The present deficiency of pilots is being remedied in the following ways. Basic pay and flying pay has been increased, and for short service officers an increased gratuity is payable on leaving the Service. Schemes for ensuring civil employment on leaving the Navy are in operation or are being worked out. Permanent commissions are given to extended service officers, and the ages of entry to short service commissions widened. An offer has been made to former naval pilots to re-enter for four years. National Service men may be trained to fly, and publicity has been intensified.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the offer of four years re-entry is not popular in the Air Branch of the Navy? Is he further aware that the system of promising an extension of the permanent commissions, which does not ultimately materialise, does not provide the pilots who are required?
So far as the first point is concerned, if the hon. Gentleman will let me know why, I shall be glad to look at the scheme again. So far as the second point is concerned, I do not think that the Navy can bind itself to offering permanent commissions to everybody who serves on extended service.