HC Deb 12 February 1947 vol 433 cc337-8
2. Mr. Baker White

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that, on 16th December, 1946, the departure schedule board at the Mauripur airfield at Karachi bore the entry 'Lancaster Plane, Special. Rations for 'V.I.P. Bound for United Kingdom"; whether he will state the names of the 'V.I.Ps.": whether they travelled in this or another aeroplane; and what was the nature of the rations.

The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

Yes, Sir. The names of the passengers were Sir Leslie Boyce chairman of the Gloster Carriage & Wagon Co.; Mr. Morgan, consulting engineer of Sir William Halcrow & Partners; Mr. Carmichael, director of British Non-Ferrous Metals Federation; Mr. Thornton, secretary, United Textiles Factories Workers' Association; Mr. Haworth of Unilever Ltd.; Mr. Scott, of Dorman, Long & Co. These passengers were all members of a trade mission to China; they travelled on the Lancaster in question, which had been chartered for them by the Board of Trade; they received as rations for their journey between Karachi and Cairo the normal lunchbox, which contained some sandwiches, an egg, a little fruit, a small piece of chocolate and, to the best of my belief, some chewing gum.

Mr. White

May I ask the Minister if the schedule board also bore these words, relating to a separate plane altogether:

"Flight. Bound Carrying
Special V.I.P. U.K Lady Cripps daughter and retinue
and that for another plane, a Lancaster, the inscription was: Special (Rations for V.I.P.)"? On the schedule board, the trade delegation were not referred to as "V.I.Ps."

Mr. Noel-Baker

In fact it was the plane which carried the trade mission. That is the plane about which the hon. Member has asked. They were a trade mission. They were not technical "V.I.Ps.," according to the verbal usages that are customary, but they had to be given "V.I.P." treatment and a special plane. Otherwise their trade mission to China could not have been carried out.

Mr. White

May I ask the Minister whether he is aware that my Question refers to "V.I.Ps." specifically, and that the schedule board also referred to "V.I.Ps."; and, further, that that is not the plane in which the trade mission travelled?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, it is the plane in which the trade mission travelled. The expression "V.I.P."was used in order to make plain to those who had to provide the rations that the plane was leaving not at the ordinary scheduled time but at a special time and that the rations had to be there.

Mr. William Teeling

Had Lady Cripps and her daughter a special plane, in addition?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is another question. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put it down.