asked the Lord Privy Seal when the Debate on the School Teachers (Superannuation) Bill will be resumed?
I hope to arrange for the resumption of the Debate next week.
asked the President of the Board of Education if his attention has been called to the series of resolutions adopted at the annual meeting of the Association of Educational Committees regarding the growth of central bureaucratic control and its effect in discouraging local educational initiative and efficiency; whether he is aware that a local authority cannot put an additional radiator into a class room at a cost of about £3 without submitting plans to London, and that more money is at times spent on unnecessary deputations to Whitehall than would have done the job over and over again; and what steps he is taking in the way of reform?
I have seen a newspaper report of the proceedings at the Sheffield meeting of the Association of Education Committees. I am not aware that plans are required by the Board for £3 radiators, or that there is any justification for sending deputations to London to obtain sanction for such minor improvements. The Board have found it necessary, in view of the conditions, to scrutinise very closely local expenditure which they will be asked to recognise for the calculation of grant, and I believe that in this respect they have taken the course which is most in the interests of education and its future development.
Are not these local people, who have the handling of education, likely to know best how local efficiency in education is to be attained?
I wish I could say that was always the case.
Where it is the case, will the right hon. Gentleman give encouragement to local people to show their capacity?
Certainly, the fullest encouragement is given.
Teachers (War Work)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of the number of teachers in primary and secondary schools in this country who, being physically unfit for active service, previous to conscription entered war work of various kinds essential to the defence of the nation and Empire; and whether the period of absence from actual school duties of such teachers wil be recognised in the examination of claims for superannuation?
The Elementary School Teachers (War Service Superannuation) Act, 1914, provided that any service by a certificated teacher in connection with naval or military operations in the late War, which the Board considered might properly be treated in the same manner as actual naval or military service, might be recorded for the purpose of the Elementary School Teachers (Superannuation) Acts, 1898–1912, and the Act of 1918 gave the Board power to treat such service by other teachers as well as certificated teachers as recognised or qualifying service for the purposes of the Act of 1918. Each case must, however, be considered on its merits.
Does that mean that every service, except actual naval and military service, is excluded?
asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the number of teachers who, having been declared medically unfit for active service during the process of the recent great War, relinquished their professional duties and. took up clerical and other work in connection with War organisation; whether these teachers were given to understand when they thus took such duties in re- lation to the War as they were competent to discharge that their professional prospects would not be affected; whether the Ministry of Education has now decided that the period of their absence from school work must not be included in fixing their position in the scale of salaries to which they are entitled; whether he is aware that this decision on the part of the Minister of Education means that in the Birmingham area teachers have suffered individual losses of salary amounting to as much as £40 per annum; that, in consequence of this decision in regard to the War services which they performed, the point of time at which they reach their respective maximum salaries has been extended by several years; and that the loss inflicted upon individuals may amount to several hundreds of pounds; and whether the Government will take immediate steps to remedy this grievance on the part of the teaching profession by recognising in the case of those teachers who were not conscripted and who are not conscientious objectors, as in the case of all other services, their periods of War service as being included towards promotion and payment of salary?
My attention has been called to a number of cases of the kind referred to. The Board are in no way responsible for any misunderstanding such as is indicated in the second part of the question. The Burnham Committee recommended that full allowance should be made for any service with the Forces of the Crown, and I have issued a Circular, of which I will send the hon. Member a copy, indicating the extent to which the Board have been able to accept this recommendation. I cannot see my way to extend the scope of the Circular so as to include War service other than service with the Forces of the Crown.
Does not my right hon. Friend think that great injustice will be inflicted on these teachers—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—in view of their work at a time of stress?
There is a very clear distinction to be drawn between actual War and other services.
Provision Of Meals
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that a Circular has been sent to the Aberdare education authority instructing them that the Education (Provision of Meals) Act is not to be applied in connection with chronic or periodic depression; if he will state the conditions under which it can be applied if the above orders are observed; and whether a similar Circular has been sent to other education authorities?
The hon. Member presumably refers to Circular which was issued to all local education authorities in England and Wales. I may refer the hon. Member to the answer given by me on 4th April to the hon. Member for North Newcastle, which states the general principles to be followed by local education authorities in this matter.