HC Deb 03 March 1926 vol 192 cc1426-7
56 and 57. Sir CHARLES CAYZER

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) the present strength in fully-trained air pilots and first-line aeroplanes of the following Powers: France, Italy, and the United States; whether he has any information showing the extent to which the above-mentioned Powers intend to increase these air forces in pilots and first-line machines in the near future; and whether he has any information as to the cost of the proposed increases;

(2) the amounts spent on their respective Air Forces for the financial year 1925–26, or during the last account period available, translated for purposes of comparison into pounds sterling at present rates of exchange, of the following Powers: Great Britain, France, Italy, and the United States; and whether he can state the number of first-line aeroplanes available in a sudden emergency at present maintained by the above-mentioned Powers?


As the reply is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

As regards the first line aircraft of France and Italy, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) on 10th February; according to the latest information available the first line strength of the United States is about 600 machines. Whilst these countries have not, so far as I am aware, recently published any exact statistics of their flying personnel, the report of the Morrow (American) Aircraft Board gives the number of Italian pilots as 921, whilst the corresponding French figure is shown as 3,184. The same report gives the number of United States pilots as 1,473. I understand that the French Naval Air Service is eventually to be increased to 50 squadrons, and the Italian Air Service to 182 squadrons, but I have no information as to the cost involved nor of any contemplated increases in the French Military Air Service or in the United States Air Services.

As regards the amounts spent in 1925–26, as stated in my reply to the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Groves) on 29th July last, it is not possible to segregate the expenditure of France and the United States upon their air services from their general naval and military expenditure on a basis comparable with British air expenditure—and adequate information is not available in regard to the cost of the Italian air service. In this connection I may say that the Norrow Report above referred to expressly recognises the impossibility of comparing the so-called air expenditure of the various Powers.

As regards the air expenditure of Great Britain, I would refer my hon. Friend to Air Estimates. A deduction of approximately £1,250,000 should, however, be made from the figures there given in respect of civil aviation, meteorology, supplies to British and Indian Army personnel in the Middle East, and other services which cannot properly be included in the cost of the Royal Air Force.

Further, Air Estimates include, in addition to maintenance charges, a large element of capital expenditure in connection with the expansion of the Royal Air Force for Home Defence.