HC Deb 30 July 1941 vol 373 cc1380-1
7. Wing-Commander James

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production how many pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary Service have been recruited in America at the rate of £1,937 17s. 9d. a year, free of United Kingdom Income Tax; what are the durations of their contracts; and upon whose direction and authority, and if with Treasury approval, such contracts were entered into?

The Minister of Aircraft Production (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)

The number of American pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary is 162. Their contracts are for one year, but there is provision for termination at any time on notice being given in writing. The contracts were entered into under the authority of my Ministry, and their terms received Treasury authority.

Wing-Commander James

Would my right hon. and gallant Friend take steps to have these extraordinary arrangements reviewed at an early date?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

No, Sir. The position is that these American aviators are doing extremely valuable work at the present time. They are flying four-engined machines, two-engined machines and fast fighters, and although the figure is high, it is no higher than what they could get in America; and many of them wish to return there.

Mr. Garro Jones

May I ask my right hon. and gallant Friend whether their worth is five times more from the financial standpoint than that of those British pilots who fly the same machines on active service in the face of the enemy; and will he at least give the House an assurance that there will be no extension of the numbers employed on these terms?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

The first point has nothing to do with the Question, and the second point is that I have to move valuable aeroplanes about, I cannot get personnel from the Air Force —they are wanted for other matters—and I have to get the best aviators I can. This is the only way I can do it.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Are not these aviators as good as any, and as valuable?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

I do not pretend they are better than our own.