HC Deb 21 January 1942 vol 377 cc329-31
10. Mr. Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can now give any information about the two German prisoners-of-war who posed as Dutchmen and were fitted with flying-suits, and got away in a two-seater Miles Magister without an alarm being given?

13. Squadron-Leader Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for Air the result of the court of inquiry into the theft of the Magister aircraft by two escaped German prisoners last month; and what disciplinary action has been taken against those responsible?

25. Mr. Garro Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Air on what date the two escaping Nazi prisoners obtained access to a Royal Air Force aircraft; on what date the inquiry into this episode began; on what date he received the report; and what are its findings?

Sir A. Sinclair

I would refer hon. Members to the answer which was given yesterday to the Question on this subject by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State.

21. Mr. Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can give any information in connection with four schoolboys who entered a North-Western airfield, on Sunday, 4th January, and interfered with six aeroplanes; whether it is the same aerodrome from which escaped German prisoners stole an aeroplane some weeks ago; and what action he intends taking about the matter?

23. Mr. Ammon

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the aerodrome from which two boys recently stole parts of the machinery from aircraft, is the same as that from which two German prisoners recently took a machine in an attempt to escape; and what is the reason for such apparent carelessness in safeguarding Royal Air Force machines?

Sir A. Sinclair

I would refer hon. Members to the statement on this matter which my right hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State made yesterday in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Radford).

Mr. Shinwell

As that Question was not answered orally will the right hon. Gentleman give us the reply now?

Sir A. Sinclair

It appears in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-day.

Mr. Shinwell

But as it was not answered orally will not the right hon. Gentleman tell us what it was? Have we not the right to ask?

Mr. Thorne

The right hon. Gentleman said that this Question was answered yesterday. I was here the whole time and I never heard it answered.

Mr. Hopkinson

Were these machines in fact Air Force machines or were they the property of the Flying School?

Sir A. Sinclair

They were Royal Air Force aircraft on loan to the Flying School.

Mr. Garro Jones

Will the right hon. Gentleman at least tell the House whether it is the view of the Air Ministry that it is not possible to prevent what have been described as snoopers and school boys from entering these aerodromes? If he cannot prevent snoopers and school boys from doing so how is it possible to prevent other people from doing so?

Sir A. Sinclair

This took place the day before the German prisoners escaped. These boys were, in fact, observed, but so large was the aerodrome that they were able to do a certain amount of damage before being approached. They then got away, but were apprehended afterwards. Some of our bomber aerodromes are twice the size of Hyde Park, and it is impossible to prevent an occasional snooper from getting into so large an area. But, as regards sabotage, there has not been a single case since the war began. Sabotage can be done on a dangerous scale only by a considerable organisation, and we have our own methods of preventing it.

Mr. Garro Jones

I beg to give notice that, having regard to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall raise this matter, subject to my being called upon by Mr. Speaker, in the forthcoming Debate on the defence of aerodromes.

Mr. Ammon

I hope that that notice will not prejudice Question 23, which has not yet been reached.

Mr. Speaker

The two Questions are being answered together.