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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
MSPs approve breastfeeding move
Baby being breastfed
The bill is designed to protect mothers wishing to breastfeed
A new law to protect mothers' rights to breastfeed in public has been approved by MSPs.

The bill, sponsored by Labour MSP Elaine Smith, was carried by 80 votes to 15. Only the Conservatives voted against the move.

It will now go to its second stage and is expected to become law by the end of the year.

Under the bill, a pub landlord who prevents a mother breastfeeding will face a 2,500 fine.

Ms Smith, the MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, said she believed the Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill would protect mothers.

It's about protecting children's right to eat and about the future health of the nation
Elaine Smith
"Asking a mother to desist from normal, everyday, natural and nurturing behaviour is the crime," she said.

She added: "It's about protecting children's right to eat and it's about the future health of the nation."

The bill will make it a criminal offence for venues which usually admit children to deliberately prevent children under the age of two being fed breast milk or bottled milk.

It also seeks to impose a duty on ministers to encourage mothers to breastfeed their children.

'Nanny state'

A Scottish Executive spokesman said ministers supported policies to promote, support and encourage breastfeeding.

He added: "The executive is content with the conclusions of the health committee on enforcement and for the bill to proceed."

Liz Goudie of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in Scotland welcomed the debate.

She said: "NCT research has demonstrated that the perceived and, sadly, in some places, the real lack of social acceptability of breastfeeding is a major barrier to initiation and continuation rates among new mums.

"This denies babies the healthiest start in life."

But the Conservatives said the scheme was an example of "the nanny state taken to the extreme" at a time when attitudes were changing anyway.

Tory health spokesman David Davidson said: "We should let this voluntary evolutionary change take its course."

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland branded the move "punitive and combative" in evidence to the health committee.

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