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 or scratches.
Labour MP and health committee chair David Hinchliffe said he
would push for a complete ban when the bill returned to the
He warned that the amendment would just serve as license for
lawyers to print money because of legal arguments over whether an
assault had been committed.
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 campaign Children are Unbeatable, a coalition of
children’s organisations, wants children to have the same
protection from assault as that given to adults.
A spokesman for the campaign described the proposed change as