HC Deb 01 April 1936 vol 310 cc1991-2
41. Mr. McGOVERN

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will undertake to see that no boys are taken into the Army under 18 years of age, and that copies of birth certificates are either produced or copies purchased in every case?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Sir Victor Warrender)

A recruit presenting himself for enlistment has to declare his age, and the greatest care is taken to impress on him that a wilfully false statement is an offence punishable by imprisonment. No boys who declare their age as being under 18 are taken into the Army without the production of a birth certificate and the consent of their parents to enlistment. Where boys under 18 are of mature physique, however, it is impossible to detect mis-statement of age without insisting on the production of a birth certificate in every case. This proposal has been raised in this House on more than one occasion, and I. see no reason to depart from the view expressed by my predecessors, that it is impracticable and undesirable to do so.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when I was 17 I enlisted in the Navy, and that the recruiting officer went a distance of five miles to get my birth certificate before he. allowed me to go to Chatham; and will he see that that practice is also followed in the Army as a large number of youths go away some distance from home to enlist?