HC Deb 05 March 1947 vol 434 cc73-4W
91. Mr. Mitchison

asked the Secretary of State for Air upon what grounds the tour of duty in an overseas area is decided; and what is the reason for the tour of duty in India, without home leave, being six months longer than the tour of duty in B.A.F.O., Germany, with home leave, and one year longer than the tour of duty in Gibraltar and the Azores.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Overseas tours of duty in the Royal Air Force vary in length in different places, because the climatic and other conditions of life and service are widely different. The tour in Gibraltar is shorter than in India, because the garrison of Gibraltar is confined within a very narrow space; moreover, when the tour in Gibraltar is finished, an officer or airman serves six months at home and may then be posted further East. The same was true of the Azores, when R.A.F. units were stationed there. After a tour in Germany, an officer or airman is given leave in the United Kingdom, and may then be sent to some other station overseas. After a tour in India, however, an officer or airman comes home, and is not usually sent to another distant command for 18 months or more. I hope my hon. Friend may think well of these arrangements, which I have reason to believe are in accordance with the wishes of the members of the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Mitchison

asked the Minister of Defence the reason for there being considerable differences between overseas tours of duty in various R.A.F. commands and areas when, in the Army, there are no such considerable differences.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

I have been asked to reply. Most tours of duty in the Royal Air Force overseas do not include any home leave, and differences in climate and living conditions are taken into account in fixing the length of the tour in different areas. Overseas tours in the Army are longer than in the R.A.F. but there are opportunities for a spell of home leave which makes it practicable to have a standard length of tour.