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Trade Union Membership

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1952

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40.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General for what purposes and under what authority his officers propose to inspect trade union membership cards; and why they should satisfy themselves about the authenticity and validity of these private and unofficial documents.

I am not sure to what my hon. and gallant Friend refers. No authority is given to Post Office staff to demand the production of trade union membership cards. The only case in which I can imagine the staff inspecting such a card is where a counter clerk feels it necessary, as a safeguard against fraud or misrepresentation, to seek some evidence of identity in connection with certain transactions, such as a withdrawal from the savings bank, handing over of poste restante correspondence, and the payment of money orders and postal drafts. In such circumstances, the production of a trade union membership card is one of the methods by which a person may choose to establish his identity. Otherwise no Post Office staff should have any reason to inspect such a card.

Will my hon. Friend give instructions to some of his officials not to issue statements to the Press to the effect that they would have the right to call upon all kinds of evidence, including trade union lodge membership cards, as proof of identity? Not only are such statements misleading but they are also entirely contrary to the principles of British freedom.

If I find that there is any general ambiguity on the subject, I shall be only too pleased to issue an instruction.

Will my hon. Friend also make it clear that trade union membership is not required as a condition of employment in the Post Office?