§ 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- 1142 tinue or discontinue service on reaching 18 years of age.
§ 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.