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Royal Air Force

Volume 440: debated on Wednesday 16 July 1947

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Levies, Aden (Duties)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the present strength of the levies in Aden; what duties they perform; and whether he is satisfied that they fulfil their purpose.

The Aden levies assist in the local defence of the Protectorate, and in guarding the stations of the R.A.F. I am glad to assure my hon. Friend that they carry out these duties to the general satisfaction of all concerned. It would not be in accordance with present practice to disclose their strength.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in a recent disturbance in Aden these levies were not used, and that it seems likely that Arab levies are not to be used against Arabs? Is he further aware that there is a rumour that the number of levies is to be further increased?

I have not had any of the information of which my hon. Friend speaks, but if he will send it to me I will have it considered. My information is that up to the present these levies have done a good job.

Aircraftman's Death (Departmental Error)


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he has now considered the details which have been sent to him concerning the treatment meted out to L.A.C. Streatfield, deceased; and if he will make a statement.

Yes, Sir. I am grateful to the hon. Member for bringing the sad case of L.A.C. Streatfield to my attention, and I should like to express my deep sympathy with his parents in the loss which they have sustained. The facts are as follow: L.A.C. Streatfield arrived from India on 7th of May. On 8th of May he was sent on a month's disembarkation leave. Ten days later he fell ill and his father called in a local doctor. On 21st of May, he was admitted to one of the civil hospitals of the Ministry of Health's Emergency Medical Service, where he died that night. The cause of death was malaria, from which L.A.C. Streatfield had previously suffered. Letters of sympathy were sent to the parents by Streatfield's commanding officer, and by the Air Council but, owing to a mistake in the Record Office, other units concerned were not notified of his death. In consequence, Mr. and Mrs. Streatfield subsequently received a notice of extension of leave, and a posting notice, and the civil police called to inquire why he had not rejoined his unit. Disciplinary action will be taken if individual responsibility for the error can be traced, and I will do everything I can to ensure that no such thing shall happen again.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his full answer, may I ask him whether, in view of the inhuman treatment of the family, it is possible for him to write a personal apology to the parents?

I will certainly do as the hon. Member has suggested. These accidents in a big administration must happen, but this is the first of its kind there has been in the Air Force.

Married Quarters, Syerston


asked the Secretary of State for Air why none of the 60 married quarters being built at the R.A.F. station, Syerston, are to be allotted to officers.

All the married quarters now being built at Syerston are of the type designed for airmen, and they are all required for airmen and their wives and families. Several proposals have been and are being considered for the provision of officers' married quarters, but I regret that so far the difficulties have not been overcome.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this aerodrome is in a very sparsely populated rural area, and that married officers have the greatest difficulty in finding accommodation for their wives? Is it the policy of the Air Ministry that married quarters should be built only for other ranks?

Not at all. In many places we have managed to arrange for married quarters for officers. There are great difficulties. But I am well aware of the hardship at Syerston, and I hope that some arrangement can be made.

Free Travel Warrants


asked the Secretary of State for Air why the number of free travel vouchers has been reduced from four a year to three.

During the war, men and women in the Services were given four free warrants a year when they went on leave. When the pay of the Services was improved, it was felt that the heavy cost of this wartime concession could no longer be justified, and in 1946 the number of free warrants was reduced from four to three. Pending a final decision, instructions have been given that during the present year only two free warrants should be issued.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that if the Government insist on retaining Forces far larger than we can afford they should at least treat them decently, and not make petty inroads into this wartime concession? Will he take steps to see that the policy is reversed?

I would remind my hon. Friend that conditions now are not the same as they were when this wartime concession was introduced, and that the cost is very heavy. One extra warrant given to the Royal Air Force costs the nationĀ£500,000.

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this cut is most inequitable as between man and man, since the amount spent on going home depends on where the man's home happens to be?

Yes, Sir, but it also depends on the posting. Broadly, I think it evens itself out although, of course, there must be some inequalities.

In view of the answer which the right hon. Gentleman has given, can he say whether reduced fare passes are still being issued?