Welsh Assembly to debate smacking ban later today

Later today members of the Welsh Assembly will debate a motion calling for smacking to be banned, but there are doubts about whether they have the power to change the criminal law.

Listen to David Davies MP debate the issue with Welsh Assembly Member Julie Morgan

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.

Danger

David Davies MP is opposed to a smacking ban. He said: “I am a parent myself and I believe smacking should only be used where all other methods of managing behaviour have failed or the child puts themselves in danger.”

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.”

Unacceptable

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “This Government is committed to work to make physical punishment of children and young people unacceptable through the promotion of positive alternatives and we believe this is the best place to start.”

The Wales Office is a department of the Westminster Government that overseas the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Wales.

A Wales Office spokesperson said: “There are no firm proposals at present for the assembly to legislate to impose a prohibition on smacking. The Government will await the outcome of the vote and any proposals which subsequently come forward.”

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