Royal Air Force Regiment (Eyesight Standard).

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force. – in the House of Commons on 1st July 1942.

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Colonel Arthur Evans:

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will give full particulars of the eyesight standard required for officers and other ranks of the Royal Air Force Regiment; and in what manner this differs from the standard maintained for the officers and other ranks of the field Army stationed in Great Britain?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

The eyesight standard for airmen of the Royal Air Force Regiment is the same as that laid down for officers and other ranks of the field Army stationed in Great Britain. The standard of corrected visual acuity for officers of the Royal Air Force Regiment is rather higher than the comparable Army standard, in order to ensure that they will be able to perform efficiently the specialised duty of spotting and recognising aircraft.

Colonel Evans:

Does that standard also apply to the Royal Air Force Regiment which is concerned with aerodrome defence, having regard to the fact that recently, in a case of which the Minister is aware, a soldier who applied for a commission in this Regiment was turned down on account of his eyesight?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

In reply to the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question, the standard does apply to officers of the Royal Air Force Regiment. As regards the second part of the question, I am aware of the particular case referred to, and in spite of the man being a first-class shot, he was below the necessary medical standard which has been decided upon as being essential for the particular duties of officers of the Royal Air Force Regiment.

Colonel Evans:

Is there no elasticity which would enable outstanding ability to be taken into consideration?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

The problem is somewhat different from that in the Army, where, if an officer does not come up to the required standard, he can be relegated to other duties. In a self-contained unit such as the Royal Air Force Regiment, we must have a consistently high standard, and we are filling the requirements with a 100 per cent. standard.