Smacking ban: Opponents of bill which will criminalise parents stage peaceful protest at Holyrood as MSPs take evidence

Opponents of a Bill which will criminalise Scots parents for smacking their children will stage a peaceful protest as they hand out leaflets at the Scottish Parliament (THU MAR 28).

Supporters of Be Reasonable Scotland are taking action as MSPs on the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, which is scrutinising the Bill, sponsored by Green MSP John Finnie, hold their final evidence session.

The campaigners have been infuriated by the apparent one-sided nature of the sessions which they state fail to reflect the enormous scale of public opposition to the Bill.

Their detailed analysis shows that 89 per cent of public submissions were against the proposal to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement and make smacking a criminal offence.

And a massive 97 per cent of submissions made by individual members of the public condemned the plan to criminalise mums and dads for smacking their kids.

Be Reasonable spokesman Simon Calvert said:

“The public and parents are massively against this latest intrusion into family life by those who want to impose their own parenting preferences on every home in Scotland.

“89 per cent of those who responded to the Parliament’s call for evidence said they opposed the Bill. This figure is broadly in line with ComRes polling showing three quarters of the Scottish public do not want smacking criminalised.”

Mr Calvert said: “The evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of Scots do not back this ban. They need to communicate this to their MSPs before it’s too late.

“There are 614,000 families with dependent children in Scotland and many of these parents face the threat of being criminalised if this Bill goes through and they are found to have given their child a light smack. That’s chilling.”

Be Reasonable has voiced concern about the balance of the committee scrutinising the smacking Bill. The Equalities and Human Rights Committee is made up of seven MSPs, five of whom are actually co-sponsors of the Bill.

The convener of the committee, SNP MSP Ruth Maguire, also happens to be the daughter of John Finnie, who authored the Bill.

Despite the widespread public opposition, to date, 84% of witnesses invited by the Committee to give evidence have supported the Bill.

Mr Calvert added: “A neutral observer might consider this to be unfair, unrepresentative and disproportionate when you consider that 89% of responses to the committee’s consultation were opposed to the Bill.

“If the committee casts aside the views of the public altogether, what does that say to them? It sends the patronising message that their views don’t matter.”