HC Deb 28 November 1956 vol 561 cc372-3
6. Mr. D. Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Air why good tradesmen, with only eight weeks' service, are being sent to Cyprus; and whether, in view of the fact that this area is considered to be dangerous, he will take steps to end this practice.

Mr. Birch

No airman is sent overseas without receiving general service training which includes ground defence instruction. Tradesmen who do not require further training in their trade may be considered for overseas posting. I see no reason to change this practice.

Mr. Jones

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it is reasonable that a young man, although he is 22 years of age, after just eight weeks' training in the Air Force, should be sent to Cyprus, amidst the dangers which exist in that island at the present time? Although the man may be a good carpenter, as the Secretary of State alleged in a letter to me, does the right hon. Gentleman think that it is fair that after eight weeks' training he should be sent into that danger zone?

Mr. Birch

As the hon. Member has pointed out, this man was 22 years of age, which is not very young as these postings now go. He had received ground defence training and qualified as a marksman. He was well able to look after himself.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that that area is not really so very dangerous, but that if it were the good tradesman concerned would resent even more the policy advocated by the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones)?

Mr. Fernyhough

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that it is right that after eight weeks' training these men should be sent to what, after all, is an active theatre? Can he say why the Government should argue that two years' conscription is necessary before a man is completely trained?

Mr. Birch

That raises rather wider issues.