Wales politics

Smacking ban powers could be devolved to Wales

A man about to strike a child Image copyright Thinkstock

Smacking children could be banned in Wales under plans to give more powers to the assembly.

An amendment to the Wales Bill, currently going through the UK Parliament, would devolve powers over parental discipline to the Welsh Government.

It is due to be approved in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

A Wales Office spokesman said the amendment clarifies the fact that power will rest in Cardiff to change the law.

The move would make it possible for ministers in Cardiff Bay to strip away longstanding legal defences for parents who use corporal punishment to discipline children.

Labour's manifesto ahead of last year's assembly election promised to "seek cross-party support for legislation to end the defence of reasonable punishment".

The issue was also part of an agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru to install Carwyn Jones as First Minister last May - and the two parties made commitments over a possible smacking ban.

The Children's Secretary Carl Sargeant said in September he hoped "to take forward, on a cross-party basis, legislation that will remove the defence of reasonable punishment" for smacking a child.

Parental discipline

In March 2015, AMs voted against banning smacking of children by removing the defence of "reasonable punishment" from the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Bill.

Leighton Andrews, the then Public Services Minister, said the Welsh Government felt the bill was not the right place to address the issue.

Calls to ban smacking of children in Wales were also backed by Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan and he Children's Commissioner for Wales, Prof Sally Holland.

A Wales Office spokesman said of the latest move: "The Wales bill that was published last year gives the Welsh assembly the powers to enforce its own legislation.

"The amendment tabled for debate next week simply clarifies the power when it comes to parental discipline.

"It is up to the Welsh Assembly whether it chooses to change the law."

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