HC Deb 22 November 1939 vol 353 cc1195-6
9. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many journalists have been appointed to the Royal Air Force for Press duties; how many of them are of military age; how many of them have had previous service in His Majesty's Forces; with what ranks and salaries they have been started; how these compare with other entrants from civil life accepted for commissioned service for combatant duties; and whether any promise of further promotion has been given to them?

15. Mr. Liddall

asked the Secretary of State for Air the numbers and ages, respectively, of those journalists who have been commissioned in the Royal Air Force for Press duties; whether they are part of the Press Department of the Air Ministry; what reasons existed for their appointment to the Royal Air Force rather than to civilian employment in the Department; and what relation exists between them and the Ministry of Information?

The Secretary of State for Air (Sir Kingsley Wood)

Thirty-one journalists, of ages ranging between 28 and 58, have been appointed to the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve for Press duties at Command and Group Headquarters, and of that number 13 have had previous experience in His Majesty's Forces. Twenty-two are at present attached to home stations. The remainder of the information asked for includes a number of details which I would propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir A. Knox

Do these gentlemen wear uniform?

Sir K. Wood

Yes, Sir.

Sir A. Knox

Is not that rather extraordinary?

Mr. Liddall

What relation exists between these journalists and the Ministry of Information?

Sir K. Wood


Mr. Leach

Does the right hon. Gentleman ever tell them anything?

Following is the information:

From the nature of their duties it was considered desirable that they should have the status of officers and be subject to Air Force Law. In accordance with the normal terms of entry into the Administrative and Special Duties Branch, the initial appointments have been made in the rank of pilot officer with pay at the rate of us. 10d. a day as compared with the rate of 14s. 6d. a day payable to pilot officers in the General Duties Branch. All officers are eligible for promotion to the acting rank assigned to the post which they are filling and they have mostly been so promoted. The total cost per annum of these appointments, in pay and allowances, will be approximately £20,000.

Service Press officers attached to the Home Commands act as advisers to the Commanders-in-Chief and Air Officers Commanding on all Press and publicity questions; they supply the Air Ministry with news and articles and with photographs taken by R.A.F. units; and they organise and conduct visits by Press representatives to Royal Air Force stations. Those attached to the Royal Air Force in France are responsible for the administrative arrangements for war correspondents, for the organisation of Press facilities for them, for providing them with news and information, and for certain duties in connection with the field censorship. Service Press officers are not a part of the Press Department of the Air Ministry, and they have no direct relationship with the Ministry of Information, but they are available for the provision of special articles and information as may be required.