§ 17. Brigadier-General SPEARS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the Royal Air Force armouredcar force in Palestine is established on the lines of similar units in the Army; whether the advice of the War Office was sought when these units were formed; and, if they are manned by air force personnel and commanded by officers of the Royal Air Force, what previous training and experience these have had of similar land units?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Philip Sassoon)
As regards the first part of the question, Royal Air Force armoured car units are designed to meet the special requirements of the Royal Air Force, since they normally work in the closest possible co-operation with aircraft with which, for example, they are in constant touch by wireless. It has also been found essential to arrange from time to time for an interchange of officer personnel between air and ground units. These and similar factors necessitate an organisation somewhat different from that of the corresponding Army formations. As regards the remainder of the question, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to him yesterday. I may, however, say that upon the original formation of these units some 10 years ago a number of Army personnel were attached or transferred to the Royal Air Force, but that the units are now entirely manned and commanded by Royal Air Force personnel. Perhaps I should add that the War Office and Air Ministry cooperate in the selection of suitable types of equipment.
§ Brigadier-General SPEARS
May I ask my right hon. Friend what is the principle governing the limitation as between the functions of the Royal Air Force and of the Army? Would it, for instance, be in order for an Army commander to start an independent air force?
§ Sir P. SASSOON
I can only repeat that the method of air control in these countries, involving the use of Royal Air Force armoured cars, was decided upon by the Government 10 years ago, after full consideration of all relevant expert advice.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he has been asked to give a reason, and not merely to quote a precedent? It is not much to say that this was done 10 years ago; we want reasons and principles.
§ Sir P. SASSOON
The reason is obvious, namely, that the control in these countries necessitates the use of both armoured cars and aircraft, and they must work in the closest possible co-operation.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
Does it not seem unwise, at a time of economy, to duplicate the organisation as regards armoured cars?
§ Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX
Has the Royal Air Force in contemplation the formation of cavalry regiments or submarine units?