THE WELSH Assembly has voted to introduce a smacking ban in Wales.

Assembly Members voted 36 to 14 in the Senedd on Tuesday in favour of the Welsh Government bill, which sees the country join 58 other nations including Scotland to end the physical punishment of children.

Ministers say the legislation will come into force in 2022 after gaining Royal Assent, but opponents of the new law say it will criminalise parents and increase pressure on already-stretched social services.

First minister Mark Drakeford said “times had changed” and physically disciplining children was no longer a part of modern society.

He said: “I’m proud Wales has taken this step and once again put children’s rights at the heart of what we do here in Wales.

“Protecting children and giving them the best start in life should always be our priority.

“Times have changed and there is no place in a modern society for the physical punishment of children.”

The law change will remove the common law defence of reasonable punishment which is currently available to parental figures if accused of assault or battery against a child.