§ Mr. Gordon Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) why the Scottish Council of the Air Training Corps is to be abolished; and what steps are to be taken to look after Scottish interests;
(2) what were the costs of the Scottish Council of the Air Training Corps in the last year; and what allowance is to be made for the increased travelling costs of Scottish representatives attending meetings of the Air Cadet Council in London.
§ Mr. Pattie
Several members of the Scottish Air Cadet Council have written deprecating the decision, taken as part of the Government's review of non-departmental public bodies, to merge the work of the Council with that of the Air Cadet Council.
The decision was one of a number taken in the interest of general economy of administration, one of the objectives of the review being to consider whether the benefits derived from particular organisations could be achieved within a slimmer framework. Whilst recognising that the costs directly associated with the Scottish Air Cadet Council have been modest—about £1,000 a year—my right hon. Friend, having noted that there was a degree of duplication between the work of the Scottish Air Cadet Council and the Air Cadet Council on which the Scottish Air Cadet Council is already represented, concluded that the special interests of Scotland could be fullly safeguarded within a simpler structure, with a Scottish regional council corresponding to the regional councils for England and Wales, all directly electing representatives to the Air Cadet Council. Details of the reorganised administrative structure will be the subject of further consultation with the Air Cadet Council on which, as I have said, Scottish interests are already represented. Since we envisage that purely Scottish affairs will continue to be dealt with in Scotland by the regional council there is no reason to assume significantly increased travel to London.
As I have assured the members of the Scottish Air Cadet Council, this decision has been reached simply in the interests of rationalisation and general economy and implies no lessening of the high value 497W we place on the air cadet movement in Scotland as in the rest of the United Kingdom or our gratitude to those many people who give their services voluntarily to the movement.