HC Deb 15 November 1944 vol 404 cc1938-9
14. Captain Longhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will make a statement on the future of the A.T.C.

18. Mr. Bossom

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can make a pronouncement on the future of the A.T.C.; and will A.T.C. cadets have any priority in entering the R.A.F. over those who have not gone through the A.T.C. training.

Captain Balfour

As the answer is somewhat long, I will, with the hon. Members' permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Loftus

Will there be an opportunity given to those lads who have been training for three years to enter the Naval Air Force, rather than that the Naval Air Force should recruit utterly untrained men?

Captain Balfour

Naval entry does not come under the Air Ministry.

Following is the answer:

I am aware that a feeling of uncertainty as to the future exists at present amongst A.T.C. cadets and amongst those responsible for the organisation and training of the A.T.C. Ever since its formation in 1941, the A.T.C. has provided the R.A.F. with a steady flow of recruits of high quality, and a great debt of gratitude is due to those who have been associated with a movement which has contributed greatly to the superiority which our air forces have achieved over the enemy. This very superiority has, however, resulted in a considerable reduction in our aircrew requirements for the future. In consequence, it has been necessary to divert to other duties many of the young men who have given of their time and energy in preparing themselves to serve their country in the R.A.F. It has, however, been agreed that any A.T.C. cadets diverted to the Army who, when they have concluded their service in the Army, apply to re-enter the R.A.F., will receive special consideration for any vacancies which may then exist, in aircrew or ground trades.

During the remainder of the war, intakes into the R.A.F. will, so far as can be foreseen, be much lower than they have been in the past and, though due weight will continue to be given to A.T.C. service, it is not possible to give A.T.C. cadets an absolute priority over all other applicants. The R.A.F. must remain free to take the best candidates from whatever source. The A.T.C. training should, of course, give every cadet an added advantage. It has already been announced that the A.T.C. will remain in being after the war as a separate volunteer cadet organisation under the control of the Air Ministry and that it will provide a main channel of entry into the R.A.F. and the non-regular air forces. Decisions as to the size of the post-war A.T.C., the extent of the financial support to be given by the Government and the degree of preference to be given to A.T.C. cadets making application to enter the R.A.F. must clearly depend on the conclusions yet to be reached on matters of high policy, such as the size of, and the conditions of service in, the Armed Forces after the war.

I wish, however, to make it clear that the Air Council attach great importance to keeping the organisation in being on a thoroughly efficient basis and hope that all the members of local committees, the officers and the instructors, who have co-operated so fully in the past, will spare no effort to ensure that the movement which has achieved such success in war shall be continued successfully in peacetime.

I shall, of course, when possible give any further information that I can about the future of the Corps.

Forward to