§ Captain GEE
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if candidates submitted by the Joint Substitution Board have on certain occasions been interviewed and rejected at the Air Ministry by the very non-service men they were sent to substitute; whether he 1507W sanctioned this procedure; whether the men so rejected have been given another opportunity of being properly interviewed; and what steps he has taken that this procedure shall not be repeated?
I have been asked to answer this question. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I have just given to the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Carr).
Major C. LOWTHER
asked the Secretary of State for Air what has been the procedure adopted in his Department for interviewing candidates sent by the Joint Substitution Board to substitute non-service men; whether in many cases such candidates have been interviewed by officials well known to be hostile to substitution; whether, in view of the numbers of technical ex-service men who have been submitted by the Joint Substitution Board as suitable but rejected by officials in his Department as unsuitable, he will cause a Committee to be set up to interview all such applicants, such Committee to contain an ex-service representative; and whether, in view of the numerous non-service technical men still employed at Farnborough and at the Air Ministry headquarters, he will apply to the Joint Substitution Board for candidates to be resubmitted for all such posts?
I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the oral reply which I gave to-day to the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Carr).
§ Mr. SUGDEN
asked the Secretary of State for Air upon what paragraph of the Lytton Report he has based his refusal to substitute Mr. Noel Smith on the ground of personal selection; what are the reasons that this gentleman was not called up for military service; what are his special qualifications; what salary does ho receive; whether it is a fact that he was recently engaged in the finance branch, and has since he entered the Air Ministry or its pre-deceasing office occupied numerous positions, and how, in view of this, he can be held as indispensable; whether it is a fact that influential connections have not been the real cause of the failure of previous efforts to substitute him; whether it is claimed that the confidential nature of his present work renders him unsubstitutable; if so, whether it is inferred that a sufficiently 1508W trustworthy ex-service man cannot be found; and whether, in view of the intense indignation amongst ex-service men in his Department concerning this case, he will reconsider the whole matter?
I have dealt with the case of Mr. Noel Smith under paragraph 9 of the Third Lytton Report and, in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich on the 17th ultimo, I explained that personal qualifications and experience were of the first importance in filling a confidential post. It was the fact that Mr. Noel Smith possessed these qualifications and not, as suggested in the question, influential connections, which dictated his selection for the post of Private Secretary to the Controller-General of Civil Aviation. In reply to the last part of the question, I have already stated more than once that this case, in common with the others indicated, will be kept under constant review with reference to any changes which may take place in the requirements and circumstances of the Department. I adhere to that undertaking and cannot add anything to it. In justice to Mr. Noel Smith, I must add that no influence has been exercised on his behalf, and that he volunteered three times for military service, and both then and when called up under the Military Service Act, was rejected on medical grounds.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he has concurred in the decision of the Air Ministry that a Mr. Noel Smith, a non-technical non-service man who has passed no examination, is non-substitutable; whether the Treasury uses its influence to see that the Lytton Report is enforced or whether such matters are in fact left entirely to the discretion of the Department concerned; on what particular grounds the refusal to substitute this man are based; and if, in view of the present serious position among ex-service men, he will use his influence to insist that the provisions of the Lytton Report are carried out, both in letter and spirit, in his and similar cases?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answers given by me on the 6th instant to the hon. and gallant Member for Hackney (Sir R. Greene), and by the Secretary of State for Air on the 17th ultimo to the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich (Captain Gee).