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Royal Air Force

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1943

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General Duties Officers And Air Crews


asked the Secretary of State for Air the proportion of officers belonging to the general duties branch together with the proportion of non-commissioned officers mustered to air crews as a percentage of the total personnel of the Royal Air Force?

Officers of the general duties branch and non-commissioned officer air crews constitute 7 per cent. of the total strength of the Royal Air Force.

In view of public misapprehension on the subject, will the right hon. Baronet take some suitable opportunity of letting it be known that only 7 per cent. of the R.A.F. personnel are qualified to fly?

That is not quite true. A number of general duties officers are not in fact flying at present, and a substantial number of men who are included in the total personnel of the Royal Air Force are in fact air crews under training. They are not non-commissioned officers.

Education Officers


asked the Secretary of State for Air to what extent are the duties of education officers, serving as unmobilised officers of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, the same as those of mobilised officers giving technical instruction?

Some education officers are employed as station education officers, others as technical teachers. The station education officers have a variety of educational duties which are quite unlike the duties of mobilised officers engaged on technical work. The education officers engaged on technical instruction deal mainly with the actual teaching of scientific principles and their application to Service purposes. Mobilised officers are predominantly employed on organising and supervisory duties, but in so for as they give technical instruction they deal with the more distinctly Service and practical sides. In addition, these mobilised officers have disciplinary and administrative responsibilities and a liability for general service.

Are these unmobilised officers equally mobile with mobilised officers?

Requisitioned Aerodromes


asked the Secretary of State for Air the basis of payment made by his Ministry for civil aerodromes taken over for the duration of the war.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his Question on 29th July last. The position remains as then stated.

Chaplains (Pay And Allowances)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether it is proposed to increase the pay and allowances of Royal Air Force chaplains holding the relative rank of squadron-leader?

Is the right hon. Baronet aware that the pay of Army chaplains has just been increased?

The pay of Army chaplains has been increased to the level of that in the Royal Air Force.

Officers ("Wings For Victory" Campaigns)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether Royal Air Force officers on the active list when detailed or invited to take part in "Wings for Victory" campaigns away from their stations receive railway warrants and adequate allowances?

Royal Air Force Regiment (Beret Badge)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will give an assurance that the beret, when it replaces the field service cap of the Royal Air Force Regiment, will carry the distinctive Royal Air Force Regiment badge?

No, Sir. The beret to be worn by the Royal Air Force Regiment will carry the cap badge of the Royal Air Force.

Air/Sea Rescue Service


asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the method of recruitment for the Air, Sea Rescue Service?

Personnel for marine craft duties in the Air/Sea Rescue Service are obtained from volunteers already serving in the Royal Air Force and from civil life. Officers and men for flying and other duties in the service are not recruited specially but are subject to the normal posting arrangements for the Royal Air Force generally.

Are there any restrictions on men who are serving in other branches being accepted as volunteers for this service?

British Overseas Airways Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will publish the whole correspondence between the four directors who resigned from British Overseas Airways and the Ministry?


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will publish the correspondence involved in connection with the retirement of each of the former members of the board of the British Overseas Airways Corporation?


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is prepared to publish the letters written to him by the recently resigned directors of the British Overseas Airways Corporation and dated 22nd February, 10th March and 24th March, 1943?

In deference to the wishes of hon. Members, I am arranging for the correspondence to be published as a White Paper.

Road Signs Committee


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is satisfied that the road transport industry is adequately represented on the Road Signs Committee; and which of the members represent the particular needs of the passenger service vehicle operators and the "C" licence holders?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

Yes, Sir, I think that all those who use the roads are adequately represented on the Road Signs Committee. If any organisations of interests affected which are not directly represented should desire to give evidence to the Committee, the Chairman will be glad to arrange for them to do co.

Is my hon. Friend aware that 59 per cent. of this Committee is composed of Civil Service and municipal authorities and that the peculiar services that are rendered by "C" licence holders and passenger services are entirely unrepresented on this important Committee?

I do not think it can be said that they are entirely unrepresented. The services to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers are represented in considerable measure by some of the public officers who are on the Committee and also by the representatives of the Transport and General Workers Union.

Would my hon. Friend inform me which of these representatives represent "C" licence holders and passenger services?

I have said that some of the public officers and the spokesmen of the Transport and General Workers Union can rightly be said to represent those interests.

Road Haulage Organisation (Ex-Service Men)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport, with reference to the appointments recently made as divisional road haulage officers, their assistants and area road officers, respectively, how many were chosen from the list of ex-Service men brought to the Ministry by the Ministry of Labour; and what means suitable ex-Service men had of knowing of the vacancies and making the necessary application?

No special list of ex-Service men was submitted by the Appointments Department, but of the men put forward by that Department whom we appointed, six had previously served in His Majesty's Forces. It is not the practice to advertise vacancies in the Government service, and the proper course for those who desire employment is to register with the Appointments Department. I have no reason to think that any suitable ex-Service men have failed to secure places in the road haulage organisation because they were unfamiliar with this procedure.

Does my hon. Friend realise that Government Departments do advertise from time to time and that there is great public indignation at the fact that his Department and others take no steps to do anything to give ex-Service men an opportunity of applying? This way of treating ex-Service men really will not do.

I have no evidence of such indignation. If my hon. and gallant Friend knows of any cases of men who feel that they have been unjustly treated, I shall be glad to inquire into them.

They have had no opportunity of applying for these positions. They are filled secretly behind their backs, and it is grossly unfair and a shocking example to private employers.

I cannot agree that ex-Service men do not know the proper procedure of applying for appointments.

Omnibus Services, London


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether the new summertime schedules of - the- London Passenger Transport Board have been speeded up in such a way as to eliminate the nuisance of the crawling omnibus; and, if not, whether he will ask the Board to prohibit the habit of crawling, which is far more inconvenient to omnibus travellers than an 'occasional omnibus getting ahead of its schedule?

As I said in reply to a Question by the Hon. Baronet on 21st April, I hope that the summer schedules now in force may reduce the difficulties which are caused when drivers get ahead of time. Further adjustments of the - schedules are now being discussed by the London Passenger Transport Board and their employees. I recognise and regret the annoyance to passengers which results from the practice of "crawling," but I cannot accept the suggestion made in the last part of the hon. Baronet's Question. On the contrary, I believe that, if drivers were allowed to run ahead of their time tables, the inconvenience to the travelling public would be much greater still.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a very genuine grievance in London? Could he put the London Passenger Transport Board in touch with me, so that I can discuss with them the many letters I have received?

I shall be glad to put my hon. Friend in touch with the Board, and I have no doubt that they will be glad to talk to him. They are doing their best to deal with what is a very difficult matter.

Does not my hon. Friend think that it is really inconvenient when it takes a bus 30 minutes for the journey from Charing Cross to King's Cross which is scheduled for 15 minutes? Because they are over-running their time, they do dawdle on the way and commit the offence suggested in the Question.

I think my hon. Friend will find that the inconvenience of running journeys regularly ahead of schedule would be much greater to all concerned.

Seamen's Lost Effects (Compensation To Next Of Kin)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will take action to amend the Maritime Board Agreement so that payment of compensation for loss of effects of seamen to the next of kin of such seamen who lose their lives shall be retrospectively operative from the beginning of the war, in view of the fact that for the earlier part of the war such compensation was payable to survivors only and not to next of kin?

I understand that, under the National Maritime Board agreement, to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers, compensation for loss of effects has been paid to the next of kin since March, 1942. I regret that, for administrative reasons, it would not be practicable to deal with cases that arose before that date.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that this is invidious and unfair to relatives of those seamen who lost their lives before this more favourable arrangement came into being?

It is in a sense anomalous, and I regret it, but I am afraid it is not the only anomaly, and the difficulties of meeting it are very great.

Should administrative reasons be allowed to stand in the way of what is now recognised to be proper justice?

I do not think it can be shown that there is any real injustice except in very exceptional cases. These have been dealt with already. The difficulty is to reassemble the evidence, as we should have to do if we raised them all over again under the earlier agreement.

If there are administrative difficulties in the hon. Gentleman's Department, have not other Departments overcome much greater difficulties? Will he not look at this matter again, for it means that the relatives of a man who died before a particular date are refused something whereas the relatives of a man who died after that date are granted it?

I will certainly look into it again. I have considered it with great care, and it is largely a matter of staff. It is difficult to get adequate staff, and the reassembly of evidence of cases three or four years old would be a very difficult matter.

Could not the hon. Gentleman arrange for a temporary transfer of staff from other Government Departments? I could give him information about Departments where staff is available.