HC Deb 23 May 1950 vol 475 cc1830-1
23. Mr. Nigel Davies

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether it is with his permission that the chairman of the Stevenage New Town Development Corporation has actively engaged in party politics; and whether he will issue instructions to prevent chairmen taking such action in future.

Mr. Dalton

I agree with my predecessor's rule that chairmen of new town corporations should be free to speak at political meetings outside the new towns with which they are associated.

Mr. Davies

Will the Minister also extend that principle to curbing the rather contentious oratory of the chairman of the Stevenage Corporation in the areas of other new towns where it is likely to bring the principle of new towns into the political arena?

Mr. Dalton

It must be remembered that these are only part-time appointments. It would be contrary to practice to impose unreasonable restrictions on persons holding part-time appointments, whatever their political party, to express their political opinions. I do not want to be unduly censorious in this matter. I agree that it should be done within reason and with some discretion, having regard to circumstances, but I am not prepared to muzzle them completely.

Earl Winterton

Does that mean that the chairman in question is free to come into my constituency at Crawley and make a political speech on behalf of the Socialist Party objecting to my Questions to the right hon. Gentleman today? Perhaps the Minister will answer that?

Mr. Dalton

The remark which I made about reasonable discretion, of course, covers new town policy generally. I should have thought it most undesirable for the chairman of a new town corporation to make a speech relating to new town policy generally, but I have no evidence that that has yet taken place.