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.