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Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 18:12 GMT
Blunkett heckled over smacking
David Blunkett
David Blunkett has not approved a smacking ban
The Education Secretary David Blunkett was heckled by child carers over his refusal to ban childminders from smacking.

Delegates at a conference for child carers on Tuesday reacted angrily when Mr Blunkett seemed to dismiss the issue of smacking as unimportant.

The education secretary was announcing the expansion of pre-school places - with another 80,000 nursery places for three year olds.

But delegates were concerned by the government's decision not to impose a ban on childminders being allowed to smack children in their charge.

Child care organisations were angered by the Department for Education's assertion that it should be parents rather than the government that set the rules on smacking.

'Trivial'

The government had published a survey which suggested a large majority of parents wanted to decide for themselves over whether childminders could smack.

Child carers had claimed that allowing childminders to smack was unacceptable and inconsistent, when corporal punishment in other forms and settings had been outlawed.

Mr Blunkett said it was unfortunate that the press would concentrate on the "little issue of smacking," and appeared surprised when the audience protested loudly.

Mr Blunkett then said, "right, that doubles the story" and then later referred to the issue as "trivial."

Earlier the Education Minister Margaret Hodge had also been heckled by delegates over the government's defence of parent's right to decide over whether childminders should smack.

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See also:

09 Dec 00 | Education
Smacking plans under fire
04 Aug 00 | Education
New rules permit smacking
12 Dec 00 | Education
Nursery schools 'raising standards'
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