Thursday, 17 January 2008

The smack of firm government?

Here's a Peter Hain story that doesn't involve donations.

The Welsh Secretary has told First Minister Rhodri Morgan that his Assembly Government won't be allowed to ban smacking in Wales.

Ministers in Cardiff had been examining ways of using the Assembly's new powers to go it alone and outlaw smacking.

Mr Hain, backed by the Attorney General, has now told Mr Morgan that this wouldn't be within the Assembly's competence.

A ban would intrude on the criminal justice system - which is not devolved. The proposed legislative competence order on vulnerable children, currently being negotiated in Whitehall, will be amended to remove any ambiguity about smacking.

So expect a rash of "slap in face for Wales"/"snub to Wales"/"Hain backs child cruelty"/"London calls the tune" press releases from suitably outraged politicians.

The Assembly Government tell us: "We have only just received correspondence from the Secretary of State on this issue, and will want to consider carefully all of the points raised."

Alternatively, they could just ask the First Minister, who was told this information by Peter Hain late last year and is, according to the Wales Office, "more than happy" with the advice.

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