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Armed Forces: Young People

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel aged under 18 years died (a) while on active service and (b) in training in each of the last five years; and what the cause of death was in each case. (229408)

There have been no deaths of UK service personnel under 18 years of age while on active service in the last five years, where active service is defined as military duty in an operational area.

In the last five years two UK service personnel aged under 18 years have died on training, both deaths occurred in 2007. One resulted from drowning; the other was the result of a helicopter crash.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many under 18-year-olds are serving in the armed forces. (229409)

The number of under 18-year-olds serving in the armed forces can be found in Tri Service Publication (TSP) 8—Age Distribution of UK Regular Forces. Table 1 shows the number of UK regular forces by age and sex as at 1 April 2008.

www/dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/index.php? page=48&pubType=1&thiscontent=80&Publish Time=09:30:00 &date=2008-05-29&disText=1%20April%202008&from= listing &topDate=2008-05-29

TSP 8 is published on an annual basis.

Copies of TSP 8 are available in the Library of the House and are also available at

www.dasa.mod.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many under 18-year-olds have applied for discretionary discharge under the unhappy minors provisions in the last three years; and how many of these applications were granted. (229410)

Following the introduction of the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) System for all three services, the total number of under-18s who have left the armed forces can be provided but this figure cannot be broken down by the reasons for leaving.

There are no known circumstances in which a formal application for discretionary discharge under the ‘Under 18 Discharge as of Right’ scheme has been rejected. The commanding officer has discretion to delay a decision on discharge (for example, if at sea) if he has doubts about the permanence of the individual’s unhappiness; however, it is exceedingly rare for such an ‘unhappy’ individual to be refused immediate permission to leave.

The number of under-18 personnel who have left the armed forces in the last three completed financial years are:

FY 2005-06

FY 2006-07

FY 2007-08

Naval Service

245

1220

1255

Army

1,440

11,675

11,765

RAF

35

110

165

1 Figures are provisional and subject to review.

Notes:

1. Due to ongoing validation of data from JPA, all Naval Service flow statistics from period ending 31 October 2006, Army flow statistics from period ending 31 March 2007, and flow statistics from period ending 30 April 2007 are provisional and subject to review.

2. As a consequence of JPA, Army outflow data by age are unavailable for period ending 31 March 2007. Consequently Army data shown for FY 2006-07 are for the 12 months from 1 March 2006 to 28 February 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the commitment of young people who joined the armed forces before the age of 18 years to serve for four years beyond their 18th birthday with (a) international and human rights conventions and (b) the International Labour Organisation Child Labour Conventions. (229411)

The Ministry of Defence does not consider the minimum commitment period for soldiers under the age of 18 years on enlistment into the Army to be in breach of either international and human rights conventions or the International Labour Organisation Child Labour Conventions.