On Wednesday 8 October, at Report Stage of the Children and Young Persons Bill in the House of Commons, there will be a vote on ending the legal approval of hitting children.
The current law in England and Wales allows parents and some other carers to justify common assault of children as "reasonable punishment". This legal defence is contained in section 58 of the Children Act 2004.
The amendment to the Bill tabled by a cross-party group of MPs aims to abolish the legal defence of "reasonable punishment" and give children exactly the same protection under the law on assault as adults currently enjoy.
The cross-party sponsors of the amendment are Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP (Labour), Julie Morgan MP (Labour), John Bercow MP (Conservative), Annette Brooke MP (Liberal Democrat), Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru) and Dr Richard Taylor MP (Independent).
Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP said: "We must act now to end the legal approval of hitting children. It is the responsibility of Parliament to ensure that the physical integrity and human dignity of every person is respected. The current law allowing so-called ‘reasonable punishment’ of children is unjust, unsafe and unclear, and must be abolished once and for all."
Sir William Utting, spokesperson for the Alliance, said: "This is one of those principled reforms on which politicians must make a stand whatever the pollsters might say. It is about being serious about equality and about the human rights of the child. The law must send the clear message that hitting children is as unacceptable as hitting anyone else."