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Smacking ban Bill from Welsh Government attracts questions from Shadow Minister

Welsh Conservatives will join the Assembly tomorrow in a discussion over the need for further legislation around the subject of smacking children.

Shadow Minister for Children and Young People, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, will speak out in Welsh Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday 26th March) as the Bill is opened out for discussion in the chamber.

The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment Wales) Bill, published on this morning, seeks to remove the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ by an accused person.

If carried, the defence will no longer be available to anyone in Wales, including visitors, in any event that they are accused of assault or battery against a child. In doing so, the Welsh Government claims that children in Wales will be offered the same legal protection from physical punishment as adults.

But some Assembly Members are questioning the robustness of the Bill, and the strength of the Welsh Government’s strategy and forward planning.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Janet Finch Saunders said:

“Any abuse of a child is intolerable and I support all workable movements to improve welfare and safety for young people, but if we are going to introduce laws to further protect children from harm, they need to be robust and enforceable.

“This Bill has several grey areas, and it is unfortunately another example of a poorly thought-through Welsh Government initiative.

“So far, it seems that those behind this Bill are unable to clarify the most basic aspects of it; like what it will cost, how it will impact on police time and how it will be enforced. They are even yet to agree upon the definition of a ‘smack’.

“A Welsh Government which so regularly dithers on making key decisions, like the M4 relief road, must start being more careful with how it spends its time and resources. A Bill like this should be backed by thorough research and planning.”