Smacking ban critics warn of ‘bias’ in Parliamentary committee

A Scottish committee scrutinising a proposed smacking ban has been called “biased” because it is being led by the daughter of its main ambassador.

John Finnie MSP introduced legislation in September which would criminalise parents who smacked their children. His daughter Ruth Maguire is leading the committee.

Currently the Bill is backed by the Scottish Government, alongside the Liberal Democrats, Labour and some Conservative MSPs.


Finnie’s daughter, an SNP MSP, will be chairing the oversight of the Bill despite the fact that she, and four others on the committee, have co-signed it.

Campaigners are now questioning whether the Equality and Human Rights Committee will act impartially.

The first meeting to assess the Bill was held yesterday.


Be Reasonable, which is campaigning against the ban, said: “It is patently obvious the committee is biased. This is a travesty of democracy”.

“In opinion polls, three-quarters of the Scottish public oppose John Finnie’s Bill to criminalise parents who smack their children, yet it has been assigned to a committee that is overwhelmingly stacked in its favour”.

The Bill seeks to remove the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, which currently allows parents to smack their own children.

However, Be Reasonable argues that the ban will hurt families rather than help them and that it will do nothing to help children who are genuinely at risk.


A spokesperson said: “It is ironic that Ruth Maguire was herself occasionally smacked by her father”.

“This destroys the myth that ordinary smacking is so harmful that parents must be criminalised for it”.

Reacting to the criticism, a committee spokesman said: “The committee’s work takes place transparently”.

“The committee will be seeking views soon and will engage with a wide range of people”.