Smacking ban ruled out in Wales, for now

Smacking will not be banned in Wales during the lifetime of the current Welsh Assembly which ends in 2016, the Welsh Government has said.

Assembly Members yesterday voted by 24 to 15 in favour of a non-binding motion calling for a ban, and 13 AMs abstained.

But the minister for children in Wales, Gwenda Thomas, said legislation should not be undertaken lightly.

Fearful

Although the Welsh Government favours an end to smacking, the minister cautioned: “I would be fearful of criminalising parents, especially our most vulnerable”.

Conservative AM, Darren Millar, said: “I firmly believe parents should have the right to chastise their children. I think there should be less interference in family life, not more.”

But Labour’s Julie Morgan, said she wanted the law to treat children the same way as adults. “That is our priority, the goal isn’t to criminalise parents,” she said.

Doubts

There are doubts about whether the Wales Assembly has the power to change the law on smacking.

David Davies MP, who is chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee in the Westminster Parliament, said, “it has always been understood that the assembly cannot make criminal legislation.”

However, this is disputed by First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones who believes the Welsh Government has the power to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement.

Ineffective

The NSPCC is in favour of criminalising smacking. Des Mannion, the charity’s head of service in Wales, said: “Clear and consistent boundaries are essential for children and young people to have a secure and happy childhood.

“But whilst we would never want to criminalise loving parents, the NSPCC believes smacking is not an effective or constructive way of dealing with bad behaviour.”

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