§ 2.36 p.m.
§ LORD AYLESTONE
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the highly skilled pilots of the Royal Air Force obtain employment with British airlines on leaving the Royal Air Force.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD DRUMALBYN)
My Lords, I regret that we do not have the information necessary to show what proportion 586 of trained pilots join British airlines on leaving the Royal Air Force. I understand that at present the British Airways Group airlines are recruiting all their pilots from their own training courses, mainly at Hamble, but that other British airlines do recruit pilots direct from the R.A.F. Provided that the statutory requirements as to competence are met, the recruiting policies of airlines are a matter for their internal management.
§ LORD AYLESTONE
My Lords, while thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that American airlines recruit rather more than 90 per cent. of their pilots from the American Air Force? Is it not regrettable that the figure for recruitment in this country is so low (the Minister has not been able to give the actual figure, but I can assure him that it is very low) when some 200 ex-R.A.F. pilots are out of work? Is it not regrettable that the major airlines in this country are carrying on with their own training scheme when this large body of highly skilled, expensively trained men are available to them?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord. On the point of the American practice, there they have, of course, a vastly greater Air Force to recruit from and they have also, I am told, something like three-quarters of a million licensed air pilots in the country. As to our own practice, it is precisely because the British Airways Group have to plan for the manning of their aircraft in the future and cannot count on a regular supply of ex-R.A.F. pilots that the College of Air Training was founded in 1960, at a time when the future availability of R.A.F. pilots was obviously going to be very much less than it had been before that date.