HC Deb 20 February 1908 vol 184 cc1014-5
SIR SEYMOUR KING (Hull, Central)

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the fact that the new regulations in force as to admission to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst bear hardly in some cases with regard to the age limit; that, in effect, the rule by which the earliest limit of age for admission was raised from seventeen to eighteen operates in numerous cases to extend the earliest age when a cadet can pass out to twenty or even more; that candidates born in June and December cannot possibly enter the college until they are considerably over eighteen and a-half years of age, and must wait nearly six months after their eighteenth birthday before they are allowed to present themselves for examination; and that in consequence class fellows below a cadet in class, but a few days older, may get their commissions six months before him and take precedence of him all through the service; and whether he will consider the possibility of favouring the entry of university candidates without discouraging that of candidates from other sources.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The effect of raising the age limit for entrance to the Royal Military College from seventeen to eighteen years was carefully considered before the issue of the regulations now in force. In order to give an equal number of opportunities, with a half-yearly competitive examination, no matter what age limit is fixed, there must always be a difference of seniority among candidates whose birthdays happen to be near the governing dates. Besides approximating the age of Sandhurst cadets to that of candidates from the universities, there were other objects in view when the age limit was raised, e.g.—(a) To enable cadets being older on entry to derive greater benefit from the Royal Military College course; (b) To ensure that officers were not too young on joining their regiments for service in India and elsewhere abroad.