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Royal Air Force

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1951

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Airmen (Clothing Allowances)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what are the clothing allowances granted to Regular airmen and National Service airmen, respectively.

Regular airmen receive £5 12s. 0d. a year in areas where tropical kit is worn and £6 4s. 0d. in other areas; National Service airmen receive £2 9s. 0d. a year in all areas. A revision of these rates is now being considered for both Regulars and National Service men.

When the Minister is considering the revision of these rates will he do what he can to remove the discrepancy between men serving side by side in the same units?

I could not give any such undertaking because the requirements of Regulars are quite different from those of National Service men. As the hon. Gentleman knows, National Service men serve two years and it is estimated that they do not require any replacement of their uniforms in two years. On the other hand, the Regulars have to replace their uniforms.

Class G Reserve


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make a statement showing how many G reservists to whom notices of recall for training have been, or are to be, sent, had served one, two, three, four, five or six years before VJ day.

This information is not available and it would entail a disproportionate amount of work to obtain it. It is estimated, however, that about 3,000 of those who are being recalled saw service in the last war.

Is the Minister aware that in at least one village I know, six out of eight men being called up under the G Reserve scheme are 38, 39 or 40 years of age or over? Does he think that this is carrying out the pledge to make sure that there is not a disproportionate number of those being called who served in the last war and who are now getting on to middle age?

I quite appreciate the point of view of the man who is 40 years of age, who may be called up even for 15 days' training; but the object of the whole scheme is to increase our preparedness in the event of an emergency this year and it has to be realised that it is most desirable to have men who have had experience.


asked the Secretary of State for Air how many Class G reservists to whom calling-up papers have been sent were under 35; how many were between 35 and 40; and how many were over 40.

Of the Class G reservists to whom warning notices of call-up have been sent, 710 are aged 40 or over. Figures of those under 35, and between 35 and 40, are not readily available, but as soon as the scheme is in full operation I will be glad to give these figures.

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether the 710 men are all specialists?


asked the Secretary of State for Air why the appeal by Mr. F. Jacob, Windy Ridge, Prospect Place, Haverfordwest, against his call-up under Class G Reserve has been turned down in Air Ministry letter A.78379/51/ D.D.M.D./1651963, in view of the fact that he is 42 years of age and his job as a railway clerk was reserved at 35 during the 1939–45 war.

The reason why Mr. Jacob's appeal, which was very fully and sympathetically considered, had to be rejected, is that, as I told the House recently, the number of men in the Air Force trade of Clerk Special Duties, who are available for call-up, is limited, and the grounds on which he appealed were not felt to be sufficiently strong to warrant exemption. The arrangements which during the last war governed the call-up by age groups of men who had not previously received Service training, are not appropriate for the selective recall of trained reservists on the present occasion.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that for a time during the last war I was a special duties clerk myself, that most of my job was taken up with making cups of tea for the officers, and that because I was very successful at this I was very appropriately recommended for a commission in the Intelligence branch?

Could not the Air Ministry secure a considerable reduction in staff if they would use less lengthy references in their letters than, for example, the reference which appears in the Question?

Has not the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) shown himself, to have every qualification for the position of a Parliamentary Private Secretary?


36 and 37.

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) what facilities are provided to enable ex-Royal Air Force personnel in Jamaica to rejoin the Royal Air Force;

(2) whether he will take steps to open a recruiting office in Jamaica.

Ex-R.A.F. personnel living in Jamaica are accepted into the Royal Air Force if they now conform to the standards required; no, facilities are provided in Jamaica, but they can re-join through the recruiting and selection organisation in this country. Any British subjects whether of European descent or otherwise will be admitted to the Royal Air Force provided they attain the requisite standards. But it has never been the practice in peace-time to open recruiting offices overseas; and it is not at present intended to do so.

How do these Jamaicans get here to join up at our recruiting offices? If we want men why cannot some facilities be provided, where one has trained men, to let them join up where they are?

Whether they come from Jamaica, or any other part of the British Commonwealth, they have to make their own way here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It is quite impracticable to pay the expenses of men who may desire to join one of the Forces, because after they arrive here they may be found to be medically unfit or otherwise unacceptable. Therefore, the money is wasted.

Can the Minister say why they should not be medically examined on the spot?

As far as the Royal Air Force is concerned it is not only a question of medical examination but whether they are suitable for a particular trade. Recruits to the R.A.F. are trade-tested.

Was there not a recruiting station in Jamaica during the war?

I do not know whether there was the usual kind of recruiting station. Certainly, recruits were not trade-tested and, as a result, a large proportion of those brought over were found afterwards to be unsuitable; though I hasten to say that many others rendered splendid service.

Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman say why a small trade test board should not visit Jamaica and other areas and test these men, and also make use of a local medical officer? This would be quite easy.

I think the suggestions which have been put forward, including the suggestion in the main Question, are very fair, but I have stated what the policy has always been in the three Services to date. I am not saying that the suggestions will never be operated, but I cannot go beyond a statement of the present position.

Accident, Tillingham


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will investigate the circumstances in which a 320 gallon petrol tank recently fell from an aircraft near the sea-wall at Tillingham, Essex; and if he will make a statement.

I am advised that the petrol tank in question was an auxiliary petrol tank which was released by mistake from a fighter aircraft of the United States Air Force. The aircraft was carrying out a training exercise at the Bradwell Bay firing range. No damage or casualties were caused by the accident.

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say what is the position in cases of this kind if damage or casualties are caused? Is there any procedure for claiming compensation?

Yes, Sir. There is a United States Air Force Claims Commission in this country for the purpose of investigating and settling any claims in respect of damage caused by United States Air Force aircraft.

Princess Flying Boats


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will make a statement on the take-over of the Princess flying boat project by the Royal Air Force.

It has been decided that the three Princess flying boats should be completed for the Royal Air Force. Each boat will have the equivalent lift of one Hastings squadron, and they will, therefore, be a most valuable addition to our transport resources in time of war.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether he is proceeding with any other long-term projects for the development of flying boats? It is felt in this country that we have a considerable amount of operational and manufacturing "know-how" which should not be concentrated on one project only.

The hon. Gentleman will remember that that matter was discussed in the Estimates debate.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when he expects these flying boats to be delivered to the Royal Air Force?

On what port will those flying boats be based when they are in operation? On Southampton?

I am sorry I cannot promise that Southampton will necessarily be one of the bases, but this matter is under consideration.

Us Strategic Air Command, United Kingdom


asked the Secretary of State for Air how many units of the United States Strategic Bomber Command are now stationed in the United Kingdom.

Units of the United States Strategic Air Command at present located in this country comprise a medium bomber group, an escort fighter group, two strategic reconnaissance squadrons all with maintenance and supply backing and a small number of ground detachments.

Has the constitutional position of the presence in this country of units of this Command been looked into, seeing that it comes directly under the orders of the President of the United States and is not part of the Atlantic Treaty Organisation and does not appear to be part of any force over which there is any command or jurisdiction exercised by this country?

I do not think there is any constitutional difficulty whatever. These units are here with the approval, I believe, of the great majority of the people in this country and I think it would be a great pity to confuse the issue by suggesting that there is some constitutional difficulty.

Has it not been a practice over many years for this country freely to invite units of any Allied country to be stationed here under its own discretion?