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Mr. Hinchliffe: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Margaret Hodge: No, because I do not have time.
2 Nov 2004 : Column 263

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has been critical of Government on this matter, but it recognised the positive impact of clause 56 when it said in its report that

It would be very odd, to say the least, if anyone who wanted to encourage parents to seek alternative forms of discipline voted to remove this clause.

I turn now to new clause 12, which the Government cannot support. All hon. Members believe that it is vital to strengthen the safeguarding and protection of children, but it would be wrong to create a new offence by imposing a ban on smacking. That would leave parents wondering whether a trivial smack could land them in prison. We cannot deal with the misuse of a defence by creating a new, inappropriate and ill-conceived offence. There is a world of difference between a light smack and violence or abuse. We should recognise that the vast majority of parents understand that difference and would never harm their children deliberately. Some people argue that minor smacks will not be prosecuted, but the new clause would make smacking a crime, so there is no guarantee that that will be the case. It is for Parliament to be clear and to make the law. We cannot expect the Crown Prosecution Service to pick and choose which crimes it does, or does not, prosecute in the light of a clear statement by Parliament that all smacking should be a criminal offence. The confusing gap between the effect of the new clause and the claims made by its proponents, as well as the fact that the Government simply do not believe that every single instance of parental smacking should be treated as a criminal offence, have led to our decision not to offer a free vote. No one decides lightly to smack a child, and most people feel bad and guilt-ridden about doing so. They believe that they have failed if they resort to smacking, but do hon. Members really believe that we can support good parenting by adding to those bad feelings by threatening the strong arm of the law? Is not a better way of changing the culture positively to encourage and support good parenting in the home? That is what our Sure Start programme aims to do, as do the children's fund, through many projects that it supports, and the parenting fund. We want to offer more support to good parents.

I turn to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Curtis-Thomas), which was supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies). I recognise the reasoning of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby in calling for a review of the effects of clause 56 once it has been in operation for two years. I agree wholeheartedly that when significant extra legal protection is introduced by the clause we should look closely at its practical effects. I am afraid, however, that her amendment does not meet its intended objective. None the less, I can give a clear commitment that two years after clause 56 comes into effect we will review the practical consequences of those
2 Nov 2004 : Column 264
changes to the law, and will also seek parents' views about smacking. We will lay a copy of the results before Parliament.

This important debate has rightly engendered much passion in all parts of the House. I understand and respect the sincerity and strength of the views of all hon. Members, but I urge them to consider that while we want to stop the misuse of a defence that could lead to children being harmed or abused—I believe that clause 56 achieves that aim—we do not want to be responsible for introducing a new offence that could criminalise thousands of parents throughout the country who are trying their hardest to do their best for their children. They love and cherish their children, and want to establish a framework of discipline while protecting them from harm and endeavouring to support their well-being. They try their hardest to get it right.

A total ban on smacking could criminalise most parents. That is surely not what we are about. Let us focus on the important job of safeguarding and protecting children who are in real danger of harm and abuse. Let us support parents in that most difficult and important job of bringing up their children. Let us legislate in a clear and practical way, which will properly benefit children and young people. I urge hon. Members to accept clause 56 and reject new clause 12.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 75, Noes 424.

Division No. 305
[5:50 pm


Allan, Richard
Austin, John
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Kevin
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Burstow, Paul
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Carmichael, Alistair
Caton, Martin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Doughty, Sue
Etherington, Bill
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Hinchliffe, David
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Illsley, Eric
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Llwyd, Elfyn
McCafferty, Chris
McDonnell, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, George
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Edward
O'Neill, Martin
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Purchase, Ken
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shipley, Ms Debra
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Wareing, Robert N.
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Win Griffiths and
Mr. Hilton Dawson


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allen, Graham
Amess, David
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Arbuthnot, rh James
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Barnes, Harry
Baron, John (Billericay)
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, rh David
Blunt, Crispin
Boateng, rh Paul
Boswell, Tim
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Browne, Desmond
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Byers, rh Stephen
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cairns, David
Cameron, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Connarty, Michael
Conway, Derek
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curry, rh David
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dobson, rh Frank
Dodds, Nigel
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flight, Howard
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Garnier, Edward
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grogan, John
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hammond, Philip
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Healey, John
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keetch, Paul
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, David
Lansley, Andrew
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leslie, Christopher
Letwin, rh Oliver
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Loughton, Tim
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDougall, John
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Malins, Humfrey
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Maples, John
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Meacher, rh Michael
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Mercer, Patrick
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morris, rh Estelle
Moss, Malcolm
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Diana
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickles, Eric
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Portillo, rh Michael
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Redwood, rh John
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ruffley, David
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shaw, Jonathan
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Streeter, Gary
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thurso, John
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Tredinnick, David
Trickett, Jon
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Tyrie, Andrew
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Viggers, Peter
Walley, Ms Joan
Walter, Robert
Ward, Claire
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Tom
White, Brian
Whittingdale, John
Wicks, Malcolm
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Wilshire, David
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Joan Ryan and
Paul Clark

Question accordingly negatived.

2 Nov 2004 : Column 268

Madam Deputy Speaker then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

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