West of Scotland Labour MSP Mary Fee has welcomed the strong backing given to the proposed ban on smacking children.

MSPs voted by 80 to 29 in favour of the proposals - with the Conservatives voting against - after its first stage debate.

The bill lodged by Green MSP John Finnie is designed to give children the same protection from assault as adults.

The bill has been backed by the Scottish government, which had previously opposed an outright ban.

It will now go to a Holyrood committee, where it will be considered in greater detail before MSPs are asked to give their final approval so it can become law.

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Speaking during the debate in Parliament, Ms Fee said: “This bill seeks to give equal protection from assault by prohibiting the physical punishment of children by parents and caregivers.

“As we heard, the purpose of the bill is to abolish the defence of reasonable chastisement. Parents and others who care for children may currently use that defence if they are facing prosecution for assaulting a child.

“Let me be clear. The bill is not about criminalising parents and carers. It is about giving children the same protection in the law that adults currently have.

“I understand the concerns that many parents will have regarding the bill; indeed, the majority of individuals who made submissions did not support the bill’s principles.

“By giving children equal protection from assault, we are protecting them and safeguarding their human rights.

“Through an effective public education strategy, the bill will aim not to criminalise, but to create a positive culture change.”

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