HC Deb 19 July 1950 vol 477 cc2232-4
3. Wing Commander Bullus

asked the Secretary of State for Air what advance training types of aircraft are being used for the training of suitably qualified aircrew in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; and what steps are being taken to make operational types of aircraft available to this Reserve.

Mr. A. Henderson

No advanced training aircraft are provided for the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve. To provide such aircraft for the R.A.F.V.R., as now organised, would involve considerable expenditure and could, at present, only be done at the expense of the Regular Service. A number of members of the R.A.F.V.R. are, however, carrying out their annual training at stations in operational commands, where they are given experience on operational aircraft.

Wing Commander Bullus

In view of the deplorable state of our air defences, will the Minister consider making such aircraft available to the R.A.F.V.R. for training purposes?

Mr. Henderson

I should like to refute any suggestion that the state of the air defences of this country is deplorable. I think that the hon. and gallant Member will agree, on reflection, that that is rather an undesirable statement to make in present circumstances. As regards the question of improving the quality and type of aircraft for those who are training in the R.A.F.V.R., I agree that as soon as circumstances permit we ought to introduce more modern types.

Mr. Harold Macmillan

Is it the lack of money or interference with other training which is the vital reason why the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot take this step now?

Mr. Henderson

In a sense, it is a combination of the two. Taking the position as it is today, what we have concentrated upon is providing the Regular training schools with the latest types of training aircraft—namely, the Balliol. That has just begun to come off the production lines. I think it is common sense that for the moment we should concentrate upon using the available supplies of Balliols for the Regular training schools. I do not think that if we had more money available any more of these aircraft would be coming off the production lines than at the present time. As with other types, production usually starts with a trickle and grows as time goes on.

Mr. Macmillan

It is not a question of money?

Mr. Henderson

No, Sir.

Air Commodore Harvey

What percentage of reservists carry out their training on service fighters?

Mr. Henderson

I do not wish to mislead the House as regards numbers, and all I can say is that there are only three Commands at the moment which can take these R.A.F.V.R. officers. Those are the three operational Commands other than Fighter Command, and they are able to take, in any one fortnightly period, 12 pilots, 41 navigators and 38 signallers.

Mr. Profumo

As the Minister refutes "deplorable," what word would he use to describe the state of our air defences?

Mr. Henderson

I am not prepared to discuss that at the present time.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

In view of the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not satisfied with the calibre and number of air crew entrants would he not consider that to be deplorable?

Mr. Henderson

No, but I think it is unsatisfactory.

Wing Commander Bullus

Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the remarks made yesterday by Air Chief Marshall Sir Guy Garrod, who described our defences as seriously deficient?

Mr. Henderson

We are all entitled to our opinion, and that is the opinion of the gentleman who made the statement.

Forward to