§ Mr. MELLER
(by Private Notice) asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he can give any information with regard to the circumstances in which two Royal Air Force aeroplanes collided at Wallington on Thursday last; whether stunt flying was taking place, and, if so, would he see that manoeuvres of this kind are confined to open spaces; whether he is aware that the aeroplanes carried machine guns loaded with live cartridges and that many of the cartridges exploded in all directions to the danger of human life, and whether the carrying of live cartridges in ordinary flying practice is contrary to instructions, and, if not, can he give an assurance that the practice will be discontinued in times of peace?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Mr. Montague)
The accident to which the hon. Member refers happened in the course of normal service exercises which were being carried out by two aircraft of a squadron stationed at Kenley aerodrome. This aerodrome is an integral part of the system of air defence of this country, and it is essential to the efficiency of the units stationed there that they should be able to carry out their training from their own aerodrome. It would be impracticable to limit such training to remote and unpopulated areas. The cartridges carried by one of the aircraft were part of its full equipment, practice in the carrying of which is again a necessary 1537 part of training. There has been no previously recorded instance in similar circumstances of cartridges exploding after impact, but orders are being issued to limit as far as possible in future the number of occasions on which live ammunition will be carried during training exercises.
§ Mr. MELLER
If it is necessary for these Royal Air Force aeroplanes at Kenley to direct their attention round about their aerodrome, will the hon. Member see that they pay less attention to districts like Wallington, Carshalton and Waddon, which are in the area of the Waddon aerodrome? The aeroplanes come over these parts persistently, whereas there is a large tract of country in Surrey and Sussex which is far less populated, in which they could do their exercises.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
The answer to the question of the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Meller) is that the defence of London is of some importance.