HC Deb 21 November 1945 vol 416 cc407-10
2. Mr. Rankin

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the number of ex-aircrew personnel who have become redundant in their own trade and have been forced to remuster as equipment assistants; if he is aware of the discontent caused by this in view of the fact that by the latest promulgation the release of equipment assistants will only have reached Group 22 by the middle of January 1946, whereas the majority of other trades will be released up to Group 27 by this date.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Strachey)

About 3,075 aircrew have been reallocated to the trade of equipment assistant. They have not been remustered and are therefore released in accordance with their aircrew status—not as equipment assistants. I think that this help to the hard-pressed equipment branch is fully justified.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that there are men who, as the result of war injury, are being remustered from their trades to general clerical duties and so losing their place in the "demob" queue? Will he allow them to retain the "demob" place that they would have had if they had not been remustered as a result of war injury?

Mr. Strachey

There may have been some remustered earlier on when re-mustering was in force; that, of course, has been stopped.

Mrs. Castle

I understand that.

Mr. Strachey

If the hon. Lady will give me instances, I will look into them.

10. Mr. Hurd

asked the Under secretary of State for Air why, in calculating the period of service in the R.A.F. of those men or women formerly serving as civilians in the meteorological office, a distinction is drawn between those who were given commissions in the R.A.F. and their former assistants who hold non commissioned rank.

Mr. Strachey

Meteorological assistants once called up did not revert to civilian status. The ordinary rules for reckoning service therefore apply to them. Meteorological officers who held civilian appointments have served as mobilised officers or as civilians during war-time depending on their place of work. At one time a meteorological officer might be in the Air Force, later a civilian again. We therefore think it was fair to count all their war-time service in determining their order of release. There were also a few women who first served as civilians in the meteorological office and who later became officers in the W.A.A.F. They were not liable to revert to civilian status as a result of posting and so there was no need to vary the normal rule for them.

11. Mr. Hurd

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air when he expects that the reallocation of manpower in the R.A.F. will allow complete parity in demobilisation between the different trades.

Mr. Strachey

I cannot say, Sir. That depends on the speed of general demobilisation in the New Year. The faster we are able to go the more difficult it will be to achieve complete evenness between trades.

18. Commander Maitland

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many men over 40 years of age in groups whose release has been suspended are still overseas serving in the accounts section of the R.A.F.

Mr. Strachey

I am afraid that we could not get these figures without imposing an extra load on those very statistical sections which are already overburdened with work on the release programme. But in all, 2,864 men in the accounts section of the R.A.F. have had to have their release postponed in a greater or less degree.

26. Mr. Watkins

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air why physical training officers are not allowed to take advantage of the Class B release.

Mr. Strachey

Physical training officers are not barred from Class B releases, and a few have actually been released under Class B. But their rate of release under Class A has had to be somewhat retarded. So we try to find our Class B releases from other trades, in order to help in bringing up the Class A releases of physical instructors to the average.

Mr. King

Has the hon. Gentleman received any representation through the Ministry of Education on the shortage of physical training instructors?

Mr. Strachey

Not to my knowledge.

32. Mr. T. J. Brooks

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air what percentage of teachers as meteorological officers have been released under Class B and, taking release as a whole under Class A and B, what has been the percentage loss to the meteorological service and the percentage released to return to other jobs, respectively.

Mr. Strachey

Four per cent. of the teachers who during the war entered the Service as meteorological officers have been released in Class B. Up to the end of November, releases under Classes A and B are 7 per cent. of the wartime entrants. I am unable to divide this percentage between those returning to the teaching professions and other occupations since I have no information as to the jobs to which men released in Class A have returned.

Mr. Brooks

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these meteorological officers state that, at both home and abroad, they are more liberally staffed than they need be; and is he aware that a number of these officers are being sent out—who ought to be doing useful work in this country—when they are likely to be demobilised about January, and is not this a waste of time and energy?

Mr. Strachey

The shortage of meteorological officers means serious difficulties in the air trooping programme, and I do not think that the facts bear out the view that there is any overstaffing.

Mr. Brooks

That is my information, from men on the spot.

87. Flying-Officer Bowden

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that Transport Command are holding back aircrews from release under Class A after their release groups have been promulgated, and will he make inquiries and take steps to stop this.

Mr. Strachey

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply on 14th November to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson). These aircrews are, of course, being held under the Military Necessity Clause.

Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox

Was it shortage of aircrews which made it necessary for the Prime Minister to travel in an American plane?

Mr. Strachey

That is another question.