'I FIRMLY believe that it shouldn’t be the job of Government to tell us how best to bring up our children and that is why I oppose the Smacking Bill, or to give it its proper title, the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill.

Parenting can be immensely rewarding but it can also be very difficult. I don’t criticise parents who sometimes resort to smacking young children, but it’s something I’ve always tried to avoid myself.

I have found that sending kids to bed early or depriving them of screen time are in my experience more effective punishments.

However, the choice of whether to smack your children or not is surely up to parents – not Government.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who feel that a smacking ban is the right thing to do. But I believe that by banning smacking, the state would be telling parents that it knows best – effectively eroding the position of family life in the process.

Individual autonomy, the right to privacy, the right to family life – all these things are the building blocks of our society. To protect them, we need to make clear that the Government, however well-meaning, should not interfere.

How you discipline your child is one of the choices that makes up the joyful, terrifying, haphazard experience of parenting – an experience which can’t and should not be boiled down and flattened into a line of legislation such as this Bill. That only diminishes us all.

The law already in place protects children from violence and assault with an implement, or any hitting to the head. There are no reported issues with occasional light smacking.

So why are the SNP proposing to criminalise loving parents if there is no issue that needs tackled?

We also must ask if this proposed legislation is going to be enforceable? Most ‘offences will take place in the family home with no outside witnesses.

Is a two-year-old child then meant to report her parents to the police?

We must ask what kind of Orwellian dystopia are we creating where the state encourage children to give evidence against mum and dad? The actual prospect is terrifying.

One of the main problems with this legislation, which can’t be enforced, is that it reeks of an arrogant political class that has utter contempt for ordinary families. It gives the impression that empty threats will work and makes a mockery of real crimes, such as actual assault against children and adults.

Analysis carried out by the Be Reasonable Scotland campaign group supports my views on the matter. They cite a comment from Michael Sheridan, of the Scottish Law Agents Society, who has warned that any intervention brought about by a smacking ban would be “entirely disproportionate to any possible level of offending created by the Bill” and could “destroy family relations and trust.”

Be Reasonable Scotland also highlight the fact that Police Scotland have warned of the cost/resource implications associated with a smacking ban. One police officer told MSPs sitting on the Equalities Committee at Holyrood: “As a serving police officer we are already working hard to protect children with current legislation and introducing this bill will overwhelm police and social workers with agencies having to submit more trivial reports.

“I believe this use of resources will cause real cases of child abuse to be missed.”

The campaign group also point to the fact that 89% of submissions at the Equalities Committee

meeting was against the Bill, rising to 99% of responses from parents.

And Be Reasonable Scotland also highlight a Panel Base poll conducted by The Sunday Times at the

end of last year found that less than a third of Scots support a smacking ban.

I agree with all these concerns and would also underline what the parenting expert Liz Fraser said on the matter – that there is a real danger that precious resources are diverted from investigating serious incidents of child abuse into pursuing trivial cases against loving parents.