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Teaching Profession (Salaries)

Volume 462: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1949

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32.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the disparity in remuneration as between qualified teachers and university lecturers, on the one hand, and graduates employed in industry, local government and other professions, on the other hand; whether he is aware of the frustration evident among the former group and the injury thus caused to the increasing opportunities for secondary and university education; and whether he will consider some form of inquiry into the comparative remuneration of professional men and women, firstly, to determine the facts and secondly, to take appropriate action with a view to securing a fairer balance between teaching and the other professions.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in replying yesterday to the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) announced certain improvements to which he has agreed in the remuneration of university teachers in the medical and dental schools. The position of other university teachers is under consideration. For school teachers the settlement of appropriate scales of salary is, in accordance with Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944, a matter for the Burnham Committees, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has no reason to think that the question raised by the hon. Member was overlooked when the Committees conducted their last review of the salary scales, and he sees no reason to set up a special inquiry to deal with it.

While appreciating the generous answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, and the consideration given to medical and dental teachers, may I ask my right hon. Friend if he is aware that there are thousands of university lecturers and teachers with salaries between £350 and £600 a year who at the moment are definitely feeling a sense of privation, partly due to the increased cost of living since the last Burnham scale? Will he not reconsider the answer, and possibly, if my suggestion is wrong, consider some other form of inquiry into the matter?

These matters are under consideration, as my right hon. and learned Friend said yesterday, but it is extremely difficult to work out the terms of relativity in these matters.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise how difficult it will be to retain university professors at all at salaries of from £1,400 to £1,500—many of whom could earn double that in other professions—and how grave will be the effect right down the scale?

There is really nothing new in this. People of great mental powers often devote themselves to education and university work when they might have gone out for a greater commercial reward, but they do not always choose that course.

Would my right hon. Friend look particularly at the position of science teachers, because industry can offer these people far greater rewards than the teaching profession?