HC Deb 21 October 1942 vol 383 cc1945-7
11. Mr. George Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his Department proposes to follow the example of the War Office, which has issued an instruction that Guards musicians are forbidden to accept civilian employment; for what reason the Air Force band at Uxbridge is allowed to furnish a symphony orchestra which has publicly performed in the provinces; and many of whose members continually fulfil private engagements to the prejudice of civilian musicians; and whether he will consider prescribing a minimum age for entrants to bands?

Sir A. Sinclair

As the information asked for by my hon. Friend is extensive, I propose, with his consent, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Griffiths

Will the Minister in circulating the information see that these chaps do not blackleg any more?

Sir A. Sinclair

No blacklegging is allowed.

Following is the information:

R.A.F. musicians may, with permission, accept private engagements when on leave, but special leave may not be granted for this purpose, nor may contracts for a series of engagements be accepted. These instructions are similar to those issued by the War Office.

The R.A.F. orchestra is composed of instrumentalists from the Central Band at Uxbridge and of selected aircrafthands (musician) enlisted under a scheme for providing five-piece bands at R.A.F. stations. The orchestra provides music for broadcasts and official films and also musical entertainment for the Forces which is outside the scope of a military band. Subject to Service requirements the orchestra may accept private engagements not exceeding an average of one per fortnight. When such engagements are in the provinces, the orchestra normally gives concerts at neighbouring R.A.F. stations before returning to its headquarters

I have no information which suggests that the rules are not being complied with, but if my hon. Friend has any cases in mind and will send me particulars, I will have them looked into. I should add that R.A.F. musicians undertaking private engagements are forbidden to accept remuneration lower than that usually paid to civilians for similar services.

The medical category of musicians of the Central Band must not be above Grade 2. Other musicians are enlisted as aircrafthands (musicians) and are required to perform aircrafthand duties as well as the duties of musicians, and to undergo training for the purpose. A minimum age of 30 for new entrants has been prescribed.