Skip to main content

Royal Air Force

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Air Training Corps


asked the Secretary of State for Air the present strength of the A.T.C.; and the maximum allowed.

The present strength of the A.T.C. is about 47,000 The maximum strength allowed is 75,000.

Is it not rather a pity that this excellent corps is being allowed to run down like this? What is my right hon. Friend doing to encourage them?

I think it was inevitable that there should be some drop after the war. But that drop was arrested at the end of last year, and the force is now increasing.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the strength of the force as compared with a year ago?

Considerably less. A year ago it was about 57,000. It fell at the end of January to 46,600, and has since begun to increase.

Oakington And Waterbeach


asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of aircraft operating from the R.A.F. stations at Oakington and Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire; on what service the machines are engaged; the total number of persons employed at each station and the total cost thereof.

One squadron of 20 aircraft is based at Oakington, and another squadron at Waterbeach. The aircraft are Yorks, and they are engaged in the passenger and freight services run by Transport Command to the Middle East, India and Singapore. Nine hundred and thirty-four members of the R.A.F. are stationed at Oakington, and 801 at Waterbeach. The cost of the two stations is about £560,000 a year.

Could not my right hon. Friend see that the personnel of these two stations were all put on one station, which would release about 300 or 400 acres for food production?

My hon. Friend is wrong in thinking that one station could take both squadrons.

Would it not be possible to concentrate our air strength in that part of the world at the old-established prewar stations like Mildenhall, Stradishall and Honington, instead of keeping so many of them on good arable land, which is being wasted?

The whole question of the location of our stations has been under consideration for a long time.

Miho Air Station


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that at the B.C. air station at Miho, Japan, potatoes are issued with only three meals a week; that there was no heating for airmen throughout the winter; that mail from the United Kingdom takes nearly four weeks to arrive; and what steps he proposes to take to improve conditions at this station.

I have received full reports from the British Commonwealth Air Station at Miho on all the matters mentioned in his Question by my hon. Friend. For the last seven weeks, potatoes have been served on the average, 11 times a week; the airmen's messing committee consider that the quantity and the quality of the food are very good. Airmail usually takes a fortnight to reach Miho from the United Kingdom; sometimes it may take a few days longer, when aircraft are delayed by adverse weather. The heating of the buildings at Miho during the winter left much to be desired; the station offices, the messes and the recreation rooms were heated, but for most of the winter most of the sleeping quarters were not. I am glad to assure my hon. Friend that temporary stoves have now been provided in nearly all of them; for next winter permanent steam heating will be installed.

Can the Minister say why, nearly two years after the war, conditions in Miho should approximate so closely to the conditions in Great Britain?

Surplus Telephones


asked the Secretary of State for Air if, in view of the delay suffered by the general public in being put on the telephone, owing to shortage of material, including instruments, he will release to the Post Office the many instruments lying idle at Tarrant Rushton aerodrome.

Yes, Sir. The hon. and gallant Member will be glad to know that the Post Office have already been asked to take away all the telephones at Tarrant Rushton that are no longer needed by the R.A.F.

Tarrant Rushton (Guard)


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that the aerodrome and buildings at Tarrant Rushton are practically unguarded, with the result that there is no protection for the large amount of valuable Government property still there; and what action he proposes to take to prevent theft.

The station at Tarrant Rushton is not now in use, but a small detachment of the R.A.F. is stationed there to act as guard. I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for raising the matter, and I have given instructions that careful inquiries should be made.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at times there is no one on the aerodrome at all?

I have seen the reports in the Press, and I am inquiring into the matter.

Why was not this done before? Is it not a case of incompetence?

I do not understand what the hon. Member means. There has been a guard on the station. Allegations have been made that on one occasion the aerodrome was unguarded, and I am inquiring into that matter.


19 and 20.

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) whether he is aware that the theatrical performance, "Wings," produced and presented by his Department, is being advertised extensively, and almost exclusively, by means of fly-posting; and whether this has been authorised by his Department;

(2) whether his attention has been called to the continuous fly-posting of recruiting bills on private property by his Department and to the consequent defacement of existing Government and other posters; by whose authority this has been done, in contra-distinction to other classes of Government advertising; and if he will give instructions for the immediate discontinuance of this practice.

I regret that the practice of fly-posting has been adopted by some local recruiting officers. This was done without the authority of my Department, and I have given instructions that it must stop at once.

Is not the Minister aware that the Labour Movement generally was built up by fly-posting?

I think that the Labour Movement has more solid foundations than that, but in any case the practice has the disadvantage of being illegal, so T have stopped it.

Personal Case


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether 4018804 A.C.2 J. B Starkey, stationed at R.A.F. camp, Bridgnorth, Salop, whose commanding officer has recommended his release from the Service on the ground of the extreme financial hardship suffered by this airman's family, has yet been released

I am considering with every care the application for release made by A.C.2 Starkey, and I will write to my hon. Friend with the least possible delay.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a matter of principle is at stake here? Is he aware that the man's commanding officer, after a full review of the facts, recommended his release, and that during the two months this case has been under consideration conditions have so deteriorated that a grant has had to be made to this airman from the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund?

Yes, Sir, it was because it was thought there was real hardship that it was decided to make a grant from the Benevolent Fund. I fully agree that this is a very important matter, and that is why I am giving it my personal attention.