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Teachers' Pay And Conditions

Volume 174: debated on Tuesday 12 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received about teachers' pay and conditions; and if he will make a statement.

Order. I am afraid that there was so much reaction from the Benches below the Gangway that I did not hear the Minister's answer.

I am happy, Mr. Speaker, to repeat that my right hon. Friend receives frequent representations on the pay and conditions of teachers.

Has not the Minister even considered the representations from her Department's hand-picked interim advisory committee, which says that, given inflation, the offer made to teachers this year means that a majority of them will still be paid less in real terms this year than they were last? How is that supposed to help morale and to stop the haemorrhaging of teachers from the profession?

It is interesting that the local authority in the hon. Gentleman's constituency has only recently adopted some of the flexible arrangements provided by the interim advisory committee over the past two years. If the authority follows the interim advisory committee's recommendations on flexibility more closely during the coming year, I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that some of his allegations about that committee's recommendations are far from accurate.

In areas such as west Essex, we are grateful for the special assistance that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has given us to recruit teachers because of the high costs of housing. When monitoring organisations such as Reward have shown in regional surveys that the cost of living in London is about £8,000 a year more than it is in an average shire county, will my hon. Friend the Minister bear it in mind that we still need to do more to reflect those cost differentials if we are to attract the right people to teaching in the south-east?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is no doubt that there is a requirement for greater flexibility within the south-east and the London area, particularly in the home counties, because of the clear differential between the cost of living and the cost of housing there and the costs in other areas where such things are not so expensive. The interim advisory committee has addressed that and one hopes that there will be continuing progress when any future negotiating machinery is set up.