HL Deb 11 November 1999 vol 606 c186WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are their reasons for sending members of the Armed Forces who are under 18 years of age into armed conflict. [HL4283]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

We recruit volunteers into the Armed Forces from the age of 16. Some of these personnel will join their units having completed training well into their 17th year but prior to their 18th birthday. While the number involved is relatively small, these are trained personnel who, having joined their units, contribute to the operational effectiveness of that unit. Removing these personnel from units could undermine unit cohesiveness as well as effectiveness and could exacerbate the problems of retention and overstretch.