HC Deb 30 September 1942 vol 383 cc748-9
8. Mr. Snadden

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that travelling expenses of Air Training Corps cadets between their homes and training centres has been refused by his Department; that this decision is gravely affecting the progress of the Air Training Corps in the remoter areas; and will he reconsider this matter?

The Secretary of State for Air (Sir Archibald Sinclair)

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As for the second and third parts, I appreciate that boys living in remote districts may be at a relative disadvantage, but this tends to diminish as more units are formed.' The whole question has been most carefully considered, and the conclusion reached that it would be unwise, for reasons already communicated to my hon. Friend, to alter the present practice, which is in line with that of the Sea Cadet Corps and the Army Cadet Force.

Mr. Snadden

Does the Secretary of State not realise that this is an attempt to shift the responsibility, which is a national one, on to the local authorities? Should not this expense be borne by the Government when it is a national responsibility?

Sir A. Sinclair

My hon. Friend is mistaken. He will realise that there are much stronger arguments for the practice, of which I have informed him.

9. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the segregation of selected boys by organising them in school flights apart from the general local squadrons introduces an unfortunate suggestion of class distinction, and that any gain in having a school esprit de corps is far outweighed by the loss of what should be a common comradeship in a great service; and whether he will reconsider this?

Sir A. Sinclair

The Air Training Corps is organised into open and school units on grounds of practical convenience. The greater part of the training in the open units is done in the evenings, while that of the school units is undertaken in the day-time. For this reason, it is not practicable to make any general change in the present arrangements, but a gradual amalgamation of open and school units is taking place where circumstances permit.

10. Mr. I. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the present system of financing squadrons of the Air Training Corps by means of capitation grants leaves many squadrons unable to meet their headquarter expenses and compels them to rely on public charity; and whether he will revise the system in such a way that all headquarter expenses are borne centrally?

Sir A. Sinclair

With regard to the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. Joseph Stewart) on 28th April, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy. As for the second part, experience has shown that the present system of capitation grants administered locally has worked well. It was adopted after full consideration of the alternative of direct reimbursement of expenses, and I do not consider that there would be any advantage in changing it.

Mr. Thomas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this system leads squadrons to concentrate upon scholastic examination, which is not necessarily the best test of efficiency? Would he consider basing the per caput grant on a 75 per cent. attendance at classes and parades?

Sir A. Sinclair

I fully realise that there is a case for a change, but this case has been most carefully considered, and we have decided to stick to the present system.