Royal Air Force

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:03 pm on 23rd April 1998.

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Photo of John Reid John Reid Minister of State (the Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence, The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence 4:03 pm, 23rd April 1998

Members of the Royal Air Force, when not in operation, normally undergo intensive training. A state of high readiness means exactly what it says. The Jaguars are at a level of readiness that would, if the political decision were taken, enable them to move at extremely short notice. When the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) alluded to the early dispatch of Tornados during the first stages of the Gulf crisis, he gave an example of what high readiness means in practice.

I have said before that it is a great privilege to hold the post of Minister for the Armed Forces, a privilege that I share with my predecessors—one of whom, the right hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir A. Hamilton), is here. One of the great advantages of being Minister for the Armed Forces, of which the right hon. Gentleman will be aware, is having time to share and exchange views and involve oneself with, and to learn from, members of Her Majesty's armed forces on visits when they are on deployment and on exercises. In the 11 months that I have been Minister for the Armed Forces, I have been very proud to visit men and women of the RAF to learn a little of the work that they do and of the commitment that they give to it.

Only last month, I visited RAF Valley. Its role is to take young men and women who have already proved in basic training that they have the potential to make good pilots and turn them into first-rate pilots. I was deeply impressed by the skill and determination of the young people I met there and the professionalism of the instructors who ensured that the training that those young people received was second to none. I genuinely believe that what makes the difference between our Air Force and many other air forces is the skills and aptitude of the human beings who are part of the Royal Air Force.