Smacking “ban” a step closer, but it’ll be two years until it comes into force

(Title Image: via Senedd TV)

At a Glance Guide

Stage 1 report (summary)

The Bill’s sole goal is to remove a defence of corporal punishment in any criminal or civil proceedings where someone is accused of assaulting a child – so it’s not a “ban” on smacking; it means that if you assault a child in a manner that results in a court case you can’t use smacking/punishment as a defence.

Major Changes at Stage 2

There’s a detailed guide from the Senedd Research Service (pdf). Stage 2 proceedings were undertaken by the Children & Young People Committee with the Member in charge – Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North).

The key amendments at Stage 2 include:

  • Places a duty on the Welsh Government to publish a report on the effectiveness of the Act (once passed) within five years of it becoming law.
  • A clause has been inserted which delays the coming into force of the “ban” until two years after the Bill is passed (presumably sometime in early 2022).

The Key Amendments at Stage 3

Amendment 2 – Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy)
Beefs-up and describes in detail the public information that would need to be provided to parents before the ban can come into force.
Vote: Rejected – 15 for, 38 against
Reason for Rejection: A “comprehensive” public awareness campaign is being developed and will run for at least six years.

Amendment 5 – Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Places a duty on the Welsh Government to ensure visitors to Wales are made aware of changes to the law on smacking.
Vote: Rejected – 15 for, 38 against
Reason for Rejection: It’s “unhelpful” to highlight particular types of awareness-raising over others.

Amendment 6 – Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Places a duty on the Welsh Government to publish two reports on the effectiveness of the Act (once passed); one within three years and one within five years.
Vote: Agreed unanimously

Amendment 7 – Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Places a duty on the Welsh Government to ensure any public agencies involved in enforcing the Act (i.e. local councils, health boards) are provided with the necessary funding.
Vote: Rejected – 15 for, 38 against
Reason for Rejection: The Welsh Government published a thorough impact assessment alongside the Bill with funding implications.

Amendment 10 – Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Delay to the coming into force of the Act (once passed) until: the Crown Prosecution Service has revised its guidance, the UK Government has established an alternative pathway to prosecution for those affected by changes to the law and the Welsh Government has established parental support services.
Vote: Rejected – 16 for, 37 against
Reason for Rejection: The amendment would’ve made it difficult to judge if/when the legislation would’ve come into force; as things stand there’s a clear two year period between passing the law and it coming into effect.

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