HC Deb 06 December 1944 vol 406 cc514-6
34. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will give particulars of the scheme by which certain R.A.F. personnel are being released to enter civil aviation; whether this scheme is confined to ground staff over 40 years of age and of low medical category; and whether they are being indefinitely released to the Reserve or are being discharged.

Sir A. Sinclair

There is no general scheme of release from the Royal Air Force to civil aviation. Under the terms of the White Paper issued in March, 1943, however, it is the responsibility of Transport Command, R.A.F., to ensure that the Corporation receives such aircrew, ground staff and mechanics, as are required for the operation of approved services directly connected with the war. As liability for overseas service is involved selection cannot be confined to men over 40 or in a low medical category. Aircrew and officers for ground duties are normally seconded for duty with the Corporation but airmen for ground duties and ex-Corporation employees may in suitable circumstances be released to the Reserve. Those so released are not discharged from the R.A.F. In addition certain officers and airmen have been released under the standing arrangements with the Ministry of Labour and National Service for employment with various other air transport operators.

Captain Duncan

Has my right hon. Friend not seen the "Daily Sketch" of 22nd November, in which it is stated that certain R.A.F. men will be released for production and planning jobs for postwar civil aviation? Is that statement correct, and, if it is, is it not in conflict with the answer which the Prime Minister gave to me on 15th November, in which he said that all fit men were required to finish the war?

Sir A. Sinclair

I am afraid I have not seen the statement in the "Daily Sketch" to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers, and I do not carry in my head the Prime Minister's statement. However, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the statement I have made to the House this morning is correct.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Has my right hon. Friend seen the statement in the "Daily Mail" this morning, that senior officers of the R.A.F. are due to leave the Service for civilian employment? In view of the fact that that seems to reflect some disquieting tendency in the Service, has my right hon. Friend any statement to make?

Sir A. Sinclair

I regret to say that I have not seen the statement to which the Noble Lord refers but I think there is another Question on the Paper, which will be answered very shortly, and to which the Noble Lord's supplementary question will be more relevant than to this particular Question.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

May I ask whether, in fact, appeals are not being made to the members of the A.T.C. to volunteer now for the B.O.A.C.? I am not asking for any newspaper knowledge.

Sir A. Sinclair

The fact is that the whole of the B.O.A.C. services are working under my direction for the prosecution of the war. If those services were not being carried by them now, they would have to be carried out by Transport Command of the Royal Air Force, and a man who is serving in the B.O.A.C. air trans- port organisation now, is doing just as good a war job as if he were serving in Transport Command.