HL Deb 15 March 1934 vol 91 cc246-8

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the Bill to which I venture to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading is introduced for the purpose of enabling airmen-pilots of the Reserve to, be given the same course of training as that which is given to officer-pilots. At present the maximum period of reserve training is, for officers twenty-four days and for airmen twelve days. For the ordinary airmen reservists it is considered that a period of twelve days is sufficient, but that period of twelve days is not considered to be sufficient for the training of airmen-pilots. The need for the increase in this period is due to the introduction in April, 1933, of a more intensive flying training course. This new scheme is an economical one and will mean a substantial saving in cost. The training has certainly been generally improved. That training has been carried out for the most part in light aircraft, but the full benefit of the courses cannot be secured for airmen pilots if the period of training is restricted to twelve days. Last year six out of the twenty-two airmen were unable to complete their training in tins period. The proposed period of twenty-four days is a maximum and the full period should not, as a rule, be needed. I think your Lordships will realise that it is necessary that there should he a margin in case the course of training should be interrupted by bad weather or by some unforeseen circumstance.

The additional cost, which is based on the present number of reserve airmen, is £120. The Bill gives the Air Council power to make certain other changes in the organisation of the training of the Reserve. Those changes are, first of all, a provision for a new class of airman-observer. These men will need the same maximum period of training as pilots, which is twenty-four days. In addition the Bill provides for a system from the very beginning of training for men who are not already qualified as pilots or observers. They will want a longer period of training than men who are already qualified. The Bill allows a maximum period of six months for the first year of training, and for subsequent training twenty-four days. I should like to inform your Lordships at the same time that the extended periods of training will not be applicable, unless they are accepted voluntarily, first of all to men who are already in the Reserve, and secondly, to men who are in the regular Air Force at the date of the passing of the Bill and may be transferred subsequently to the Reserve.

The number of airmen pilots in the Reserve is determined by the number of airmen pilots who pass to the Reserve each year from the active list. At present the total number in the Reserve is only about fifty-five, of whom not more than about thirty-five are expected to do their training this year. The number, of course, will tend to increase as the years go by. The training scheme for airmen who are not already qualified as pilots or qualified as observers is not expected to come into operation before the end of the coming financial year. The reason for this is, generally speaking, that various details still have to be settled. Those details are, for instance, the localities where the men are to be trained, the total numbers who are to be trained, and similar considerations. The extra cost for the coming financial year is therefore limited to £120, the additional cost involved by the extra clays of training for which the Bill provides. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Londonderry.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.