HC Deb 02 November 1955 vol 545 cc1011-2
29. Mr. D. Howell

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why batmen serving at Halton Camp were sent, at public expense, to an officers' ball at Henlow; and what action he proposes to take to prevent any repetition of such an incident.

Mr. Ward

The summer ball at the Royal Air Force Technical College, Henlow, provides a valuable opportunity to return hospitality and to maintain contacts, not only with different branches of the Royal Air Force and other Services, but also with industry, the universities and local dignitaries. There are not enough batmen at the college to provide the waiters needed for the ball, and others were therefore brought from nearby stations.

Because of the importance of the ball to the Service, it was considered appropriate that they should travel at public expense, although other costs were met by the officers themselves. However, I have now decided that the travelling expenses also shall be recovered from mess funds.

Mr. Howell

I thank the Minister for that small concession, but does he still feel it to be in order that men in National Service should spend their time going from one camp to another in order to act as waiters for officers at their ball? Does not he think that if waiters are necessary upon these social occasions they should be employed from private sources, which are no doubt available? Is it not disgraceful that National Service men are used in this manner?

Mr. Ward

No, Sir. As I told the hon. Gentleman, most of these men were volunteers, and very few were National Service men.