§ Sir A. Bossom
asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) when the Taylor Report on the further development of the Air Training Corps is to be issued;
(2) if he is aware of the sense of frustration which is growing among officers of the Air Training Corps, owing to their lack of knowledge as to whether any of the recommendations made during the hearings of the Taylor Committee are to be adopted; and what consideration has yet been given to the recommendations of that committee.
§ Mr. Soames
The Committee, presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. W. J. Taylor), was appointed in July, 1955, to review the organisation and administration of the Air Training Corps and to recommend what improvements could be made in the interests of efficiency and economy. The Committee reported in January. The Report was discussed on the two Air Cadet Councils on 16th March and 17th April, and I am now in a position to announce the decisions reached on the main recommendations. A more detailed 71W statement covering all the recommendations is being distributed today to all A.T.C. Wings.
The main finding of the Committee was that the present system of administration through R.A.F. Home Command and the six Regional Groups was over-elaborate and failed to provide the element of continuity which the A.T.C. requires. The Committee recommended that the R.A.F. Groups should cease to be responsible for local A.T.C. administration and that this should be entrusted to the A.T.C. Wings. Officers commanding Wings would be responsible direct to a Commandant, who would be a retired officer of Air Rank.
We have decided to increase the responsibilities of the A.T.C. Wings as recommended in the Report; and the R.A.F. Groups will cease to have any executive responsibility for the A.T.C. We are not convinced, however, that the formation of a separate headquarters under a retired officer of Air Rank would be in the best interests of the A.T.C., since it is essential to preserve the close association of the Corps with the R.A.F.
We have, therefore, decided that the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Home Command, should remain responsible for the general oversight and control of the A.T.C. He will assume the additional title of "Commandant of the A.T.C.", and all A.T.C. Wings outside Scotland will be responsible direct to his headquarters, which will include a small number of retired officers employed specially for A.T.C. duties. Special arrangements will be made for the oversight of the Scottish Wings and we are considering this aspect further. We recognise that when the Groups cease to have responsibilities for the A.T.C., it will be necessary to strengthen the links between A.T.C. units and neighbouring R.A.F. stations.
The new organisation will come into force on 1st January, 1957.
The Taylor Committee recommended that the aims of the A.T.C. as defined in the Royal Warrant of 23rd June, 1947, should stand: they also recommended that there should be no change in the age of entry into the A.T.C. or in the general conditions applicable to cadets. Both these recommendations are accepted.
The Committee recommended that A.T.C. training should be revised to give 72W general instruction to cadets up to the age of 16 and thereafter advanced instruction in specialist subjects suited to the requirements of the Royal Air Force. An experimental syllabus on these lines is already being tried out in one Wing, and we shall consider the matter further when we see the result.
The Committee recommended that battle dress should be introduced for proficient cadets over the age of 16. We are unable to accept this recommendation, partly for reasons of economy and partly because we consider it undesirable to have different uniforms being worn in the Corps.
There are certain other recommendations which affect other cadet forces and which must, therefore, be considered on an inter-Service basis.
I should like in conclusion to record my gratitude and that of my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North and his colleagues for their most valuable Report, which has led us to approve these important changes in A.T.C. administration and which will lead to considerable savings within Home Command.