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Air Services Supplementary Estimate, 1942

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 17 March 1943

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3. "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1943, for expenditure beyond the sum already provided in the grants for Air Services for the year."

Sums not exceeding
Supply Grants.Appropriations in Aid.
1. Pay, &c., of the Air Force.1060,000,000

First Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

When the Estimates were presented the Secretary of State made a very comprehensive and full statement, and it is unnecessary to burden the Debate with anything more beyond just one point, which I would like to present to the Under-Secretary. We have seen the Report of the appointment of Air Marshal Bowhill as head of the Transport Command. My recollection of Air Marshal Bowhill at the Air Ministry is of such a character that I am sure that the appointment is an admirable one. I think the Under-Secretary of State will welcome my invitation to him to expand, in the light of that appointment, what has been said about the Transport Command and its work in the future. Very little was said the other day upon matters of policy, and perhaps the Under-Secretary will be able to tell us a little more in detail than has as yet been vouchsafed to the House about what the Transport Command is going to accomplish in the way of the development of this subject.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) has asked me whether I can say anything about Air Marshal Bowhill's appointment and whether I can say anything further with regard to the functions of the Royal Air Force Transport Command. I am indeed glad that my hon. Friend welcomes Air Marshal Bowhill's appointment, because this appointment was given to an officer who, after due consideration, we consider the most qualified officer for this particular post. He is particularly suitable because he has pioneered the operational control of the North Atlantic Service. He has pioneered the technique that we must now develop of integrating the British Overseas Airways Corporation and the civil line services in aid of the war effort with the service which Transport Command will run. He has made himself very popular with the United States Air Transport Command, with whom he will have to work in close association. I am in full agreement with my hon. Friend when he says that his personal experience when he held the office that I now hold led him to feel that this appointment is suitable. It may interest the House to know that we have accomplished some 344 regular scheduled trips across the North Atlantic in all weathers on this North Atlantic Ferry Service operated by British Overseas Airways Corporation to the requirements of the Air Officer Commanding Ferry Command, who was Air Marshal Bowhill. It is an accomplishment which reflects great credit upon those who produce the aeroplanes and upon those who control the wireless and meteorological service and not least upon those who navigate and fly the aircraft. I cannot elaborate in any detail the functions of Transport Command, because my hon. Friend will find that that was done, beyond what was said by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air in his opening speech, in the winding-up speech I made in answer to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald), when I took each of the functions of the Transport Command and elaborated them. I will not repeat them here—I do not think it would be in Order to repeat them—but if there is any further information which my hon. Friend or any other hon. Member wants, I will do my best to furnish it on any specific point.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.