HC Deb 30 January 1957 vol 563 c991
38. Air Commodore Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many National Service men were trained as aircrew in the Royal Air Force last year; and how many are undergoing training at the present time.

Mr. Ward

The numbers of National Service aircrew who successfully completed training to wings standard in 1956 were 184 pilots and one navigator. The numbers under training at 1st January, 1957, were 296 pilots and 109 navigators.

Air Commodore Harvey

How does my right hon. Friend reconcile these figures with the decision to close down the Auxiliary Air Force squadrons? Surely, the Auxiliary pilots are practically in the front line of defence, whereas the National Service man at the completion of his service is almost a lost asset. Many of us are not happy concerning the future if training is to continue for National Service men while the Auxiliary squadrons are to be disbanded.

Mr. Ward

The figures I have given are apt to be slightly misleading owing to the form of the Question. The first figures relate to the output for 1956 and the second figures to the input, not only for 1956, but for 1957 also. What has happened is that in October we reduced the annual quota for pilots from 300 to 150 a year.

Mr. de Freitas

What will happen to these National Service pilots after they leave the Service if there are no Auxiliary squadrons? What will they do?

Mr. Ward

They will not be able to fly, I quite agree, but I hope that many of them will join the remaining units and play their part on the ground.