§ 63. Mr. HOGGE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that No. 16730, Private John M'Kail, is only seventeen years of age and is now serving abroad against his parent's wish, and that on 19th May, 1915, his adjutant wrote M'Kail's parent stating that he would not be sent to the front until he attained the age of nineteen; and whether the lad will now be brought back?
§ Mr. TENNANT
I explained at length the method of dealing with these cases in a general answer I gave the hon. Member for Blackburn on the 2nd November, 1915. If this particular case is that about which I have had correspondence with my hon. Friend, perhaps he will allow me to refer him to that correspondence, to which I can add nothing.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I have asked a Parliamentary question to which I desire to have an answer. May I ask when an adjutant 820 of His Majesty's Army gives a definite promise in the way he has done in the case in this question, and evidence of which I submitted to my right hon. Friend, whether the War Office is entitled to repudiate it, and, if so, do they take action with those officers who took this action of their own, which is ultra vires?
§ Mr. TENNANT
Undoubtedly the War Office have a perfect right to overrule an adjutant. I am sure that will not be questioned. With regard to this special case, I really cannot say what action has been taken. If the adjutant gave that promise I will endeavour to see that the promise is respected. I do not think that would entail the bringing back of the young man to this country. He may perfectly well remain there while being trained.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any assurance that boys enlisted of sixteen or seventeen will not be sent to the front before the age of nineteen?