Hon. C. G. POWER (Minister of National Defence for Air):
Mr. Speaker, as promised last week, I have a statement to make re-
garding the discussions which have taken place in connection with the British commonwealth air training.
Representatives of the Canadian and United Kingdom governments have been discussing matters of common interest to the R.C.A.F. and the R.A.F. in their overseas relations, and in connection with the British commonwealth air training plan.
The United Kingdom was represented by Captain the Right Hon. Harold H. Balfour, Under-Secretary of State for Air, and Air Marshal Sir Peter Drummond. Canada was represented by myself, Air Marshal Robert Leckie and staff officers.
Members of the R.C.A.F. are not only serving in Britain and elsewhere in Canadian squadrons, but also in their thousands axe attached temporarily to the R.A.F. squadrons, detachments, units and formations, widely dispersed throughout the world. .
It is inevitable that innumerable questions arise concerning the welfare, careers and conditions of service of these Canadians attached to another force and for the time being serving under commanders other than Canadians. The R.C.A.F., which recruited and trained them, is responsible at all times to the people of Canada for their welfare and future prospects.
Such matters as length of service with R.A.F., commissions, promotions, operational and nonoperational tours, and leave to Canada, vitally concern not only these boys, but also their parents, dependents and friends in Canada.
From time to time adjustments must be made, and the Department of National Defence for Air, either directly or through the Canadian air officer commanding-in-chief, overseas, in conjunction with the United Kingdom air ministry, discusses and formulates the general policies which are to be followed by both forces in dealing with these important and sometimes difficult problems.
The basic agreements made between the two governments in 1939 and 1942 have been modified and amended where necessary and certain understandings have been reached which confer on us a larger measure of responsibility for our own personnel.
The policies laid down in the agreement of June 1942 have not been materially altered, but there has been clarification on some points, as well as modification of administrative procedure. The amendments to the agreements of June 1942 are tabled herewith.
Long and tough fighting lies ahead before the war is won. But we must be ready with plans for demobilization, repatriation and rehabilitation well in advance. Our problems in this
connection are greatly accentuated because by far the largest numbers of our aircrews are serving with the R.A.F. in distant and varied theatres of war. It must be and is a matter of primary concern to the government to ensure that these men are not .placed in an unfavourable position by reason of their service in the R.A.F., or in any way handicapped as compared with men in the other Canadian services, or with their air force comrades at home. All our men must be given the same opportunities with regard to priorities in demobilization, repatriation and rehabilitation, and whilst demobilization procedure and related questions must fundamentally be the problem of each country to be dealt with in the light of the interests of its own economy and its own nationals, it is essential that our plans be closely correlated with those of the United Kingdom in order to give these benefits and advantages to our personnel when their service abroad is no longer required. To this end, it has been agreed that a joint committee of air force representatives of both countries will be established with headquarters in London, to discuss these problems, to exchange views and to advise their ministers. It has already been agreed that arrangements which have been made either by the United Kingdom or Canada for pre-demobilization, educational and vocational training shall be available to the nationals of both countries on a reciprocal basis.
Finally, a matter which, though not connected with the air training plan or its graduates but which is of considerable interest to Canadians, was also considered-that of the transfer from the R.A.F. of certain Canadian nationals who had joined that service prior to and during the early stages of the war. In this connection it has been agreed with the United Kingdom representatives that such officers and men may apply for transfer to the R.C.A.F. Certain Canadian-born women not normally domiciled in the United Kingdom who joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force of the R.A.F. will also be eligible to apply for transfer.
Subtopic: BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN- GENERAL POLICIES-DEMOBILIZATION PROBLEMS