HC Deb 10 December 1941 vol 376 cc1504-5
9. Mr. Ammon

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider abolishing the social distinctions in the Air Force exemplified by differential awards to sergeant-pilots and commissioned officers for similar acts of courage and responsibility and the use of different mess-rooms?

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Captain Harold Balfour)

The differences to which the hon. Member refers are inherent in the structure of a Fighting Service. In the case of decorations, the D.F.C. and D.F.M. are equal in merit, and I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member on 9th October. As regards the second part of the Question, apart from the objections to common messes from a disciplinary point of view, the present arrangements are convenient and well-liked, and there is no desire in the Service for a change.

Mr. Ammon

If they are equal why is it necessary to have two separate awards? As this is a new Service why is it necessary to carry over the old snobbery and class-distinction?

Captain Balfour

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the very cogent arguments which were given to him by myself when he raised the matter on the Adjournment many months ago.

Mr. Ammon

Is not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that those were superficial and absurd arguments?

Mr. Mander

Is it not the case that sergeant-pilots have the opportunity on their merits of receiving a commission?

Captain Balfour

That is so. There is a clear run through from the lowest rank to air marshal.