Former head scolds MPs over smacking

Anti-smacking MPs have been accused of double standards for demanding a free vote while wanting to take away parents’ freedom to decide how to raise their children.

Writing today in The Independent, former headmaster Peter Inson said: “There is an irony in the calls for MPs to be allowed a free vote in Parliament on the proposed total ban on smacking.

“MPs, it is claimed, should be allowed to vote according to their consciences.

“Is that not what we have to allow parents – the freedom to decide what is best for their children and for their families, according to their consciences?”

An attempt to ban smacking failed in the House of Commons yesterday after time ran out before it could be voted on.

Around 100 MPs had reportedly called for a free vote on the issue.

However, the Government opposes a smacking ban, and cites its own research showing that most parents do not support the idea.

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes has written an article defending the Government’s position. In it, she argues that a mum who smacks her child in a supermarket should not be criminalised.

Mr Inson said that introducing a smacking ban would interfere with parents’ freedoms, to the detriment of children’s wellbeing.

“If we are to remain free to bring children into the world,” he said, “and then effectively to bring them up, the most important job in the world, we must be trusted until there are good grounds for withdrawing that trust.

“Otherwise, we will have to license parents or abolish the family.”

Mr Inson defended parents who smack: “Used appropriately, a smack can prevent immediate harm or injury and can reinforce important lessons that some children will ignore if they can.”

He added: “We should also consider the effect on the child if they continue to strike matches, or to land blows on a victim. Do we want them to endanger themselves or others as soon as our backs are turned?”