HC Deb 30 November 1920 vol 135 cc1101-2
36. Commander Viscount CURZON

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the larger airships of this country are to be turned over to private concerns, whether, before any changes of policy with regard to the Air Force take place, he will undertake that Parliament will have an opportunity of debating the matter; what work has recently been carried out by our large rigid or semi-rigid airships; and whether all these airships are to be considered as being in full commission and in a state of complete readiness for use in all respects at short notice?


The Department of Civil Aviation will temporarily take over, as from 1st December, all airships, bases and material, surplus to service requirements, in order to carry out experimental work of an operational character, such as mooring-mast tests and flights of primary importance, to gauge the ships' capacity for commercial operation. This arrangement involves no modification of policy in regard to the Air Force. The work on which rigid airships have been engaged is that of training Royal Air Force and American personnel, and routine work with the Navy. With regard to the last part of the question, these airships cannot all be considered as being in full commission.

Viscount CURZON

Does the right hon. Gentleman's answer mean that a proper force of airships to co-operate with the Navy will not be available in future, but will belong to the Department of Civil Aviation instead?


No, Sir; we are keeping as many airships as we can possibly afford for work with the Navy, but we have more airships than we can afford to man and staff in the Air Force, and these are being used experimentally by the Civil Department, and we should be very glad if commercial firms would come forward and take them over.