November 2004


Members of Parliament in the British House of Commons have recently voted against a full removal of the law allowing ‘reasonable chastisement' (the equivalent of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961). Instead they voted in favour of a compromise amendment that allows parents to use reasonable chastisement as long as it does not leave visible marks.  The ‘reasonable chastisement' defence will still be able to be used for the offence of common assault, but grazes, scratches, minor swellings, cuts and bruises will be punishable by up to five years imprisonment.  Forty-seven Labour MPs crossed the floor on the issue, voting against the amendment and in support of full repeal.  Several commentators, including the Prime Minister, remarked on changing public opinion and the likelihood of full repeal eventually.