HC Deb 21 January 1959 vol 598 cc185-6
21. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in view of the concern felt among airmen at the threatened closing down of the Malcolm Club organisation, he will secure that these clubs continue to have every possible support from his Department.

Mr. Ward

I am afraid I cannot add to what I said in the course of the Adjournment debate on this subject on 18tn"December.

Mr. Fletcher

Is the Minister aware that what he said in the course of that debate has left the position in a most unsatisfactory and ambiguous state, and that since then there has been a further volume of protest in the Press and elsewhere against the closing of the Malcolm Clubs? Will he now give an assurance that there will be no Air Ministry objection to their continuing to function?

Mr. Ward

The assurance I gave during that debate still stands, that if the Malcolm Clubs can raise working capital and pay their debt at any time I will reconsider the decision.

Mr. de Freitas

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the Question which I asked during that debate and which he did not then answer, namely, whether the Air Council will give the same kind of direct and indirect assistance to the Malcolm Clubs as it gives to other voluntary organisations working on Air Force stations?

Mr. Ward

The clubs already get a subsidy of £30,000 a year, and that subsidy should be enough to enable them to fulfil their functions. It has nothing to do with what the others get.

Mr. Farey-Jones

Will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking at least to give careful consideration to the volume of opinions coming from all over the world, by the thousand, about the threatened closing of these clubs? Will he at least undertake to give the matter fresh consideration?

Mr. Ward

We have already very carefully considered all expressions of opinion, and no one regrets more than the Air Council the necessity of closing these clubs.