Who's picking up the bill?

28th July 2000 at 01:00
Letters to the Editor JULY is regarded as the silly season politically, but two events this month should point the way ahead when the schools (and the politicians) return from their summer holidays.

The Chancellor of the Exche-quer's comprehensive spending review will provide enough money for the McCrone committee's recommendations on teachers' pay to be funded. True, we don't know how the First Minister and the Finance Minister will carve up the Scottish "block", but Sam Galbraith will fail miserably as an Executive negotiator if he cannot secure enough to meet teachers' legitimate demands and to reassure the local authorities that they will not be expected to pick up the tab for the extra education bill.

That is not to sy that McCrone should be adopted lock, stock and barrel, but in the talks which Mr Galbraith is planning, the basic problem of financing a reasonable deal should not be the stumbling block.

Second, however, is a warning. The successful challenge by the National Union of Teachers to the pay incentive scheme south of the border should give ministers here pause for thought before they pull any rabbits out of the hat.

David Blunkett has had a salutary reminder that his dictates cannot flout the law of the land. Mr Galbraith had better have his lawyers close at hand when he enters this autumn's talks and when he advances his ideas on "chartered" status for teachers.

David Anderson

Paisley Road West, Glasgow

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