HC Deb 25 July 1968 vol 769 cc199-200W
Mr. Roebuck

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the report of the committee set up to investigate the Air Training Corps.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The Committee under Air Marshal Sir Douglas Morris, which was appointed in April last year to examine and report upon the organisation, administration and training of the Air Training Corps, submitted its Report at the beginning of this year. The Committee went into all aspects of the Air Training Corps, and made some 30 recommendations designed to ensure that the Corps is fully adapted to the needs of the 1970s. The Report was circulated to all Squadrons of the Air Training Corps and members of the Corps were given an opportunity of expressing their views on it.

The most important recommendation was a proposal that the Corps should be re-organised on a regional basis, with a regional commandant and regional headquarters in each region, similar to the organisation which already exists in Scotland. The cost of setting up these headquarters will be largely met from savings in staff elsewhere, including Headquarters Air Cadets. Other recommendations include larger grants to individual squadrons, a better standard of accommodation and the provision of new and more interesting forms of training. The Air Force Board has accepted the Committee's main recommendations and a start has already been made on putting the Air Force Board's decisions into effect, but it will take some time to implement all of them. Certain changes, such as a reduction in the upper age limit for officers of the Corps, will be effected gradually in order to produce a minium of disturbance.

The Air Force Board attaches a great deal of importance to the Air Training Corps. The Corps is a vital source of high quality recruits to the Royal Air Force and it provides an increasingly valuable link between the regular air force and the public at large. But it is also a youth organisation of great value, providing training in discipline and citizenship. The Corps is basically run by voluntary effort and I should like to pay tribute to the hard work and devotion of all the volunteer officers, instructors and civilian members upon whom the Corps depends for its existence and success.

The Morris Committee Report is an important milestone in the history of the Air Training Corps and our thanks are due to Air Marshal Sir Douglas Morris and his colleagues for the very thorough way in which they carried out their task.