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Pay Comparability

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment when last he met Professor Hugh Clegg.

When the right hon. Gentleman met Hugh Clegg did he discuss teachers' pay with him? Will he tell us whether the principles laid down in the Houghton report will be adhered to or abandoned? What has been the cost of the debacle in which the consultants hired to work out the teachers' settlement made such a dog's breakfast of their task that it had to be abandoned and the Commission had to start from square one again?

I did not discuss individual cases with Hugh Clegg. I am certain that he would have regarded it as an improper use of my function if I had done so. Therefore, the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question does not arise. The Commission hopes to report on its work on school and further education teachers in April, as it has always said it would.

Did my right hon. Friend tell Professor Clegg that he was going to wind up the Commission after the current round of inquiries?

No, I did not tell him that. Professor Clegg has performed an important role for both this Govenment and the previous one. It is far too early to say whether there will be other cases that we might wish to put to the Commission.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the learned professor may lead him into a quagmire and that sup- posed comparisons between the risk-taking private sector and the rather more comfortable public service will cause nothing but trouble for himself and the Government?

A lot of people are trying to lead me into quagmires at the moment. I shall always acquit my hon. Friend of any such attempt. He has made a serious point. A comparability that merely results in one set of public sector wages following a private sector set of wages provides no answer to our problems. Our problems are largely the result of high wages.