HC Deb 17 May 1928 vol 217 cc1204-5
50. Sir R. THOMAS

asked the Secretary of State for Air what were the circumstances 'under which Lieutenant D. F. C. Scott, of the Essex Regiment, met his death whether officers of the Regular Army can be compelled to fly what Regulation provides that such an order can be issued to them: and how many., have lost their lives in flying?

The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Samuel Hoare)

As regards the first part of the question, Lieutenant Scott was flying as a passenger in an Air Force machine in accordance with a scheme under which Army officers are attached for short periods to the Air Force for the purpose of gaining air experience. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative, and to the third part, that the Regulation is contained in Army Order 304 of 1924, which provides that officers and other ranks of the Army may be ordered to go up in the air. As regards the last part of the question, four Army officers attached to the Royal Air Force have been killed in flying accidents since 1st January, 1920; in addition, three British officers serving with the Iraq Levies and one Indian Army officer have been killed while attached to the Royal Air Force.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the mother of Lieutenant Scott wrote to the Minister to ask him when it was made compulsory for officers of the Army to take a course of instruction of observation from the air and the Ministry have not had the courtesy to answer the mother of this unfortunate gallant gentleman?


I am very sorry if no answer has been sent to the mother. It may, of course, be due to the fact that the greater part of the question really concerns the War Office rather than the Air Ministry, but I will certainly look into the matter at once and see that an answer is sent, either by my Department or by the War Office.


Will the right hon. Gentleman represent to the Secretary of State for War that it is inadvisable to make flying compulsory for Army officers and that it would be more proper to appeal for volunteers?


Is it the case that young officers have to go up only with pilots who have passed all their examinations and are duly qualified?


Certainly, they will go up only with duly qualified pilots. I will convey the hon. Member's observations to my right hon. Friend, but I think he will see how necessary it is that Army officers should familiarise themselves with flying and Air Force questions.


Are we to understand from the answer that has been given that if any individual in the Army has an objection to going up in the air, the fact is taken into consideration?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that action was taken in the Civil Flying Corps at Waddon and that the compulsory forcing of men to go up in the air has been withdrawn, and does he not think that it would be a good thing if the Air Force adopted this course also?