HC Deb 27 February 1963 vol 672 cc1239-40
16. Mrs. Butler

asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the policy of his Department in regard to the release of men who become convinced conscientious objectors after having entered the Service.

Mr. H. Fraser

An airman who has received a court-martial sentence of three or more months' detention or imprisonment for an offence against Air Force discipline committed on grounds of con- science may appear before the Appellate Tribunal of the Ministry of Labour.

Mrs. Butler

Is it not unsatisfactory that boys of 16, many of whom are very immature, should be obliged to commit themselves for a 12-year period? Would it not be possible, and in the best interests of the Service as well as the boys, to enable them to be considered by a tribunal without having to go through this procedure of committing an offence, being court-martialled and discharged?

Mr. Fraser

This is a very difficult point. I would put it this way to the hon. Lady. There is a danger that persons who wish to get out the Service for various other reasons may wish to say that they are conscientious objectors. This is a very serious problem in the Service.

Mrs. Butler

Surely the right hon. Gentleman could take steps to ensure that it was a responsible tribunal with experience that considered this matter.