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University Teachers (Pay)

Volume 893: debated on Tuesday 17 June 1975

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the real value in percentage terms, after allowing for threshold payments, of his offer to university teachers to take effect from October 1975.

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement on the results of arbitration on university teachers' pay.

The board of arbitration on the pay of university non-clinical teachers gave its decision on 2nd June. The decision will result, with effect from 1st October 1975, in an overall increase of 24·6 per cent. in the scales in payment since 1st October 1974, or 21·3 per cent., excluding threshhold payments in payment before that date.

While welcoming this advance and readjustment for university teachers, may I congratulate the Secretary of State and his predecessor on having taken up the policy of the Opposition, that the matter should be referred to arbitration? May I also hope that the adjustment in the cost of living which is due to take place this autumn may be achieved with speed?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. It is the intention to get the cost-of-living adjustments settled as soon as possible, and the negotiations are now being held.

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept, however, that a great deal of unnecessary damage was done as a result of not going to arbitration earlier? Does he also accept that a whole series of measures that the Government have taken, or failed to take, regarding universities have caused a great demoralisation in the university sector? Instead of the noble Lord the Minister of State going round full of his half-baked ideas softening up the universities for further cuts and economies, may we not have a full-scale inquiry into the whole of higher education? It is 12 years since the Robbins Report.

I do not think that that supplementary question arises directly from the Question. I entirely repudiate what the hon. Gentleman said about the activities of my noble Friend. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends must understand, when they preach at us day after day about the need for the most dramatic and fantastic cuts in public expenditure, that if we have to curtail public expenditure, although we shall not adopt all their proposals, the cuts will affect every sector of public education. Therefore, it is no use making great speeches opposing my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and then complaining that, necessarily, we shall not be able to spend as much money on this and that project as they would like.