RAF Centenary

Part of Leaving the EU – in the House of Commons at 6:09 pm on 26th November 2018.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence 6:09 pm, 26th November 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the 100 year anniversary of the Royal Air Force.

I am delighted that we have this opportunity to hold this debate. As a former Chief Whip, I would always say that all the legislation that the Government bring into the House is always excellent legislation, but it is probably fair to say that some pieces of legislation are better than others, and I think we would all say that this House’s decision to create the Royal Air Force was one of its finest moments. It is almost 99 years to the day since Lord Trenchard issued his memorandum on the permanent organisation of the Royal Air Force, with a £15 million provision approved by the Cabinet. I must confess that I rather wish that £15 million would go as far for our armed forces today as it did 99 years ago. In his memorandum, Lord Trenchard talked about the need to

“concentrate attention…laying the foundations of a highly-trained and efficient force”.

He went on to say that

“to make an Air Force worthy of the name, we must create an Air Force spirit, or rather foster this spirit…by every means in our power.”

That Air Force spirit has been at the core throughout the first 100 years and remains at the core of the Royal Air Force at the start of its second century.

Under the banner of RAF100, the Royal Air Force has delivered a superb campaign to celebrate reaching this important anniversary. More than 165,000 people have visited six aircraft tour venues throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where they have had the chance to see numerous aircraft, including Spitfires, Harriers and Typhoons, and to meet the incredible people who flew them and who fly them. I very much hope that colleagues will join me in congratulating all those who have gone over and above to make this year such a success. I particularly thank Sir Stephen Hillier, the Chief of the Air Staff, who has done so much to make this such a memorable year for this service. Approximately £3 million has been raised as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations, and that money will now be invested in veterans and young people, as well as those who continue to serve in our Royal Air Force. This is an appropriate moment to thank our RAF charities, including the RAF Association, the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF Charitable Trust and the RAF Museum, which work tirelessly to support RAF service personnel past and present.