Royal Air Escort (Auxiliary Squadrons)

Oral Answers to Questions — Telephone Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th May 1954.

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Air Commodore Harvey:

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why the Royal Auxiliary Air Force fighter squadrons are not taking part in the Royal fly-past on Saturday, 15th May.

Mr. Ward:

The recommendations for the Air Escort which my noble Friend submitted to Her Majesty did not include squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, because these squadrons could not take part in the many rehearsals which are necessary.

Air Commodore Harvey:

Is my hon. Friend aware that last summer similar objections were raised against 603 Squadron taking part in the Royal fly-past at Edinburgh and that, only after pressure from high quarters, did it take part? How does he expect the morale of these pilots to be kept up ready to go into action against a possible enemy when they are not allowed to take part in a fly-past, particularly as they were not allowed last summer even to fly in the Royal review? Will he look into the matter again?

Mr. Ward:

My hon. and gallant Friend will know from personal experience that these air escorts or fly-pasts need a tremendous amount of practice and a lot of rehearsals for which auxiliary squadrons are not available in mid-week. He will also know from personal experience that this kind of flying and the rehearsals for these occasions are not, perhaps, the best form of training for squadrons whose time for training must inevitably be limited.

Air Commodore Harvey:

While I appreciate the point which my hon. Friend has raised, will he look at it from quite another angle? These young men give up a tremendous amount of their spare time. I am certain that, if the will had been there, arrangements could have been made for the practices to be carried out on three evenings a week and at the week-end. The situation is bad for morale.

Mr. Ward:

I must say one word on that. My hon. and gallant Friend will no doubt realise that these practices fly right across the London control zone. We had to carry them out at a time which was most convenient for the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and it was also very much in our own interests to carry them out at the time that the escort would fly on the day itself.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

Will the Minister make it quite clear that there is no suggestion that the flying efficiency of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons is not sufficiently high to permit them to take part in such fly-pasts?

Mr. Ward:

None whatever, Sir.