§ 37. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of National Service men stationed at Wartling Royal Air Force camp who have enlisted in the Regular Force during the past twelve months.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is the hon. Gentleman surprised that only one National Service man in the course of twelve months has enlisted in the Regular Force? Is not that due to the lack of encouragement in this camp, the petty restrictions, and the fact that the Air Force owns a piggery with 350 pigs adjacent to the camp where National Service men are frequently on guard? Does he regard those conditions as encouraging to men to join the Regular Force?
Naturally, we would like to see more National Service men signing on, but it is some indication that conditions at that station cannot be too unsatisfactory that 31 Regular airmen have signed on during that same period for extended service, which is double the national average.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the figures are unsatisfactory inasmuch as the Service is obviously not making one-quarter of the appeal to National Service men which it is making to Regulars? In view of the numbers, 31 and one, which he quoted, does he not think that he should make some inquiries to find out what is offending National Service men?
If a National Service man intends to sign on for a short Regular engagement he generally does so very early in his service, and thus gets an increased choice of trades and increased pay, so that when National Service men join the Regular Force they do so before getting to an operational station such as Wartling.
§ 38. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Secretary of State for Air how many men at Wart-ling camp have been put on a charge since the beginning of 1958.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Does not the hon. Gentleman regard that as rather excessive? Is he aware of the conditions in this camp and of the fact that the officers in charge take a very casual interest in the welfare of the men and that all kinds of restrictions are imposed on the men? Is it not an absolute disgrace that the Secretary of State for Air does not occupy his mind with matters of that sort when he wants to build up the Regular Force?
The figures are in no way exceptional. Over the previous two months 28 airmen were charged, and in September and October 13 airmen were charged. That is about the average throughout the command concerned. As recruiting to the Regular Force is very good on this station, I do not think there can be very much wrong.
§ Mr. P. Williams
Can my hon. Friend give an estimate of the number of airmen serving on the station?
§ Mr. Shinwell
is the hon. Gentleman aware that if he maintains this argument that there is nothing wrong at this camp he is in for a very great deal of trouble, not only from the men concerned but from some people in this House?
I did not say that there was nothing wrong with the camp. I said that there could not be anything basically wrong if large numbers of men on the camp are undertaking Regular engagements. I should be delighted, as would my right hon. Friend, to look into any specific complaints. The right hon. Gentleman has, in fact, written a letter, 414 with which my Department is dealing, and he will receive an answer on the detailed matters he has put before us.