HC Deb 10 October 1945 vol 414 cc203-4
7. Captain Bullock

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether he has yet reached a decision with regard to the grievances of those men in the R.A.F. who were transferred to vital work in aircraft industries and who, despite assurances given them at the time, have now found that they are in a much higher numbered group than they would have been if they had not been so transferred.

9. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether he has now reconsidered the position of R.A.F. personnel who were temporarily released to industry; and whether he will now arrange that such civilian service be taken into account for calculating their demobilisation group numbers.

20. Sir Robert Young

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that men on temporary release to industry were informed that their period of release would count towards their current engagement, but that the terms of this promise in relation to demobilisation are not being carried out; and since many of the men directed and then re-directed, to workshops in different parts of the country would have been in a stronger financial position had they remained in the Service, if he will now reconsider this decision.

23. Sir John Mellor

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air if he can now make a statement with regard to the demobilisation of airmen who accepted temporary release for civilian war work upon the assurance that the time so spent would count as military service.

Mr. Strachey

It has now been decided that those airmen who received an unqualified written assurance that their period of release to industry would count as service towards their current engagements will count that period as service for calculating their age and service release groups. Their release groups will be adjusted accordingly. This decision has been come to because the interpretation put on the above assurance by the men is undoubtedly the natural one to put on it. Therefore the Government feel that the importance of avoiding an apparent breach of faith with the men must override other considerations. The decision does not mean that the Government has changed its previous view that it is, in principle, unfair to count the time when a man was released to industry as the equivalent for release purposes of time served with the colours. Therefore, it would be quite wrong to extend this concession to any but those who received the unqualified written assurance.

Mr. Mikardo

Will my hon. Friend now take measures to see that those men who are still not released, and who because of the Government's previous decision have not been notified of their demobilisation group numbers, will now so be notified?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, Sir, I will see that this is carried out.

Sir J. Mellor

While welcoming the reply as far as it goes, why does the Minister seek to draw a distinction between written assurances and other forms of assurance?

Mr. Strachey

I think that the only assurance we can take is a written assurance. We could not decide whether a man had been given an oral assurance.