HC Deb 08 March 1923 vol 161 cc711-3
48. Captain Viscount CURZON

asked the Prime Minister whether he can give the names of and the terms of reference to the Committee set up to consider the relation of the Royal Air Force to the other Services; if the question of the Royal Navy will receive prior consideration; whether the relations between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force will be the subject of an interim Report; and if, or by what date, the Government will be able to decide upon the question?


The question has been referred to the Committee of Imperial Defence, and it is not customary to announce the precise terms of reference to that body. The general scope of the inquiry was indicated in my reply to my Noble and gallant Friend on the 5th March. As regards the latter parts of the question, the Committee will be given a free hand to conduct the inquiry in the manner best calculated to secure a satisfactory result.

Viscount CURZON

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that he does not propose to set up a special committee to deal with it ad hoc, but a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence?


It is a committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, to which other names will be added.

Captain BENN

Will the Report be published?


No, I do not think it is customary to do that.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the necessity for an early report, having regard to the fact that the Navy at present is maintaining 1,140 men in excess of requirements to man these craft in case they are handed over to the Navy?


Yes, I am aware of the fact mentioned, but this agreement has been come to.

Captain HENN

Is it a fact that the Navy is holding men in reserve to man aircraft which have not been allotted to them and which it is not decided they shall have?

50. Commander BELLAIRS

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the promise to the House on the Navy Estimates, 16th March, 1922, by the Leader of the House that a committee would he appointed to examine carefully into the system of naval and air co-operation, and to advise how we can best secure an Air Force to give the Navy the aid it may require, whether he can state why the Navy was never called upon to give evidence before such a committee; and who was responsible for this failure?


As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend on the 5th March, the Committee referred to did not report. With the approval of the late First Lord of the Admiralty and the late Secretary of State for Air, it was arranged that in the first instance the late Secretary of State for the Colonies should take the matter up in- formally with the First Sea Lord and the Chief of the Air Staff, with a view to arriving at an agreement agreeable to both Services. When the change of Government took place no agreement had then been arrived at.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the House remained entirely ignorant of this fact, and that we thought the inquiry was proceeding all the time, upon the promise made to us in the Naval Debates?