Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 19 October 2011 16:51 UK

Debate by an Individual Member

A motion to urge the Welsh government to introduce legislation to outlaw smacking children was passed on 19 October 2011.

Members of all four parties had a free vote when they debated the motion to outlaw smacking in Wales by removing the defence of "chastisement" for smacking a child.

However the motion introduced by Labour AM Christine Chapman, Labour AM Julie Morgan, Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle and Liberal Democrat AM Kirsty Williams would not bind the government.

The legislation intends to remove the legal defence of "reasonable chastisement" or "reasonable punishment".

However it would not mean every parent seen giving their child a smack in public is arrested and charged.

Julie Morgan highlighted the importance of giving children the same protection as adults.

She said: "This legislation will not criminalise adults. Its intention is to clarify, deter and to shift the thinking of parents."

Conservative AM Darren Millar opposed the motion to introduce legislation to outlaw smacking.

Mr Millar said: "I feel parents have the right to chastise their children when needed."

He added: "There needs to be less interference from government into family life."

Plaid Cymru AM Linsday Whittle expressed his support for the legislation and passionately urged AMs to vote in favour of the motion.

Mr Whittle said: "You can no longer beat your wife, you can no longer beat your husband, you can no longer beat your dog, but you can beat your child."

Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams stressed the need to remove the legal defence of "reasonable chastisement" as she believed this form of punishment could escalate.

Ms Williams said: "I want the law to fully protect all of our citizens, including the youngest."

Deputy Minister for Children Gwenda Thomas stressed that physical punishment was unacceptable in any circumstances.

According to Mrs Thomas the Welsh Government has introduced many policies and parenting programmes to promote "positive alternatives" to smacking.

Mrs Thomas said: "The Welsh Government would be fearful for criminalising parents and we therefore we would not be able to bring forward legislation in this assembly term."

The smacking ban was the first topic on the agenda of the new system of member-led debates.

The system aims to make the Assembly's business more open to issues of importance to AMs and communities across Wales.


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