HC Deb 03 February 1954 vol 523 cc360-1
50. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements are being made for German pilots to be trained in this country in preparation for the establishment of a civil airline in the German Federal Republic; if he will institute inquiries to discover how many of them served in the Luftwaffe; what is the reason for the decision to train the men here; and if he will give an assurance that no part of the cost of their training will fall on public funds.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker)

The Federal German Ministry of Transport arranged for a private firm in the United Kingdom to give basic flying training to a number of prospectivepilots for the new German civil airline which will be established when the Bonn Conventions come into force. As I informed the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) on 26th January, all four pilots concerned previously served in the Luftwaffe. Her Majesty's Government see no objection to German civil pilots benefiting in this way from British air training methods. There is no question of any part of the cost of this training falling on public funds.

Mr. Hughes

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that it is an affront to millions in Britain who suffered in the war that German Luftwaffe pilots should be brought over here to learn British secrets, British methods and British geography, which may be a great danger to Britain in another war?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I cannot accept what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says. He will appreciate, I hope, that this is a civil training project, that it was initiated by the German Ministry of Transport with good intentions and will without any doubt have a good and beneficial effect on British as well as German civil aviation.

Mr. Bellenger

Does this arrangement foreshadow the purchase by the German companies of British machines, because so far they have made contracts with the Americans to purchase their machines?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

We should like to think that that will happen in due course. This is, of course, initial basic training. Type training is being carried out in the United States, from which civil aircraft have been ordered.

Mr. Bowles

Is the Minister aware that Vickers at Brooklands were bombed in the early part of the war by a German who had learned to fly there at the same time as I did? Also, later in the war, Miles Aircraft at Reading were also bombed by a German pilot who had learned to fly there.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

We certainly hope that that will not occur again.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is it not much better that German pilots should learn British secrets than the secrets of any other Powers?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

There is no question of any secrets being learned in the course of this training.

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