Caroline leads bid to raise recruitment age for HM forces to 18

11 October 2010

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP today urged the government to raise the recruitment age for Britain’s armed forces to 18.

The Brighton Pavilion MP has today tabled an Early Day Motion jointly with Lib Dem MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert.

Noting that young people joining the army aged sixteen or seventeen commit themselves to four years’ service beyond their eighteenth birthday, Caroline Lucas commented today:

“The armed forces are not like any other profession. It’s entirely inappropriate that a young person should be bound by a commitment made while they were a minor, where that commitment may mean putting themselves in a war zone at risk of their life.”

She added:

“Parliament's own Human Rights Committee has called for the Government to implement the Optional Protocol on the UN Rights of the Child. Britain is the only EU country to routinely recruit service personnel at the age of sixteen. We should not be recruiting people so young into the armed forces.”

The Early Day Motion reads:

That this House notes that sixteen to eighteen year olds currently entering the armed forces commit themselves to a period of four years beyond their eighteenth birthday; notes that after a period of six months they are unable to leave as of right; notes that no other country in mainland Europe recruits at the age of sixteen; welcomes the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report on children's rights that the UK adopt a plan of action for implementing the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of the child; and urges the UK Government to implement the Joint Committee's recommendations and raise the age of recruitment to eighteen.



1. In the year 2009/2010, 4,675 under eighteens were recruited into Her Majesty’s forces.

2. The Armed Forces Bill, to be introduced in this session of Parliament will legislate to change the military covenant but will not address this.

3. Recommendations of Parliament's Joint Human Rights Committee, for safeguarding the wellbeing of young people in the army, have not been implemented.

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