HC Deb 24 July 1946 vol 426 cc10-1
5. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he has any statement to make on home leave and on the length of the overseas tour for members of the R.A.F.

Mr. de Freitas

Yes, Sir, the Air Council have recently been considering the best arrangements both for the efficiency of the Royal Air Force and also for the sake of the men and their families. We have decided that, in present conditions, we should give up home leave from distant commands—which is costly both in men and transport—in favour of a shorter overseas tour of duty. We have discussed this with the Commanders-in-Chief overseas. They in turn have taken widespread soundings throughout their commands, where the general opinion is strongly in favour of the course we are now adopting.

We have told the R.A.F. that from 1st October there will be no more home leave from distant commands, though the present system of compassionate home postings will continue. We have also told the Service that this change means we shall be able to bring down the overseas tour where it is now three years to two years and six months. The reduction, which will apply to both married and single men, will start on 1st October. It is bound to take some time to carry out for everyone, but should be completed by the end of this year.

Mr. Greenwood

Will the new conditions apply to Germany, or will Germany continue to be treated as a home station?

Mr. de Freitas

Home leave will continue, because Germany is much closer to this country. The R.A.F. tour there will be for two years, but airmen whose families are not with them in Germany may be posted to more distant commands to complete the more normal period of two and a half years overseas. Those who complete two years in Germany will remain for six months in this country before they go further afield, but occasionally, in exceptional circumstances, they may be posted abroad sooner than that.

Mr. James Callaghan

Will the Undersecretary indicate what commands are included? Does he include C.M.F. and the Middle East?

Mr. de Freitas

We are including the Mediterranean, Middle East, India, Air Command South-East Asia and men stationed in the Dominions.

14. Mr. David Jones

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air whether he is aware that, in consequence of the reduction of the overseas tour to 2½ years in the R.A.F. and the lack of accommodation for families to live with men stationed in Greece, these men are faced with a 2½ years separation from their families without any home leave; and whether he will reconsider the question of granting home leave for men placed in such circumstances.

Mr. de Freitas

We are certainly not planning to keep the Royal Air Force as long as two and a half years more in Greece. As I have said in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Hey wood and Radcliffe (Mr. Anthony Greenwood), we have gone most carefully into finding the best answer to this problem for all overseas commands. The Service as a whole seems to prefer the prospect of coming home six months earlier at the end of a tour in a distant command, to a leave scheme of a fortnight a year.