Anti-smacking lobby launches ban attempt

A number of MPs are planning a last minute attempt to outlaw smacking in England and Wales in spite of the opposition of most parents and the Government.

A cross-party group of MPs have sponsored an amendment to the Children and Young Persons Bill that would introduce a complete ban. The Bill’s Remaining Stages are expected to take place this week.

Over 100 MPs have reportedly signed a letter calling for a free vote on the issue.

A spokesman for the anti-smacking Children Are Unbeatable! Alliance, Sir William Utting, said: “This is one of those principled reforms on which politicians must make a stand whatever the pollsters might say.

“It is about being serious about equality and about the human rights of the child.”

Then Children’s Minister Kevin Brennan said last year that the Government would not pursue an outright ban on smacking, since most parents are against the idea.

And last month Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said that an outright ban “would be the wrong thing to do for children”.

He said: “We published evidence from parents last autumn. There was support to strengthen penalties on parents who abuse children but when we asked parents if the state should ban smacking, 70 per cent said no.”

Mr Balls added: “It’s very difficult to police a smacking ban in any case.”

Mike Judge of The Christian Institute said: “This attempt to ban smacking outright is a piece of misguided and intrusive political correctness.

“Loving parents who smack their children could find themselves criminalised, while the authorities would be distracted from real cases of child abuse.”

Under the current law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland parents may use ‘reasonable chastisement’ as long as it does not leave more than a transitory mark on the child.

In Scotland, smacking is allowed but use of implements, shaking or blows to the head are outlawed.