Wales politics

AMs vote against banning smacking children in Wales

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Image caption Ministers say the domestic violence bill is the 'wrong vehicle' to introduce a smacking ban

Assembly members have voted against a move to ban smacking children in Wales.

Cardiff North AM Julie Morgan had proposed a change to the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Bill to remove the defence of "reasonable punishment".

It would have made it illegal in Wales for parents to hit their children but the amendment from Labour's Ms Morgan was lost by 36 votes to 16.

The Welsh Labour government opposed the measure.

It had rejected calls for a free vote on the issue.

However Ms Morgan and another Labour backbencher, Christine Chapman AM, voted against the party.

Introducing the amendment, Ms Morgan told AMs it was about "finally doing right by the children of Wales".

"How can we possibly justify saying to children 'no - it's not right for your dad to hit your mum, or your mum to hit your dad. But it's ok for either of them to hit you'," she said.

"It's a ridiculous and it's an inconsistent message, and not only does it not make sense, it also leaves children vulnerable within the home."

Healthy relationships

The Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews said "there are many good arguments for ending the defence of reasonable punishment but the government has been clear that this bill is not the right place to address this issue and we remain strongly of that view".

AMs were debating and voting on several amendments to the bill on Tuesday.

A move to make schools offer lessons on healthy relationships was narrowly rejected.

The Welsh government has ruled out any change to the law on smacking children before next year's assembly elections.

In October 2011, assembly members voted in principle to remove the defence of "reasonable chastisement" although they did not have the power at that time to impose a ban on smacking.

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