Young Servicemen (Morale and Conditions)
Oral Answers to Questions — Defence

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison

Mr John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from the National Council for Civil Liberties about morale and conditions in the Services; and what reply he has sent.

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Mr Gerald Reynolds (Islington North)

The National Council for Civil Liberties has asked to be associated with a recent request from the Parliamentary Civil Liberties Group to discuss with me the question of young Servicemen. I have advised the Group that I am prepared to examine and subsequently discuss with it detailed complaints; and I have kept the National Council for Civil Liberties informed.

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Mr John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Are the Government aware of a report and connected activities which tend to tamper with the morale and loyalty of Her Majesty's Forces? What advice has been taken from the Law Officers of the Crown?

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Mr Gerald Reynolds (Islington North)

I am aware of quite a number of things, but on the information that the hon. Gentleman has given the House now I would not like to say it has anything to do with what he is talking about. If he cares to let me have details, I will certainly look at them.

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Mr Tom Driberg (Barking)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is not tampering with the morale and loyalty of the forces to recognise that 15-year-olds who sign on for 12 years without really knowing what they are doing should be released, or given the option of release, at 18 in accordance with the Report of the Latey Committee?

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Mr Gerald Reynolds (Islington North)

This matter, as my hon. Friend well knows, has been and is still being examined by the Government. Despite all the publicity there has been, I am still surprised at the very small number of such cases in which there is hardship which has been so far forwarded to me in the last two years.