HC Deb 08 February 1955 vol 536 c1729
55. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of boys under 18 years of age who are serving in any capacity in Her Majesty's Forces; at what age they were recruited; and approximately what number was drawn from institutions where they had been living before enlistment.

Mr. Head

There were 4,865 boys in the Army on 31st December, 1954. The ages of these boys at the time they enlisted are not readily available. I assume the hon. Member refers to orphanages and similar places. This information cannot be obtained without a great deal of extra clerical work.

Mr. Sorensen

Does not the Secretary of State appreciate that many young fellows in their early teens are quite incapable of making up their minds on important issues? In those circumstances, why cannot these young chaps have extended to them the same civil rights as are given to those outside the ranks?

Mr. Head

When these boys join they have the consent of their parents or guardians. So far, we have found remarkably few who wanted to change their minds.