HL Deb 24 April 1968 vol 291 c626

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Inter-Departmental Committee of the Ministry of Defence has reached a decision on the recommendations of the Latey Committee that juveniles in the armed forces should have the right of release within three months after their eighteenth birthday.]


My Lads, the studies on this difficult and complex problem are not yet sufficiently advanced to allow a decision to be taken.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that it is now exactly a year since an all-Party deputation went to the Minister on this matter, and that we were promised a decision within eight months of the publication of the Latey Report last August? How long is it going to be before the Ministry of Defence comes to a solution on this quite elementary human right of boys of 18 to decide their future?


My Lords, we have debated this subject in this House at considerable length, and it is a measure of my noble friend's success in pressing his case that the matter is being examined and re-examined. I should make clear at this stage that it is not just the Ministry of Defence which is examining the subject. The examination is being pressed forward with a sense of urgency, but it is difficult to reconcile opposing requirements and it is important that the work should not be done hastily. The decision which the noble Lord might have got within the eight months might not have been one which he would have liked very much.