97. Mr. THOMAS
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether all officers of the Royal Air Force have been ordered to equip themselves with swords; and what is the approximate cost of these weapons?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The provision of full dress uniform (of which a sword forms part) is at present optional. The wearing of the sword with any other Royal Air Force uniform has not been authorised, and no order has been issued compelling officers of the Royal Air Force to equip themselves with swords. In reply to the second part of the question, the cost of sword, scabbard, belt and slings, together with sword knot, is approximately £11.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
May I ask if the senior officers of this Force will have to wear spurs as well?
Is it optional? Do not men in the Force copy each other, and if 412 one man buys a sword, another man feels compelled to buy a sword also?
Am I not in order in asking a question without being called to order by the right hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I was not in the least challenging the hon. Gentleman on the point of Order, only as a matter of the general convenience of the House.
§ Captain W. BENN
Are Air officers permitted to attend ceremonial occasions, if they have not got swords?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, I think not. It may well be that the House would like an opportunity of debating this rather difficult question, about which there is necessarily and admittedly a great difference of opinion. Personally, I do not shrink from such a discussion, although I do not assume that any discussion will produce unanimity of opinion. Still, the reasons for the action would be made clear. I am certain that no advantage will be reached by a number of interesting questions at this stage.