§ 1. Mr. de Freitas
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will make a further statement on conditions in Aden.
§ 3. Mr. Lipton
asked the Secretary of State for Air what further investigation he has made into conditions of Service men and their families in Aden.
§ 12. Mr. Mason
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will make available the reports of the Royal Air Force officers, Lord Tedder, and the Under-Secretary of State for Air, who have recently visited Aden to inspect conditions of Royal Air Force personnel and have reported to him on return.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
I told the House in December that we intended to raise the minimum standard of approved family accommodation, and this has been done. There are at present 31 families whose accommodation does not comply with the new standards. These families are moving into better accommodation and all will be re-housed before the hot weather begins. As a first step, about 1,000 married men were asked whether they wished to bring their families home. Only one has applied for immediate repatriation.
136 My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State returned yesterday from a visit of inspection to Aden and he assures me that everything possible is being done to complete the very large R.A.F. building programme quickly. It would be contrary to normal practice for me to publish the reports I have had on housing in Aden.
§ Mr. de Freitas
Since it is clear that the Air Force fell down badly in the past in preparing for the changes in Aden, can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that the Air Council and he personally will keep an eye on what is happening in Aden and will follow up to see that all these improvements are carried out in time for the hot weather, which is now only a couple of months away?
§ Mr. Lipton
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that until suitable accommodation is available for them no more women and children will be allowed to go to Aden? Is he aware that the only happy people I saw in Aden in September were the National Service men who were due to be released in the next week or two?
§ Mr. Mason
Why cannot we have some knowledge about the official reports which have been received? Three official deputations from the Air Ministry have been to Aden. Surely we could have some idea of their conclusions and what they found. Also, will the right hon. Gentleman consider making Aden a twelve-month unaccompanied tour until the whole of the building programme has been completed? How long will it take to settle many of these family problems?
§ Mr. Ward
In answer to the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I would point out that there is no need to do this. Provided 137 we ensure that families are living in accommodation which is up to the new accepted standards, they are quite happy. in answer to the hon. Member's first point, there is a serious danger that people inspecting matters of this kind, either officially or unofficially, may give less frank and therefore less valuable reports if they feel that there is a possibility that their reports will be published. I think that it is much better and more valuable that we should not do this.
§ Mr. de Freitas
Will the Secretary of State get this clear? The fact that only one family or one man wants to come home is no evidence about conditions In the past. The right hon. Gentleman has given an undertaking that the accommodation will be improved rapidly, and that no doubt has influenced this decision. The point that most of us are worried about is this. In view of the fact that the Air Force fell down so badly in the past, will he personally see that they do not fall down again in the future?
§ 8. Mr. Currie
asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of the families of serving Royal Air Force personnel in the Aden Protectorate who were occupying hirings in Aden, in the months of September and December, 1959, respectively.
§ Mr. Currie
While welcoming my right hon. Friend's earlier statement about the number of families who are now to be accommodated in accommodation up to the approved standard and while disagreeing entirely with the observations made by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) that the Air Force has fallen down badly in Aden, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is the policy of the Air Force to replace hirings by married quarters in the Aden Colony?
§ 9. Mr. Currie
asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of married quarters now under construction in the Aden Protectorate; and when it is expected that such married quarters will be ready for occupation.
§ Mr. Currie
Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the great problems of service in the Aden Colony is the deprivation that the airmen undergo of feminine society? Can he say whether it is the policy of the Air Ministry, where possible, to post married airmen and married officers to the Aden Colony and, where that is not possible, to provide some feminine society for those airmen who have to serve there for a number of years?
§ 10. Mr. Currie
asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of Royal Air Force personnel in the Aden Protectorate who are now accommodated in sleeping quarters which have no system of air conditioning.
§ Mr. Mason
Is the Minister aware that if a twelve months' tour were introduced in Aden, he would immediately stop the exploitation by the Arabs of these other hirings, that we should immediately stop over-crowding in schools, because many of the children are not able to get accommodation in the schools, and that we should stop the problem of the exploitation of the families also?