HC Deb 21 March 1956 vol 550 cc1217-8
4. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for Air what special event is to be celebrated at the Royal Air Force Camp, Sandwich, Kent, on Thursday, 22nd March; what preparations have been made for the occasion; how many weekend leave passes have been cancelled recently to enable preparations to be completed; and in what way were the Royal Air Force men and women concerned employed instead of being on leave.

Mr. Birch

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester is visiting the R.A.F. Station, Sandwich, tomorrow. Appropriate preparations have been made. About sixty passes were cancelled last weekend to enable them to be completed.

Mr. Dodds

Will the Minister say how these men were employed at the weekend instead of going on leave? Is he aware that for the very first time kerbstones and manhole covers were painted, and that indoor dustbins were also painted to match the colour of the furniture? Does he not think that it is thoroughly dishonest to paint a picture which is so different from the normal conditions? Is this not the sort of thing that makes intelligent men decide against continuing to serve with the Regulars and being at the mercy of such stupid mentalities?

Mr. Birch

Most of the leave passes that were stopped were for women, not for men. This is a fighter control station where a large number of W.R.A.F. personnel are employed. The Duchess of Gloucester is Commandant of the Women's Royal Air Force. From my own Service life, I am bound to say that I have always thought that one of the objects of having an inspection was to enable one to see how well one could turn out the station or the barracks. I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman were to receive a Royal visit he would certainly give things a wipe over.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he was ever called upon to paint dustbins?

Mr. Birch

I have not heard that dustbins were painted. A certain amount of painting has been done, but I understand that the contract for that was let long before the visit was arranged.