§ 40. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for Defence why the private car of an air vice marshal, whose name has been sent to him, was brought home to England from Cyprus by a Royal Air Force Hastings transport aeroplane free of charge; and if he will make a statement.
The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force (Mr. Bruce Milian)
The car was brought back, together with one other car belonging to a junior officer, under a scheme whereby cars of serving officers and other ranks of the three Services may be carried free of charge on R.A.F. transport aircraft, provided that space is available after all official air cargo has been disposed of at the departure airfield and that no other official cargo can be called forward in time to be loaded on the flight. In November, 1965, for example, 16 cars were conveyed home free of charge from Cyprus; six belonged to officers and ten to other ranks of all Services.
§ Mr. Allaun
But has not Crawford-Compton admitted that he should have taken his luck in the draw for the free transport home? In view of that, will he now receive the bill? Does not this contrast sharply with the treatment of ordinary Service men whose families have to pay even for the bringing home of coffins when they die? For how much longer is that matter to remain under review?
§ Mr. Millan
As I said, in this case the car was brought forward under the normal indulgence scheme. My hon. Friend will know that we are looking into the question of the transport of coffins at the minute. But it is a very much wider and more complicated question than simply the availability of air transport. There are many other things and difficulties to be taken into account.
§ Mr. Fisher
May I press the hon. Gentleman on the last point? Why is it right to fly back a private car when the cost of transporting the body of a British soldier who has died on active service overseas is charged to the parents? What are the difficulties which the hon. Gentleman mentioned?
§ Mr. Millan
I think that the hon. Gentleman has a Question down about that on a later occasion. There are a number of difficulties about local burial regulations, the necessity to preserve bodies, particularly in hot climates, and a number of other things. As I said, we are looking into this as carefully and sympathetically as we can, and if it is possible to make changes we shall make them.