‘Mums who smack aren’t criminals’, says minister

It shouldn’t be a crime for a mother to smack her naughty child in a supermarket, the children’s minister has said.

Writing yesterday – the same day that a backbench bid to ban smacking failed to be voted on in the Commons – Beverley Hughes outlined the Government’s position.

She wrote: “If we put a ban on smacking into legislation it would mean in practice that a mother who gives her child a mild smack on the hand when they refuse to put back sweets picked up at the supermarket checkout could end up facing criminal charges.

“When we reviewed this issue, as recently as last year, and surveyed parents, we found that while fewer and fewer of them are using smacking as a form of discipline, the majority said they wouldn’t support a ban.”

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, also said recently that a ban on smacking “would be the wrong thing to do for children”.

Bob Spink, MP for Castle Point, dismissed the attempt to introduce a ban. He said: “I think it is political correctness overriding common sense.

“Of course, parents shouldn’t abuse their children physically, or in any other way, but this is an inappropriate measure to be taking.

“There are many more important things which should be discussed in the House of Commons.

“Parents should be able to discipline their children. Evidence shows children who are disciplined in a caring way are more socially responsible.”

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.

Last night, an amendment to the Children and Young Person’s Bill that would have introduced an outright ban on smacking failed to be voted on.