HC Deb 13 March 1946 vol 420 cc1077-80
1. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is satisfied with the promised speed-up in the rate of release of the accountant trade and equipment trade; whether he will give an assurance that the release target aimed at for those in these trades will be reached by June; and how many men have been remustered into these trades from other trades since September, 1945.

2. Major Wyatt

asked the" Under secretary of State for Air what is the latest position with regard to the deferment of clerks accounting.

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

Equipment assistants are this month three groups behind the general level of release for most airmen, but the gap comes down to one group next month. The position is not so good for airmen in the accounting trades, who are five groups behind at present and will be six according to the latest forecast for May. This is most disappointing for all the men concerned; precisely because their work is essential to the general speed-up in release, they cannot at present share the advantage themselves. There is, however, absolutely no question of stopping their release or of going back on the May forecast. While we are doing our best to narrow the gap, we know that there are still difficult problems to overcome—for example, the introduction of the new pay code next July—and so I cannot give any promise at present. We are ready to train every suitable man for accounting duties, and since the beginning of last September up to the end of February the output, including recruits, has been over 3,500. We have also trained about 5,500 men and women as equipment assistants over the same period.

3. Captain Chetwynd

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air when meteorological officers of age and service Group 27 will be released; and to what extent the release of meteorological officers scheduled for February and March has been cancelled.

13. Flight-Lieutenant Haire

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what release group of meteorological officers does he anticipate will be reached by June next.

Mr. Strachey

Junior meteorological officers of the Royal Air Force in Group 27 will be released in June; from Flight-Lieutenant upwards the release group for meteorological officers will be 25 in June. No release of meteorological officers for February and March has been cancelled. We were not able to confirm our advance promulgation at the time of our action promulgation, but I am able to do so now.

12. Mr. Langford-Holt

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether applications for release under Class B are dealt with summarily by commanding officers; or whether each application is dealt with by his Department.

Mr. Strachey

We deal with all applications for Class B release in the Air Ministry. Commanding officers have no power either to make or to refuse an offer of release in Class B.

Mr. Langford-Holt

It I bring to the hon. Gentleman's notice a case which has been dealt with summarily by a commanding officer, will he look further into the matter?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, certainly.

17. Mr. Turton

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many R.A.F. medical officers are specialists, and on that account frozen from the operation of the Class A release scheme and what steps he is taking to replace these officers by civilian specialists who have no previous service in the Armed Forces.

Mr. Strachey

There are 134 Royal Air Force medical officers filling specialist posts. So far, we have told those who would otherwise be due for release up to the end of May—74 in all—that we shall have to keep them on under the Military Necessity clause. The Central Medical War Committee is calling up specialists, for a period of 18 months, who have not yet served in the Armed Forces and who are over 30 years of age, and we trust that we shall receive a sufficient allocation of these new entrants tr. enable us to release as many as possible of our own specialists. We are also accepting volunteers aged 40 and over for a similar period of service.

Mr. Turton

Will the hon. Gentleman represent to the Central Medical War Committee that it is important that they should reach an early conclusion in this matter of replacing these specialists, as these men have been held frozen for a very long time?

Mr. Strachey

We agree it is a case of real difficulty, and we shall put in a very strong plea for a good allocation.

19. Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he will reconsider the treatment for release purposes of R.A.F. personnel who have been serving in the G.D. branch and are transferred to the A. and S.D. branch on account of injuries sustained in flying accidents, and who consequently have the date of their release deferred by reason of the difference in treatment for release purposes between personnel of the same group in these two branches.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. The rule to which the hon. Member refers has applied throughout the Royal Air Force ever since the beginning of the release scheme, and it would not be practicable—or indeed fair —to change it now.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that sometimes these transfers cause a delay of up to two months in the date of release of the individuals concerned; and that when they have made arrangements to take up a civilian job on their original expectation the result is not only disappointment, but actual damage to the individual concerned?

Mr. Strachey

We try to avoid making these transfers at all near the date of release, but some such transfers are inevitable in order to even out the rate of release as between trades. That is the justification for -them. I quite agree that they result in disappointment, but I feel that it would be worse not to make them.