|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I shall begin by dealing with Amendment No. 300. It is our view that this proposal would not be to teachers' benefit, as it would remove existing flexibilities in the 1991 Act that work well and are necessary. I therefore resist the amendment.
It is important that certain matters that are not core professional duties or working time may be determined locally. Indeed, many conditions of teachers' employment are determined locally, and this will need to continue. Under existing provisions, a series of matters, including sick pay and maternity pay, are identified as not to be regarded as remuneration for this purpose. This takes them out of the remit of the Secretary of State, so they may be determined locally or nationally between the employers and the trade union. Most of these matters are agreed nationally and appear in the so-called "Burgundy Book".
Acceptance of this amendment would mean that all such matters would have to be determined by the Secretary of State, removing the area where employers and unions have scope to negotiate. In addition, the amendment would remove flexibility for one-off bonuses, such as "golden hellos", to be established quickly and efficiently without the need for STRB consultation. There is real merit in having arrangements in place to allow for rapid action to deal with particular circumstances that may arise. I hope that Members of the Committee will agree that this amendment should not be pressed.
I turn to Amendment No. 301. The noble Baroness's honourable friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough raised the subject addressed by this amendment in debate in Standing Committee in another place, following which my honourable friend the Minister for School Standards agreed to reflect on the matter. As a result, we brought forward a government amendment on Report in the other place to secure the requirement to consult in circumstances where subsection (4)(a) is brought into play. It means that the Secretary of State must consult relevant parties before a matter is added to the list of subsidiary matters that do not require full STRB process.
The amendment would mean that, in addition, there must be full consultation before a matter is to be removed from the list of subsidiary matters; in other words, if this were accepted, there would be a duty to consult before deciding that a matter should be returned to the full STRB processa duty to consult before the matter returns to the full process, which would include consultation. That introduces a surplus layer of consultation. During the STRB process there will be full consultation on the detailed proposals.
It should surely be sufficient for such a measure to be subject only to the affirmative resolution procedure to which all Clause 121 orders will be subject. I therefore invite the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment No. 302 to Clause 123 is unhelpful. The purpose of Clause 123 is to enable the Secretary of State to issue procedural guidance about the practical application of pay orders issued under Clause 118. The guidance which may be issued under Clause 123 is likely to cover more detailed matters which would be better placed outside the legal framework of pay orders and the pay document but which nevertheless LEAs and governing bodies need to follow in order to ensure the fair and effective operation of pay arrangements. The guidance may, for example, cover areas such as the detailed assessment arrangements for the threshold, advanced skill status, and so on.
Subsection (3) gives further clarification of the legal standing of the guidance. Since the matters in the guidance will have a direct bearing on how teachers are treated in the employment context, where the need for fair procedures is paramount, it is necessary to be clear. The key point is that subsection (3) assures them that legal action cannot be taken simply because of a failure to follow the guidance. The subsection makes it clear that if there were a substantive issue giving rise to legal challenge, a failure to follow guidance could be taken into account by a court or tribunal in other proceedings. That is so with guidance generally, but the provision makes it clear that we are not creating any new grounds for legal action.
The important protection for the teacher is that if an employer behaves so badly as to discriminate against, constructively dismiss or unfairly dismiss a teacher, or acts so irrationally as to give rise to a judicial review or industrial tribunal, any failure to follow guidance may form part of the evidence in support of the claim.
A key reason for the clause is to ensure that employers are not subjected to claims in respect of procedural errors which do not result in any of the serious consequences I mentioned. I hope that with those reassurances the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, will withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Blatch: The Minister said that Amendment No. 300 would reduce the Secretary of State's flexibility under the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Act 1991, which is working well. It is a perennial question, but why the re-enactment? If it is being re-enacted, there must be a reason. The Secretary of State's interference or intervention seems to be extended through the re-enactment, but it would be helpful to know why.
The Minister referred also to golden hellos, but I do not understand what prevents the Secretary of State from introducing such initiatives. We have witnessed the Secretary of State announcing almost without notice bursaries and student loan concessions for new teachers of particular subjects. I am not sure what the clause achieves that cannot be done under the present statute and what protection teachers lose or even gain by it.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: We are repealing the 1991 Act. In re-enacting this provision our purpose is to ensure that we lay out the role of the STRB in Clauses 115 to 126. The noble Baroness asked about golden hellos. It is important that the Secretary of State is in a position to respond quickly and effectively to issuesincluding, as the noble Baroness will know, making sure that we retain and recruit teachers. There are long-term strategies to do so, but we want to ensure flexibility. I hope that we are positioning the STRB correctly and that we have looked at the Secretary of State's role, given that flexibility to be used for the benefit of the teaching profession, and put that across in these clauses.
Baroness Blatch: I do not understand the Minister's point about the 1991 Act. In response to Amendment No. 300, she said to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, that she was rejecting the amendment because it would interfere with the Secretary of State's flexibility under the 1991 Act. When I asked her to explain, she said that the Government were repealing the 1991 Act. It does not make sense.
Baroness Blatch: I know this is tedious, but I return to my original question: if they are being re-enacted, what is the reason for the re-enactment? It is usually because there is a modification; if so, what is the modification?
Baroness Walmsley: I thank the Minister for her reply. The issues to which she referred were somewhat technical; therefore I look forward to reading her reply in Hansard before taking the matter further on Report. I am grateful for the response of her honourable friend in another place to the concerns of my honourable friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough on the issue of Amendment No. 301. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 303 and 304 seek to probe the Government's intentions on performance-related pay. Subsections (2)(a) and (3)(b) of Clause 127 would allow any member of the governing board of a school to have sight of an individual teacher's appraisal report. Subsequent guidance on the clause indicates that it would be limited to those members of the governing board on an appointments committee.
Such a procedure could put internal candidates at a disadvantage vis-à-vis external candidates at interview. At least, as Amendment No. 304 seeks, teachers should have the opportunity to say yes or no as to whether the appraisal statement can be seen.
What is the purpose of appraisal procedures? Are they, as they are theoretically supposed to be, a chance for the individual to have a heart to heart on an annual basis with his line manager in order to assess areas of strength and weakness and to suggest areas for professional development and training and to talk about possible career paths; or are they to be used internally as a tool for performance-related pay?
Amendment No. 303 seeks to separate the remuneration issues from others. Amendment No. 304 makes it clear that if appraisals are to be used in consideration of remuneration, they should be used only with the consent of the teacher. I beg to move.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page