§ Mr. RAPER
asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) whether, in fact, the interpretation which it is now sought to plat on Air Ministry, W.O 73 and 263, of 1919, was originally contemplated by the Air Ministry, or has been adopted quite recently as the result of the great reduction in the Vote for the Royal Air Force; whether, if the present interpretation was that originally intended to be borne by those Orders, steps can be taken whereby the burden of the error should fall on the firm which Alas responsible for that error rather than that they should be permitted to attempt to secure repayment from the officers involved;
(2) if Air Ministry Weekly Orders, Nos. 73 and 263, of 1919, are framed in such terms that officers affected by them could not be expected correctly to interpret them; and were many officers, whose gratuity claims have now been held to be adversely affected by these Orders, de-mobilised before these Orders were published?
As regards the first question, the present interpretation of the Weekly Orders mentioned is that originally intended. The Orders were, however, modified in certain respects by later Orders issued in March, 1919, but solely in the direction of favouring, 1685W officers. In reply to the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to my general reply to his subsequent questions. As regards the second question, I cannot accept the suggestion that the terms of the Orders were such that officers affected by them could not reasonably be expected to interpret them correctly. The Orders were issued in January and February, 1919, and they did not adversely affect the gratuity claims of such officers as were demobilised before their issue.