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Written Answers

Volume 391: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1943

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Written Answers

British Army


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in order to lessen the amount of food allocated to the Army, he will reconsider A.C.I./67/42 which precludes men in static units from keeping pigs except by permission of the agricultural officer?

The instructions referred to by my hon. Friend were introduced as a precaution to ensure that units paid proper regard to the necessary Health and Food Regulations. I am not aware that these instructions are hampering the production of pork where pigs can properly be kept.

Exhibition, London

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the exhibition showing the equipment required for a division, the organisation and shipping space required, the problem of supply and distance involved, that is giving satisfaction and creating interest in Oxford Street, London, is to be shown in other centres and, in particular, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Glasgow, Sheffield and other industrial centres?

No arrangements have been made for the Army Exhibition to tour the provinces, but I am consulting my right hon. Friend the Minister of Information about this.

Officers Seconded To Royal Air Force (Uniform)

asked the Secretary of State for War why an officer in the Army, seconded to the Royal Air Force, must wear the uniform of the Royal Air Force; whether there is an exception to this rule in the case of Regular officers commissioned prior to the outbreak of the war; and why a Territorial officer is excluded from this provision notwithstanding length of service?

It has been found in practice that an officer can perform his essential duties better if he wears the uniform of the service to which he is seconded. This applies to all Army officers, Regular or Territorial, seconded to the Royal Air Force.

Medical Services (Specialists)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give a list of the various categories of medical specialists, namely, physiotherapists, psychiatrists, etc., employed in the Army medical services; and whether their duties are confined to the particular class of cases in which they specialise or are extended to ordinary medical examinations?

The following categories of specialists are employed in the Army Medical Services:

Physical Medicine.Radiologist,
Venereologist.Maxillo-Facial Surgeon.
Hygiene.Orthopaedic Surgeon.
They are primarily engaged on their specialist duties. If there happens to be a shortage of general duty officers they may, however, be required in addition to undertake general medical duty.

Training (Damage To Crops)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, considering the nearness of the time when the harvest will be gathered, he will give instructions that growing crops in training and other areas be put out of bounds until the fields are cleared?

I fully appreciate the necessity for avoiding damage to crops and troops taking part in exercises are instructed to avoid such damage. But some damage and interference with agriculture is, I regret, unavoidable if the training is to be realistic and valuable and if such general instructions were issued as my hon. Friend suggests large scale exer- cises and much essential training would have to be suspended.

Colonial Allowance (Middle East, North Africa And Malta)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether officers and men are entitled to Colonial pay while serving with the Forces in the Middle East and North Africa; what are the rates; and whether this includes Malta?

The single rates of Colonial, allowance for British Service officers and men serving in the Middle East, North Africa and Malta are:

Warrant Officers I8
Warrant Officers II, III and Staff Sergeants7
Corporals and below4

Wives And Children (Free Medical Attendance)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether wives and families of Regular soldiers commissioned from the ranks are entitled to free medical attendance?

No, Sir. The privilege of free medical attendance is given only to the wives and children of soldiers serving on a Regular Army engagement or to the wives and children of officers holding permanent Army commissions.

Discharge Certificate

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give instructions that the entry in the discharge papers issued to a soldier discharged as no longer physically fit for service will be so expressed as to make plain the reasons for discharge?

The inclusion on the discharge certificate of the specific nature of the disability would in many cases be to the detriment of the ex-soldier who in seeking employment is asked to produce his discharge documents. It is therefore considered that no change should be made in the present practice.

Armed Forces (Overseas Mail Services)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of air-mail charges for letters to troops serving in the various theatres of war?

I append a statement as requested by the hon. Mem-

Name of Country or Force, etc.Airgraphs by air throughout.Air Letters normally by air throughout (unless other-wise stated).Ordinary Air Mail partly by sea partly by air unless otherwise stated.Surface Mails.
Rate.Rate.Letter Rate per ½ oz. (unless otherwise stated).Postcard Rate.Rates.
Aden3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.Letters:—
Australia 3d.†6d.1s. 3d.7d.1½d. for first oz.
British N. African Force3d.6d.No ServiceNo Service1d. for each
British Somaliland3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.addl. oz.
Canada3d.6d.*1s. 3d.*7d.
5d. (by sea to Canada).3d. (by sea to Canada).Postcards:— 1d.
Ceylon3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.
East African Force3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.Newspapers:—
Eritrea3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.½d. per 2 oz.
Ethiopia3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.
Falkland IslandsNo ServiceFor particulars inquire at counter.
Faroe IslandsNo ServiceNo ServiceNo ServiceNo ServiceParcels:—
GibraltarNo ServiceNo Service5d. for 1 oz.2½d.Up to 31b. 9d.
3d. for each3–7 lb. 1s. 6d.
additional oz.7–11 lb. 2s. 0d.
IcelandNo ServiceNo ServiceNo ServiceNo Service11–22 lb. 3s. 6d.
India Command3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.
MaltaNo Service6d.1s. 3d.‡3d. (By air throughout)
Middle East Force3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.Foodstuffs,
New Zealand3d.†6d.1s. 3d.7d.including
Persia & Iraq Force3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.Chocolate and
Somalia (Italian Somaliland).3d.6d.1s. 3d.7d.Confectionery of All Kinds,
South Africa3d.6d.No ServiceNo Serviceand Matches
U.S.A.3d.6d.*1s. 3d,*7d.are prohibited
5d. (by Sea to U.S.A.).3d. (by Sea to (U.S.A.).
West African ForceNo Service6d.No ServiceNo Service
* Normally by Air throughout.
† By Air only to America.
‡ The 3d. rate is applicable only to thin Postcards for Malta of the type sold at Post Offices.

asked the Postmaster General whether there is an airgraph or air-letter service to troops serving in the Bahamas?

There is no airgraph service from this country to the Bahamas. Air letters may be sent to members of H.M. Forces serving in the Bahamas at a postage rate of 6d.

British Prisoners Of War

ber. It should be understood that the information contained in it is liable to frequent amendment.

Following is the statement:

taking in the matter of pay to British officer prisoners of war to ensure that the rates of pay shall strictly conform to the Hague Convention annex respecting the laws and customs of war on land, so that the injustice done to British officer prisoners of war in 1914–1918 of being paid much lower rates than were due shall not be repeated?

My hon. Friend will be glad to know that the rates payable to officer prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention of 1929 are in fact being paid by enemy Powers to British officer prisoners of war.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has yet received any further information with regard to the conditions in Campo P.G. 21; whether he is now satisfied with this camp; and, if not, whether he will take steps through the Protecting Power to secure its closure?

I would refer the Noble Lady to the reply I gave to-day to my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Touche).

German And Italian Prisoners Of War

asked the Secretary of State for War what action is being taken to provide prisoners of war under our control with accurate facts about the war and the true character and activities of the Nazi regime?

German and Italian prisoners of war so far as is possible are given full opportunity to read British newspapers and listen to B.B.C. programmes.

Forestry Schemes (Local Authorities)

asked the right hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, whether the Forestry Commission has under consideration any schemes submitted by local authorities for the planting of trees, and, if not, whether a scheme so submitted will receive consideration with a view to its acceptance?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative. The Commissioners are prepared to give sympathetic consideration to forestry schemes submitted by local authorities and especially to those dealing with the afforestation of water catchment areas.

National War Effort

Small Holdings And Small Businesses (Employees)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give special consideration to the case of small holdings and small businesses allied to agriculture, especially when the occupier is old or incapacited and has been relying on help which is now in process of being called up for the Services?

Yes, Sir; where the retention of the employee is in the national interest calling up is deferred; even though deferment may not be granted, the employee has the statutory right to apply for postponement on grounds of exceptional hardship. Postponement is granted when the applicant shows that the business cannot be carried on in his absence and that time is required to make alternative arrangements to enable it to be carried on.

Domestic Service (Home Help Schemes)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider setting up panels of women of mature years in various districts in the country who could combine together to assist with domestic duties young mothers whose children might be sick or who may be expecting another child?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given to the hon. Member for East Islington (Mrs. Cazalet Keir) on 13th May and 24th June, in which I explained that I had in mind certain proposals for alleviating amongst others the problem arising from the shortage of domestic help in private households where there are special circumstances such as confinement and sickness. I would also draw his attention to the home help schemes under the Maternity and Child Welfare authorities which are being encouraged by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health.

Defence Regulation 58A (Orders)

asked the Minister of Labour what orders he has made under sub-paragraphs (c) or (d) of paragraph (4) of Regulation 58A of the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939?

No Order has been made under these sub-paragraphs separately. The following Orders now in force have involved the exercise of the powers conferred by the sub-paragraphs:—

  • 1. Undertakings (Records and Information and Inspection of Premises) Order, S.R. & O. 1943, No. 870.
  • 2. Industrial Registration Order, S.R. & O. 1940, No. 1459—amended by the Industrial Registration (Amendment) Order, S.R. & O. 1940, No. 1507.
  • 3. Registration for Employment Order, S.R. & O. 1941, No. 368.
  • 4. International Labour Force Orders:—
  • (a) Registration of Belgian Nationals Order, S.K. & O. 1941, No. 719;
  • (b) Registration of Netherlands Nationals Order, S.R. & O. 1941, No. 720;
  • (c) Registration of Norwegian Nationals Order, S.K. & O. 1941, No. 721;
  • (d) Registration of Polish Nationals Order, S.R. & O. 1941, No. 722;
  • (e) Registration of Czechoslovak Nationals Order, S.R. & O. 1941, No. 723;
  • (f) Registration of French Nationals Order, S.R. & O. 1941, No. 724.
  • (g) Registration of Austrians, Germans and Italians Order, S.R. & O. 1.941, No. 1020.
  • 5. Building and Civil Engineering (Restriction on Transfer) Order, S.R. & O. 1941, No. 2068.
  • 6. Control of Employment (Directed Persons) Order, S.R. & O. 1943, No. 651.
  • Aged Spinsters (Industrial1 Employment)

    asked the Minister of Health whether he will give an estimate of the total number of unmarried women of 55 years of age and over and also of 60 years of age and over, and the proportion in each class who are industrially employed?

    The figures for which my hon. Friend asks are as follow:—

    Single women aged 55 and over760,000
    Widowed women aged 55 and over1,680,000
    Single women aged 60 and over560,000
    Widowed women aged 60 and over1,430,000
    I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service that about 1 in 7 of those aged 55 and over and 1 in 10 of those aged 60 and over are industrially employed.

    Place Names (Signs)

    asked the Home Secretary whether he is now prepared to authorise the restoration of place names upon public buildings and private premises, and also in announcements appearing upon advertisement hoardings?

    As my hon. Friend is aware, the re-erection by highway authorities of road direction signs is now permitted over a large part of the country, but I do not think that the time has come to permit the general restoration of other signs indicating place names.

    Ribbon Development (Prosecutions)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport how many prosecutions have there been under Section 11 of the Restric- tion of Ribbon Development Act, 1935; and in how many cases has there been a conviction?

    I regret that I have no particulars of the number of prosecutions and convictions under Section 11 of the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act. Action under Section 11 is taken by the highway authority and the Ministry is not informed when it is proposed to take action or of the results of proceedings.

    Trade And Commerce

    United Kingdom And Eire (Statistics)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the figures of the export and import trade between the Irish Free State and Britain in the last 10 years, and also similar figures of trade between Northern Ireland and Britain?

    The following table gives the value of imports and exports of merchandise in the trade between the United Kingdom and Eire from 1933 to 1939, no later particulars being available for publication. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and no separate statistics are kept of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Year.Imports.Exports of United Kingdom goods.Exports of imported merchandise.

    Deaf-Aid Apparatus (Batteries)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the policy of his Ministry to make available supplies of high-tension batteries for use in deaf-aid apparatus?

    Yes, Sir. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I gave to-day to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Portsmouth (Sir J. Lucas).

    Stockings (Coupon Value)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the grounds on which the coupon value of stockings is based, that is to say, if due to shortage of material, quality of material, or the purpose for which such material is required; and, in view of the impossibility of reducing the number of coupons required for each pair of fully-fashioned and non-fashioned stockings, will he consider granting special facilities to elderly people and women for whom the wearing of stockings at all times is a physical necessity owing to reasons of physical disability?

    The coupon pointing of stockings, as of other rationed goods, is determined by many factors, including the supply of materials and labour and the need for equity, in coupon purchasing power, between various sections of the community. I am afraid that, in view of the severe stringency of supplies, I cannot grant such special facilities as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests.

    Utility Overcoats

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the shortage of utility overcoats made of material or cloth at a reasonable weight and deserving of the number of coupons to be surrendered; and whether he will control wholesale and retail selling prices of these?

    A wide range of utility overcoats is already provided in many types of materials, of which the heaviest must weigh at least 22 ozs. per linear yard. The prices are closely controlled at all stages. I have received no complaints of shortage of overcoats but, if my hon. Friend will send me particulars, I shall be glad to investigate them.


    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether new perambulators now being made are more strongly constructed and better balanced than the utility perambulators built to date?

    As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mrs. Adamson) last Tuesday, I have now arranged for an increase in materials sufficient to raise the annual rate of production of prams and push chairs, as compared with last year, by more than 30 per cent. In view of the severe stringency of steel and other supplies, I regret that it is not possible to obtain this additional output and at the same time to increase the amount of material used in a pram. I am confident that the public need will best be met by an increase in quantity rather than by an improvement in quality. Thanks to the resourcefulness of the manufacturers, a very serviceable pram is now being turned out.

    Retail Businesses (Location)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade under what authority he has the power to include retail businesses in the Location of Retail Businesses Orders other than those included in the respective categories of these Orders; and what steps should retailers take to get so included?

    Such businesses could be included by a further Order made under Regulation 55A of the Defence Regulations. As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, most non-food retail businesses are already included, but I shall be glad to consider any further applications.

    Clothing Stocks

    asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent there exist any manufactured articles of clothing for which there is no appreciable demand; and whether he proposes to unload stocks in such cases?

    Most of the representations which reach me relate to shortages of clothing rather than to surpluses, as is most natural at this stage of the war. But it is always possible that, from time to time, the production programme may get out of balance. Stocks are kept under constant review, and production is adjusted when necessary.

    Clothing Coupons (Complaint)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that in some instances certain shop assistants are taking more than the required number of coupons from books handed over to them by unsuspecting customers and that these coupons are afterwards disposed of to other customers; and whether steps can be taken to protect the general public against practices of this kind?

    I have had a few complaints from retail customers that shop assistants have taken too many coupons from their clothing books; but in each case the shop assistant has denied the allegation, which has not been supported by other evidence.

    Motor Cars, Export (Horse-Power Tax)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in connection with the surveys of post-war industrial possibilities which his Department is undertaking, consideration is being given to the effect which the removal of the horse-power tax would have on the export trade in private motor cars?

    Alarm Clocks

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether there has been any substantial increase of alarm clocks available to the public, particularly in the North-East?

    10,000 alarm clocks have arrived in this country from North America and a further 50,000 are now on their way. On the recommendation of the Trades Union Congress, I have decided that railway workers and road passenger transport workers shall have first call on these limited supplies.

    Kerosene (Domestic Stocks)

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will enable people in remote country districts who only use kerosene for cooking and even heating, in view of official requests to stock fuel, to lay in an extra summer supply of this oil?

    Although domestic consumers have been urged, subject to certain limits, to stock solid fuel for next winter, different considerations apply in the arrangements for the supply of imported liquid fuels such as kerosene, and I regret that I am unable to adopt my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion.

    Basement Offices

    asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of criticisms of basement offices in new buildings, he has any official reports as to whether the use of such basements in American cities, like New York, have produced any deleterious effect?

    No official report bearing on the point has up to the present come to my notice.

    Railway Freight Charges

    asked the Prime Minister whether he will move to appoint a Select Committee to consider the advisability of introducing equalised rates of freight charges for railway transport as a means of encouraging the economic rehabilitation of the countryside and the redistribution of industry?

    The present system of railway rates provides for scales of charges per ton per mile which taper as the distance increases, and also for the application of exceptional rates where circumstances warrant them. While I do not think that it would be opportune or advisable to appoint a Select Committee to consider the introduction of flat rates irrespective of distance, the effect of railway charges upon the distribution of our economic activities will be borne in mind by His Majesty's Government in their consideration of future transport policy.

    Food Supplies

    Tuberculin-Tested Milk

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the total gallonage of tuberculin-tested milk sold to the Ministry of Food during each month of the 12 months up to June, 1943, and the total gallonage of tuberculin-tested milk sold by producer-retailers which is not bought by the Ministry of Food for the same months?

    In the national interests statistics of home agricultural production during the war period are not being disclosed. I will, however, send my hon. and gallant Friend, for his perusal, the monthly figures for which he asks for the period June, 1942, to May, 1943. The figures for June, 1943, are not yet available.

    Dried Eggs (Price)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is taking steps to arrange compensation for traders for losses incurred through the reduction of the price of dried eggs?

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 1st July to a similar Question by the hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor), of which I am sending him a copy.

    Retail Food Traders (Calling Up)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what steps have been taken to ensure that retail food traders called up for National Service will be able to obtain permission to resume, upon their returning to civil life, the trade in which they were previously engaged; and whether any consultations with the appropriate organisations have been instituted?

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Southend-on-Sea (Mr. Channon) on 21st April last. Food executive officers have been instructed to record the circumstances in which a retail food business is closed, whenever a licence is surrendered by a retailer on closing his business. As the conditions in which food distribution may be carried on after the cessation of hostilities cannot be foreseen, it is impossible to give any guarantee such as my hon. Friend suggests in the first part of his Question. No consultations have taken place with trade associations, nor does my Noble Friend see any reason for such consultations at the present time.

    Ration Books (Distribution)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can now make a statement on the progress of the distribution of ration books, indicating the numbers still to be distributed, the numbers of people who have not taken up new books in alphabetical sequence of names, and the final proposals for distributing such books and cards as have not been collected by the termination of the prescribed period?

    The progress of the distribution of ration books is generally satisfactory and I have no reason to believe that the task will not be concluded successfully. By Saturday, 26th June, 71 per cent, of all ration books had been issued to the public; by Saturday, 3rd July, it is estimated that about 15 per cent, remained to be distributed in the whole of the United Kingdom. I regret that I cannot state the number of persons who failed to take up their ration books during the first run through the alphabet, which was expected to come to an end in most areas on 3rd July. An announcement will be made shortly with reference to the procedure for distributing books not then taken up.


    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether the fish sold as kippers are kippered on orthodox lines?

    Yes, Sir. In most cases kippers are being cured at the present time in the orthodox manner. There is, however, evidence of undesirable practices on the part of some traders which would appear to be an offence against the Fish (Maximum Prices) Order. My Department is taking action to deal with cases of this kind.

    National Finance

    "Wings For Victory" Weeks

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount invested in "Wings for Victory" weeks up to the last convenient date?

    The campaign ended on 3rd July. Final figures for some of the later weeks are still outstanding but it is estimated that the total for the United Kingdom will be some £605,000,000.

    Purchase Tax (Farming Implements)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in his next Budget, he will consider waiving the Purchase Tax on farming implements which are sanctioned as vitally necessary by the county war agricultural committees?

    Farming implements are not subject to Purchase Tax as such. If my hon. and gallant Friend is aware of any case in which Purchase Tax has been charged on vitally necessary farming implements perhaps he would let me have particulars.

    Aircraft Production (Directions)

    asked the Minister of Aircraft Production what Orders he has made under sub-paragraphs (c), (d) or (da) of paragraph (1) of Regulation 55 of the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, or paragraph da) of the same Regulation?

    None, Sir. But nine Directions have been issued to firms, under the appropriate Orders, for the production of books and records.

    Greece (Food Supplies)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare what actual requests for supplementary food have been received from the Neutral Commission on the spot in Greece; and whether any further supplies of milk have been asked for?

    In April last the Commission requested that the 3,000 tons of haricot beans which had formerly been imported each month should be replaced by 2,000 tons of peas and lentils and 1,000 tons of wheat. This request has been agreed to except that soup concentrates have been substituted for lentils. Monthly consignments of milk consisting either of 100 tons of dried milk or 300 tons of condensed milk have been shipped at the request of the Commission since last November. At the end of last month a further request was received, but there appears to have been faulty transmission, and further clarification is being sought. A request has also been received for certain special milk foods, and this is under consideration. An earlier request for 3,000 tons of stock fish was not granted.

    School Premises, Aberdeen (Occupation)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the names of the secondary schools in Scotland which are still working on a half-time basis because of the continued occupation of school premises for other than educational purposes; and what steps he is taking, in the cases concerned, to obtain early possession of the affected schools so that full-time education may be resumed without delay?

    According to returns furnished by education authorities showing the position at 13th June last, the Grammar School and the Central Secondary School in Aberdeen Burgh were the only schools in Scotland where the provision of half-time instruction for secondary pupils is attributable to the occupation of premises for non-educational purposes. I am glad to say that the Corporation have now agreed to proposals which I hope will enable full-time education to be restored at an early date.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the strong feeling in Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire at the apparent reluctance of the Aberdeen town council to release the Central School, Aberdeen, for its proper purpose; and whether he is prepared any longer to allow the continuance of a half-day basis of education at this school which has been in force now for four years, to the detriment of the pupils concerned, and to their disadvantage compared with children attending other secondary schools in the city?

    The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As regard the second part, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply to his previous Question.

    Royal Air Force Personnel (Pay)

    asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the serious discontent that exists among sergeant wireless-operators and air-gunners owing to the differences in pay, 9s. against 13s. 6d., paid to pilots, bomb-aimers and navigators; and whether anything can be done by his Department to pay these men something like equal rates?

    The rates of pay of the various categories of non-commissioned aircrew vary according to qualifications and responsibilities. The position of wireless operators (air-gunner) and air-gunners has recently been the subject of review, as a result of which the former are now eligible for an additional shilling a day if they possess certain additional qualifications. Wireless operators (air-gunner) in the rank of sergeant now receive 9s., 10s. and us. a day according to qualifications. Moreover, the rules governing promotion both of wireless operators (air-gunner) and of air-gunners have recently been revised so as to allow of promotion to the rank of warrant officer. All things considered, the rates of pay and conditions of service as thus improved are, I think, equitable compared with those of other categories of aircrew.