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Royal Air Force

Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1950

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Camp, Belfast

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Air for what purpose the Sunningdale Camp, Ballysillan Road. Belfast, is at present being used; and whether he proposes to close it.

This camp is used as the headquarters of the Air Ministry works area in Northern Ireland. It will be vacated as soon as suitable alternative accommodation can be found.

Can the Minister say whether alternative accommodation is to be found in Northern Ireland?

Operations, Korea (Overseas Allowances)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make a statement on the suspension of the Singapore local overseas allowance payable to officers and airmen serving in the Far East Flying Boat Wing and now engaged operationally jai the Korean war.

Local overseas allowances are payable in certain areas abroad to enable Service men to meet the necessary extra cost, as compared with the United Kingdom, of maintaining a reasonable standard of living. The allowances for a particular area are assessed on the basis of prices and conditions in that area and cease to be payable, or are reduced, when an officer or airman leaves the area. Single men of the Flying Boat Wing ceased to be entitled to the Singapore rates of local overseas allowance on leaving the Singapore area, while married men who left their families behind in Singapore became entitled to a reduced married rate of allowance. For example, a corporal whose wife and family are not living in quarters in Singapore would suffer a reduction from 26s. 3d. to 22s. 6d. per day. The Flying Boat Wing operates from Japan and the cost of living there does not at present justify single rates of local overseas allowance.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend satisfied that the reduction in the case of married men does not cause considerable hardship to their families, who still have to live in Singapore?

No, I do not think so, because the husband or father is no longer living with his family and that must make a difference to the cost of living.

Overseas Stations (Civilian Employees)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Air to what extent it is possible for local civilian employees of his Department in overseas stations to become established civil servants.

Schemes exist for the establishment of non-industrial civilians of British nationality serving in Gibraltar, Malta and the Middle East, subject to their having completed a minimum period of 10 years aggregate service. The question of introducing similar schemes in other areas is being examined.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what he means by "the Middle East"?

All-Weather Fighters

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what proportion of Fighter Command it is his intention to equip with two-seater all-weather fighters.

It would not be in the public interest to give the precise figures, but I can say that the proportion will be substantial.

While appreciating the reluctance of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to make these figures public, may I ask if he will give an assurance that both he and the Air Staff are seized of their importance?

Yes, Sir. I happen to know what the figures are and that was why I was able to say that the proportion will be substantial.

Advanced Training Aircraft

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps are being taken to provide advanced types of training aircraft for the reserve flying schools.

The supply of advanced training aircraft is at present fully absorbed by the requirements of the regular flying training schools, the number of which is being increased. When their requirements have been met the question of allotting more advanced aircraft to reserve flying schools will be reconsidered. Opportunities are, however, given to members of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve to carry out their annual training in operational commands, where they are given experience on operational aircraft.

Do I understand from that reply that the position is actually no better than it was when I first raised this point in March last? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that before the last war we had at least three front line types of aeroplane in reserve schools, and could he take steps to get even Harvard trainers over here in reserve schools?

Yes, I will certainly consider the question of Harvards, but I would also remind the noble Lord that the question was raised in July this year when I pointed out that the Balliol was just beginning to come off the production lines. It will not, however, come off in any quantity until next year and, in consequence, we must give priority in these circumstances to the regular flying schools.

Russian Jet Aircraft (Performance)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what information he has on the relative performance figures of the operational jet aircraft of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United States of America and this country.

I am assuming that the hon. and gallant Member's Question refers to the latest types of operational jet aircraft. So far as the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.F. are concerned the performance figures of these types are secret. I have no official performance figures for the latest types of Russian jet fighters. We have, however, an R.A.F. officer as a special observer in Korea and we hope to get more definite information about the performance of Russian jet aircraft from this source.

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman has the information, which I hope will be soon, will he tell the House, in a suitable debate, how the Russians are progressing with jet aircraft in design and performance?

I will certainly give sympathetic consideration as to whether I can tell the House the contents of these reports.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that Russian twin jet bombers and four jet bombers were photographed while flying in 1948? Is it not, therefore, extremely important that we should press on with the matter, and will the Minister now dedigitate?

I am not prepared to accept the premises of that question. I have not received any information that operational twin and four jet engine bombers are in service with the Russian Air Force.