HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1189-90
27. Mr. Gwynfor Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum age below which no lad entering the services may be drafted overseas.

Mr. Rees

17½ in the Army and Royal Air Force, except that soldiers may be posted to B.A.O.R., which is a home station for the Army, from 17¼. The Royal Navy does not lay down a minimum age for overseas service but in practice it is about 16½.

Mr. Evans

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Is he aware that no fewer than 12,000 children between the ages of 15 and 17½ were recruited into the British Forces last year, making more than one-quarter of the total? Is he aware that this is causing great concern? What does he propose to do to ensure that only people of a more mature age shall be allowed to make this decision?

Mr. Rees

The hon. Gentleman is confusing apprentices and people of that kind who receive apprenticeship technical training at Halton and other places. It would be extremely unusual if they came into the category mentioned in the hon. Gentleman's Question about those drafted overseas.