HC Deb 28 June 1951 vol 489 cc1572-3
36. Mr. Hollis

asked the Minister of Education whether he has received from the Durham County Council assurances that membership of a trade union will not be required of applicants for posts as school medical officers.

Mr. Hardman

No, Sir. The assurance which the Durham County Council gave my right hon. Friend related to a direction issued by him under Section 68 of the Education Act, 1944, in regard to teaching posts at the disposal of the authority. The authority are, however, aware of my right hon. Friend's general attitude in the matter, and I understand that they still have the question under consideration.

Mr. Hollis

The hon. Gentleman says the question is under consideration. Are the authorities asking this question of medical officers, or are they not?

Mr. Hardman

As far as we are concerned, we have had a letter from the British Medical Association concerning four posts of assistant school medical officer which are shortly to be filled and the letter is now being considered by us.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Is it not a fact that any local councillor on an education committee is entitled to ask any question that he thinks is useful to ascertain whether an applicant is capable of the job? If he thinks that being a member of a trade union is a criterion for the job is he not entitled to ask the question?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Will the hon. Gentleman now answer my hon. Friend's question, whether or not applicants are at present having this question directed to them?

Mr. Hardman

We understand that they are not.

Dr. Hill

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in respect of the appointments in question, this issue is being raised and the question is being asked by the Durham County Council? May I ask him whether his attitude differs in the two cases of teachers and school medical officers?

Mr. Hardman

As far as we understand the position today, the county authority is considering its attitude in this matter to all its employees, whatever their professional category may be. Naturally, it is not our business to start interfering until we have some information which will be a cause for any action or a reason for taking no action.