HC Deb 21 March 1935 vol 299 cc1454-7

6." That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £200,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935, for expenditure beyond the sum already provided in the grants for Air Services for the year."

7.35 p.m.


I beg to move to leave out "33,000" and to insert instead thereof "30,000."

In moving a reduction in the number of men by 3,000, I wish to indicate to the House that it is not our desire to prolong discussion on this Vote. We feel bound, however, to move the reduction, because the Vote is based upon the question of policy, and we have expressed our views on the question of policy in previous debates. On this occasion, I simply want to say that we make no complaint against the allocation of these numbers, or against the officers and men involved, and we do not complain of the way in which the Under-Secretary of State for Air has brought the Estimates before us. The Estimates provide for and fix the number of officers, cadets and men at 33,000, which is 2,000 in excess of the total for last year. We believe that this is not an excessive number to perform the duties expected of them, but it meets the convenience of the House to have a division in this form on the question of policy, and, because I desire to give time to debate a question of more general interest on Vote 8, I will not say more.

7.36 p.m.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE, for AIR (Sir Philip Sassoon)

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman, not for moving a reduction in the Vote, but for the manner in which he has moved it. I know that the whole House will be grateful, because these broad matters of policy cannot be debated in a few words, and therefore I thank the hon. Gentleman

very much for moving the reduction formally so as to allow us to proceed with other Votes.

7.37 p.m.


There is one point upon which we should have some information. Parliament has been asked to sanction a grant of £20,650,000 to the Royal Air Force. I was astonished, and indeed dismayed to learn, in reply to a question put to the Under-Secretary last Monday, that, although we spent £17,500,000 last year on the Air Force, there are only 2,701 pilots in it. I appreciate to the full the value of ground organisation in air defence, but I maintain that the job of the Royal Air Force is to fly. I have often been approached by keen-eyed young men in my division who say they wish to fly, and, as they cannot afford to fly in a civilian capacity, they want to join the Air Force. I have had to tell them that if they join the Royal Air Force they will probably not fly during the whole course of their lives. It is estimated that there are 120 men on the ground for every man in the air. I ask the Under-Secretary to give us some indication that during this year, with an increase of £3,000,000 in the Estimate, there should be more pilots turned out. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that anybody who joins the Air Force who indicates that he wishes to fly should, if physically fit, be enabled to do so.

Question put, "That '33,000' stand part of the Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 34.

Division No. 118.] AYES. [7.40 p.m.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Dalkeith, Earl of Hopkinson, Austin
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Hornby, Frank
Apsley, Lord Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Horsbrugh, Florence
Aske, Sir Robert William Dickle, John P. Howard, Tom Forrest
Baldwin, Ht. Hon. Stanley Doran, Edward Hume, Sir George Hopwood
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Dunglass, Lord Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)
Bernays, Robert Everard, W. Lindsay Ker, J. Campbell
Blindell, James Fleming, Edward Lascelles Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)
Borodale, Viscount Fox, Sir Gifford Leech, Dr. J. W.
Boulton, W. w. Fraser, Captain Sir Ian Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W, Fremantle, Sir Francis Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Ganzoni, Sir John Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-
Broadbent, Colonel John Gillett, Sir George Masterman Llewellin, Major John J.
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Glossop, C. W. H. Lloyd, Geoffrey
Carver, Major William H. Goodman, Colonel Albert W Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Clayton, Sir Christopher Grimston, R. V. Loftus, Pierce C.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Colfox, Major William Philip Guy, J. C. Morrison MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)
Conant, R. J. E. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cooper, A. Duff Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Macquisten, Frederick Alexander
Crooke, J. Smedley Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Martin, Thomas B.
Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Rickards, George William Summersby, Charles H.
Mills. Major j. D. (New Forest) Ropner, Colonel L. Sutcliffe, Harold
Milne, Charles Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Tate, Mavis Constance
Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Mitcheson, G. G. Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Selley, Harry R. Train, John
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Smithers, Sir Waldron Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Orr Ewing, I. L. Somervell, Sir Donald Watt, Major George Steven H.
Peake, Osbert Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Pearson, William G. Spencer, Captain Richard A. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Spens, William Patrick Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Potter, John Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Womersley, Sir Walter
Pybus, Sir John Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland) Worthington, Dr. John V.
Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Stones, James
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Strauss, Edward A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Strickland, Captain W. F. Sir George Penny and Lieut.-Colonel
Ramsden, Sir Eugene Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F. Sir A. Lambert Ward.
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Milner, Major James
Banfield, John William Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Paling, Wilfred
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson, John Allen
Cape, Thomas Hicks, Ernest George Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cleary, J. J. Jenkins, Sir William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cripps, Sir Stafford John, William Thorne, William James
Daggar, George Lawson, John James Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Davies, Stephen Owen Lunn, William Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Dobbie, William Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Wilmot, John
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Mainwaring, William Henry
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maxton, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Groves.

Resolutions agreed to.

Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide, during twelve months, for the Discipline and Regulation of the Army and Air Force; and that Mr. Douglas Hacking, Sir Bolton Eyres Monsell, and Sir Phillip Sassoon do prepare and bring it in.