§ 21. Mr. Wainwright
asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will now reduce the qualifying age of married officers to 23 years to enable wives and children to be allowed travelling expenses if they decide to be with them for the whole period of their service abroad.
§ Mr. Wainwright
Is there no spark of conciliation in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman? Is he aware that young officers over 25 are disgusted with this age limit being left at 25 in cases of this kind? If a young officer can be put in charge of a machine which costs £1½ million, surely he is entitled to have his wife and children with him? If the right hon. Gentleman is not willing to agree to the age of 23, may I suggest that he ought to consult all the air squadrons throughout the country and make certain that he gets their opinions before making any further decisions?
§ Mr. Amery
I give consideration to any question which the hon. Gentleman asks me. I have discussed this with a number of station officers of every rank, and I have found that there is a pretty strong feeling that our policy is right, and that in the first years of an officer's engagement it is a good thing for him to join as much as possible in the collective life of the station.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Does not the Minister think it wrong that an officer who can 451 be in charge of a machine cannot be in charge of a wife?
§ Mr. Mulley
I should like the Secretary of State to give some serious attention to this matter, which, I suggest, is not one for levity. May I ask whether, in fact, he has looked at this matter in the light of the modern trend for people to get married very much earlier than hitherto, and will he consider whether, in the long run, this rigidity of his rules is likely to harm recruiting?