HC Deb 28 October 1953 vol 518 cc2772-3
10. Captain Ryder

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the approximate proportion of our naval effort devoted to air warfare.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

I can, of course, give my hon. and gallant Friend considerable information about the Fleet Air Arm, as I have in the past; but it is not customary to split up our naval effort in this way, and any such estimate could only be extremely arbitrary.

Captain Ryder

Is it not a fact that the suggestions which have been made to the effect that the Fleet Air Arm might be transferred to the Air Ministry ignore the very considerable efforts that are being made in this direction and form the major part of our naval activities?

Mr. Thomas

I think that question was answered very fully in another place. I do not think that my hon. and gallant Friend need have much fear on that score.

Mr. Dugdale

Can the First Lord state what proportion of the personnel of the Fleet Air Arm are shore based?

Mr. Thomas

Not without notice, I am afraid.

Mr. Dugdale

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman state this in view of the very great disquiet expressed by the Prime Minister during the time of the late Government at the large number of people whom he said were shore based and whom he thought should not be shore based?

Mr. Thomas

If the hon. Gentleman will put down that question, I shall be delighted to answer it.

Mr. Callaghan

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is really not doing himself justice at the moment? Would it not be possible to give some form of answer to this question, either in terms of the number of men engaged or the amount of money spent? Surely something could be done to indicate what a tremendous proportion of naval activity is devoted to the Fleet Air Arm? Would it not be possible to try to give an answer in that way?

Mr. Thomas

If that question were put down, I would try to give a wider answer. I do not think that we usually tell the world what money we spend on particular sections of the Royal Navy, or on any other Service. I think such information might possibly be dangerous. But, if a further Question is put down. I will certainly try to give as much information as I can on the subject.