Wales politics

Welsh Government to consult on smacking ban

Child on staircase Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Welsh Government's plans would revoke the defence of reasonable chastisement

The Welsh Government is to launch a consultation in the next 12 months on removing the defence of reasonable chastisement - a move widely known as a smacking ban.

First minister Carwyn Jones told AMs ministers intended to legislate on the move from 2018.

Labour promised in its assembly election manifesto that it would remove the defence.

Mr Jones presented his government's legislative programme on Tuesday.

Plans to introduce a new law setting a minimum price for alcohol in Wales are being revived by the Welsh Government as part of the announcement.

Powers for the assembly to make laws on parental discipline will be devolved to Wales under provisions in the Wales Act, which once enacted would allow AMs to remove legal defences for parents who use corporal punishment to discipline children.

There have been longstanding calls from Labour backbenchers for action over smacking, and the issue was part of an agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru to install Carwyn Jones as First Minister last May.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A consultation on the issue will be launched in the next 12 months

"This government is committed to seeking cross-party support for legislation to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement," the Welsh Labour leader said in the Senedd chamber on Tuesday.

"We stand firm in our commitment to pursuing a change in the law. We are continuing to work through the legal complexities to develop a bill to make this a reality.

"Its important that we work with stakeholders to ensure that our legislation delivers the outcomes we want and avoids any unintended consequences.

"We will therefore be consulting on our proposals to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement over the course of the next 12 months and intend to introduce a bill in the third year of this assembly term."

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said his members will have a free vote on the issue.

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