HC Deb 20 May 1919 vol 116 cc181-2
11. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the amount expended to date by the Government at Halton Camp, near Aylesbury; and whether he will explain the reason for the large provision of buildings and sheds and the equally large development of the ground to be covered by the camp and its suburbs, in view of the existence of Government camps and factories, as well as Woolwich Arsenal, that probably could be used for the purposes for which Halton Camp is intended?


asked the Under-Secretary of State to the Air Ministry whether it is intended to complete the aircraft works at Wendover, Bucks; and, if so, will he explain why the contractors are not supplied with the plans necessary for carrying on the work?

The UNDER-SECRETARY Of STATE to the AIR MINISTRY (Major-General Seeley)

The approximate expenditure to date on the purchase of land and the provision of buildings at Halton is £560,000. The camp was taken over from the War Office in 1917 and has since been used as a technical training centre for men and boys of the Air Service. During this period a large quantity of machinery and plant has been installed, the dismantlement and removal of which would involve heavy expenditure and interruption to training. Under the peace organisation of the Royal Air Force it is proposed to utilise Halton as the staff college, a recruiting depot, a training centre and a record office.


Are we to understand that the expenditure on Halton Camp will be completed, and can the right hon. Gentleman say how much money will be spent on the completion of this establishment?

Major-General SEELEY

I was there on Saturday and I have no doubt that this is the best place for the various purposes which I have referred to. I do not carry in my mind the exact amount that will be required to complete it, but it is a very much less sum than that we have already spent. I think it would be economical to-complete it.


Has this site been determined with any fixed idea of the size of the Air Force in view of the fact that the Estimates which have been submitted to this House are only temporary?

Major-General SEELY

Whatever the size of the Air Force—and it does not appear to me to be likely that any very great reduction will be made in view of our commitments ail over the world—and apart from any question of European needs, the camp will be a suitable place for a staff college, which we must have, and a training centre, which we must have, and especially for the training of boys as mechanics, since we have already got the most elaborate machinery installed there.


What does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mean by committments all over the world?


The League of Nations.

Major-General SEELY

It is a very large question to answer, and I cannot deal with it by question and answer, but it is quite apparent that we must have an Air Force in view of our commitments not in any controversial sense, but that in view of air patrolling we must have a suitable Air Force, and we must have a place for a staff college and for training mechanics.


What is—


We are not now discussing the Air Estimates.