Film "Knights of the Air"

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force – in the House of Commons on 9th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been drawn to a film appealing to the public for funds to meet cases of hardship among disabled airmen; to what extent his department was responsible for its production and exhibition; and whether he will take steps to make the needs of these men a first charge upon his department?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the film entitled "Knights of the Air." The production and distribution of this film were generously undertaken by the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of Great Britain and Ireland on their own initiative and at their own expense with the object of raising money for the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. As regards the last part of the Question, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions is responsible for making provision for all members of the Armed Forces and their dependants in the event of disablement or death arising from service during the war. The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund supplements the provision so made in cases of need which fall outside the scope of the assistance which can be given from public funds.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Does the Minister agree with any outside body taking action of this kind, which reflects seriously on the allowances that are presently being made? Will he not insist on the Minister of Pensions taking adequate action so that these men are suitably rewarded?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I do not think that there is any reflection in this film on the allowances. I have not seen it, but I am told that it is an excellent film.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I am not challenging the excellence of the film. I am challenging the fact that the Minister is evidently willing to allow outside bodies to appeal for funds to assist cases which are definitely his responsibility.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I have explained that the responsibility is not that of my Ministry but of the Minister of Pensions, and he admirably fulfils it. When, however, he has fulfilled his responsibility there are a large number of cases for which he is not responsible; for example, cases of men who are still in the Service and need certain help and cases of dependants who want help. These cases do not fall within the terms of the Royal Warrant. There are a great many cases in which the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is able to give valuable help.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

The Minister first informs the House that these cases come within the scope of the Ministry of Pensions and then says that there are cases that do not come within their jurisdiction but come under his Department. I am dealing with those cases.