HC Deb 20 February 1946 vol 419 cc1141-2
37. Mr.Garry Allighan

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will consider taking steps to amend the Naval Enlistment Act, 1884, which makes it possible for the parents of a boy 15¼ years of age to sign a service contract which holds the boy for continuous service until he is 30 years of age, so that the boy would, in future, have the option to con- tinue or discontinue service on reaching 18 years of age.

Mr. Alexander

No, Sir. No amendments to the Naval Enlistment Act are at present contemplated.

Mr. Garry Allighan

Would the right hon. Gentleman explain how he justifies the system under which the life of a boy can be signed away until he reaches the age of 30 without having any choice in the matter?

Mr. Alexander

That is not the law under the Act to which my hon. Friend has referred. It empowers the Admiralty to enter a boy who volunteers on a 12-years engagement starting from the age of 18. It does not empower the parents to enter a boy in the Navy against his will. In fact, the Act does not mention parents at all. The only rule about parents' consent is one adopted as a rule by the Admiralty. I am quite sure the House would not at any time wish a boy to be enlisted permanently in the Navy without his parents' consent.