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Married Quarters

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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31.

asked the Secretary of State for Air why, as from 1st July, 1961, the system of allocating married quarters to Royal Air Force personnel will be changed.

Since the end of the war the allocation of married quarters has been decided largely by the family circumstances of the officer or airman concerned. Under the new system family commitments will still be given weight, but with the change-over to an all-regular force we think it right to place the main emphasis on Service responsibilities as reflected in length of service and rank.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman been informed that many airmen bitterly resent the fact that con- siderations of rank are to be introduced into the system for the allocation of married quarters? Is he aware that many airmen, having signed on for extended service in the belief that under the present system they would obtain justice, now deeply regret having done so? Will the right hon. Gentleman scrap this system and formulate a new one which will give justice to these men without consideration of rank?

I have visited fairly extensively Air Force stations in this country and in Germany. I have heard the pros and cons of the new system debated. I should have thought that, on the whole, opinion was in favour of the new system. That is the impression that I have derived. I think that the hon. Gentleman must realise, and will agree with me, that conditions as well as pay form part of the material rewards of a Service and that it is right that housing should be allocated to some extent in terms of length of service and rank as well as the size of families.

Is it not a fact that, with more weight now being given to rank rather than to family commitments, airmen who are in trades where promotion is slow will be unfairly penalised?

No, I do not think so, because length of service could be just as important as rank, and a man will keep ahead of people with shorter service in his own rank and may even remain ahead of men with less service who have reached a higher rank.