The British public overwhelmingly backs calls to scrap curbs on smacking, a new survey has revealed.
The law on smacking in England and Wales allows parents to smack their children but legislation in 2004 narrowed the defence of “reasonable chastisement”.
Nearly two thirds, 60 per cent, of the public think that the curbs should be scrapped. A similar proportion attributed Labour’s curbs on smacking with a decline in discipline among the young.
And nearly four out of five of the parents surveyed said that they have smacked their children.
According to the survey nearly one third of parents are scared to smack their children because they fear running into trouble with the authorities.
The survey, which was conducted on behalf of the Mail on Sunday, comes after a senior Labour MP, David Lammy, backed the right of parents to smack their children.
Downing Street said that David Cameron supports the existing law.
A spokesman for No 10 added: “We don’t want to criminalise parents for administering a mild smack by imposing a legal ban on all physical punishment.”
However, Andy Burnham, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “I don’t smack my children.”
Last month Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, backed the right of parents to smack their children.
Mr Johnson said: “People do feel anxious about imposing discipline on their children, whether the law will support them”.
He said he thinks “there ought to be some confirmation that the benefit of the doubt will always be given to parents in these matters and they should be seen as the natural figures of authority in this respect”.