HC Deb 29 October 1970 vol 805 cc409-10
38. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will now make a statement on the findings of the Donaldson Committee on the discharge on request of young Service men who enlisted between 15 and 18 years of age.

40. Mr. Torney

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will allow optional discharge for boy entrants to Her Majesty's forces when they reach the age of 18 years.

21. Dr David Owen

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the report of the committee set up under the chairmanship of Lord Donaldson to look into the terms and conditions of service of boy entrants.

Lord Balniel

I would refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) and my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Nigel Fisher).—[Vol. 805, c. 220.]

Mr. Allaun

Whilst not anticipating the details of the Donaldson Report, can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance on the general principle that it is an inhuman thing to keep boys who enlisted at 15 for 12 years in the forces against their will?

Lord Balniel

It would be wrong for me to anticipate a report which had not yet been published, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am giving it most sympathetic and careful attention.

Mr. Torney

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these boys when they enter the forces are very keen but that when they become 18 they find that it is not the life for them after all and want to change their minds, and that they should be given the opportunity to do so?

Lord Balniel

I think the House appreciates that this is an enormously complex matter involving the engagement structure of all the Services. As I have said, I am giving the matter most sympathetic consideration.