§ 113. Mr. Piratin
asked the Undersecretary of State for Air whether the terms and conditions for the employment of civilian staff in the meteorological department have now been decided; whether demobilisation of R.A.F. personnel now employed in the Air Ministry's meteorological department will be speeded up; and when such personnel will achieve parity in demobilisation with other trades.
§ 115. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the reason for the deferment of meteorologists, and the number of groups behind the average for the R.A.F., in which this trade is being released.
§ Mr. Strachey
Junior meteorological officers of the Royal Air Force in group 27 will be released in June; from flight-lieutenant upwards, the release group for meteorological officers will be 25 in June. The average release group for ground officers of the Royal Air Force for June is 35. The percentage of meteorological officers who were released by 1st March slightly exceeded the average percentage of other Royal Air Force ground officers released by that date. This larger percentage of meteorological officers is, however, contained in a smaller number of release groups. The rate at which meteorological officers are being released is the maximum at present compatible with the safety of flying in the Royal Air Force. To release meteorological officers up to the same groups as in other trades would reduce the strength of the meteorological service seriously below the safe level, but we are keeping the whole position under constant review to see 383W whether any acceleration will be possible. As regards the conditions of employment of civilian staff in the Meteorological Office, the terms and conditions of employment of scientific grades will be those shown in Command 6679 for the Scientific Civil Service. The conditions of service of ancillary technical staff are not yet settled, but in the meantime, temporary appointments are still being made in the war grade of meteorological assistant.
§ 121. Mr. Skinnard
asked the Undersecretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction felt by meteorological assistants at the latest R.A.F. promulgation of release groups; and what measures are being taken to train service replacements or recruit civilian personnel so that this branch may be brought up to the general level of R.A.F. release.
§ Mr. Strachey
Airmen and airwomen meteorologists in Groups 29 and 44 respectively will be released in April, and it is expected that Groups 30 and 31 (for airmen) and Group 45 (for airwomen) will be released by the end of June. No further Service replacements are being recruited or trained, but pending a decision on the conditions of service of civilian technical staff, airmen and airwomen meteorologists are being invited to apply for temporary appointments in the war grade of civilian meteorological assistant after demobilisation.
§ 125. Mr. Teeling
asked the Undersecretary of State for Air the position of men who are awaiting release at Hednesford Camp, and why there have been delays there.
§ Mr. Strachey
Hednesford is the dispersal centre which deals with all members of the Royal Air Force arriving from overseas for release. Normally it takes from two to three days to complete the release and medical procedure but this time may be extended by one or two days for large drafts. There is, however, unavoidable delay in the release of men who arrive without their Service documents or Service and Release books. The period of waiting in their case may be from seven to 14 days. Others may have to be retained because they are medically unfit or because they are awaiting passages to their homes overseas.
§ 129. Colonel Stoddart-Scott
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what 384W groups of meteorological officers have been demobilised in the last three months; what groups are due for demobilisation in the next three months; whether the age plus length of service principle is being maintained; and who will decide upon what factors will depend the demobilisation of individual meteorological officers in exceptional cases.
§ Mr. Strachey
The following groups of meteorological officers have been or are being released in January, February and March:
F/Lt.& above. F/O.& below. January 21 25 February 22 and 23 None March 24 26
During April, no meteorological officers will be released; in May-June, Group 25 will be released in the rank of Flight-Lieutenant and above, and Group 27 in the rank of Flying-Officer and below. We hope that it may be possible to improve on these figures.
Meteorological officers in the Royal Air Force are being released in accordance with the age and length of service principle, and we are doing all we can to bring their release rate up to the average for the Service as a whole. I would, however, remind the hon. and gallant Member that the original White Paper on the Release Scheme (Cmd. 6548) foreshadowed that release would necessarily proceed at different rates in the different Services and that it would be necessary in some Services to deal separately with the several branches and possibly with trades and ranks in those branches.
A special reason for the present delay in releasing meteorological officers is that a high proportion of them are in early release groups owing to the fact that, as I stated in my answer of 21st November to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd), all their wartime service on meteorological duties, whether in the Royal Air Force or in a civilian capacity, counts in determining their Class A group numbers. As for the last part of the Question, applications for the individual release of meteorological officers in Class B or Class C are considered in the same way as those from all other Royal Air Force officers; a decision on each case in this branch is taken after consultation between the Director of the Meteorological 385W Office and the Personnel Department of the Air Ministry
§ 130. Mr. Callaghan
asked the Undersecretary of State for Air why the release of meteorological assistants which is now level with the general scheme, will fall six groups behind in May; when it will be brought up to date again; and how soon will these men be replaced by civilians.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am afraid that the release of airmen meteorologists is already delayed and the reason why they will fall further behind in May and June is partly because meteorological requirements are contracting more slowly than the R.A.F. itself and partly on account of the difficulties we are experiencing in obtaining the necessary civilian staff. We are doing everything in our power to accelerate the release of these men. In particular, as explained in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard), we are inviting airmen and airwomen meteorologists to apply for temporary appointments as civilian meteorological assistants after demobilisation. At present, however, I cannot say when it will be possible for the release of these airmen to be raised to the general level.