asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that, on 22nd January, a party of trainees were sent from a Western camp to an Eastern aerodrome, the name of which has been supplied to him, and on arrival found there was no information concerning them and no accommodation for them; that the men slept in an unheated hut; that their equipment was soaked when the hut was flooded; that six men went on guard with only two rifles and that after 10 p.m. there was no further guard until daybreak; that on 28th January the men were asked to take seven days' leave to relieve the congestion at the camp; and if he will made inquiries with a view to improving conditions and discipline at this camp?
The information in my possession does not support the statements made by my hon. Friend. Prior notification of the men's arrival was sent to the aerodrome to which they were proceeding and service transport was sent to meet them at the nearest railway station. When the men reached the aerodrome they were temporarily accommodated in a hut equipped with beds and bedding and warmed by two fires which were lit before they arrived. On the second night snow was blown under the door, causing some dampness, but no flooding took place. Although the unit is full, there is no overcrowding, and the men were sent on leave not to relieve congestion, but in conformity with the usual practice of granting a period of leave on completion of a course. The guard of six men referred to is not the aerodrome guard, but the guard provided at a house, situated some miles from the aerodrome, which was requisitioned for the purpose of billeting airmen, and is now unoccupied after having been partially destroyed by fire. The guard is on duty for 24 hours a day.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has admitted that these people were sleeping in damp huts. It is true that there were stoves there but no fuel to light a fire; that while transport was provided, it was only after these people had arrived at the station and telephoned for it and that the transfer papers were not collected for four days after they had been there. Is it not strange that men should be moved from the West of England to an aerodrome in the East, and when they get there should be sent back to the West on leave, and further—