MPs back smacking ban
A ban on parents smacking their children has received the backing from MPs on two influential committees.
The news will cheer campaigners for non-violent alternatives in child discipline, but will not be welcomed by other Christian groups who have campaigned for the right to smack to be reinstituted in schools.
Following an inquiry, members of the health select committee have urged that a children's rights commissioner be appointed "as a matter of priority," following the death of Victoria Climbie after suffering abuse from her aunt and her boyfriend.
A ban on physical punishment of children would also close off the "reasonable chastisement" defence in child abuse cases, they claim.
"We urge the government to use the forthcoming green paper on children at risk to remove the increasingly anomalous 'reasonable chastisement' defence from parents and carers, which can impede the process of child abuse cases," says committee chairman and Labour MP for Wakefield, David Hinchliffe.
MPs and peers on the joint committee for human rights also warned the government that a lack of a ban could contravene the UN convention on the rights of the child.
"We have examined the case for retaining the defence, but find the lack of respect it embodies for children's entitlement to be free from physical assault to be unacceptable," the report says.
"We conclude that the time has come for the government to act upon the recommendations of the UN committee on the rights of the child concerning the corporal punishment of children and the incompatibility of the defence of reasonable chastisement with its obligations under the convention.
"We do not accept that the decision of the government not to repeal or replace the defence of reasonable chastisement is compatible with its obligations under the convention on the rights of the child."
The reports came as a survey revealed that the majority of MPs are against the physical punishment of children.
The MORI poll for the NSPCC also found that 45 per cent of all MPs and 55 per cent of Labour MPs support legal reform in this area, with only a fifth of politicians neutral or undecided on the issue.
Calls for a change in the law to ban parents from smacking their children have so far been rejected by the Government.