The identity of duties of officer pilots and those of sergeant-pilots applies only to actual flying, and the former have other duties and responsibilities which sergeant-pilots are not required to undertake. For the purpose of these other duties and responsibilities, officers are vested with powers of command and discipline; and, while there is no prohibition against officers and airmen taking meals together in public places, an arrangement for common messing at Air Force stations would not be in the interests of the Service.
Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this policy, in view of the fact that sergeant pilots are doing such great work in actual operations? What are the other duties that officers have to perform?
Duties as acting flight commander, orderly officer, member of a court of inquiry, and all sorts of other duties for which officers are specially trained. I do not yield one inch to the hon. Member in my admiration for the sergeant pilots, nor do any officers in the R.A.F.; but it is found a convenient arrangement that the sergeants should have their messes, and the officers theirs. I can assure the hon. Member that, in my honest opinion, the arrangement is as popular with the sergeants as with the officers.
Of course they can mess together outside the stations when it is convenient, and they do so. But in the ordinary life of the station it is much more convenient and agreeable, both to the non-commissioned officers and to the commissioned officers, to have this arrangement.