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Royal Air Force

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 7 July 1954

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Helicopter Pilots

27.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what provision is being made to increase the numbers of helicopter pilots.

Arrangements have been made to ensure that our plans for increasing the Royal Air Force's helicopter strength are matched by a corresponding output of qualified pilots. Helicopter pilots will continue to be trained under civil contract and, in addition, a small Royal Air Force training unit will shortly be set up.

As it is inevitable that the Army will be requiring many helicopters in the immediate future, will the hon. Gentleman state whether his Department is making preparations for the necessary helicopter pilots?

As I told the hon. Member on 19th May, we have outstanding orders for about 100 helicopters, of which about a half should be delivered by the middle of next year. We shall, of course, train pilots to keep pace with these deliveries.

Low Flying Aircraft (Church Services)

28.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will give instructions to restrict as far as practicable the low flying of aircraft on Sundays during the hours when church services are normally held.

Some training at weekends is inevitable, particularly for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Observer Corps, but every effort is made to restrict low flying during the normal hours of church services on Sundays.

Can my hon. Friend pass on any instructions or suggestions which he may send out to our Allies in the United States and Canadian Air Forces?

Requisitioned Properties

29.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many properties are still held under requisition by his Department; if he will order a new investigation into the circumstances of each case; and if he will direct that prior consideration be given to the original owner, or owners, whenever a sale is contemplated.

Thirty-four buildings and 36,500 acres of land are still held on requisition by the Air Ministry. These requisitions are kept under constant review and we hope to eliminate them completely within the next few years. Since requisitioning does not affect ownership, the last part of the Question does not arise.

In view of the size of the figure relating to the amount of land that is held, can my hon. Friend say whether any progress has been made in de-requisitioning? Secondly, will he pay particular attention to cases like that of Tarrant Rushton Airfield, owned by Commander Marten, on which it is alleged that my hon. Friend proposes to use compulsory powers merely to confirm a letting to a private company? Will he take into account the general public feeling against the principle of this kind of thing?

The Question deals with de-requisition. Since the war we have reduced the number of premises held on requisition from about 6,000 down to 34, and the amount of land from 250,000 acres to 36,500 acres.

National Service Men (Prison Duties)

30.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether instructions have now been issued that National Service men shall not be employed on prison duties at Royal Air Force detention units.

No, Sir. The basis of selection will be a man's aptitude and not the type of engagement on which he happens to be serving. As, however, we are in general choosing older men with previous experience of this type of work, it will be unusual for National Service men to be employed.

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that his reply will be received with some satisfaction, because the nasty affair at Wahnerheide has shown quite clearly that it was undesirable that National Service men should be employed on this kind of duty?