An amendment to the Children Bill banning parents from
giving anything more severe than a “light smack” to
their children has been widely condemned as unworkable.
Peers voted by 250 to 75 to reject a total ban on smacking,
after both Labour and the Conservatives imposed a three line whip
forbidding them to support a total ban. In a compromise amendment
passed by 226 to 91 votes, parents could face up to five years in
prison for causing physical harm such as grazes, bruises, swelling
Labour MP and health committee chair David Hinchliffe said he
would push for a complete ban when the bill returns to the Commons.
The amendment would be license for lawyers to print money because
of the arguments over whether an assault had been committed, he
Other commentators said parents would not know what degree of
force they could legally use, and pointed out that physical
evidence of bodily harm can quickly fade.
The Children are Unbeatable campaign, a coalition of
children’s organisations, wants children to have the same
protection from assault as that given to adults. A spokesman
described the proposed change as irresponsible.