HC Deb 14 March 1933 vol 275 cc1896-915

9.40 p.m.


I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words: this House is of opinion that, in order to develop civil aviation and to ensure an adequate reserve of qualified pilots for military purposes, greater assistance should be given for the encouragement of amateur flying and the formation of light aero plane clubs. The privilege of introducing this Amendment is due to the fortune, or perhaps I should say at this late hour, the misfortune of the Ballot. It has two important aspects, first, the development of civil aviation in relation to the growth and increasing importance of the air service in commerce, transport and in international relations, and, secondly, the provision of adequate reserves of qualified pilots who will be ready in a national emergency to act in the defense of the security of the country. It may seem that there is something inconsistent in these two aspects of the question, but there is no more inconsistency between the development of civil aviation and the importance of civil aviation from the point of view of military requirements than there is between the Maritime forces and the Navy, each of which is complementary to the other. The remarkable successes recently at- tained by British aviation have been referred to more than once tonight, and the great successes in that respect give convincing proof that this nation is, if not the very best, at least equal to any other nation in the world. Therefore, it is time that we took advantage of that opportunity.

There are one or two particular things to which I wish to make reference. One is the security and safety, now a prominent feature of all aircraft. The other is the very remarkable reduction which has recently taken place in the insurance rates which apply to passenger traffic. It was only announced; I think yesterday, that insurance rates had gone down from 12s. per £1,000, per hour flying, to 1s. per £l,000, per hour flying. Surely, this is the time to do everything possible to increase and to encourage this new and growing industry. We should take advantage of the unique opportunities presented to us to foster what will be one of the most important developments in trade and international relations. It is impossible to exaggerate the far-reaching importance of what may happen with regard to the development of transport and passenger traffic in the air. Every country in the world is undoubtedly purchasing and developing aeroplanes and flying services, and with our established reputation we have an opportunity to seize the moment and by so doing may expect to increase our export trade, help to reduce unemployment, and help coal, iron, steel, shipping, engineering, railways, and many other industries.

One point of view that I should like to urge upon the Under-Secretary is an increase in the number of our aerodromes and landing grounds. The lack of these is a serious handicap to development. There should be facilities near every large town for aeroplanes to land, and I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to assure us that attention is being paid to that matter. The immediate point that I wish to urge is that, through the encouragement given to civil aviation and light aero plane clubs, we should get an increase in the number of trained pilots. Every pilot mean more machine, more engines, more equipment, and generally that is the crux of the whole problem.

In the Air Estimates, Vote 8, there is a sum of £ 568,000 devoted to civil avia- tion, of which sum £20,000 is for light aero plane clubs. That represents more that double the corresponding Vote last year, and I should like the Under-Secretary to tell us exactly how that £ 20,000 is to be used. The last report of the Air Ministry on civil aviation, published in 1932, gives a statement of the sums which other nations are spending in the development of this branch of aviation. It appears from the figures quoted that this country is spending about one-fourth of what Germany is spending, one-third of what France is spending, 'and a little more than one-half of what Italy is spending. I was unable to get any information from the figures as to how much of the money which those foreign countries are spending on civil aviation was devoted to what corresponds to our light aero plane clubs, but I think it is probable that at least it is three or four times what we are spending.

The object of the subsidy to light aero plane clubs is to give members an opportunity to learn and to practice the art of flying, and that is done by giving subsidies and capitation grants to those members who succeed in getting one or other of two licences— license "A" for those who intend to be amateur pilots and to engage only in private flying, 'and license "B," which is a higher qualification, the professional qualification, which a pilot must have before he can take up passengers for hire or reward, or before he can engage in commercial flying. I have the figures for the last six or seven years showing the numbers who have been successful in getting "A" and "B" licenses. I will not weary the House with the figures in detail, but they gradually rose from 1927 to 1930 in the proportion of "A" and "B" licenses, but since 1930 'there has been a gradual reduction. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will tell us the reason for that reduction.

The total number of licences held for the last three years compared with the number of privately owned aircraft shows rather notable results. For every six or seven "A" licences there is about one privately owned machine in this country. This gives ground for the fair inference that the number of pilots does bear a very distinct connection with the progress of aviation generally. In the year 1929 the experiment was tried of subsidizing seven professional clubs and the National Flying Services Limited. They were under contract during three years to put down 20 aerodromes and 80 landing grounds, but I understand that they were unable to fulfill their contract. I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to tell us whether these seven clubs are to be kept in existence or to be allowed to die out. I hope that some help will be given to them.

I pass on to the military side of the question. We can only consider that in relation to the policy laid down by the Government on disarmament, and this is not the time for me to discuss that policy. It has already been dealt with very fully by hon. Members who have spoken, but I cannot help saying that our efforts in that direction have not been attended with any remarkable success. Our example has not been followed by any other country, and the time has come to put aside any attempt to persuade any other nation to follow our example. We should think only of our own security. There can be no doubt that the reductions in our armaments of all kinds, Navy, Army and Air Force, have been such as to make people who are not mere scaremongers anxious as to our national security. Until other nations are prepared to agree to the proposals which we have made, we should see to it that our own defenses are secure and that we are in a position to make our voice heard in any international trouble that may come about.

In this respect I cannot help feeling very strongly that half measures are absolutely useless. We must either see that we have a really good force which will give us the right to be heard in any international question, or, failing that, we ought to be content with what would he merely an adequate police force. Anything in the nature of half measures would fail to satisfy anyone. They would simply provoke and encourage other people to take advantage of our position. Unless, therefore, we are prepared to rely on the goodwill of other nations, it is necessary for us to obtain an adequate Air Force, and for that purpose we must look to getting an adequate reserve of trained pilots, ready in a national emergency, with an intensive course of instruction in military aircraft, to take their places as officers in the regular Air Force.

Times have changed. Hitherto this country has depended for its existence on sea power. That day is past. I cannot help feeling that security in the air today is of more importance to us than, or equally as important as the security of the sea has been to us in past years. When one considers the relative cost of a battleship or a battle cruiser with the cost of an aero plane the ratio is most remarkable. One can build 8,000 military aircraft at the cost of one battleship. One can build many thousands of military aircraft at the cost of one cruiser. I cannot help wondering what chance a battleship or cruiser would have if attacked by even one hundred aeroplanes. We have had a recent example of what an aero plane can do in attacking an armed naval vessel. The recent revolt on a Dutch ship was quelled by one bomb dropped from an aeroplane, and if that can happen in the Dutch Navy, it can happen anywhere else. To my mind, 100 aeroplanes attacking a single battleship or cruiser would wipe it out of existence in a very short time.

We have heard anxiety expressed on all sides of the House in regard to the position which we occupy in this matter of air power. We are fifth among the great Powers in regard to air defense, and that is a position which has been commented on so seriously on all sides that I need not refer to it any further. I submit that, by giving assistance to aeroplane clubs, we should be enabled to build up a reserve of pilots who would be ready in a national emergency to take their places in the regular Air Force. They would be, by their previous experience, trained in flying, and in air-mindedness, and they would very quickly be able to act if an emergency should arise. I would like to suggest to the Under-Secretary of State that he should consider giving an additional subsidy to a pilot who holds an "A" license, who passes a medical examination, and who would be prepared to sign on for, say, five years to serve if the occasion arose.

There is one other source of flying to which I should like particularly to draw attention, and that is the universities. There are already in existence two university air squadrons, one at Oxford and one at Cambridge. Those squadrons were started in 1925. They began with an establishment of only 50 members, but that has recently been increased to 75. It was possible to start those squadrons at the two aerodromes, Abington, near Oxford, and Duxford, near Cambridge, and, notwithstanding the somewhat pacifist resolutions to which attention has been drawn, I say that if an emergency should arise, this House and this country need have no anxiety as to what the students of Oxford and Cambridge would do. I should like to remind the House that these two squadrons are strictly civilian. Their members do not serve under any military contract not under any Air Force contract. They have to go through a medical examination, and they are selected very carefully from among a very large number, a much larger number than the establishment permits to be chosen. The instruction is given on service machines by Royal Air Force officers, who have been trained themselves at the Control Flying School.

By means of these two squadrons the young men of Oxford and Cambridge are thoroughly trained in flying, elementary ground subjects, airmanship, air pilot, age rigging, and engines, and it is held that at the end of their course they have qualifications about equal to half what a regular pilot gets when he passes through a regular flying training school. The purpose for which the squadrons were founded were three. They were, first, in order to send into civil life qualified civil pilots who may themselves some day become private owners; secondly, to ensure a high standard of safe airmanship, given under the best instruction and under strict discipline, and by that means to raise the standard of aviation throughout the country; and, thirdly, to build up a reserve of officers for the Reserve and Auxiliary Air Force who would accept the obligation to serve for five years in the event of war.

The combined output of the two universities is about 60 pilots per annum, and if it is assumed that the flying life of a man is about 15 years, it means that in the course of time we should, under our present establishment, have about 900 trained pilots, who, with a further intensive course of instruction, would be ready and willing to take their part as officers in the Royal Air Force. The competition to enter these two squadrons is keen, and if only the establishment could be increased, there is no doubt that we could double our output. All that is necessary for them are a few additional instructors and further machines for training purposes. I do not intend to keep the House any longer, as there are other hon. Members to follow who have experience of their own, which I cannot claim to possess, but from whatever point of view we look at this question, whether from the civil point of view of the development of trade and commerce, or from the military point of view in order to get an adequate reserve of trained officers, I wish to press the importance of this Amendment on the House.

10.2 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

In the speech of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) today he drew a picture of the position of this country as a maritime Power in the old days, and he enlarged on the possibility of this country being an air Power in the future. Quite apart from the military or service aspect of the question, I think we have in this country today a great opportunity, because in every age there has always been one development. There was the steam age, the age of the iron ship, and usually this country has led. We have now an opportunity of leading in this flying age, just as we led in the maritime and shipbuilding age. I think we have made a good start, and not the least part of our good start is the light aeroplane club movement, which is characteristically British, which was developed in this country, and which has been copied throughout most of the Continent, in other parts of the world, and in our British Dominions.

The growth of this movement is really remarkable. I do not wish to weary the House with figures, except to give two sets as a contrast. In 1928 the flying members of our light aeroplane clubs numbered 1,520; in 1931 they numbered 3,433, or over 100 per cent. Increase. In 1928 the flying hours were 10,400; in 1931 they were 24,250, a thing that I think every Member of this House, particularly those who have light aeroplane clubs in or near their constituencies, can very well be proud. This country geographically has disadvantages as regards the development of civil aviation, when we compare ourselves with the wide-open spaces of the United States, but, true to the British tradition, we are not going to be down- cast by these disadvantages and we are offsetting them by the development of our own particular line of flying. The light aeroplane club movement has done two things towards offsetting those disadvantages. It has provided the majority of the all too few facilities that we enjoy for landing in England today—the landing grounds of our municipalities and our seaside resorts and other places— and, secondly, it has gone far to educate the average man and woman in this country to realise that when they see an aeroplane going over head the aeroplane is not about to fall upon their heads, but is a safe and reasonable means of transport.

In the United States there are over 2,000 landing grounds, of which less than 100 belong to the Army and Navy. We in this country have approximately only 450, including those of the Royal Air Force, and if it had not been for the clubs the number would have been very much lower than that today. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary, when he is considering the extension of the number of subsidised flying clubs up to the maximum, will also consider the geographical position of the various clubs that make the application, in order that we can gradually ring England around with a series of landing grounds which will give the flying facilities that are essential if we are to develop our internal air communications.

As regards educating the public, the light aeroplane club is the only possible way in which the average man can fly at a reasonable cost. It is a truly democratic movement. There is a messenger boys' flying club, and there are a Press flying club and a London omnibus men's flying club. Everyone in the House will agree that it is a truly democratic movement and worthy of support without thought of party. If the Government are satisfied that the clubs have fulfilled usefully their dual purpose of developing landing facilities and educating the public, it is the Government's duty to give them some further encouragement. I suggest that there are two ways in which the Government can give that encouragement. The first is by extending the subsidy, and the second is by freeing private flying from some of the restriction under which it at present suffers.

The Mover of the Amendment suggested that there should be an extension of the subsidy to "A" license pilots who have passed a medical test and would give an undertaking to serve at home or abroad if called upon to serve in a national emergency. Such a stipulation as regards the granting of an extra subsidy should appeal to everyone. A national emergency might arise, and there might be the incursion of outside capitalists on a Socialist State. In that case those who were running the Government of the country would be very glad to get these men to defend the country in such a state of national emergency. I think there should be an additional subsidy for certain young men who have not means of their own but wish to fly, and who have the necessary qualifications, in the same way as there are technical scholarships. If Government money is to be granted to help the young men of this country to fly, let us see that it is evenly distributed, and that those who can pass a means test will at any rate have an opportunity of participating in the benefits of such a subsidy.

The second way in which I think the Government could help would be to remove some of the present restrictions on private flying. I want to make it quite clear that any remarks I make do not apply to fare-carrying aeroplanes that fly for hire or reward, because the State and the Department have a duty towards the public who are being carried in public transport machines. We always used to say that an Englishman's home was his castle. The Air Ministry have upset all that now, because if I happen to own a castle I could not build an aeroplane out of my own money in my own workshop, and fly in my own ground, and perhaps kill myself in my own particular fashion, without the permission of the Secretary of State for Air. I think that that is taking Government interference rather too far and is seriously encroaching upon the liberty of the subject. One has to have one's drawings approved, the construction approved, and even the operation of the private aeroplane approved.

Anybody can buy a motor car for a £ 5 note without any provision as to examination of its condition, and one can drive it down Piccadilly and have an accident through the breaking of the steering, and one can cause more damage than probably the average aeroplane fall- ing on the ground would cause; but there is no provision in the Ministry of Transport regulations for the compulsory examination of second-hand cars. In practice accidents to such cars are few and far between. So it is with aircraft. In practice if restrictions are lightened the law of supply and demand will operate, and manufacturers will not make bad aeroplanes, because they will be unable to sell them. I think that the present system is costly to the taxpayer, because the charges made to the average private owner for the looking-over inspection of his' aeroplane do not cover the total charge which these services entail. It is costly to the owner, and it is very inelastic in its operation.

The future of private flying lies with the aeroplane which is going to be built in the future. Where today there are tens of young men who can pay £ 1,000 for an aeroplane, there are hundreds who will pay £ 250. There is being built today a new type of light aeroplane, call it the motor bicycle of the air if you like. I went to Shoreham the other day and flew one of these machines, which had a six-horse power engine. I went rather prepared to jeer at what I thought would be a useless toy, but I came away thinking that there was a great deal more in this idea than I had thought when I started on my flight. At present they fly possibly 40 miles an hour, but on a windy day a strong man on a bicycle can pass underneath. But we are getting beyond that.

There is undoubtedly a future for these aeroplanes. At present they cannot be flown without the special permission of the Department, because they cannot reach certain operational figures for which there is a stipulation of the international convention at Geneva, neither can they be made at a reasonable price because of the heavy charges of the Government standards for military and other large aeroplanes imposed during manufacture. These aeroplanes are supposed to be dangerous to fly because you cannot get them over a certain height within a certain distance, but you can take one of them into a field of 150 yards with high trees all round and you can get in and out of that field by a corkscrew flight.

The present restrictions are definitely inelastic. They are based on legislation which was passed when none of us knew what the development of flying would be. In seconding this Amendment I ask that there should be two things considered— the possibility of the extension of the subsidies to the maximum number of flying clubs, the possibility of the extension of the subsidy so as to enable more young men to fly and so make it a more democratic movement, and the setting up of a committee, not a private committee which works within the walls of the Ministry, but a committee which will have the confidence of all private owners of aircraft and of the aircraft industry and whose findings will be recognised by this House as authoritative findings—a committee to go into the question of the restrictions on the aircraft industry in making machines for private flying, and the question of compulsory third party insurance. I hope that the Amendment will have the sympathy of the whole House.

10.15 p.m.


I am opposed to the Amendment not because I disagree with the principle but because I disagree with the way in which the principle of these subsidies has been put into practice by the Air Minister. This large increase in the subsidies is unjustified, and unnecessary. I believe that the light aeroplane club movement can fly without any subsidies, without any help at all from the Government. We have been told over and over again in the past, in this House and in the country, that the fundamental reason for these subsidies was to encourage the British public to become air-minded. What exactly is this disease of air-mindedness? I should like to have a definition of this mysterious and elusive disease. It is rather like foot-and-mouth disease; no one has yet defined it. And we are asked to spend £ 20,000 of the taxpayers' money at a time when we have not money enough to pay unemployment insurance benefit, when we cannot pay the police or the Civil Service. We are asked to vote £ 20,000 in order to inoculate the general public of this country with this mysterious germ of air-mindedness.

I claim that there is no justification whatever for these subsidies to the light aeroplane movement, in order to inoculate the public with this germ. If you want to make the general public take an interest in questions affecting the air, it would be far better to subsidies some form of traveling circus, such as was headed by Sir Alan Cob ham some time ago, which actually got into the industrial areas, reached the large towns, and thus came into contact with the masses of the people, whereas this light aeroplane movement only touches a fringe of the population, at the outside 3,000 people. I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson) on having come out into the open with the brave and gallant statement he has put on the Paper in this Amendment, that the real and fundamental reason for these subsidies now, and in the past, was to make sure that in this country we had a substantial reserve of war pilots for war purposes. Let me congratulate him on laying the bogey of air mindedness, and upon coming into the open and telling the truth. Of course the subsidies have been provided in the past for three purposes—one, to provide reserves, two, to provide a large number of aerodromes which can be used in time of war, and, thirdly, to keep our manufacturers busy in order to have a skeleton organisation which might be increased if we were unfortunately dragged into war.

I propose to examine the position with regard to the granting of these subsidies. Who are the people who can claim them? Who gets the subsidy? Who can get the subsidy? Any man or woman over the age of 18 years, provided they are physically fit, and provided they can get a pilot's license, can get the subsidy, or rather the club to which they are attached can get the subsidy, and the result is that you have women and men of all ages, totally unfit for any war service, getting these subsidies. If a man aged 100 likes to go to a light aeroplane club and get a pilot's license, and there is no reason why he should not do so, that club gets a subsidy from the Government, and the British taxpayer has to pay. I suggest that no man or woman should get a subsidy who is over the age of 50. He can be of no use to the country in time of war. He is over war age and to go on handing over subsidies to men, irrespective of age, is indefensible.

I now come to the very important question of women. I know that a large number of Members of this House believe that woman's place is the home, but I dissociate myself from that view. I have no objection to lady pilots flying in the air. My quarrel with the present system is that to give lady pilots these public monies, in the hope that they would be of some use to the country in time of war, cannot be justified. Women pilots could not be used by us in time of war because we are tied by international agreements on the subject. There is a third type— the average pilot. The average man goes to a flying club, learns to fly and flies, perhaps, for 15 or 16 hours. He gets his license and, from that moment, the club loses all interest in him. There is no more money to be got in respect of him. They do not encourage him to go on flying and when he has done perhaps four or five hours more, he drops out altogether. It will be found, between these three categories, that 90 per cent. of the money now spent on teaching the general public to fly is sheer waste and that the country is only getting benefit to the extent of 10 or 15 per cent. of the pilots turned out under this system.

If my hon. Friend insists that this money should continue to be paid out, I earnestly implore him to consider barring women pilots, all men pilots over the age of 50, and all pilots who have not flown at least 25 hours every year. I would like to see all these subsidies abolished. If that were done we would have a howl or a loud squeal from the clubs involved, but when one faces the facts, one realises that out of 30 clubs in. this country 14 get no subsidy at all and if 14 exist without help from my hon. Friend, it is only logical to demand that the other 16 should also exist without subsidy. If 14 can exist without subsidy surely every single flying club can do likewise. I give one simple illustration. At Reading aerodrome there are two clubs. Both have been there for four years. One of these clubs receives a subsidy or received it until last September, and the other never had a subsidy at all. They use the same aerodrome, fly the same machines, are among the same people and are in acute competition. Yet the club that receives the subsidy has gone down every year, whereas the club which has not received any subsidy has gone forward by leaps and bounds.

I submit that it is unnecessary to give any of these clubs any subsidy from now onwards, and as I say, I would like to see subsidies abolished. At the same time, I support the plea so ably put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Thanet (Captain Balfour) that some of the present restrictions should be removed from the light aeroplane club movement. As he has pointed out, a new kind of light aeroplane is coming forward— almost a glider, with a motor cycle engine. It costs about £ 200 or less. It has been said of these machines that "they stall not, neither do they spin." I am informed, although I have not had the luck to fly one— owing to the restrictions imposed by my hon. Friend's Department— that they are absolutely fool-proof, and that it is almost impossible to kill one's self in one of these machines. Here is a machine coming forward which I think will eventually become the motor-cycle of the air. It will provide very cheap flying for the masses of the country, and it is foolish to impose on these machines the same restrictions and the same standard of quality which are imposed on the faster machines which are capable of flying round the world. I should like to see all the irksome restrictions and the subsidies removed, and civil aviation will be very much better off.

May I put in a plea for the private owner? I claim that from the point of view of war purposes the private owner will be of more use than any of the other types that I have mentioned. First of all, he buys the machine, and by doing that provides the aircraft industry with work. Secondly, he flies in all weathers. He does not fly only in good weather as we very often find at the light aeroplane clubs where the chief instructor does not want to risk his machines flying in doubtful weather. We find as a general rule that clubs only fly in good weather, and much the same thing is true in the Air Force. They do fly in doubtful weather but, if it is really doubtful, the officer of the aerodrome orders no flying because he does not want to risk human life. The private owner, however, if he wishes to go to his constituency or to a friend in another part of the country, will, although there is a wedge of dirty weather, very often try to get through and does get through. If you really want to find 10 pilots whom you could trust to get through in any weather, you could not do better than take your pick from some of the private owners. I would like to point out one rather interesting fact about private owners. If hon. Members will read the British register of aircraft, they will find that out of 921 light aeroplanes only 60 are owned by subsidised light aeroplane clubs, and 450, or nearly eight times that number, are owned by private individuals— in other words, eight to one. Surely, therefore, it is only common sense to stop encouraging by subsidies the light aeroplane club and to concentrate instead on the private owner who has already shown that he is efficient and capable of existing without any subsidy at all.

I would like to draw the attention of the House to another side of the question. We have often been told by our war-minded pacifists that the aeroplane is essentially an instrument of war. It is perfectly true that anything that flies can drop a bomb. I am prepared to admit that, but I also claim that the aeroplane which is in private hands, although it is a possible instrument of war, is also an instrument of peace. A large number of British pilots in a rapidly increasing number go year after year across to the Continent. They go round Europe, jumping over barriers of one kind and another, flying over frontiers, asking friends here and there, and thoroughly enjoying themselves because of the freedom and simplicity of the life, accepting people's hospitality and getting to know and to understand the difficulties of other people and other countries.

This flying abroad will eventually do a great deal in the interests, not of war, but of peace. British pilots last September sent out a request to all foreign private owners and asked them to come to this country for a week-end. About 50 or 60 accepted, they came here, we gave them our best, we entertained them for three or four days, and gave them an extraordinarily good time. It did not cost them a penny, and they went back thoroughly satisfied with Great Britain. These little trips up and down the Continent, and these friendly parties in all parts of the world, will do a great deal for the cause of peace. Already the countries in Europe are to the amateur pilot like the English counties are to the motor cycle fiend or to the motorist. One day last year I myself, coming back from Constantinople, without any effort at all, without even hurrying, had breakfast in one capital, had lunch in a second capital, had tea in a third and dined in a fourth—and I never hurried once. That is possible now and I ask hon. Members to visualise what we shall see in the future. When we can buy an aeroplane for a few hundred pounds hon. Members, instead of going to Brighton for weekends, will go off to Vienna, or to Rome or to Madrid. Will not that result in a better understanding of the troubles of other peoples and other countries; will it not tend to reduce international friction; will it not finally wipe away all the barriers and all the frontiers which at present exist? I believe it will.

I believe that light aeroplanes, particularly the one owned by the private owner, to be one of the greatest instruments for peace in the world at the moment, and I do hope that my hon. Friend will encourage it by every means in his power. There is one respect in which the Air Ministry could encourage this development of flying. When we go abroad we often find ourselves in difficulties. For Austria and Spain it is necessary to get certain permits, to get visas, to take passports and to get carnets, and I would ask the hon. Member whether he cannot take a bold lead in saying to other countries that we will relieve their pilots of all these irksome restrictions when they visit us if they will do the same for British pilots visiting their country. All those restrictions will have to go in time, they cannot stand for ever. They will have to go in the same way as the turnpike roads or the red flag in front of the early motor vehicles have gone.


I think it will be agreed by all hon. Members that this has been a very useful and enjoyable Debate. I confess that I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Perkins) inquiring how we could create air-mindedness, because I thought his speech, in which he described air parties, and pilots going from one country to the other and making friends everywhere, was a good example of the means of creating air-mindedness. That is what we are trying to do. The light aeroplane movement is one in which the Air Ministry has always taken the greatest possible interest. From the start we have done everything we possibly can, so far as finance would allow, to help that movement and foster it. In 1923–24, when there was no such thing as a light aeroplane at all, we did a very reprehensible thing in the eyes of the hon. Member, we actually went so far as to give prizes to stimulate the industry and to act as a competitive spur in the production of light aeroplanes. In the summer of 1925 we introduced the first scheme for giving financial assistance to a limited number of clubs, since the Air Ministry was desirous of bringing flying within the range of the man in the street, and clubs afforded the only means by which he could possibly learn to fly.

I will not trouble the House with the details of successive schemes introduced since that date, but will only say that when last year we were satisfied that the existing subsidies were not sufficient we introduced one on more generous lines. The grant for each pilot trained by one of these clubs has increased as much as 150 per cent. We anticipate that during the current year these clubs will earn twice as much as they earned last year. The figure shows an increase to £ 20,000, and in times like these that is a very practical manifestation of the interest the Air Ministry takes in this movement. We hope to reduce expenditure, in order to make the money go as far as we possibly can.

It has been suggested that we started this movement with some militaristic idea at the back of our minds. That is not so. These people get no military training. The movement has been started entirely to encourage people to make use of the new and young form of transport. Technically, we lead the world. I do not think that I need say anything more about the part that we are playing in fostering the light aeroplane movement. We have done as much as we possibly can in that direction. The hon. and gallant Member for Thanet (Captain H. Balfour), who seconded the Amendment, raised the point about the inelasticity of the restrictions that are imposed upon civil flying, and he suggested that a committee might be appointed to look into the matter. It is a most interesting suggestion, and I will certainly convey it to my Noble Friend.


In view of the statement that has been made by the Under-Secretary of State for Air, I beg to ask the leave of the House to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question, put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

The House divided: Ayes, 249; Noes, 35.

Division No. 81.] AYES. [10.37 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Fleming, Edward Lascelles Marsden, Commander Arthur
Agnew, Lieut.-Cam. P. G. Ford, Sir Patrick J. Martin, Thomas B.
Albery, Irving James Fremantle, Sir Francis Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Fuller, Captain A. G. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Ganzonl, Sir John Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Aske, Sir Robert William Gibson, Charles Granville Mitchell, Harold p. (Br'tt'd & Chisw'k)
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe Gillett, Sir George Masterman Mitcheson, G, G.
Atkinson, Cyril Gledhill, Gilbert Moreing, Adrian C. '
Saillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Glossop. C. W. H. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Baldwin, R1. Hon. Stanley Gluckstein, Louis Halle Morrison, William Shepherd
Balfour, Capt. Harold (1. of Thanct) Goldte, Noel B. Moss, Captain H. J.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Goodman. Colonel Albert W. Mulrhead, Major A. J.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Munro, Patrick
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar Greene, William P. C. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Bateman, A. L. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.) Grlmston, R. V. Normand, Wllfrid Guild
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Grltten, W. G. Howard Nunn, William
Bevan. Stuart James (Holborn) Guinness. Thomas L. E. B. O'Connor, Terence James
Bird. Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton) Guy, J. C. Morrison O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Bllndeil, James Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Borodale, viscount Hales, Harold K. Palmer, Francis Noel
Bossom, A. C. Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Patrick, Colin M.
Boulton, W. W. Hanbury, Cecll Pearson, William G.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Hanley, Dennis A. Peat, Charles U.
Bralthwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Harbord, Arthur Percy, Lord Eustace
Broadbent, Colonel John Hartland, George A. Perkins, Walter R. D.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Harvey, Majors. E. (Devon, Totnes) Petherick, M.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Peto. Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bllst'n)
Brown, Ernest (Lelth) Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Plckford, Hon. Mary Ada
Browne, Captain A. C. Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Pike, Cecil F.
Buchan, John Heneage. Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.
Burghley, Lord Hornby, Frank Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Burgln, Dr. Edward Leslie Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Burnett, John George Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Caporn, Arthur Cecll Hurd, Sir Percy Ratcliffe, Arthur
Carver, Major William H. Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd) Ray, Sir William
Castlereagh, Viscount Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth. C.) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Christie, James Archibald Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Clarry, Reginald George Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Remer, John R.
Clayton, Or, George C. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Ker, J. Campbell Robinson, John Roland.
Colfox, Major William Philip Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Ropner, Colonel L.
Colman, N. C. D. Kerr, Hamilton W. Rosbotham, Sir Samuel
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Knox, Sir Alfred Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Conant, R. J. E. Lamb, Sir Joseph Ouinton Runge, Norah Cecil
Cook, Thomas A. Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)
Cooke, Douglas Law. Sir Alfred Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Copeland, Ida Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Llverp'l)
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Leckie, J. A. Salmon, Sir Isidore
Craven-Ellis. William Leech, Dr. J. W. Salt. Edward W.
Crooke, J, Smedley Lees-Jones, John Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Leighton. Major B. E. P. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovll) Lewis, Oswald Selley, Harry R.
Dickie, John P. Liddall, Walter S. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Doran, Edward Lindsay, Noel Ker Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Drewe, Cedrlc Little, Graham-, sir Ernest Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Duckworth, George A. V. Llewellin, Major John J, Shute, Colonel J. J.
Duggan, Hubert John Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lloyd, Geoffrey Skelton, Archibald Noel
Dunglass, Lord Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Eastwood, John Francis Lockwood. Capt. J. H. (Shipley) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Somervell, Donald Bradley
Elliston, Captain George Sampson MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Elmley, Viscount McCorquodale, M. S. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Emrys- Evans, P. V. McEwen, Captain J. H. F Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard McKie, John Hamilton Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)
Essenhigh. Reginald Clare Macmillan, Maurice Harold Strauss, Edward A.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Mallalieu. Edward Lancelot Strickland, Captain W. F.
Everard, W. Lindsay Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D, R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.
Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Wallace, John (Dunfermline) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Sutcliffe, Harold Wardiaw-Milne, Sir John S. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Templeton, William P. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour- Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Wells, Sydney Richard Windson-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Thorp, Linton Theodore Weymouth. Viscount Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of White, Henry Graham
Touche, Gordon Cosmo Whiteside, Borras Noel H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Whyte, Jardine Bell Sir George Penny and Commander Southby.
Adams. D. M (Poplar South) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McGovern, John
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, Thomas W. Maxton, James
Batey, Joseph Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Mliner, Major James
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson. John Allen
Cape,. Thomas Hicks, Ernest George Tinker, John Joseph
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hirst, George Henry Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Cove, William G. Jenkins, Sir William Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Daggar, George Kirk wood, David Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Dobbie, William Logan, David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES —
Edwards, Charles Lunn, William Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]

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