asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is now in a position to make any statement with regard to the modification of Air Ministry Order No. 706/41 affecting the pay and promotion of officers in the ground branches of the Royal Air Force?
§ Sir A. Sinclair
The Order to which my hon. Friends refers provided that, as from 29th August, 1941, officers of the ground staff who had been granted two or more steps of acting rank should not receive the pay of their acting rank, but that of the rank next below it, until they had held the higher rank for a period of 12 months. The chief reason for the Order was that promotion at that time in the ground1056W branches was greatly outpacing promotion in the flying branch. Time-promotion from pilot officer to flying officer was granted after 12 months in all branches, but large numbers of ground staff officers, commissioned direct from civil life, were getting one or more steps of acting rank during their first year of service, whereas those commissioned to the flying branch not only had served for from 6 to 12 months in the ranks but had less chance of getting acting promotions thereafter. Such sharp disparities inevitably led to discontent.
Moreover, the position had been reached where it was necessary to make appointments to ground staff posts which involved two steps of acting rank for officers who had not sufficient Service experience to discharge the full duties of the higher rank with the required efficiency. In fact, most of the officers affected by the Order had been less than 12 months in the Service
The position has now changed. The intake of ground staff officers has slowed down; entry through the ranks (except in a few cases where special technical qualifications are required) is now the rule for the ground branches as well as for the flying branch; and other measures have been taken which have tended to equalise promotion prospects between the ground and flying branches and bring them more into line with the Service experience of the officers concerned. The circumstances which necessitated the issue of the Order have thus largely ceased to exist and the rule about unpaid acting rank has accordingly been withdrawn as from 1st August, 1942. The corresponding Order applicable to W.A.A.F. officers is being similarly amended from the same date.