HC Deb 30 June 1949 vol 466 cc1485-6
3. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that Mr. E. McLeod Davis, a business consultant and member of the Labour Party, has been dismissed on political grounds from employment as a part-time lecturer at the Mid-Essex Technical College; and if he will make a statement.

14. Wing-Commander Millington

asked the Minister of Education whether he will make a statement with regard to the refusal of the Mid-Essex Technical College to renew the contract of Mr. McLeod Davis on the grounds of his political views.

Mr. Tomlinson

As a general principle I am absolutely opposed to any test of a teacher's private political views, provided that the accepted rule is observed that teachers should not use their position to propagate those views in the course of instruction. In the present case my information is that the governing body informed Mr. Davis that his appointment as a part-time teacher on a sessional basis would not be renewed after the current session on the ground that he had used his position as a teacher to propagate his own political views. In these circumstances Mr. Davis resigned his appointment before the end of the session. It is obviously of the first importance that any allegations of a breach of the accepted rule should be fully substantiated before any disciplinary action is taken against a teacher, and I have accordingly taken steps to investigate the circumstances of this particular case.

Mr. Driberg

Could my right hon. Friend say whether, in investigating this case so far, he has got most of his information from the principal of the college, who is known to be openly and strongly biased politically in the opposite direction to Mr. Davis, and whether any inquiries were made amongst his students or fellow-members of the staff?

Mr. Tomlinson

I have had information from a number of sources, and the reason for the action I now propose to take, to make a full inquiry is due to the evidence or lack of evidence that I have received.

Wing-Commander Millington

Is the Minister further aware that representations have been made from Mr. Davis's students, many of whom are themselves Conservatives and members of the local young Conservatives organisation, and they are unanimous in saying that in their opinion as students, he has not abused his position as teacher to spread a gospel with which they disagree?

Mr. Tomlinson

That emphasises the necessity for my proposed action.

Mrs. Leah Manning

Can my right hon. Friend say whether this investigation will be undertaken by himself or by Mr. Davis's professional organisation?

Mr. Tomlinson

In the first instance I propose to make this investigation myself, and if I am not satisfied then I will seek the aid of outside persons.

Mr. Cove

Will my right hon. Friend say whether the teacher will have the right to be represented at this inquiry, or is it a private inquiry?

Mr. Tomlinson

I am not thinking in terms of an inquiry, but evidence as to position of the teacher will need to be heard by the Minister.