HC Deb 22 November 1955 vol 546 cc1248-9
23. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the 4,322 on boy's engagements on 31st August were recruited from orphanages or similar institutions or were in the care of guardians; how far under his regulations boys have the right themselves to ask for discharge; how many applications for the release of boys from the Army were made in 1954; and how many applications were granted.

Mr. Head

Of over 4,000 boys at present in Boy's Units, 180 came from orphanages or were in the care of guardians. A boy has the right to discharge within three months of attestation on payment of £20. Subsequently he has no right to purchase his discharge, but may be discharged on compassionate or other grounds. During 1954, 189 boys from Boy's Units applied for discharge and 171 of these applications were granted.

Mr. Sorensen

Would not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter, in view of the fact that boys sometimes enter the Army under a misconception and, as the result of that, desire to withdraw from it? Surely boys under 18 years of age should not be compelled in any circumstances to stay in the Army if they desire to go out.

Mr. Head

This is a fairly complicated matter. It was looked at carefully by the Select Committee on the Army Act. I should not like to go into great detail on the matter now. If a boy has a really good reason for wanting to go out of the Army he really gets a chance to get out, as is shown by the number of applications allowed.