§ Major Thornton-Kemsley
asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) whether in view of the important operational value of meteorological services to the Royal Air Force, he will investigate the complaint of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Meteorological Branch, that the civilians who are in complete though nominally only technical control, have no experience of the conditions and exigencies of the Royal Air Force and are therefore unable to afford the maximum of desired assistance; and whether he will reorganise the work and place it under a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve branch of the Meteorological Office, administered and paid in a manner uniform with the administration and payment of other technical branches of the Royal Air Force;
(2) whether he is satisfied that pre-war volunteers who joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Meteorological Branch, were made aware of the fact that they were joining a civilian organisation and not the forces;
(3) the reason for maintaining the civilian status of the Meteorological Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, with the consequent dissatisfaction among all ranks of the branch, which suffers in particular from the non-observance of the promotion procedure normally followed in the Royal Air Force; and whether he will investigate these grievances with a view to their removal?
§ Sir A. Sinclair
The Meteorological Office is a long-established civil Department which provides a meteorological service not only for the Armed Forces but also to meet civil requirements. Even in peace-time, a large proportion of its staff was employed on work for the Royal Air Force and as it was obvious that the number would have to be greatly increased in the event of war, the Meteorological Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was formed in 1939 to facilitate the inevitable expansion. It was inherent in these arrangements that the service would remain partly civilian in character. Members of the Meteorological Branch of the R.A.F.V.R. have had military status continuously since the outbreak of war. They are interchangeable with civilian meteorologists of the same relative ranks, and since the200W criterion for advancement must, in the main, be technical proficiency and experience the Service and civilian personnel are considered together for promotion.
The status of that part of the staff of the Meteorological Office which is employed with the Royal Air Force has recently been under consideration and it has been decided that all the personnel employed in the overseas operational Commands and certain grades of the staff employed in the home operational Commands are to be fully militarised.
The remainder of the staff serving in the United Kingdom are carrying out much the same duties as in peace-time and under much the same conditions; some of them are employed on work not directly connected with the Fighting Services. There is accordingly no justification for altering their status. I do not consider that any advantage would be gained by divorcing the control of the meteorological services provided for the Royal Air Force from the central direction of the Meteorological Office. Neither can I accept the suggestion that this organisation is in any way out of touch with Royal Air Force requirements. On the contrary, it has met those requirements with acknowledged efficiency for over 20 years.