JACOB Rees-Mogg MP has called Sandwell Council a “totalitarian communist state” in reference to the authority's alleged attempt to limit freedom of speech.

The comments came after Shaun Bailey MP, West Bromwich West, raised his concerns over the Labour-led authority’s public consultation into changing parts of council tenancy agreements, to include a new clause on social media usage, in the House of Commons on November 18.

In a report by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, it was revealed Sandwell Council had a public consultation from October 11 to November 12 to draft new council tenancy agreements.

One of the new clause reads: “You, people living with you and any visitors to your property must not use social media or any other form of communication to make false statements, abuse, threaten, harass or be derogatory towards council employees, contractors, agents or councillors.

“Communication includes telephone calls, text messages, e-mails or posting comments on social media. This condition applies wherever the communication takes place.”

But local councillors and tenants have criticised the moves as an attempt to stop legitimate housing complaints about the council on social media.

Shaun Bailey MP said: “The rot in the Labour administration in Sandwell is continuing to pervade.

“Last month, we saw the botched attempt by the council to close a care home in Tipton. Then we saw the moonlight flit on Tuesday of the leader of the Labour party in Sandwell, and now we have the disgraceful edict from the Politburo—sorry, I mean the cabinet of Sandwell Council that if council tenants disagree with the council, they risk eviction from their home.

“I am sure my right honourable friend agrees that this is a disgraceful situation. Can we have a debate in government time about the shambles that is the Labour administration in Sandwell Council?

“The opposition promised to deal with it. They have failed. Perhaps it is time for us to do something about it.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, said: “I am appalled by what my honourable friend tells me. It is a very important point, and it is not the first time that the failings of Labour in Sandwell have been raised in this House.

“There is something rotten at the heart of many socialist councils, and I noticed his slip to refer to the Politburo, because there is sometimes a feeling of absolute control.

“What he raises today to limit freedom of speech is, I think, particularly troubling. Politicians must be, and must expect challenge, must expect people to disagree with them, must expect people to push hard and argue their points.

“To try and put in a council contract that you have to be polite about the council or you have to not say rude things about the council, sounds like the sort of thing that happens in totalitarian communist states, and not in the United Kingdom.

“I will pass on his concerns to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.”

A spokesperson for Sandwell Council said: “The consultation recently closed and we are currently reviewing all comments and suggestions. We will decide on the final wording once the review is complete.”