§ 38. Mr. Blyton
asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that recruits are not trained for skilled trades unless they sign for a, long term; that this is resulting in the demobilisation groups among tradesmen in the R.A.F. being behind schedule and is causing dissatisfaction among tradesmen; why recruits are thus refused skilled tradesmen's courses when servicemen's release is dependent on replacements; and if he will give the number of recruits trained to replace riggers as compared with the number released.
43. Lieut.-Commander dark Hutchison
asked the Secretary of State for Air to what extent the delay in releasing airmen who are mustered in the electrical trades is due to the fact that no recruits are being trained as electricians unless they agree to join the R.A.F. as Regulars; and whether he will modify his policy in this matter.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)
I am glad to assure the hon. Members that, except for a few trades in which we have enough men, we are enlisting anyone with suitable qualifications, whether he is a National Service entrant or a volunteer. If, however, the hon. Members have reason to think that suitable recruits have been, in fact, refused in any trade where release is now delayed, I will be grateful if they will send me any information they may have.
In the trades which my hon. Friend describes as riggers, 57,400 men have been released, while 8,900 new entrants have been trained. For them, as for electricians, release is delayed, not because suitable recruits have been refused, but because we are short of men to meet our needs.
§ Mr. Blyton
Is the Minister not prepared to give the same length of training now as operated during the war, so as to accelerate the release of these particular tradesmen?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I have said that, except in a very few trades where we have enough men, recruits are being taken for a short term. If that is not clear, perhaps my hon. Friend and I might discuss it together.
Does the Minister not realise that there is considerable dissatisfaction in sections of the Royal Air Force on this matter?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Yes, I realise that all too well, but I am afraid that it is due to a shortage of men.