reports there will be discussion involving the teachers, local authorities, voluntary school interests and the Secretary of State in a way that has not happened under the Burnham procedure. The Government's responsibility for planning public expenditure as a whole will be properly reflected with a substantial pay offer.
I conclude by saying that I join with my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter in saying that I believe that the Bill contains the best arrangements which we can work out at the present time. They certainly provide no reason for what is very unattractively called industrial action by a great profession which can only damage opportunities for children. It is on those grounds that I stand by the Bill and resist the amendments.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, there have been four strands in this interesting debate. I refer to strands from the other side of the House. My noble friends will forgive me if I merely thank them for their contributions, as I do the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, rather than go into detail on what they said.
The first is a procedural point which can be dealt with rapidly. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, is opposed to the idea of introducing on Report amendments which would require further amendment at Third Reading and believes that those further amendments are not spelt out fully on the Marshalled List today. I think I represent the noble Lord's views fairly.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord has taken the point that I sought to make, and no doubt that is my fault. My point is that no attempt is made in this series of amendments to produce a coherent and complete Bill if they are 460 adopted. The Bill is left as a nonsense. I suggest that it is wrong for your Lordships to leave a Bill like that at any stage of the proceedings.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I understand the point made by the noble Lord and I value his contribution. I simply say in reassurance that the amendments which would be required at Third Reading would be extremely simple since they would take out two clauses. No major amendment would be required in any other respect.
The noble Lord, Lord Elton referred to the provisions of subsection (6) of the new clause in Amendment No. 4, as did the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. He suggested that this was a major departure from the policy of both Labour and Conservative parties in the control of public expenditure. Unfortunately the noble Lord concentrated only on subsection (6) of the new clause. This does indeed state that the arbitration board can only produce a binding decision if central government expenditure is contained within the limits imposed. However, the noble Lord neglected to point out that subsection (7) provides that even when a decision purports to be binding the Secretary of State can secure by order that such a decision should not be binding provided he is satisfied on grounds of national economic circumstances that such an order is necessary.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I had seen that as a possible interpretation. However, the idea that the only control by central government over this large slice of public expenditure should wait until the whole rigmarole of arbitration and consultation proposed by the noble Lord is concluded and put forward in a statutory instrument, and then to tear it up and leave nothing in its place as a result of a parliamentary debate, seemed so ludicrous that I did not think that it could be what the noble Lord intended.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I have two answers to that point. First, I should have thought that the Secretary of State would only want to use that reserve power as a last resort, and that is the way it is expressed in the Bill. Secondly, it is interesting that the noble Lord has no faith in the legislation of his own government over the past eight years on the control of local authority expenditure. After all, there are the provisions not only for setting targets and grant-related expenditure allowances but also for rate capping which could come into play if there were any proposals to use local authority expenditure in favour of teachers at the expense of central government expenditure.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, does the noble Lord propose rate capping as a method of controlling expenditure by a Labour Government?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, as I have just said, I propose that as a last resort there ought to be a control on all government expenditure and it is that which is provided for in the amendment. It is the noble Lord who lacks faith in his own Government's legislation.
The third strand of the debate was the issue of the effect in the schools of an imposed settlement later this year. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, chose to 461 use repeatedly the word "disruption". It was not the word that I used. I said that an imposed settlement that required local authorities and schools to change in detail their management structure and the number of grades and people on them as a result of a decision in which they had not participated could cause chaos. That is not the same as disruption. It does not mean that there would be deliberate action on the part of teachers to frustrate any intention; it merely means that the Government are going much too far in proposing to lay down the detail of the way in which an award should be implemented. That is not at all the same thing.
The noble Lord referred to the right of taxation and the resentment that there may well be at central government taxation. I ask him to consider how much more resentment there would be if the Government not only said, "You shall be taxed such and such an amount" but also, "This is how you will raise the money in order to pay the tax". That is the equivalent of the Government's proposal.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, would the noble Lord explain, from the point of view of the ordinary child, the difference beween chaos in the school and disruption in the school?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, the kind of chaos that I envisage—and I do not look forward to it with any pleasure—is that of posts for which there is provision not being filled and teachers not able to do the work that they are there to do because of the imposition in a great hurry (as it would have to be) of a completely new structure. That is the danger that I foresee.
However, the most fundamental point is also raised by a phrase used by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter which on any lips other than his I should have described as "sneering"; namely, "the sacred formula of preserving the negotiating rights of the teachers". He then used the words "so-called negotiating rights". If it is the view of the noble Lord that negotiating rights are not worthy of the protection of this House, and that is also the view of the Government, so be it. There is nothing we can do about that. However, it is a reversal of at least 150 years of development in industrial and social relations in this country.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord yet again, but as he has referred to me and quoted my words, he will no doubt be aware that I went out of my way to explain—I hope very fully—that under the Bill as it stands there is the perfect possibility of negotiation between the employers and the teachers' unions. To attribute to me any desire to abolish that is completely unwarrantable.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, there is a distinction between "negotiation"—anybody can negotiate—and "negotiating rights" which obviously has not become clear to the noble Lord. The distinction and the right that the teachers want to preserve is the right to have negotiations and therefore, inevitably, the right for their negotiations to have effect. That is being taken away by this Bill and it is 462 what these amendments seek to provide immediately, without any delay of three years. That is why I think it is necessary to seek the opinion of the House on this amendment.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 101; Not-Contents, 155.463
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Airedale, L.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Listowel, E.|
|Ardwick, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Attlee, E.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Longford, E.|
|Banks, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Barnett, L.||McGregor of Durris, L.|
|Beswick, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Birk, B.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Blyton, L.||McNair, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Mais, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||Meston, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Milford, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Buckmaster, V.||Morris of Kenwood, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Nathan, L.|
|Coggan, L,||Nicol, B.|
|David, B. [Teller.]||Ogmore, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Rea, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Ezra, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Falkender, B.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Seear, B.|
|Fitt, L.||Serota, B.|
|Fletcher, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Foot, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Simon, V.|
|Galpern, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Grey, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Tedder, L.|
|Henniker, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Hutchinson of Lullington, L,||Underhill, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Jeger, B.||White, B.|
|Kennet, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Kilbracken, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Boyd-Carpenter, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Brabazon of Tara, L.|
|Arran, E.||Brookes, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Bruce-Gardyne, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Butterworth, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Caccia, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Caithness, E.|
|Belstead, L.||Cameron of Lochbroom, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Campbell of Alloway, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Campbell of Croy, L.|
|Boardman, L.||Carnegy of Lour, B.|
|Carnock, L.||Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Masham of Ilton, B.|
|Cawley, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Milverton, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Molson, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Morris, L.|
|Cox, B.||Mottistone, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Munster, E.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Newall, L.|
|Deedes, L.||Norfolk, D.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Dundee, E.||Orkney, E.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Pender, L.|
|Elibank, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Portland, D.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Quinton, L.|
|Elton, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Reay, L.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Richardson, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Rodney, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Romney, E.|
|Gainford, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Salisbury, M.|
|Glanusk, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Gormanston, V.||Seebohm, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Greenway, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Gridley, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Grimthorpe, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||Strange, B.|
|Henley, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Hood, V.||Swinton, E.|
|Hooper, B.||Terrington, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Teviot, L.|
|Inchcape, E.||Teynham, L.|
|Ingrow, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Torrington, V.|
|Kinnaird, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Trenchard, V.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Trumpington, B.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Layton, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Loch, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Long, V.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Luke, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Lurgan, L.||Wise, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Marley, L.||Ypres, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Lord Nugent of Guildford)
My Lords, Amendments Nos. 3 to 15 inclusive already having been debated, I do not propose to call them unless any noble Lord has an objection. I now call Amendment No. 16 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell.
§ [Amendments Nos. 3 to 15 not moved.]464
§ Clause 3 [Power of Secretary of State to make provision by order]:
Lord Monkswell moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 3, line 2, at end insert ("but may not make provision for any remuneration, or part thereof, to be determined by the Head Teacher.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the object of this amendment is to protect the professional integrity and reputation of headmasters and to remove a possible source of industrial relations aggravation. One of the matters mentioned on Second Reading and late one night in Committee was merit payments for teachers. One of the difficulties with that is that we do not have on paper in front of us concrete proposals from the Government. We have some expressions by the Secretary of State in the media. Merit payments for teachers is one of the ideas that he has floated. It is the idea that we should reward good teachers better than we reward the not so good teachers.
§ I shall tell your Lordships an apocryphal tale that I was told fairly soon after I started in industry. A young apprentice, having just come out of his time, was approached by his boss with the story that the boss was going to give him a little money over and above what his peers were paid because he was considered to be better than them. That continued for several years until the young worker realised that instead of paying him more, the boss was paying him less than anybody else. That is one of the effects of a system of merit payments which is under the boss's control.
§ I do not intend to suggest that head teachers would indulge in that type of activity. However, if the Secretary of State were to include within the order a scheme whereby head teachers were able to determine a teacher's pay, or some part of it, it would be open to the criticism that they were not using independent criteria to assess whether the teacher should receive that remuneration. I am sure that the Government do not intend that.
§ If such a scheme were to be developed, the lowest level to which the decision should be devolved is the board of governors. I hope that the Government will accept the amendments on the basis on which it is put forward. I am not seeking to limit the Secretary of State's ability to promote a scheme for merit payments. The only thing that I am seeking to limit is the head teacher's ability to determine a teacher's pay. I go even further. I say that the amendment would not prevent a head teacher being involved in the determination of a teacher's pay; it would stop a head teacher determining on his own some part of a teacher's pay.
§ I hope that the Government will feel able to accept the amendment. I do not put it forward on the basis of making a party point or with the intention of changing the Bill's main thrust, but to safeguard the teaching profession, especially head teachers who have a trying task to perform. I beg to move.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I shall listen carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, says in reply to this amendment. I hope that it will be given serious consideration because with all the legislation that may be provided to do justice to the teaching profession no one knows better than the head master or head 465 mistress what the individual needs, abilities and conditions are in a school. They have an intimate knowledge of the school. No one outside education can replace that.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I rise to support my noble friend Lord Monkswell. I share his hope that the Government will be able to give the reassurance that he seeks and that it is not intended to have a kitty of merit payments solely in the hands of the head teacher. Apart from any other consideration, I am convinced that such a proposal if carried out—it is difficult to see from the Secretary of State's previous statements whether that is the intention—would be bitterly resisted by the head teachers themselves. Nobody would be more reluctant to take sole responsibility for giving our merit payments than a head teacher. If the Government intend that there shall be a more formalised way of rewarding merit other than by promotion, we shall have to listen to that with our usual care. However, the fear that my noble friend has raised is one which deserves to be dispelled and I hope that the Government will be able to do so.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I should say straightaway to the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, on the actual drafting of his amendment that the Bill does not provide that remuneration shall be determined by the head teacher. The Bill provides that remuneration shall be determined and paid to teachers by local education authorities in accordance with the scales and other provisions set out or referred to in an order. I hope that this first point meets the drafting of the amendment of the noble Lord.
In so far as matters are not prescribed in detail in an order, there is a government amendment, to which we shall come later, which, if accepted, would provide that discretion may be conferred on a local education authority, or that matters may be left for agreement between teachers and local education authorities. The Government's intention is that these questions should be handled at local education authority level. It is highly questionable whether the powers in the Bill, even if so amended, would extend to giving discretion to head teachers.
However, the noble Lord made clear that there is rather more behind the amendment. I hope that I can give further assurances. From his speech it seemed that the noble Lord had in mind that head teachers are frequently given power to recommend teachers in their school for promotion. Of course there is nothing new in that. As the noble Lord, Lord Somers, has said, who can be better qualified than the head of a school to recommend whether a teacher is moving in the direction of promotion or not? Clearly, any promotion would have to be confirmed by the local education authority which will pay the teacher at a promoted rate. But the head teacher, who knows his staff well, is likely to play a substantial role in the promotion process.
May I finally make it clear in answer to the noble Lord and to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, that the Government have no proposals to introduce merit pay for teachers. The Government think that the proper 466 way to reward teachers is through promotion. We believe that promotion posts should be available not only for those taking on extra responsibilities but also for the best classroom teachers. As a thesis it seems strange that there should be responsibility only if one goes out of the classroom. We would want to see this idea dispelled. We should like to see promotion for those who take on extra responsibilities, for those who make their way in the classroom, for those whose skills are in short supply, and for those who are working in difficult schools. I hope that that answers the points put to me on these amendments by the noble Lord.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, I agree absolutely with my noble friend. I know that it was not the intention of the noble Lord, but this would be a very unpleasant addition to the clause. There are many people who ought not to be allowed to give increased remuneration. Why pick out the head teachers, as did the noble Lord, Lord Somers? If anybody is in a position to have a view which ought to be taken into account, it is the head master who is responsible for the staff. To provide in the statute that the head master is the only person who is not to be given power would be rather unpleasant. My noble friend said that there would not be such powers unless supported by the committee generally. If a head master is told that he cannot play his part in providing leadership, his general standing is undermined. It is important to have the discipline and the leadership coming from the head master carried down through the whole of the staff.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Phillips
My Lords, before the noble Lord replies to this amendment, can I make this appeal? Before we come to the end of this rather dreadful Bill, can we be told something about the criteria on which the good and the not-so-good teacher will be judged? Perhaps I may say to my noble friend and to the noble Lord opposite that to use the word "head master" is enough to get one into trouble with the Equal Opportunities Commission. These days we speak of head teachers. This is one area where women have some rights.
I appreciate that this matter has to be dealt with after the Bill is passed. But it is a subject of real concern. How will one work out the criteria to say that a teacher in a school with highly intelligent children, probably with parents from professional backgrounds, who will learn naturally and pass examinations, is a better teacher because he gets results than a teacher in a school where there are deprived children from bad housing conditions and so on? How will such criteria be decided? I wish the Government joy of it. If we can have some inkling of how they will provide for this measurement, it will be extremely valuable for those of us who are in touch with teachers.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, if the House will give me leave to reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, the noble Lord, Lord Somers suggested more effectively than I can that good head teachers, and, I would say, education authorities, recognise good teachers in all kinds of ways, as do pupils and parents also. However, I take the point that the noble Baroness is making. If one of the legs of promotion is to be for a teacher 467 making his or her way through classroom teaching and not progressing to some responsibilities outside the classroom, then the process of recognition needs to be made as effective and systematic as possible by the early development and dissemination of a best practice for teacher appraisal. A group representing teachers, their employers and the Government, has already been set up to oversee a pilot project covering six local education authorities and additional government money has already been provided to meet the costs. I hope very much that this combined operation—which I trust will now go forward in six local education authority areas—will help on the question that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, has asked.
§ Lord Monkswell
My Lords, in replying to this debate, I thank those who have contributed. The first matter to which I must reply is the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, that it would not be the intention of the Secretary of State when making an order to change very much the way that teachers' pay is arrived at. We are faced with the problem that this Bill gives the Secretary of State, subject to the approval of Parliament, absolute power. The Secretary of State could completely tear up the way that teachers' pay has been determined and developed over the last 80 years and could start completely from scratch. I do not suggest that that is the intention of the Government.
However, there is one area of merit payments—if we may call them that—which gives cause for concern. I take the point that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead made that other people besides head teachers would have some knowledge of whether a teacher was good or how proficient he was. The noble Lord mentioned the education officers, the parents and pupils. I cannot conceive a situation where the Government would involve pupils in the determination of merit payments—but that is by the by.
If I may just touch on a point that was made about head teachers providing leadership, I suggest that the best way the head teacher can provide leadership is through the professional level of integrity that he exhibits and not in a very professional area of public involvement by the doling out of extra money. That is the way to bring discredit into the profession.
The Government have come back with some comments which give me some cause for hope. I can put it no higher than that. I recognise that this particular amendment was not discussed in Committee, nor anything like it. It is unfortunate, but I think it is a fact of life, that the Front Benches will be predisposed to discuss the great big issues of the Bill and may not find the time to discuss individual little details, but I hope that the Government will take note of what has been said this evening and give us further assurance that they are proceeding with the development of teachers' pay and conditions. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 3, line 3, leave out subsection (5) and insert—
("(5) An order may, in particular, as regards remuneration—
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a technical amendment. Its purpose is to make it clear that the type of arrangements embodied in the Burnham document which were accepted by teachers and employers can be covered by orders made under the Act or in a document published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office and referred to in the order.
§ There are seven different paragraphs in this amendment. I hope your Lordships will not feel that I am treating the House with disrespect if I say that it might be better if, instead of giving a brief description of each paragraph, I finish and then try to reply to questions which may be put about any of the paragraphs. I add one thing. This is a technical amendment. It is brought forward simply to clarify the type of arrangements which can be covered by orders made under the Act. I beg to move.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I suppose that in the strictest sense one could argue that this is a technical amendment because the words are recognisable, because we have seen these words elsewhere and because we know, as the noble Lord says, that they have been accepted by teachers and employers alike as being proper matters for discussion, proper matters for negotiation, proper matters on which decisions have ultimately to be reached when considering teachers' pay and conditions. On that basis we are not disposed to oppose the amendments, but I am bound to say that the kind of agreement which is reached by teachers and their employers in the context of free collective bargaining is by no means the same kind of agreement as that which might be reached in the context of an imposed order, which is what the Government are proposing in this Bill.
I do not think it is necessary to detain the House any longer on this matter, except to point out that there is an element of sleight of hand on the part of the Government in using items which are perfectly proper in the context of negotiation without significant amendment when the negotiating rights have been taken away.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, this amendment reveals the extent of the failure of negotiations to reach satisfactory conclusions over a wide area. Lest we should lose cotact with some of the realities of this matter, would the noble Lord confirm that under paragraph (f) of his amendment there are very substantial arrears of pay already waiting as from 1st January this year, but which are not yet determined and are unlikely to be determined until the Secretary of State exercises the authority that this Bill will give him?
469 If the report which I saw in the press was anything to go by, he is unlikely to reach conclusions much before Easter, which means that there are hundreds of millions of pounds of pay already in the pipeline. Nobody knows for certain how much they will get, and to a very large extent the allowances which are more prominent in the Secretary of State's scheme than they were in the agreed Nottingham scheme will presumably not be awarded until later; so we already have a delay factor written into the situation.
The next stage begins on 1st October when the second instalment of the settlement has to come into operation. This Bill gives the Secretary of State freedom to come to his conclusions on the part payable from October without any help from the advisory committee. So really 1987 is already taken care of in the hands of the Secretary of State without the advisory committee, and to a large extent the money is already in arrears. That is not a very happy condition for teachers to be in, so Is hope that in the final stage of this Bill the noble Lord the Minister will be able to give us some comfort on the timing of all this.
There is an ominous silence over the teachers' union position at the present moment. We are getting many letters from individual teachers, which rather suggests that we are hearing many voices instead of one or two. I think we must pay some regard to the state of mind of the teachers. There is no doubt that we must make this speedy and we must make it good. Therefore I hope that this provision for retrospection contains expeditious attention to the matters which are already to be effective, as I understand it, from the first of last month.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, both noble Lords, the noble Lord McIntosh, and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, talked about the arrears of pay, and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, specifically asked for assurances. Arrears of pay will date from 1st January. The speed with which the money is paid will depend on Royal Assent for the Bill, consultation with local authorities and teachers' unions about draft orders, and the orders being laid. Those now on promoted posts will get half-way to the 1st October allowance in payments in respect of 1st January.
Perhaps I may just say that my right honourable friend's proposals guarantee incentive posts to teachers on scales 3 and 4 and the senior teacher scale. I hope that answers what the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, specifically put to me.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 18 to 25 not moved.]
§ 6 p.m.
Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 26:
Page 3, line 22, after ("force") insert ("on or").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is a drafting amendment. The Government proposals have always included payments in two stages: on or as from 1st January and on 1st October 1987. Clause 3(7) as it stands refers to an order coming into force before 1st October. It was envisaged that this would allow such an order to provide for the bringing into effect of the 470 second instalment of a pay increase on 1st October. This technical amendment now clarifies the position to ensure that an order can be made to bring into effect the second stage of the 1987 pay increase on 1st October. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 27 not moved.]
§ Clause 6 [Duration of Act]:
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton moved Amendment No. 28.
Page 4, line 15, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
("(1) This Act shall cease to have effect at the end of three years beginning with the date on which it is passed.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 28, and at the same time I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 29 and 31. They all hang together.
§ The purpose of these three amendments is quite simple; namely, to bring this self-proclaimed temporary Act to an end by 1990, or three years after the passing of the Act. In Committee both the noble Lords, Lord Houghton of Sowerby and Lord Alexander of Potterhill, said that this was the single most important issue that was discussed at the Committee stage. I venture to say that it is possibly the single most important issue to be discussed at the Report stage. In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said that these were important amendments which ought to be looked at with very careful consideration—those were his very words. I hope that he will look at these amendments with very careful consideration. They are put forward by one who has supported the Bill from the outset.
§ I believe that the main purpose of these amendments is to help to restore the confidence of teachers, local authorities and the country at large. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, said earlier today that these proposals must be seen to be interim. He said "1990 and not a day longer". That is what these amendments seek to provide.
§ Many noble Lords have today referred to, if not boasted of, their postbag. My postbag has been quite slim. While in the House I have discussed these amendments with Peers of all parties and of none. There has been general consensus that these are the amendments which could unite the House regardless of party affiliation and I move them in that spirit.
§ It is not merely to gain the confidence of the teaching profession and the local authorities that I move these amendments. I do so for a technical purpose as I believe that it is a technical matter of considerable importance. I think that it is within the knowledge of us all that an Act should be either indeterminate or determinate. I have a list running to something like six pages of all the Acts since 1900 which contain temporary provisions. It may not be an exhaustive list but not one of the Acts contains such a provision as this, which claims to be temporary and is indeterminate. It purports to be determinate in some of the words that are used. The word "temporary" appears in the Long Title. The word "interim" has been introduced into the Bill, with reference to the advisory committee, by the noble Lord, Lord 471 Belstead. There is no question that the declared aim of the Bill is that it should be temporary or of an interim nature.
§ I should say that that declared intention—those words which I have quoted—is defeated by Clause 6, which is concerned with duration. In my submission one should not say in the Long Title and in the body of the Bill that these are temporary or interim proposals, and then go on to provide in Clause 6 for an indeterminate duration. These provisions do not match. There is an inherent internal contradiction. I should say that this is not just a technical point, though of course it is a technical point of some importance. I shall use a word which I would not otherwise use—it is a word which was used by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in Committee about amendments moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. The noble Lord said that they were futile. I say to the Minister, using his own word, that the word "temporary" in the Long Title and the word "interim" in the body of the Bill are futile in the light of the provisions in Clause 6 which provide for an indeterminate length of time for the Act's duration.
§ I believe that this matter is crucial to the confidence factor which I mentioned in opening. The Bill has my support. I believe that it was not only the duty of the Secretary of State to bring it forward but also a wise thing to do because the negotiations had ground into the dust. In my view people are so puzzled simply because of the integral contradiction in the Bill. They cannot understand how a Bill can be expressed to be temporary in its Long Title and in some of the words in the body of the Bill, and then have a duration which is indeterminate like any ordinary Bill. I believe that in a way the Government are trying to have it both ways; that is, if they have understood what they are doing. They are claiming credit for the Bill being only temporary and yet they are making provision for it to carry on indefinitely.
§ What is the precedent for this? Does the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, have a precedent for an Act which is expressed in the Long Title to be temporary but which has a duration clause which expresses it to have indefinite duration? I have looked and I cannot find a precedent, though I admit that my list may not be complete. The only thing to which I can compare this is the notorious Expiring Laws Continuance Act. That lasted for 25 years after the war and I believe that that unlamented piece of legislation was finally buried in 1970.
§ This Bill is an expiring laws continuance Bill. Clause 6 contains a provision for the law in the Bill to be continued annually for an indefinite period. The only Act to which I can compare it in that respect is the Expiring Laws Continuance Act.
§ On reflection, I am glad that I did not press to a Division my amendment to insert the words "temporary provisions" in the Short Title, because whatever the Bill may say to the contrary it is not a temporary provisions Bill. To say that would be a misrepresentation or a misdescription. However, if my amendments are accepted it would be a correct description and it should be a consequential amendment.
§ I believe that these amendments have merit in another sense. A determinate Act instead of an 472 indeterminate Act would concentrate the discussion. This is a fact of human nature which can be illustrated merely by reference to the annual sessions of Parliament. What a lot of trouble we would be in if the business of the Session did not terminate annually! The present provisions provide the worst possible conditions for achieving conclusions; namely, they are literally open-ended forever. There is no time limit whatsoever. This situation cannot be right, either in parliamentary terms or in human terms.
§ Secondly, I should say in favour of my amendment that it calls a spade a spade. The words "temporary" and "interim" become respectable if my amendments are successful. Thirdly, as I said at the outset, there is the confidence factor. The acceptance of these amendments would do more to bring a peaceful conclusion to this long drawn out dispute than any other amendment which has been moved either in Committee or on Report. I beg to move.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
My Lords, I very much wish to support the amendment. It is a major step to avoid the difficulties which might otherwise arise. A week ago I met a head teacher who was an Old colleague. He asked me: "Is this Bill really temporary?" I so much wanted to say, "Yes" but I could not do so. I explained to him the provision which enabled the Bill to be extended from year to year. His comment was: "Well, if both Houses of Parliament have approved the Bill, the chances are quite high that they will agree to its extension. Therefore it is not temporary".
If this amendment is accepted, it will be a clear indication that it requires the promotion of a new Bill at the end of three years. This would give a reassurance to the teachers and the local authorities that this was a period in which they and the Secretary of State would be under a very great obligation to find a long term solution which was acceptable. I very much hope that the Government may find it possible to accept the amendment.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, I trust that the House will not accept this amendment at this Report stage. It is not a practical amendment. I accept the theory as stated by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that "temporary" should mean "temporary", if that is what it is intended to be. But to be as specific as this would put the Government in three years' time in an absolute straitjacket. The amendment is explicit:This Act shall cease to have effect at the end of three years beginning with the date on which it is passed".One has to be practical in these matters. We do not know what is going to happen during the three year period. We do not know how this Act is going to turn out and how it will be worked. The Act automatically loses its effect on a date which may well be inconvenient and wrong. In the words of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, it would cause "greater chaos" by having to get some alternative quickly in its place. Such a situation would not be good.
I have a great affection for the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. He knows that. In guidance on matters concerning the working of an amendment his great experience is very worthwhile. However, on occasions he does not seem to be prepared to be practical in his approach. I think this is one such an occasion.
473 If in three years' time it is necessary for the Act to be confirmed exactly as the amendment would make it, then one is presuming that the government of the day would be deliberately wanting to prolong it for some reason or other which could not be acceptable by reasonable people. I see no other reason to expect that.
However, if the government want to extend the statute beyond the period where it ought to be accepted, then Parliament have very many powers available to deal with it. In moving this amendment, the noble Lord suggests that if we fail to pass this proposal nothing can be done. The government of the day would be absolutely free to carry on irrespective of what the Parliament of the day thought. But Parliament has so many powers and opportunities if the circumstances at the time justify bringing this to an end, as the amendment would say, and the government of the day are not facing up to it properly. It is not good parliamentary practice to put a future government in a straitjacket unnecessarily.
It could well be that it would be right exactly three years from the date the Act becomes effective to say: "That is an end of it and there must be something in its place." It may well be that that would be right. But, the way situations change and develop, it is just as likely that it would not be right to do it as specifically, and deliberately and immediately as that. It may be that we have to have enough confidence in the future to allow this to be ended properly and successfully, and not to write now an instruction which may not be appropriate in three years' time. I repeat that this would put the then government (whoever the government are then) in a straitjacket which is unnecessary. As a result of that, it may well be that we have disruption and chaos which is quite unnecessary.
I have enough confidence in the powers of Parliament and in whoever are likely to be the government of the day so far as it is possible to judge at this moment, that they would face up to the obligations under this temporary Act. But to tie Parliament down as specifically and explicitly as this amendment does would not be a good statute. I hope that we shall resist it.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, those who have the determination to take power rarely have the determination to give it up. This is the story of history, not only as between nations but also in institutional and political life. There are always excuses of a practical nature put forward in the way of releasing the power that was assumed for purely temporary emergency purposes.
Why is this Bill before your Lordships' House? It is because at a crucial moment the normal machinery that has lasted so long has failed to produce the requisite agreement for the Secretary of State to implement the changes which everybody recognises are already overdue.
We know that some blame can be assigned here and there for this failure. But whatever the blame, the fact is we are in this situation. The Secretary of State and the Government say that there is only one way to resolve this deadlock and that is to take the power to reach our own conclusions after taking suitable advice—this is in order to overcome the 1987 474 situation—brooking no delay unless the tortuous course of negotiations are to be continued with a possibility of deadlock at the end and the disruption, discontent and misery all around continuing all the time.
We are supporting the Government in taking the power. We now want them to support us by fixing a date for giving it up. Nothing is impractical in Parliament. When there are emergencies, legislation can be passed through all its stages in one day. Certainly for a renewal—if no more—the Government can come to Parliament and say: "We are in this position. We are heading towards an agreement. The position is hopeful. Give us a renewal of this provision", and they can explain to Parliament. There may be here and there some relaxation of the power in the hands of the Secretary of State, taking everybody with the Secretary of State and getting legislation through if necessary. But if there is no hope at the time, then I think Parliament has to face a difficult decision of an alternative. The noble Lord wishes to intervene.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, only because the noble Lord has just cited a situation where he said that if the Government of the day came to Parliament to continue because of reasons they could prove, Parliament would let them. Under this amendment they could not. Under this amendment it would cease to exist on a date that is named in the amendment, and so the circumstances that I tried to describe, which have now been described more graphically by the noble Lord, cannot happen if these amendments are passed.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
So the noble Lord thinks we should have a mini expiring laws continuation Act, does he, my Lords? We have been through all this before and over the years the behaviour has really been quite shameful in another place and in this House. We have discussed the renewal of expiring laws, dates were fixed, promises were made, the nation was buoyed up to fight the war and then all these suppressions and bureaucratic controls would go. It would mean the end of hostilities. Yes, the end of hostilities. How long did they go on after that?
If we fix the date, then it will concentrate the minds of all concerned very much indeed. I think that that is going to be the salutary message that we send to both the Secretary of State and the unions: "You must get back into a normal position of negotiation machinery at the end of three years, and if you don't you must come back to Parliament to explain why and come to us needing fresh authority to continue". I do not see anything impractical about this. It is a matter of determination. We are told that the Government have it, and if they want it they can do it.
In the meantime I am bound to add only this: there are some astonishing and disturbing stories going the rounds at the present time as to what is to be contained in the Conservative Party manifesto for the election on the subject of education. All sorts of suggestions have been made: a national education service, the Government are going to take the opportunity of having the power in their hands to take the teachers away from local authorities; to remove from local 475 authorities their responsibilities in the field of education and transfer them to central government. All sorts of things which are not really so outlandish as all that are being suggested and there is an argument in favour of all these things in present circumstances. But I think the message should be "Here we are. We'll do our best to deal with the immediate situation. At the end of three years we will tell you that the situation cannot go on as it is; we shall have to go back to Parliament; you may not get your negotiating machinery in the end if you cannot agree. We'll have to have a review body, but we are not going to go on as we are". That surely is the message to convey.
I do hope the Government are going to do this, and, if they do not feel disposed to do it, I do hope that the noble Lords on all sides of the House will regard it as the linchpin of the present Bill. It seems to me that it ends much argument about methods; it ends argument about ways and means by which the Secretary of State will do the job. It will not last long. Then I think we shall be able to assure the teachers that they can apply their minds quickly now to the new regime, for the authoritarian regime's days are already numbered from the very beginning. That, I believe, is what we ought to be telling the teachers, so I hope that following all the discussions we have had, we shall now take the crucial decision that the arrangement shall end in three years without further legislation. We already have the promise that it will be done without further authority from the affirmative resolutions of both Houses, but I think we want to be more specific than that. The resolutions of the two Houses are not amendable; they are usually taken late at night; the Whips go on and all that kind of thing, and I think Parliament really needs to have the opportunity of looking through the process of legislation at what may be intended at the end of three years. I do beseech the Government to reach this decision. If not, all I can say is that the Secretary of State is not the man I thought he was.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, sought very properly to establish his doctrinal impartiality on this matter by pointing out that he had supported the Bill at earlier stages. But of course, as he did not mention, the same is not quite true of the bearer of the second name on his amendment, whose unaccustomed silence has perhaps almost a sinister ring to it.
The position is really not quite so simple as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, sought to make out. In the first place, if there is a definite, final termination to the provisions of this Bill, that might well offer a temptation to one of the parties involved in what, as we have seen in the debates of this Bill, has been a highly contentious issue, to delay. There might be an unwillingness to come forward and come to an agreement, because anyone taking that line would be able to say, "We have only to dig in and then in three years' time the Bill will come to an end".
If the Bill comes to an end without there having been further legislation, I am not at all clear what the position will be. Does the Burnham Committee rise from its ashes like a ghost, or is there no system at all? There would be a state of, at any rate, very considerable uncertainty. It is not impossible, having 476 seen the attitude of certain sections of our society on this particular issue, that there would be a temptation—I put it no higher than that—to delay matters to the end of the three years hoping for good fishing in the troubled waters which would then result.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way, I think that what he is saying is a trifle fanciful, and clearly the important thing is that the Government have the whiphand. They can make it quite clear that if negotiations are not determined by the end of three years, then they will promote fresh legislation, so the noble Lord's rather fanciful scenario will not arise.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, suggested that I was fanciful. This matter has been under discussion for between two and three years already. The powers of delay of some of the parties concerned are very considerable. It is perfectly true that the Government of the day could legislate before the three years elapsed, but, having observed, as the noble Lord no doubt has, the time which this legislation has taken, it is clear that, if it were apparent that agreement was not going to be reached inside the three years, the legislation would have to be promoted very substantially before the end of the three years in order to make sure there was some legal structure in force when the Bill lapsed as it would under the noble Lord's amendment. One is therefore not going to have three years; one is going to have at the outside two and a half years.
Many things may happen in those two and a half years. One thing that I suppose is absolutely certain is that we shall have a general election. I personally have very little doubt as to how that will result, but I am not sure that my views are necessarily wholly shared by, for example, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, although he is such a sensible man that he may perhaps in fact share them; I do not know. But it is at least possible that there might be as the result of that general election a hung Parliament. If there is a hung Parliament, all experience shows that there would certainly be a second general election within the same two and half year period. If we are going to have possibly different governments, possibly different Secretaries of State for Education, it may well be that, even without deliberate playing for time by any of the parties to the educational problem, it will be quite difficult to have firm and final proposals ready to be presented to Parliament after two and a half years.
If we are predicting a hung Parliament, who knows what will happen to the Bill? It might well be defeated in another place. Then, when the three years are up, the position will lapse. Therefore, as none of us can foresee the future, we are really tying our hands quite unnecessarily if we accept that this three-year rigid limitation should be applied and that whatever happens in the political or governmental situation and whatever happens in the negotiations in respect of education, the chopper will come down after three years. As I have pointed out to your Lordships, and as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, was so kind to remind me, in effect that means that it has to be within two and a half years in order to make sure that the succeeding legislation is in place. I believe that we 477 would make a great mistake if we accepted this amendment. We are much more likely to reach a sensible agreement within the three-year period if that is not a rigid, final terminal date.
The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, rather suggested that if the Bill were to continue, this matter would be outside the control of Parliament. That really is not so. My noble friend very sensibly accepted an amendment, to which I gave some verbal support, to turn the original provision of the Bill, that extension of the Act should be by negative instrument, into the affirmative resolution procedure. I believe that he was absolutely right to do so. It means that the Act, as it will then be, will be unable to be continued without parliamentary assent in both Houses. It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, to say that it will be taken late at night. Will it? Would any opposition worth their salt allow a government to push this through late at night? Would any government which had worries about it be so foolish as to try to do that? What would be necessary is a procedure which allowed for full debate in both Houses. In that way the Government would have to justify the continuance of the Act, as it would then be.
I speak from some experience. No government will deliberately build up the number of affirmative resolutions that they have to carry through Parliament in order to carry on their business. Your Lordships will recall innumerable debates on amendments to transform negative procedures into affirmative procedures. All governments, whatever their political colour, are resistant to that, because they know that it will involve not only a certain expenditure of parliamentary time but possibly political and parliamentary risks.
Therefore, I think that we would be wise to leave the Bill as it stands. There should be the incentive for everyone to get on with negotiations and reach final agreement rather than have a situation created in which it is more than possible that at the end of two and a half years we shall have further legislation on this subject—possibly controversial, contested legislation—that stirs up all the feelings about which we have heard. I forget whether it is chaos or disruption which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, favours. If we leave the Bill as it is, I have very little reason to doubt that all parties will have the sense to see that it is wise within this three-year period to reach an agreement and, following that, to have final and permanent legislation which will make sense and which perhaps will bring peace at last to this very troubled profession. I suggest that we leave the Bill as it is.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
My Lords, I should like to say a few words on behalf of the teachers, as I do quite often in your Lordships' House. I, too, have received countless letters from teachers and from schools throughout the country. The letters that have impressed me most have not been those from the teachers' associations or from local education authorities—one expected those—but those from individual teachers. In particular, I have received letters from the entire teaching staff of two schools, signed by every member of the staff and by head teachers and deputy heads, who stand to gain 478 financially if the provisions put forward by the Secretary of State are carried out. That is a measure of the opposition to this Bill and the anxiety about it. In the circumstances I believe that the best and the most we can do in this House is to say that the effects of the Bill will cease definitely and without question at the end of three years. That will be the only reassurance that we can give to the teachers.
The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, spoke rather as though the teachers were the enemy. Of course, they have done many wrongs and their associations have done wrongs on their behalf. However, they are not the only ones; mistakes have been made on all sides. This unhappy situation would never have arisen had it not been for the under-funding of the education service over the years by successive governments. In the circumstances we must make the best of a bad job. I think that we all accept that.
However, there is one important point that I want to make in connection with the teachers. I hope that they are not threatening further disruption, at least not the best of them. But there is a danger that they will be under a sore temptation to do just what is required of them under the conditions laid down by the Secretary of State, and no more. Your Lordships know as well as I do that teaching is not one of those jobs which begins at nine o'clock in the morning and ends at five o'clock in the evening, and that is it. Infinite additional effort and enthusiasm can be injected into a job, and that is needed in the job of teaching. The children depend on it; the richness and variety of their education depends upon it. I fear that the way in which we are going at present will remove that vital extra input of the teachers. What would restore their confidence and give some hope for the future would be a promise of a restoration of negotiating rights as soon as possible. For those reasons, I strongly support this amendment.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, has said that the teachers want us to accept the amendment because they do not want this unpleasant condition to continue for more than three years. I fear that experience suggests that the one way of ensuring that this unpleasant condition continues for at least three years is to insert the amendment in the Bill. We are looking at inter-union strife—the politics of one union vying for position against another. Even during November last year we saw unions group themselves together and fall apart from groups. That will continue for as long as they see any advantage for themselves and their particular groups of members in continuing the dispute. And not all of them will be satisfied whatever is determined; they will continue ad infinitum, unless they can see that there is no purpose in so doing. If they were given a cut-off date at which the referee blows the whistle and then presumably calls for extra time, they would have a reason to play until the referee blows the whistle.
However, there are only two solutions to the major problem of how to set up the machinery. Either there is a system that is agreed between all the participants or there is a system which is imposed by the Secretary of State. If we say that there must be a solution in 1990, I much regret that that solution will have to be provided by the Secretary of State, and that is something which everyone on the other side of the House has said we wish to avoid. Therefore, from our 479 point of view, I hope that we shall look at the real interest of the teachers and not merely accept, because they say "Please accept this amendment", that that acceptance will have the result which they, without Parliament's experience, expect it to have.
Perhaps I may add a very short postscript to that. I do not want to make a major point of it. I see that to accept the group of amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, means throwing out of the Bill Clause 6(4) which was put in on Question by your Lordships' Committee, and the noble Lord did not then object to it. He has much more experience of precedent and procedure than I have. I merely suggest that it is an odd thing to do in your Lordships' traditions, and not one that I hope we should make a regular practice of, to reverse on Report a decision that we advisedly took on Committee. What really matters is that if we do this we should not be serving but obstructing the interests of the teachers.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, I supported the affirmative resolution procedure at all stages of this Bill. I respectfully suggest that that, having been accepted in its most important aspect, renders unnecessary the amendment proposed. I say with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton (because, as he says, we usually hunt together) that on this occasion, without any notice to him, I have gone off on my own, and I cannot go with him. Apart from it not being necessary to have the amendment, having listened to the speech of my noble friend Lord Elton and to the analysis of my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter perhaps I may say that surely this would be rather unwise.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, we have been at this Bill for quite a long time now, at Second Reading, Committee stage and now quite a lengthy session on Report. There is one point that I know is familiar to your Lordships; that is, that the negotiating system for teachers' pay sadly has not been working. There have been constant disagreements in the Burnham Committee leading to disruptions in the schools, and at the end of the day it has been the children's education which has suffered.
So it has been that my right honourable friend has brought forward this Bill which would set up an advisory committee on teachers' pay and conditions, but for an interim period. What is needed now is a breathing space, and we need experience of the interim arrangements before we can realistically hope to come to conclusions on the long-term machinery that we have to have. I say that we have to have that because—let us make no mistake—this Bill is a temporary measure. The Long Title says that it is to make temporary provision for pay and conditions of employment of teachers.
But in Committee the Government also accepted two amendments to underwrite the temporary nature of the Bill. First, we agreed that the word "interim" ought to be included in the title of the advisory committee in Clause 1, so emphasising on the face of the Bill its temporary nature. Secondly, we accepted an amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, to Clause 6(4) that any order proposing a one-year 480 extension of the provisions of the Act will have to be laid in draft, and the draft must be approved by both Houses of Parliament.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway for saying that he feels that, in this difficult situation, this is the right way to proceed, because it is a procedure which has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament, putting the matter of whether or not the Act can be extended at all firmly into the hands of Parliament. If the group of amendments that we are discussing, Amendments 28, 29 and 31, were to be agreed as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, would wish then we should find that the affirmative resolution procedure which we agreed at the last stage of the Bill would have to be crossed out of the Bill.
In addition, on behalf of my right honourable friend I gave your Lordships at the previous stage of the Bill an assurance which I think, in the light of the brief exchange between my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter and the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, was an important assurance. It was that if in a new and more settled climate an agreement could be reached between the Government, the local education authorities and the teachers' associations by early 1989 on the form of future permanent machinery for deciding teachers' pay, then it would be possible to legislate for new arrangements to start up in time to deal with the April 1990 settlement.
I added that the Government are entirely sympathetic to that prospect and would not unreasonably delay legislation to achieve that. Therefore the Government have done their best to respond in these three clear ways to the concerns expressed on this issue. But these amendments go much further than that. They say that whether or not new pay arrangements have been agreed the interim arrangements in this Bill would have to end early in 1990.
Quite apart from the fact that it is going to be a major task to get agreement on an issue on which there has been no agreement for the past six years and more, to put an absolute date on the Bill would have a particular consequence that none of us would wish to see. Characteristically my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter put his finger on it. In essence my noble friend pointed out that if the Act had an absolute cut-off date early in 1990 there would be nothing to stop anyone who was not prepared to make a serious effort to agree future pay machinery from just waiting for the Act to expire, so creating all over again the free-for-all situation that would be so disruptive to our schools and so damaging to children's education.
On the other hand, the possibility of extension could concentrate minds wonderfully on trying to reach agreement about new pay arrangements, which we all want to see. Of course much is going to depend on the willingness of the local education authorities and the teacher unions to think carefully and indeed radically about the pay determination process, because one thing is absolutely certain—we cannot return again to the Burnham system.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in moving these amendments spoke of precedents. Surely the first thought in our mind should be the practical one of leaving no stone unturned to get agreement on new arrangements for deciding teachers' pay. The 481 Government believe that this can best be done by the Bill as drafted. I say that because it has been made clear on the face of the Bill that this is an interim measure which can only be extended by affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
I have emphasised to your Lordships the Government's hope that new permanent arrangements can be in place for the April 1990 pay settlement. But the likelihood of that is greater if the possibility of extension is not completely closed off. It is for that practical reason, and for that practical reason only, that I ask your Lordships not to agree to these amendments.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, found my unaccustomed silence had a sinister ring. Let me assure him that I only delayed intervening in the debate, despite the fact that my name was on the amendment, because I believed—and I still believe—that it is in the Government's best interests to accept these amendments, and until the last minute I still had hoped that they were going to do so.
I say that as one who, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, believes that it is wrong for the Government to be taking the power to determine teachers' pay and conditions. I respect their point of view; I respect their concern for the temporary nature of the legislation, with which I agree; but our fundamental thrust on the Opposition side has been that the very taking of power is wrong and unnecessary.
Having accepted that a number of alternatives to taking power have not found favour with your Lordships, we must consider what is then necessary. I suggest that the Government would still, even at this late stage, have been wise to accept the amendments put forward, because these amendments would have gone some way to convincing the teachers that at the end of the day, by 31st March 1990, they would have given back to them those negotiating rights which are patently so important to them. I am not talking about the teachers' unions or entering into any of the debates that have taken place about the rivalries between teachers' unions or indeed the possibilities of political changes on the employers' side. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, made the case against the Bill more clearly than anybody else could have done when he pointed out the problems that there would be in reaching a conclusion to the talks and to finding a suitable conclusion for the permanent arrangements for teachers' pay and conditions with changes in government or with a hung Parliament.
What the Government are doing in this legislation precisely is taking teachers' pay and conditions into the political arena and submitting them to the risks of change with changes in the complexion of government and even worse changes if there were to be negotiations in the context of a hung Parliament. There could not be a clearer indication that the fundamental premise of this Bill is wrong than the admission that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has made, that changes in power at Westminster would affect the way in which teachers' pay and conditions would be negotiated.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, would not this same argument apply to the situation in which, in order to preserve some stability, some government would have to introduce an affirmative resolution to continue the Bill? Does not exactly the same argument apply?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, if the power to continue the Bill by affirmative resolution is taken away, then all of the thrust must be for government not to run up against the final deadline. All of the thrust must be for the Government, the employers and the teachers to reach an early conclusion and to take this matter away from the political arena. That is the fundamental truth behind the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and it is shared by those of us who are opposed to the Bill, while we recognise his support for the general precepts of the Bill.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, I believe I have a right of reply which I should like to exercise—briefly, I assure the House. I was disappointed by the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. I had hoped that when he was coming to the points I made he would answer them. The noble Lord said that he would come to my point about precedents, then he shied away from it. I asked him specifically whether there is any precedent for an Act which expressly declared itself to be temporary, to have an indeterminate duration to it. I still ask him that. I know of no precedent. I consider it to be an undesirable precedent—indeed, a dangerous one. I can just imagine how the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, would stand below the Gangway on the other side of the House if such a Bill were introduced by an extreme Left-wing Government. He would say how constitutionally dangerous and damaging it was. However, here is a Minister coming to Parliament saying that he is only taking these powers temporarily, but at the same time extending that power indefinitely. I am sure the noble Lord would use his great powers of advocacy to good effect in that situation.
I am worried that I have asked this question directly of the Minister—whether there was any precedent for what he is doing—and he has failed to reply. The House should not be satisfied; indeed, the nation as a whole should be aware that what is being done is unprecedented. I am pausing in case the Minister is finding a precedent meanwhile.
The procedural point I made is that the Bill is inherently contradictory. I do not think it is respectable for a Bill which is inherently contradictory to be enacted, certainly not to pass this House. I see that the Leader of the House is here. I ask the Minister to give an undertaking that between now and Third Reading he might consider whether it would make this Bill, which is expressed to be temporary, respectable if the duration clause were finite and not infinite as it is now. I have put forward one means of achieving that limit which is three years from the date of the passing of the Act. If that is unacceptable perhaps it might be acceptable for the Government to say three years and perhaps one additional year after that by affirmative resolution, or even two years. It would then be finite; but at present it is infinite and the original words in the Bill—the Long Title states that it is "temporary"—cannot be reconciled with the words of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, that the committee is interim.
483 This is an important constitutional issue as well as for every other reason which has been expressed on two, three or even all sides of this House. Reluctantly, in the absence of any olive branch from the Front Bench I shall have to ask the House to divide.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 28) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 93; Not-Contents, 137.484
|DIVISION NO. 3|
|Airedale, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Alexander of Potterhill, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Alport, L.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Kissin, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Attlee, E.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Bancroft, L.||Longford, E.|
|Barnett, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Beswick, L.||McGregor of Durris, L.|
|Birk, B.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||McNair, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Monson, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Craigavon, L.||Mulley, L.|
|David, B.||Munster, E.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Falkender, B.||Raglan, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Rea, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Grey, E.||Seear, B.|
|Grimond, L.||Serota, B.|
|Hanworth, V.||Shackleton, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Simon, V.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L. [Teller.]||Stedman, B.|
|Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Henniker, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Tordoff, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Jacques, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Jeger, B.||White, B.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Kennet, L.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Brookes, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Bruce-Gardyne, L.|
|Arran, E.||Buckinghamshire, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Butterworth, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Caccia, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Caithness, E.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Cameron of Lochbroom, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Campbell of Alloway, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Campbell of Croy, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Carnegy of Lour, B.|
|Boardman, L.||Carnock, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Cathcart, E.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Coggan, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Mersey, V.|
|Colwyn, L.||Molson, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Morris, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Mountgarret, V.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Deedes, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Newall, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Norfolk, D.|
|Dundee, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Elibank, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Pender, L.|
|Elles, B.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Quinton, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Renwick, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Richardson, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Romney, E.|
|Glanusk, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Gridley, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Henley, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Hives, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Strange, B.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Hood, V.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Inchcape, E.||Sudeley, L.|
|Ingrow, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Killearn, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Kimball, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Kinnoull, E.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Trenchard, V.|
|Layton, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Vinson, L.|
|Loch, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Long, V.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Lurgan, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Lyell, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Wise, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Wolfson, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Marley, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ [Amendments Nos. 29, 30 and 31 not moved.]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 32:
After Clause 6, insert the following new clause:
§ ("International Labour Office Conventions.
§ . Nothing in this Act shall empower the Secretary of State to act other than in conformity with the provisions of the International Labour Office Conventions 98 and 151.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have had assurances from the Government that it is their view that nothing in this Bill contravenes the provisions of the International Labour Office Conventions Nos. 98 and 151. Those assurances were given at Committee 485 stage in another place and also on Second Reading in your Lordships' Chamber. I am delighted to accept the sincerity of those assurances, but if indeed they are completely fully founded and there is no doubt whatsoever there can be no difficulty over the Government's accepting this simple amendment. It does nothing to restrict the Secretary of State or the Government in any way. It simply recognises our international obligations. I beg to move.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, we have been talking about precedent. I wonder whether there is a precedent for putting into a domestic Act a precise reference to international obligations. I should have thought it is a pre-supposition of any Bill which is presented to Parliament that the Government who present the Bill have made certain that it is not in violation of international agreements. We do not find references to a Bill being in accord with, for example, the Charter of the United Nations or the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore to put such a reference into this Bill, even given the assurances—perhaps particularly given the assurances—that the Government have given would seem a very odd procedure.
It could only be justified by an intention to at least cast doubt on the validity of these assurances, because it is such an unusual thing to do. If it were a commonplace in legislation, one could say, "Last week we inserted a reference to some provision of our legislation being in accordance with our international obligations: this will now become common form." But it is clearly not common form and, as I pointed out in reference to this particular matter at an earlier stage, it is wildly improbable that this could ever be regarded as a breach of these conventions because a consultative machinery has been accepted as the equivalent by a report of the ILO in 1968.
A number of very important countries, particularly partners of ours in the European Community, use consultation with the final responsibility resting with the Minister. These facts are known to the noble Lord opposite, as they are known to Her Majesty's Government. I therefore feel that there is something extremely peculiar in putting forward this amendment.
What the noble Lord is asking us to say is that a body—presumably the governing body of the International Labour Organisation—will suddenly come along and say that we could not do this thing. Countries on that governing body such as Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Iraq—countries which have an unparalleled record of devotion to the principle of free collective bargaining—would suddenly awake to this outrageous Bill which has been through the British Parliament. We have spent a long time debating this Bill. It has been interesting. Let us regard this as a sort of comic postlude to it and let us hope that the noble Lord withdraws the amendment.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, it is true that the Government have made it clear that they do not consider that if this Bill is enacted the United Kingdom will be in breach of its obligations under the conventions to which the noble Lord referred in putting forward his amendment. If the United Kingdom should act in breach of its international 486 obligations, that is a matter on which it must answer in the appropriate international forum—in this case the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.
This Bill will operate as part of the domestic law of England. If this clause is added to the Bill, it will make it possible to raise in our courts the issue of whether some action of the Secretary of State under the Bill is, or is not, in conformity with the provisions of these conventions. But our courts are not the proper place for such an issue to be determined. The Government therefore stand ready to defend their actions in relation to these conventions, but they will do so in the proper place, and that is in Geneva. I cannot therefore advise the House to accept this amendment.
Perhaps I may add one further point which amplifies a little what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has said. In listening to some of the arguments that were advanced on Second Reading, one might be forgiven for thinking that the arrangements proposed in the Bill by this Government have no parallel elsewhere. In fact they are comparable to those which exist in several other European states which are, like the United Kingdom, members of the European Communities. For example, in France teachers' pay and conditions are fixed by the government after advice from an advisory council and consultation with teachers; in West Germany the scales are fixed by Parliament after representations from the teachers' unions; and in the Netherlands the final decision rests with the Minister of Education after consulting teachers' unions, local employers and an advisory body. Far from departing from international practice, the interim arrangements appear to be firmly in line with that of our major European partners.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that response, although I note that it does not go as far in confidence that we are not in breach of the conventions than earlier government statements, in that she recognised that there could be a possibility of appeal to the International Labour Office in Geneva. I am grateful also to the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, for the comic relief. I think he was ascribing the comedy to me; but I am sure he is much more skilled than I am in these matters.
The Government will be aware that the National Union of Teachers was written to the International Labour Office and asked for a ruling on whether or not the provisions of the Bill are in conflict with these conventions and no reply is expected until later this month. It seemed desirable to have the continuing concern of the Opposition on this matter on the record and that is why the amendment was put forward. But in view of the replies given, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 33 to 43 not moved.]
Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 44:
Page 7, line 13, after ("the") insert ("Interim").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment is consequential to that accepted by the Government in Committee, which changed the title of the advisory committee by adding the word "Interim". The full title is now the "Interim Advisory 487 Committee on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions". A previous amendment inserted the word "Interim" in the interpretation clause. This amendment inserts the word "Interim" in the full title of the advisory committee to be included in the new provision of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 under this paragraph. No other consequential changes are necessary. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 45 and 46 mot moved.]