HC Deb 20 November 1956 vol 560 cc1522-3
8. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the East Kilbride Development Corporation took steps to dismiss. Mrs. Judith Hart from its service immediately on learning that she had been nominated for selection as a prospective Parliamentary candidate.

Mr. J. N. Browne

In carrying out part of the task for which. Mrs. Hart had been temporarily engaged, she was to undertake house-to-house visits for social survey purposes. The corporation considered that this could not suitably be done by a person publicly and locally committed to a particular political party, and decided that the visits should not take place. Mrs. Hart's engagement was terminated when her services were no longer needed for the completion of the task.

Mr. Thomson

Is the Minister aware that the information on which his Answer is based is misleading, and that in fact the interviewing part o. Mrs. Hart's job was not normally part of her duty but occupied only two hours of her work over many months? Is he aware that the job on which she was engaged was not finished when she was dismissed, and that there is the clearest evidence that this dismissal was because of her political views?

Mr. Browne

I am afraid that I must disagree with the hon. Member. The first part of her job was to sit in an office and deal with the results of the social survey. The second part was to follow up visits to people who had not completed the questionnaire. Completion of the task can be done and will be done by some very junior official.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the Minister realise that the reasons which he has given for the dismissal of. Mrs. Hart are completely inadequate, and that this looks very like a case of political discrimination against her because she is a Labour candidate? Will the hon. Gentleman make public fuller facts in regard to this matter?

Mr. Browne

I think that on reflection the hon. and learned Member will agree that a known Parliamentary candidate of any political party is not the best person to get the best co-operation from households of varying political views.

Mr. Thomson

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter again at the earliest possible moment on the Adjournment.