HC Deb 02 July 1923 vol 166 cc39-40
72. Mr. BATEY

asked the Secretary of State for Air what progress has been made by the Research Department towards defensive methods other than fighting in the air?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness)

I have been asked to reply. One Regular and two Territorial Air Defence Brigades are in process of formation. Improvements in armaments and material are being developed, but I cannot in a Parliamentary answer give the technical details involved.


Is not the amount appropriated to research work in the Air Service wholly inadequate for the purpose of that Service?

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

I cannot answer about the Air Service. If the hon. Gentleman will look at the question, he will see that it is concerned with the steps taken in relation to defence from attack from the air, and that the organisation to which I am referring is the School of Anti-Aircraft Defence, and the Searchlight Experimental Establishment at Biggin Hill.


What proportion of the numbers required for this anti-aircraft defence have been obtained?

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

I should like notice of that question.


Does the Minister remember that, when the Estimates were before the House, we were told that some of the money would be used for research, and I want to know whether any of that money has been applied to defensive methods rather than to fighting in the air. His reply to my question did not seem to answer that point.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

Most certainly. Money is being spent on research, which is a very important subject; but, in view of the time of the House, I cannot now go into the organisation or the technical details.


Is the whole of this money being devoted to the purposes of fighting, or of aggressive work, rather than for defensive methods—that is what I want to know?

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

Most of this sum for research is in connection with our artillery and searchlight experiments, and various technical matters of the sort.


Is any part of the money being used to find defensive methods, rather than those for fighting in the air?

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS


73. Mr. BATEY

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will state the number of men trained in the art of flying with the commercial air service and who could be utilised for the purposes of defence if it became necessary; and the number of air machines now used for the commercial air service that could be utilised for defence?


As regards the first part of the question, whilst 704 civilian pilots' licences have been issued during the last few years, only 104 of these licences are still current. As regards the second part of the question, there are 30 airworthy machines on the civil register which could be utilised for operational purposes in emergency, but I would add, in qualification of this figure, that the variety of types would cause difficulties in keeping the machines efficient under service conditions. In addition there are 50 airworthy machines which could be used for training but not for operations.