asked the Secretary of State for Air why permission has been given for the United States 509th Long-range Bomber Group to be stationed in the United Kingdom.
The 509th Bomber Group is visiting this country under the arrangements referred to in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) and the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) on 28th July, 1948.
As that was some time ago, perhaps the Minister would be kind enough to repeat the reason he gave on that occasion, particularly in view of the fact that No. 509 Long-Range Bomber Group of the United States Air Force is a bomber group specially trained in atomic bomb technique?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I trust that the House and the country will note that "hear, hear."—And will the Minister also explain why this bomber group trained in that technique, is to remain in this country?
With regard to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary, the reason I gave on 28th July for the visit of these various squadrons to this country was for training and good-will purposes. As regards the second part of the question, it may well he that the operational function of this particular group during the war was the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, but there is no difference in essence between this particular group and any ether B29 group of the United States Air Force, and in those circumstances, I can see no reason why we should not welcome this group to this country.
In view of the nature of the reply given by the Minister, and of the fact that the country will be very concerned about this matter, irrespective of what the Opposition say, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the first opportunity.