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House of Lords

Thursday, 9th March 1995.

The House met at three of the clock (Prayers having been read earlier at the Judicial Sitting by the Lord Bishop of Sheffield.): The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Lord Roborough—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.

Education: Promotion Prospects for Women

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the number and percentage of women holding headships in (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools; and what is the number and percentage of women holding posts in Her Majesty's Inspectorate of schools.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, provisional information for March 1993 shows that in England and Wales there were some 10,700 headmistresses in primary schools and 1,000 in secondary schools. On the basis of those figures, women account for 50 per cent. of headteachers in primary schools and just under 22 per cent. in secondary schools. In February 1995, 63 women held posts in Her Majesty's Inspectorate of schools, accounting for 29 per cent. of HMI.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, first I wish to comment that the information which the noble Lord gave us is two years out of date. I thought that the Department for Education could do better than that. In any case, do not those figures demonstrate what has been shown all this week in your Lordships' House and the other place that equal opportunities do not exist for women with equal qualifications?

The noble Lord did not mention that in primary schools 80 per cent. of the teachers are women, but headships are held by only 50 per cent. In secondary schools, the position speaks for itself, not only from what we read in the records but from what the noble Lord said. Is he aware that the ludicrous decision of the Government to privatise the inspection of schools has also led to a deterioration in the number of women taking part in that important work? Is it not time for a full review of the situation?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, most unusually, the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, is talking complete rubbish. As I am sure many noble Lords are aware, the situation is that entry into the teaching profession is on the basis of equal opportunity. There is no bar on entry in any way at all. Promotion at all stages throughout the teaching profession gives equal opportunities. Equal numbers of men and women relative to the numbers at each level in the profession are promoted every year. Indeed, equal numbers of women who have returned to the profession are promoted every year, compared with people who have stayed in the profession.

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There is no remaining sexual discrimination in the education service. Clearly, historically a large number of men were promoted to be headteachers in days when perhaps those conditions did not apply. I shall be fascinated, when the noble Lord comes to ask me a Question from the Opposition Front Bench, to learn whether it will be Labour Party policy to sack the excess headteachers or to refuse promotion to men.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, if women teachers are doing so well under this Government, can the Minister explain why in 1979—and I invite him to take note of that date—female teachers' earnings were 86.9 per cent. of male teachers' earnings but in 1994, they were still 86.9 per cent. of male teachers' earnings?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, if I were to take a guess at the reason for that, based on the statistics I have, it would be because so many more women have entered teaching over the past 15 years that the lower ranks of teaching now contain many more women than they used to. If we are considering the global average for teachers, then women teachers' pay may well have decreased because so many more women are in the junior ranks of the profession.

Lord Elton: My Lords, is it not the case that many more schools are being inspected now than ever before, with much more regularity, and that teacher training institutions are also subject to inspection? All those are considerable advances in the system which the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, failed to note.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am afraid that that happens quite often.

Baroness Gould of Potternewton: My Lords, I am glad that the Minister mentioned promotion. It seems to me that exactly the same unsatisfactory situation applies to higher education. Does the Minister agree that the situation is unsatisfactory since there are only three women vice-chancellors, only 5 per cent. women professors—only 3 per cent. at Oxford—and only 4 per cent. women chairs of TECs? Does the Minister believe that it is a good image for women students and women wishing to be promoted in the future?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, of course, universities are totally autonomous institutions and I cannot answer for them.

Baroness Platt of Writtle: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is most important that the monitoring to which he referred should continue to take place? There is no doubt that it will encourage good practice and the situation shows considerable improvement over the years.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, we publish the figures every year as part of our evidence to the teachers' pay review body.

Lord Glenamara: My Lords, can the Minister say whether, in recruiting the new lay element into the inspectorate, as is being done at present, there is an even

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balance between men and women? Can the noble Lord say what the figures are for men and women in that element?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I cannot give an answer to the second part of that question because we have not yet reached that stage. As regards the first element, we shall keep an even balance as regards quality.

Lord Glenamara: My Lords, a large element of the inspectorate is being recruited now. Can the noble Lord tell us how many men and women there are?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I shall be happy to answer that question when the final figures are received.

Baroness Perry of Southwark: My Lords, is my noble friend aware how much better matters are now in HM Inspectorate than they were 20 years ago? When I joined the inspectorate it was known universally as the "brotherhood". There were very few women and the senior chief inspector of the day in the year in which I was recruited promised the HMI association that the number of married women in the inspectorate would never be more than the fingers on his one hand.

Lord Lucas: Yes, my Lords, there is now fortunately a large number of excellent women in HMI.

Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a certain similarity between the education service and the health service? Both rely partly on national and partly on local policy makers and the implementation of policy at local and national level. Given that that is so, will the Government consider introducing some kind of equal opportunity policy in the education service, with the same targets and objectives as they have introduced in the health service?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, we have no plans to do so. At present, there is no evidence of any need to do so.

London Travelcard: Future

3.10 p.m.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to alter or scrap the present Travelcard arrangements for public transport in London.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): My Lords, no, the Government have no such plans.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving that assurance. Nevertheless, what will happen to the Travelcard when privatisation hits public transport in London? Will he give an assurance that whatever the scope of privatisation—which I personally regret—the Travelcard will remain for the use of Londoners on all modes of travel for which it is currently available?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the Secretary of State for Transport has instructed the franchise director to take all appropriate steps to provide for the participation by

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franchisees in multi-modal travel schemes. The privatisation of British Rail will not affect the Travelcard. The Travelcard will continue.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, when the Minister says that the Secretary of State has given instructions to the franchise director, is he saying that in this case—unlike others where only guidance can be given—the franchise director is obliged to act on the instructions of the Secretary of State?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, in this case it is a matter of instructions, not guidance.

UK Industry: Competence in Languages

3.12 p.m.

Lord Quirk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How satisfied they are with the progress of their efforts to make British industry more responsive to the need for staff competence in foreign languages.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, we have made a good start. This is a long-term effort, since a change in public attitude and business culture is required. There has nonetheless been a discernible positive shift in awareness since the Government launched a three-year National Languages for Export campaign in October 1993.

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