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Vote a. Number for Air Force Service

Part of Orders of the Day — Air Estimates, 1962–63 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1962.

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Photo of Mr Eric Bullus Mr Eric Bullus , Wembley North 12:00 am, 12th March 1962

There was the dropping of food and supplies to the population of the flooded coastal areas in Kenya and the vast amount of assistance given to the beleaguered areas of Somalia where flooding also created a serious situation.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has just said that B.E.A. could have done all this. The Royal Air Force has been in existence for fifty years. If it has peace-time uses, let us make full use of them. I should like the members of the Royal Air Force to know how much this worthwhile work is appreciated by all who are aware of it.

I have said that I do not wish to speak at great length, and I now want to make only three brief points. I have made the first already, but we should never forget it. We have carried more than our share of responsibility in the past, but we have not shirked the necessities of today nor of the future. We possess a striking force of very great power, as the Secretary of State has confirmed.

Secondly, we rejoice that we are in sight of the all-Regular force—this after about twenty-two years. Conditions of service are much improved, and it is more widely recognised today than ever before that the Royal Air Force offers a fine, worth-while career to the young man seeking adventure and a promising future. Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will say something about the improvements in general conditions of service, about the trades structure, and about married quarters and accommodation.

I repeat what I have often said, namely, that the greatest inducement to recruitment is the constant reminder and assurance that manned aircraft will be required for years to come. I express the opinion that manned aircraft will always be required, for in the ultimate decision the living brain and human judgment are required. I was glad to hear the Secretary of State's final remarks tallying with my opinion. How-over, perhaps it is not too much to ask that the Under-Secretary of State will once again stress the vital point that manned aircraft will be required in the years to come.

My third point is also related to recruiting and almost equals the attraction of flying as an inducement to service with the Royal Air Force. It concerns the activities of the Air Training Corps, which has this year celebrated the 25th anniversary of its foundation. Many will recall the presentation of the banner by the Duke of Edinburgh last month to celebrate the occasion. Many will also recall the distinguished association of the Under-Secretary of State who was prominent in its early days and who is one of the remaining founders in a fast-dwindling number. I know of his continued interest and natural affection for the movement; therefore, I should be able easily to coax some replies from him to the questions which I now propose to pose.

Is everything done to provide the best equipment possible? Are there any further steps which can be taken? What else is needed, and is it a question of finance? Are the cadets getting sufficient flying experience? Does the closest cooperation with the local R.A.F. stations exist? I am confident that money spent in this direction will be well spent and will show a good return.