HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc566-7
45. Miss Irene Ward

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the Durham County Council's decision to cease questioning teachers as to whether they are members of their appropriate unions, he will now take steps to ensure the adoption of a similar attitude with regard to other employees of the council.

Mr. Ede

I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has no information that similar questions are put to other employees, but Ministers are concerned to intervene in the actions of local authorities only where these actions may endanger the efficiency of services for which the Ministers have responsibility.

Miss Ward

Would the right hon. Gentleman, if he has not the information, which is extremely surprising, take the trouble, in the interests of freedom, to find out? Are we to understand that freedom depends on trade unionism stimulating the Government to action rather than the Government giving leadership in the application of freedom to the subject?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir. It is also important that there should be no interference with the reasonable freedom of local authorities.

Sir W. Smithers

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the subversive activities of Councillor E. F. Peart, of Thornley, who is still urging the Durham County Council to continue the closed shop policy?

Mr. Ede

We are now getting a very clear idea of freedom.

Mr. Blyton

Will my right hon. Friend, now that the Durham position has been happily settled, take action against the Tory dominated Council of Middlesex, which asks questions about the political faith of any teacher applying for a position?

Mr. Ede

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has that matter under consideration.

Mr. Awbery

Will my right hon. Friend notify local authorities that they are still at liberty to urge their employees to join the appropriate trade union that caters for their industry, and point out that it is contrary to British custom and tradition for a man to accept privileges for which he does not carry any responsibility?

Mr. Ede

I do not think that the trade unions require employers to urge people to join unions.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that no one may be compelled to belong to an association?

Forward to