HC Deb 29 November 1916 vol 88 cc313-4

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what proportion of the 95.1 per cent. of the Royal Naval Air Service who are not pilots are serving at home; and what percentage of the officers and men so serving at home are of military age?


Seventy-five per cent. of the Royal Naval Air Service personnel—excluding pilots—are serving at home. My hon. Friend will, of course, be aware that there are many duties which render this necessary. The handling of airships demands a considerable proportion of men per pilot. Then there are mechanics and men engaged on transport and administration work, officers and men engaged on instructional work, and those also employed in connection with experimental gunnery and flying work, and, finally, there is, as my hon. Friend knows, a proportion of the personnel employed on coast and sea patrol work. The exact percentage of the officers and men so serving who are of military age cannot be ascertained without a large amount of clerical labour, but it has been estimated for me that about 90 per cent. come within this category.


Could not many of the men engaged in clerical work, and some of the control men, be replaced by older men, so that the men of military age might be released for active service?


In regard to the clerical staff, it has been recently examined, and as to the other part of the question, I will put the point before the responsible authorities.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether No. 3 Wing of the Royal Naval Air Service, numerically the largest wing of the Royal Naval Air Service, was sent by the Admiralty to its present position on the Continent, where it has been quartered since July, without application for either their presence or their services by Sir Douglas Haig or the general commanding the Royal Flying Corps; and whether either of these officers has the right to call on such wing for help if needed? If the right hon. Gentleman feels that to answer this question would not be in the national interest I do not want it answered.


You ought to have thought of that before you put it down.


The force in question was sent in answer to a request from the French military authorities, with whom it is at present serving, and who are, I believe, much satisfied with its performance. It does not operate in the vicinity of the British Line, nor is it under the British General Headquarters. But of course it forms part of the general forces of the Crown which can be used by the Government wherever they are most needed.