CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – UNIVERSITY AIR SQUADRONS – 17 October 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: The Minister says that it is better to make a decision slowly and get it right, but a decision that was made quickly and was probably wrong was the decision to eliminate elementary flying training from university air squadrons. What impact will that have on the future of bases such as RAF Leeming, given that in the past 60 percent of RAF pilots have come to the RAF via the university air squadrons?

[The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr Adam Ingram):  As the hon. Gentleman will know, the RAF has considered the issue. The one thing that the RAF will not want to do is take away competencies at a time when recruiting to all three services could prove more difficult because of the strength of the economy and other factors. The decision was not made lightly or, indeed, wrongly. The aim was to ensure that those who have been through the process – a total of 1,000, I think – are given the right training at the right time.

The decision was based on a military assessment, an RAF assessment. The RAF certainly would not want to cut off an essential part of its human resource stream. By changing the arrangements we will raise the quality of those who go through the process, and they will receive elementary training once they have graduated.]