HC Deb 14 March 1951 vol 485 cc1530-2
36 and 37. Mr. Paget

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) what facilities are provided to enable ex-Royal Air Force personnel in Jamaica to rejoin the Royal Air Force;

(2) whether he will take steps to open a recruiting office in Jamaica.

Mr. A. Henderson

Ex-R.A.F. personnel living in Jamaica are accepted into the Royal Air Force if they now conform to the standards required; no, facilities are provided in Jamaica, but they can re-join through the recruiting and selection organisation in this country. Any British subjects whether of European descent or otherwise will be admitted to the Royal Air Force provided they attain the requisite standards. But it has never been the practice in peace-time to open recruiting offices overseas; and it is not at present intended to do so.

Mr. Paget

How do these Jamaicans get here to join up at our recruiting offices? If we want men why cannot some facilities be provided, where one has trained men, to let them join up where they are?

Mr. Henderson

Whether they come from Jamaica, or any other part of the British Commonwealth, they have to make their own way here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It is quite impracticable to pay the expenses of men who may desire to join one of the Forces, because after they arrive here they may be found to be medically unfit or otherwise unacceptable. Therefore, the money is wasted.

Commander Noble

Can the Minister say why they should not be medically examined on the spot?

Mr. Henderson

As far as the Royal Air Force is concerned it is not only a question of medical examination but whether they are suitable for a particular trade. Recruits to the R.A.F. are trade-tested.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Was there not a recruiting station in Jamaica during the war?

Mr. Henderson

I do not know whether there was the usual kind of recruiting station. Certainly, recruits were not trade-tested and, as a result, a large proportion of those brought over were found afterwards to be unsuitable; though I hasten to say that many others rendered splendid service.

Air Commodore Harvey

Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman say why a small trade test board should not visit Jamaica and other areas and test these men, and also make use of a local medical officer? This would be quite easy.

Mr. Henderson

I think the suggestions which have been put forward, including the suggestion in the main Question, are very fair, but I have stated what the policy has always been in the three Services to date. I am not saying that the suggestions will never be operated, but I cannot go beyond a statement of the present position.