'Middle-way' solution has its roots in debate north of the border

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Indy Politics

The support of John Reid, the Health Secretary, for the "middle way" over child chastisement may have been influenced by the debate on child smacking north of the border.

The support of John Reid, the Health Secretary, for the "middle way" over child chastisement may have been influenced by the debate on child smacking north of the border.

Two years ago the Scottish Executive was forced to abandon plans to ban parents from smacking because of opposition from the general public and a lack of support from members of the Scottish Parliament.

Instead, a compromise, which came into force last October, banned parents from shaking their children, hitting them on the head or beating them with implements.

Mr Reid suggested yesterday that the compromise put forward by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill to restrict the long-standing defence of "reasonable chastisement" was enough.

"I think people want this middle road between not constraining parents too much from bringing their own children up but, on the other hand, making sure that the law can't be used for some of the terrible violence we have seen against kids recently," said Mr Reid.

His comments may have been influenced by the experience of the Scottish Executive when it was forced to drop plans to outlaw the smacking of children under three as "unworkable".

It was an embarrassing climbdown, especially for Jim Wallace, who was Justice Minister and had made the legislation a personal crusade.

But when the October compromise was agreed, Mr Wallace said the Bill would still "provide protection to our children, clarify the law for parents and take steps for reducing violence in our society".

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