HC Deb 17 November 1987 vol 122 cc900-1
2. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what fee was paid by the Ealing, North Labour party for the use of Manpower Services Commission facilities at 10 King street, Southall, for the use of personnel and computer facilities in May and June 1987; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Employment (Mr. John Cope)

There are no Manpower Services Commission personnel on computer facilities at 10 King street, Southall, but 11B King street is the headquarters of Southall Community Projects Committee Ltd., which is an agency for the community programme. I understand that some facilities at the latter address were used during the election campaign for the translation of political material. Such activity is against the rules of the community programme. The agency investigated the matter and put a stop to that activity. No fee was paid by the Ealing, North labour party.

Mr. Greenway

Does my hon. Friend agree that such breaches by the Labour party, or anybody else, are serious? Will he undertake to investigate correspondence, which has been sent to me, showing that at the general election the Labour candidate for Ealing, North, Mr. Benn-Junior, used the facilities extensively in his campaign, and that the national executive of the Labour party had the leader of the Labour party's speeches translated into ethnic minority languages by that very office? The matter is serious because the office's normal work could not proceed. Will my hon. Friend investigate the matter?

Mr. Cope

The translation work to which I referred related to a speech by the Leader of the Opposition. It was in the course of translation when work was stopped, and, therefore, there was no circulation of speeches from the community programme source. I shall certainly investigate the other allegations that have been made by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Tony Banks

Is the Minister aware that No. 10 King street is actually a halal butcher shop and that it would seem most appropriate that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) should be taken outside and ritually slaughtered for that piece of nasty non-information that he offered? Is the Minister further aware that the area manager, Mr. Spicer, investigated the matter and found no reason to make a formal complaint, that such translations are a normal feature of the office and that, in the past, they have also involved political speeches by Conservative Members? Will he also—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is not a debate.

Mr. Banks

Is the Minister aware that Ealing, North Conservative Association has been using House of Commons stationery to circulate party political information?

Mr. Cope

That is not a matter for me. [Interruption.] It might have been before, but it is no longer a matter for me. It is a fundamental rule of the community programme that projects must not involve political activity. Of course, it is perfectly legitimate for that agency to go in for translation, but not of political material. I deeply deplore that.