HC Deb 16 November 1966 vol 736 cc423-4
22. Dr. Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he now proposes to revise the 12-year contracts signed, with their parents consent, by boys entering the Royal Navy.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

When the Armed Forces Bill becomes law, we intend to make regulations to give all naval recruits the right to buy their discharge during the last 14 days of their third month of service.

Dr. Gray

Will my hon. Friend consider the possibility of allowing options out of contracts at three and five year intervals? Does he not agree that it is unfair that a boy at the age of 16 should be able to sell his life away for 12 years? Does he not agree that buying out is no solution, because at the age of 21 the boy might be married and have children? Will he consider this matter again?

Mr. Mallalieu

I assure my hon. Friend that an almost continuous review of these engagements is taking place, but there are difficulties. Some of the training is lengthy and expensive, and I believe that the Service has a right to some return for this training.

Mr. Fisher

Does not the hon. Gentleman recall that in answer to a Question put by his hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) about a fortnight ago he held out the hope of bringing in regulations to allow boys' service to be counted in full? Would he give the House his thoughts on this subject?

Mr. Mallalieu

There is a later Question on that subject.