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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smacking in cars

Today is to be yet another marathon session as we debate more amendments to the Welsh Government's Social Services and Well-Being bill. Last week we managed to get through 28 groups of amendments in five hours. Today we have another 28 groups of amendments and expect to be here until 8.30pm or later.

All of that is fine of course. These are important matters and they deserve effective scrutiny. Where today differs of course is that we will finally be voting on what has become known as the smacking amendment.

For once the Western Mail has characterised this debate accurately though that concession to the facts has not filtered through to the people who write the headlines. The amendment we will be voting on will not outlaw smacking, nor will it prevent reasonable chastisement. What it does is to say that in the case of a charge of battery, which involves substantial personal harm to a person, then reasonable chastisement cannot be called upon as a defence.

That seems to me to be a perfectly sensible clarification of the law and I will be voting for it. In doing so I will be aware that even if that clause is passed, a parent will still be able to smack a naughty child to bring him or her back to order. What that parent will not be able to do is to use excessive force in punishing the child or physically hurt him or her.

Surely nobody can advocate that a parent has a right to batter a child as opposed to just smacking it.
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