We should know where
those operational stations or air fields will be located. They are linked closely with the other services and there should be no mistake made in locating them. It is important that they should be located, not for political reasons, but purely for strategic considerations. No doubt there will be training stations in addition.
I come now to the detailed statement of figures just presented. I cannot help feeling that the country will be disappointed that there has not been a greater reduction with a further relief from taxation. We have heard about the expansion of the air force. From the financial point of view there has also been expansion. I believe that in 1940-41 the estimates submitted were for $54 million. This has grown and grown until last year the estimates were over one billion dollars. Then we find that there h-as been a reduction from that maximum figure of forty-four per cent, according to what the minister has told us.
That maximum amount was provided during a year when our armies were preparing to
launch an invasion of the coast of France. Maximum air effort and maximum air bombardment were required. It could be estimated that during the months which would follow D day there would have to be continual and prolonged bombing, as in fact there was. There was also the war against Japan which it was generally expected would have to be prosecuted to the best ability of this country as soon as Germany had been defeated. Therefore it was reasonable that a large amount of money had to be made available.
When the estimates were prepared for this year it was known that the war with Germany was nearing an end, but it was also thought that the war against Japan would be continuing for some months after the cessation of hostilities with Germany. Therefore it is reasonable to think that money was provided in order to take care of air operations in Asia. It would seem that these operations would be expensive because of the great distances which would have to be covered. These operations did not develop. So I say the people of the country as a whole will be disappointed when they hear that there has not been more of a reduction than that which has been shown to us to-day.
Within a month of the passing of the estimates last spring V-E day came, and only a few months after that V-J day came. It is not surprising that we find the major reduction in the estimates made in connection with the maintenance of squadrons overseas. I believe the reduction has been in the neighbourhood of $216 million, very nearly half the total reduction. I will go on to examine these various items.
In the figures placed on Hansard the other day we find the money which was voted for the first five months of the fiscal year and the money still required for the remaining seven months of the year. Talking only in terms of millions, without bothering with the odd dollars, I find under pay and allowances that $130 million were required for the first five months, while $139 million will be required for the last seven months. We have been told to-day that there has been a reduction of
54,000 officers and men since V-E day. We shall have to ask the minister to give us a more detailed explanation as to why there is not a further reductibn in pay and allowances when so many men have already been discharged from the air force.
The next item is travel, and $9 million was required for the first five months, while $14 million will be required for the last seven months of the year. Here again we know that personnel are being brought back, but I gained
the impression that a large percentage of those who were overseas are already back in Canada. While there will have to be transportation provided for a certain number of personnel from the Burma front to England, it seems to me that this amount of $14 million is too large.
The next item is construction, purchase, repairs and operating expenses of properties. During the war years temporary buildings were constructed to house and quarter various units of the Royal Canadian Air Force throughout Canada. Those buildings were well constructed and they have been well maintained. I feel that there is now little necessity for capital expenditures on additional buildings. If it is found necessary to construct any more permanent barracks I suggest that such construction be left and dealt with as a post-war project. There are civilian requirements which should have prior claim to permanent construction for the Royal Canadian Air Force. We are not told in detail how this item is divided between construction and repairs.
The next item is personal supplies and services, including clothing. A total of $7,400,000 was required for the first five months, while $7,600,000 will be required for the last seven months. Again I say that if there has been a reduction of 54,000 men and discharges are going on, why is it necessary to have such a large sum for this item? It may be that the men are obtaining civilian suits with that money, but I was under the impression that that would come out of another department.
Then for communications, signal and wireless equipment; during the first five months $3,000,000. and during the next seven months $12,000,000. Surely there will not be an expansion in the communication services after we have heard of the reductions in the number of stations and in the number of squadrons and units of the forces; and unless it may be that some expenditures in connection with the northwest territories communications are included, I believe we must ask again for a detailed explanation why so much more money is required under that head.
The same remarks apply to ammunition and bombs-$2,000,000 during the first five months and $8,000,000 when for all practical purposes the war is over. Perhaps we are going to build up stocks of bombs and ammunition. Perhaps we require them for training purposes. But it does seem to me that that is a very considerable amount.
The same with fuel costs-for the first five months $6,000,000 and for the last seven months of this year $1S,000,000, when we
know that there is a large reduction in the number of units and that many aircraft have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of.
The same thing with regard to aircraft, engines and spares-$25,000,000 during the first five months of the year and $46,000,000 during the remaining seven months.
The same remarks apply regarding reduction in personnel and reduction in units.
Then we come to the maintenance of overseas squadrons. There, of course, a big saving has been made.
Finally we finish up with the amusing little item of sundries, printing and stationery, and we see that there is no doubt about it, that the paper war at least is not over.
I am glad that the minister mentioned that a research development division was to -be started, but I see no item here for expenditure on research. Is that expenditure to be in addition to the amount which is to be voted in these estimates? Is it to be included in some other estimate, or is it included as part of the various items I have mentioned? Perhaps the minister will be kind enough to explain that.
The minister referred to the atomic bomb, and of course everybody is tremendously interested in any developments along those lines. But there are many other fields in which experiment must be carried on, and I would recommend to the minister a careful study of jet-propelled aircraft and of radio-controlled aircraft. It is perhaps foolish to speculate, but while it -may be said that the atomic bomb is going to increase the importance of the air force there must also be taken into consideration the possibilities of radio-controlled aircraft, and it may be no more fantastic than other developments would have seemed a few years ago to suggest that the air forces of the future will be launched from subterranean runways and guided toward their objective without a single airman being on board or in the air.
I should like to compliment the minister upon having started investigations regarding flying and radio control in the northern latitudes. That is of importance and we have a grand opportunity to study conditions in the northern climate. May I also suggest that our own shores are frequently fog-bound, and investigations might well be carried on to see how we can eliminate fog and improve landing conditions when our coasts are fog-bound.
Dealing with the question of radar-and this is harking back to my first statement as to the need for coordination between the three services-I feel that there may be scope to reduce overlapping and duplication in the
employment of radar. In the main, air forces are sending their beams into the air to locate approaching aircraft. But radar is also used for the detection of surface vessels, and perhaps if the navy and the air force would get together a big development might be made there.
My time is fast drawing to an end, but before I sit down I should like to ask a question, because we have had no statement regarding the matter. What is the present policy of the government as to following closely along the lines of either the Royal Air Force of Great Britain or the United States air force? There are two widely different views upon that question. There is a great difference between the organization and equipment of the British air force and the organization and equipment of the United States air force, and we may have to make a decision as to which we shall follow. No doubt the government has made a decision as to whether it will follow the Brtiish or the United States system.
In conclusion, I should like to feel that the remarks which will be made while discussing these service estimates will all be prompted by the highest motives, that we members of this house in all parties are determined to do all we can to preserve the peace. There is a feeling among those of us who have seen two world wars that we must make enormous sacrifices to prevent a world war III from coming in our time, because if a world war III does come it seems to me that the means of destruction are so developed that whole civilizations might be wiped out before those. means of destruction themselves can be destroyed, and it is one of the ironies of fate that perhaps the means of destruction would be the very last thing to be destroyed.
If by any chance we speak with intensity and perhaps with some emotion, advocating the steps which we consider should be taken in order to achieve the preservation of peace, and based upon such experience or previous study as we have had, I want all hon. members, including those whose experience or study has led them to quite different conclusions from those which I have reached, to feel that while they may have ideas violently opposed to my own, I shall never attribute to any one of them less high motives than I hold myself.
Topic: CANADIANS IN THE R.A.F.