HC Deb 21 March 1956 vol 550 cc1233-4
34. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware of the resentment caused by sending boy soldiers and young National Service men to Cyprus and other Service stations abroad; and if he will now issue instructions to Service Departments to discontinue this practice.

The Minister of Defence (Sir Walter Monckton)

National Service men are an integral part of the Forces and cannot be excluded from service in any part of the world where they are needed to meet our commitments. As has been stated in the House on many occasions, no National Service man is sent overseas until he has received adequate training.

The question of sending boy soldiers overseas is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. He and my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State have stated the Government's policy on many occasions in answer to Questions, and I have nothing to add to their replies.

Mr. Yates

The Under-Secretary of State for War stated yesterday that of these boys who were sent to Cyprus, five were under the age of 16. In view of the feeling which exists, especially among parents, who have requested that these boys should be removed from this danger area, believing it to be detrimental to their future to be in an area of violence, will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman seriously reconsider the matter?

Sir W. Monckton

I said that that part of the matter was one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, but when I saw the answer to which the hon. Member referred I inquired whether there had been a mistake, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said that he intended to say "five aged 16," not "five under 16."