A total of 145 pilots formally applied to leave the Royal Air Force in the last three financial years.
Does the Minister agree that the RAF needs to do everything possible to retain its experienced pilots, particularly in the light of competition from the civil sector? Will he look at the case of 100 experienced pilots who have been disadvantaged in relation to their peers by the latest change to pay and conditions?
I absolutely recognise that we need to retain our experienced pilots, and of course a number of financial retention schemes are in place to do that. Equally, pilots have the choice as to whether or not they remain flying, by going into a specialist flying scheme, or stop flying, by going into the general scheme. Since the announcement that we would be buying nine P-8s, I have been deeply encouraged by the number of commercial pilots who have left the RAF and now want to re-join.
RAF pilots from Lossiemouth and other military personnel in my constituency have contacted me about the Scottish National party’s “nat tax”, which makes Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom and potentially a less desirable posting. Does the Minister agree that the SNP should drop these dangerous plans? If it will not, what support could the Government give RAF personnel in Scotland, who will face paying more tax than their counterparts south of the border?
Don’t bang on about SNP policy—we don’t need to do that. The esteemed Minister should focus on the latter part of the question, which was orderly and did relate to the policy of the Government, for which he is responsible.
I would not dream of banging on about the SNP, but it is of course for it to justify to our armed forces personnel its higher rate of income tax. I have yet to be contacted by any RAF pilots wishing to leave, and I will continue to do my best to ensure that they will want to stay in the RAF.