§ Mr. RAPER
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether a Major Meakin, who, prior to the War and up to a short time ago was a partner in a firm of tea merchants, is employed in his Department in a technical post; what are the precise qualifications which fit him for this post; whether he is aware that any such qualifications as he possesses have been obtained since he joined the Air Ministry; that this gentleman was possessed of considerable private means and, in order to evade substitution under the Lytton Report, recently transferred substantial property to his wife; and why a technical ex-service man who has served overseas cannot be given this appointment?
The answer to the first question is in the affirmative; to the second, that Major Meakin has a special knowledge of contract work in relation to aeroplanes and seaplanes; to the third, in the negative: to the fourth, that his means are very small, and that I have no information as to the alleged transfer of property. The fifth question consequently does not arise. The case will, however, be reviewed in conjunction with others when determining the priority of discharge of ex-service men.
§ Sir N. MOORE
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether competent ex-service shorthand typists are being dismissed from his Department; and what are the reasons for this procedure whilst female 1097W typists who have not passed any examination are retained?
Under the approved arrangements, there is no grade of male shorthand typists in the Air Ministry. The knowledge of shorthand possessed by some of the graded clerks has, however, in certain cases been utilised as a temporary measure. The names of these clerks who are now being discharged owing to the reduction in staff have been sent to the Joint Substitution Board, by whom an effort will be made to obtain for them further employment.
§ Sir N. MOORE
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether two separate investigation committees were set up under Clauses 36 to 39 of the Third Interim Report of the Lytton Committee, the first committee to investigate the claims of officers as to exceptional circumstances which militated against the possibility of their passing or qualifying in the examination and the second committee to investigate the claims on the grounds of special competency; by whom were the terms of reference of the first committee set up; what were the terms of reference and did they place any limit on the considerations that were to be regarded by the committee as exceptional circumstances; was the member said to represent ex-service men in the body which prepared the terms of reference selected from an association catering for other interests besides those of ex-service men; what was the constitution of the first investigation committee; did the chairman of the Ex-Service Men's Association send a written protest against the constitution of the committee and the limitations imposed; what was the constitution of the committee dealing with special competency; was there an ex-service representative on this committee; if he is aware that several candidates recommended as specially competent by their chiefs were rejected by this committee and that the chiefs concerned have protested in writing that their evidence before the committee was misrepresented; and, in view of this obvious injustice, why have no steps been taken to review all the applications by candidates for retention under Clauses 36 to 39 of the third Interim Report of the Lytton Committee?
Only one Committee of Investigation was set up. The terms of reference were those mentioned in the Lytton Report. No limit was placed on1098W the considerations to be regarded as exceptional circumstances. The Committee consisted of three permanent officials (of whom two were ex-service), and, in addition, the Chairman of the staff side of the Departmental Whitley Council, a representative deputed by the Chairman of the Ex-Service Men's Association and another ex-service man were specially invited to assist the Committee in considering claims to the existence of "exceptional circumstances." It is the case that a protest was made, but as against this I would point out that all the decisions of the Committee, which, as I have said, was assisted by a representative deputed by the gentleman who protested, were unanimous and that, after all the claims to "exceptional circumstances" had been considered, the ex-service representatives requested that their appreciation of the fair manner in which the appeals had been dealt with should be placed on record. In reply to the last two parts of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave, to the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Raper) on the 23rd February, to which I have nothing to add.