HC Deb 03 December 1941 vol 376 c1112
12. Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the practice, in certain units of the Royal Air Force in the Middle East and at home, of officer-pilots and sergeant-pilots messing together meets with his approval; and whether he is satisfied that this practice is not subversive of discipline?

Captain Balfour

Yes, Sir. The hon. Member will appreciate that the practice to which he refers is only adopted where facilities are limited, making it impracticable to run organised messes. The general policy is one of maintaining separate messes for officers, N.C.Os. and airmen.

Mr. Hughes

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how it is that when these men, who are flying shoulder to shoulder and facing the same dangers, come down to the ground in this country they should be despatched one to the players entrance and one to the gentle men's entrance?

Captain Balfour

I would not admit at all that both are not gentlemen; I could explain to the hon. Gentleman as he re quests, but not within the length of a supplementary reply.

Mr. Ammon

Is not this another case like the giving of differential awards for like services?

Dr. Russell Thomas

In view of the fact that sergeant-pilots and pilot-officers perform almost the same duties, what is the object of making appointments to the rank of sergeant-pilot?

Captain Balfour

At the present time we have both sergeant-pilots and pilot-officers. It might be embarrassing and difficult for the N.C.O. pilots to meet the higher cost of messing in the officers' mess.

Captain McEwen

Is not discipline a very important consideration also?

Captain Balfour

Yes, Sir.