HC Deb 29 May 1956 vol 553 c12
13. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the latest developments in Cyprus, he will reconsider his decision and remove from that island boy soldiers who are under 18 years of age.

Mr. Head

No, Sir.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that this kind of answer is highly unsatisfactory in a case of this description? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is considerable anxiety about these boys being retained in Cyprus and that, owing to the deteriorating position, grave concern is caused to their parents, so will he reconsider this matter? How does he expect youngsters of this kind to be able to carry on and later to become effective soldiers if he keeps them in Cyprus?

Mr. Head

I have been into this question at some length previously in the House, and I have not the time or opportunity now to repeat all the arguments. I have been into the matter carefully, and I am convinced that the present decision is the right one.

Mr. Strachey

But will not the Secretary of State agree that the situation goes on deteriorating in Cyprus, that as the weeks and months pass it is becoming more and more inappropriate for boy soldiers to be in the area; and that while it may have been reasonable to begin with, it should, since there is no prospect of the present Government finding a solution there, so far as we can see, be clear that Cyprus is no place for a boy soldier today?

Mr. Head

I have been there myself, I have seen these boys and I have seen the conditions. I have also seen all the married families, and there are much younger children there. Although I would not in any way minimise the difficulties and problems of life in Cyprus, I do not think that it is as bad, so far as the boy soldier is concerned, as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested.

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