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National Service Men (Middle East Postings)

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 6 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for War the minimum age and the period of training which must previously have been served before a soldier can be sent to the Middle East.

Before embarking for the Middle East, a soldier must be 18 years, 3 months old and have had at least 12 weeks' service, including 10 weeks' training.

In view of the fact that, when in Opposition, none was more hostile than the right hon. Gentleman to the idea of sending inexperienced lads to active areas, why does he now permit inexperienced youths to be sent to the Middle East with but a minimum of training, when there are already 80,000 browned-off troops there?

The regulation about the age at which National Service men go to the Middle East has been the same since the introduction of National Service.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any of his hon. Friends who, during the last Government's period of office, were so anxious to get these conditions altered, have exercised any pressure on him recently?

I am not aware, without reference to HANSARD, of any pressure in this respect.