HC Deb 20 February 1946 vol 419 cc245-8W
Mr. J. L. Williams

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air how many groups are equipment assistants now behind other categories which are being demobilised according to the ordinary age and service basis; and what prospects are now held of an early removal of the inequality.

Mr. Strachey

Equipment assistants are two groups behind the general level of release from the R.A.F. for February and March. We are doing all we can to even up their release rate, but there is a great deal of work for them to do at present in helping to dispose of stores and equipment as a result of the accelerated release from the Service as a whole.

Major Wyatt

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that a number of administrative mistakes have been made in the granting of Class B releases to airmen in the Far East; and whether he has any statement to make.

Mr. Strachey

We have received complaints that in the Fast East offers of release in Class B have sometimes been made to airmen not belonging to the specified trade, that the 15 per cent, quota has been exceeded, and that Class B offers have been made to men in high age and Service groups. Mistakes in selection are due to errors in the recording of civilian occupations on Service documents, but such mistakes are not frequent, and there is an obligation on the individual to refuse the offer if he is not qualified for the specified employment.

The 15 per cent, quota has not been exceeded for the Royal Air Force as a whole although the percentage varies between one Command and another, and between one month and another. The age and service group reached for Class B releases depends, of course, on the number of men in a particular trade whom the R.A.F. are required to release in this Class. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any further specific complaints in mind and will give me particulars, I will be glad to look into them.

Mr. Lipson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if, in view of the reduction of the R.A.F. personnel owing to demobilisation and the need for physical training instructors for schools and youth clubs, he will advance the release groups of R.A.F. physical training instructors.

Mr. Strachey

There has been a delay of two groups during recent months in the release of physical training instructors, but we shall be able to bring them into line with most other airmen in March.

Mr. Piratin

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the number of Class A releases from the R.A.F. for December, 1945, and January, 1946, respectively; the anticipated Class A releases for February, 1946; and if he will arrange for these figures to be given the fullest publicity in the Press and R.A.F. routine orders

Mr. Strachey

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks) on the 13th February. As for the last part of the Question, the monthly returns of releases from the Forces, are regularly announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and are given wide publicity in the Press. I entirely agree with the hon. Member as to the importance of giving the fullest publicity to these figures. We explain them in great detail, in our Demobforms, which are always open to the inspection of hon. Members in the Library For instance, Demobform 32 deals with the figures to which the hon. Member refers.

Sir R. Glyn

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether, now that the approximate date of release of groups up to 37 have been made known, he will give any information in regard to Groups 38 and 39; and whether he will state that airmen in these groups will not now be posted to S.E.A.C.

Mr. Strachey

We have forecast release up to Group 35 for most airmen by the end of June, and we cannot go farther than that at present. Airmen who are under Group 39 are not now being posted to Air Command South-East Asia, and after the end of this month we shall not be posting there airmen who are under Group 40.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air what age and service group of non-specialist medical officers will be demobilised from the R.A.F. in March; how much is the R.A.F. behind the Army and Navy; and the reasons for this lag.

Mr. Garry Allighan

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air why release of general duty medical officers in the R.A.F. in March will be ten groups behind that of equivalent officers in the Army, while the bulk of the new recruits to the medical branches of the Services are being directed to the Army.

Mr. Strachey

Medical officers in the Royal Air Force in Groups 28 and 29 will be released in March. I understand that general duty medical officers in the Army are now being released up to Group 38 and their colleagues in the Naval Medical Service will be released up to Group 47 by the end of March. As I explained to the hon. and gallant Member for Maccles-field (Air-Commodore Harvey) on 6th February, 1946, the release of medical officers is slower in the Royal Air Force than in the other two Services because the wartime proportion of medical officers in the Royal Air Force has been much lower than in the Army or the Navy.

The distribution of recruits to the three medical services is still under consideration, but we are hoping to receive an allocation which will help to even, up the release rate. Of course, differences of this kind between the three Services are not confined to medical officers alone.

Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he is aware that non-specialist medical officers in the Army and Navy up to Group 38 are to be released.in February, 1946, whereas the similar category in the R.A.F. are to be retained until January, 1947, without any explanation being given for this differentiation: and will he rectify the injustice.

Mr. Strachey

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I have given today in reply to Questions by the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey and Otley (Colonel Stoddart-Scott) and my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Garry Allighan). I should add that we have announced that non-specialist medical officers in the R.A.F. will be released up to Group 31 in April, 1946. No later forecast can be given at present.