No smacking ban for now but further vote to follow
A move to ban smacking children has been defeated because the Welsh Government said it could cause legal problems to the bill he was trying to amend. But ministers promised there would be a vote on the issue before the next Welsh election in 2016.
In what was an emotionally-charged debate, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams revealed how she'd been affected by being hit as a child. She told AMs it hadn't made her behave any better but left her fearful of her mother.
The bid to remove a legal defence of 'reasonable punishment' failed when AMs voted against it, but the Welsh Government promised an opportunity to vote on the issue within the current Assembly session.
Plaid Cymru's Lindsay Whittle made an emotional appeal to urge fellow AMs to vote for a move which would have ended a legal defence for parents who hit their children. He had hoped to change the law to removed the defence of 'reasonable punishment.'
The move was defeated because the Welsh Government said it could cause legal problems to the bill he was trying to amend. But ministers promised there would be a vote on the issue before the next Welsh election in 2016.
A move which supporters said would have effectively banned smacking in Wales has failed after the Welsh Government promised to offer another vote before the next Assembly Election. Ministers have been opposed to an amendment which would remove the defence of reasonable punishment.
Two Labour Members, Julie Morgan and Christine Chapman, were prepared to defy their government because of their long-standing commitment to introducing a ban. They've been persuaded to vote with the government because of the promise of another opportunity during the current Assembly session.
However the offer wasn't enough for supporters of the move including the Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle who introduced the amendment. But after an emotional debate in the Assembly, the amendment was defeated by 39 votes to 14.
Assembly Members are preparing to debate moves that some claim would effectively ban smacking. Sara Reid, the Campaign Co-ordinator for Children Are Unbeatable Cymru says the proposal is well within the Assembly's powers.
It seems the Welsh Government is trying to meet the concerns of supporters of a smacking ban but it may not be enough to stop them voting for one later. Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams says she thinks ministers will offer 'another opportunity' to vote on the issue as part of another bill.
She thought that would mean the matter was unlikely to pushed to a vote. But other sources suggest the offer of 'another opportunity' isn't definite enough to win over Plaid and Lib Dem members who are backing an amendment to the Social Services and Well Being Bill.
If it does come to a vote, the amendment is unlikely to win because I understand Labour AMs will be obliged by the Chief Whip to vote against. It's still unclear whether or not at least two Labour AMs will rebel, but the majority will still be enough to defeat it.
Some of the parents at Café Junior, a play and coffee shop in Cardiff, tell our Political Editor their views on smacking children and whether or not the Welsh Government should introduce a law banning it.
That means Labour AMs will be expected to vote against it which forces Labour supporters of a ban to make a difficult decision. One of those, Julie Morgan, told me on last night's Sharp End that she would wait to hear what the minister says before deciding whether or not to rebel.
Welsh Liberal Democrats have a free vote. One senior AM, Peter Black, told me he'd be supporting the amendment which he pointed out doesn't actually introduce a ban, but simply removes a defence of 'reasonable punishment.' I'll report back on how other parties and AMs are likely to vote.