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European Court Ruling

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will publish the Government's response to the Council of Europe in respect of the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the 1998 A v UK judgment. [130811]

[holding answer 18 September 2003]: In cases of alleged assault against children where the defence of reasonable chastisement is used, the Courts are obliged to take note of the outcome in the European Court of Human Rights of the A v UK case. Juries must now be directed, when considering the reasonableness of any punishment, to consider the nature and context of the defendant's behaviour, its duration, its physical and mental consequences in relation to the child and the reason given by the defendant administering punishment.The Government has asked the Attorney General to keep the use of the reasonable chastisement defence under review in order to assess the impact of A v UK. His findings to date suggest that this defence is being used properly.

The Government's position is that these measures fulfil our obligations arising from the A v UK ruling and we will be responding to the Council of Europe accordingly. [We will publish this response after it has been presented to the Council of Europe in October.]