HC Deb 14 November 1945 vol 415 cc2098-101
18. Mr. Driberg

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is satisfied that an intake of 33 per cent. of the total intake in November and 27 per cent. in December will enable him to attain evenness in group releases as between trades by the end of the year.

Mr. Strachey

The intake of untrained men into the Royal Air Force in November and December cannot affect the rate of release by the end of the year. There is now little doubt that the R.A.F. will be allotted an intake for the first six months of the New Year large enough to permit the release of the extra four groups which I conditionally announced on 22nd October.

Mr. Driberg

Can my hon. Friend say how nearly he will have approached evenness, as between trades, by the end of the year?

Mr. Strachey

The figures have all been published in the Promulgations, and my hon. Friend can see the exact position.

Mr. Lipson

Does that mean that the trades within the groups will have been released by the end of next year?

Mr. Strachey

I am afraid I have not understood the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. Lipson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many trades are kept back in the groups? Does his answer mean that by the end of next year that will be put right?

Mr. Strachey

By the end of this year? No, Sir. We cannot achieve perfect evenness in numbers by the end of this year.

Mr. Lipson

I am asking about the middle of next year.

Mr. Strachey

That depends upon the speed of general release between now and next June.

19. Mr. Driberg

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why the release of Signals Radar officers in Group 19, many of whom are now redundant, has been deferred from the end of December, 1945, to the end of January, 1946.

Mr. Strachey

Signals Radar officers in Group 19 will be released in December as originally announced. The fact that the latest release promulgation reads "December/January" for Group 19 means that, unfortunately, no further groups of officers in this branch can be released in January. Far from being redundant, these signals officers are badly needed for the safety of the air trooping programme.

27. Mr. Collins

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that although many Technical Signals, Radar, officers in S.E.A.A.F. have done no work in their trade for the past six months, their demobilisation is deferred, although officers in other branches are being released up to Group 25; and will he arrange for the release of such officers with their groups.

Mr. Strachey

There may well have been temporary dislocation during the last six months in this Command. I am making inquiries of the Command and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

35. Flight-Lieutenant Parkin

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air in view of the retention of cooks in the R.A.F. beyond the date for release of their age and service group, what steps are being taken to train the maximum number of fresh cooks; and how far the number of cooks on establishments are being reduced by misemployment of redundant trades and regular cookhouse fatigues.

40. Captain Prescott

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why, and to what extent, there is still delay in demobilising cooks in the R.A.F.

Mr. Strachey

We have reduced the delay in the release of cooks for December by one group. They are now being trained at the rate of 250 a week. The reasons for the delay are those which I gave in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Sir R. Young) on 22nd August. As for reducing the number of trained cooks, the House will appreciate that there is a limit to that in the vital interests of the rest of the Service.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that there are several very capable cooks attending to the redundant monarchs at Claridges, and could they not be utilised?

Mr. Strachey

They are not in the R.A.F.

37. Major Symonds

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether, to ensure uniform treatment of all Class C release applications he will issue instructions that all such applications will be for warded to his Department for final disposal and not rejected without explanation by intermediate commanders.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. If all applications came to my Department, I am afraid that there would be vast delays in dealing with genuine and urgent cases.

38. Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what steps are being taken to disband redundant aerodrome construction units, with a view to the release of building trade operatives under the Class B scheme.

Mr. Strachey

We are disbanding units of the Airfield Construction Service in all parts of the world as requirements decline and local civilian labour can be engaged overseas. This will enable offers of release in Class B to be made to suitable men serving in airfield construction units.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the Minister able to go a little further than that very satisfactory reply, and say whether any special steps have been taken for these men to be brought home?

Mr. Strachey

As offers of release in Class B are made to them and accepted, they will be brought home.

Mr. Nutting

Can the hon. Gentleman say when this new dispensation was decided upon, because up to about a month ago I understand that builders in the R.A.F. were building airfields in India?

Mr. Strachey

Some of the members of the R.A.F. construction units may be building trade workers and they may still be building and improving accommodation in India and elsewhere. As I said earlier, we are extremely keen and under heavy pressure to improve accommodation, but we shall let these men—the ones that are suitable—out under Class B in future.