asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that during the month of October, fewer than 20 per cent. of the aircraft passing through the R.A.F. station. Elmas, Sardinia, were R.A.F. aircraft and that R.A.F. aircraft averaged fewer than one a day; and how soon he anticipates that it will be possible to reduce the present strength of some 200 officers and men at this station.
Over half of the 178 aircraft passing through Elmas in October were R.A.F. aircraft. At the end of August we reduced the number of men at this unit and I cannot say when we shall be able to make any further reduction.
In view of the concern felt about the wastage of manpower in the Forces, is my hon. Friend satisfied that this is the most economical possible use of these 200 men's services, and does not the figure he gives confirm my estimate of fewer than one aircraft a day?
The figure in regard to the second part of the supplementary is that there were 178, and 91 of these were R.A.F. On the other point, I am satisfied that the best possible use is being made of these men.
I have been able to consider most of the points. We have now arranged for two films a week to be sent to Elmas. Other entertainment is difficult to provide as sea transport to Sardinia is poor, but we hope to arrange for parties to travel by air. With the contraction of the Air Force, it became impossible to maintain a regular air mail service to this station and we had to rely on Italian sea transport. This does not appear to have worked too well and I am seeing what can be done to improve the service.