Skip to main content

Armed Forces: Young People

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the minimum age of entry into the UK armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (154709)

The minimum age of entry into the UK armed forces is 16 years. The services provide challenging and constructive training and employment to many young people and enable them to learn valuable transferable skills. In financial year 2006-07, 30 per cent. of all new recruits were under 18 years of age.

No young person under the age of 18 years may join the armed forces unless the application is accompanied by the formal written consent of his or her parents or guardian. Throughout the recruit selection process, the staffs at the Armed Forces Careers Offices (AFCO) provide comprehensive written and verbal guidance to all potential recruits, in particular those under 18 years of age and their parents or guardians, regarding their terms and conditions of service, the commitments that they would be undertaking, and their rights to discharge.

Defence policy is that service personnel under the age of 18 are not to be deployed on any operations outside of the UK that would result in them becoming engaged in, or exposed to, hostilities. In addition, in line with UN policy service personnel under 18 are not to be deployed on UN peacekeeping operations.