HC Deb 07 February 1945 vol 407 cc2059-60
26. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Air why Air-Commodore L. F. Heald, aged 47, has been permitted to return to civil life; which Government Department asked for him and what National Service is he now doing; and whether other barristers serving in the R.A.F. will be allowed to retire from the service if they so desire.

Sir A. Sinclair

The special duties on which this officer has been employed have come to an end and since no alternative employment suitable to his acting or war substantive rank is available it has been decided, in accordance with the normal practice, that he should be allowed to relinquish his commission. His release has not been sought by a Government Department. As regards the last part of the Question, the release of officers for whom employment is available in the Royal Air Force cannot be considered except on extreme compassionate grounds or, on the application of a Government Department, for work of urgent national importance.

Captain Duncan

Is this case in accordance with the War Cabinet's decision, which operates in the case of the Army and the other Fighting Services; and will the right hon. Gentleman review the arrangements under which the Air Force let officers like this out, whereas the Army cannot do so, because of the War Cabinet decision? Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction, because the Air Force can let people out, and the Army cannot, and this particularly affects small traders?

Sir A. Sinclair

Any question about the Army procedure should, of course, be put to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. The question that has to be considered is whether there is employment available for the officer appropriate to his rank and experience. If there is, he will be retained in the Service. Let me make it clear that this officer was very willing to remain on, and serve in the Air Force if employment had been available to him; but it was not available, and, therefore, it was decided to accept his resignation.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Is it not a fact that suitable employment was not available to this officer because he has no qualifications whatever for the rank he held?

Sir A. Sinclair

No, Sir; he had admirable qualifications. He has given most devoted and able service during the whole of the war, and for some time before the war; but his experience was concerned solely with public relations, and there is no longer a post available for him.

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