Thursday, March 19, 2015

Eddisbury shortlist

Today I received the great honour from Eddisbury Conservative Association to be shortlisted to fight the parliamentary seat of Eddisbury at the forthcoming General Election.

I will be fully focussed on gaining the support of the members of Eddisbury Conservatives over the forthcoming days and if fortunate enough to be selected will be a full time candidate in the constituency until May 7th.

If selected I have decided to donate the salary that I receive as an Assembly Member for North Wales for the parliamentary campaign period to charity, one of the recipients will the Moneypenny Foundation based in Wrexham. Moneypenny is a great local business that has helped a number of people back into work and the Foundation has had considerable success in the last year.  The remainder will go to Clare House who look after children from both sides of the border, but does not receive funding from the Welsh Assembly.   My constituency and Assembly office will continue to operate as normal, serving my North Wales constituents, until the outcome of the election is known.  I will resign my Welsh Assembly seat if elected, and I will also move into the Constituency, my family understand these decisions and support them.

Strong economic and social links exist between North Wales and Cheshire. Although there is a border dividing the two regions, many residents live, farm and work on both sides of the border. A strong Cheshire can only benefit North Wales and vice versa. Eddisbury, Chester and Wrexham/Deeside have always been good neighbours and if selected to contest the Eddisbury seat next week I will be fully focussed on developing and strengthening these links as the prospective Member of Parliament. 

I have gained a strong reputation for delivery for my constituents in North Wales and I pledge to be a similar strong voice for all the people of the Eddisbury constituency

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Smacking Ban amendments in the Assembly this week

Today on  BBC Wales Sunday Supplement I was interviewed about the  "smacking ban" amendment to the proposed Domestic Violence Bill in the Assembly.  You can hear the argument for and against here (you may need to cut and paste the link)

scroll through to 30 minutes.  The arguments of campaigners for a ban say that a child should be given the same rights as an adult - no matter what age that child is.  To my mind this is simply wrong.  Any parent of a toddler will know that feeling of fright when one minute they are next to you and the next minute they are gone - running out into the road - or in my case that total silence of my 3 year old, when I went to see what she was up to, she had my bunch of keys and was about to put them into an electric socket which was halfway up the wall - having climbed onto the sofa to do so.

It is absolutely clear that if you give your child anything more than a short sharp tap it is already illegal, if there is a bruise or anything other than a temporary red mark, you risk being investigated and charged by the police.  The CPS charging standards say that where there is bruising a parent should be prosecuted.  What is being argued for in the Assembly is what is known as a strict liability offence, which means no matter what the circumstances, if you smack your child you are a criminal and you could have a criminal record.  I don't think this is right as it will criminalise many loving parents, who care deeply about their children.  The current law provides a defence of "reasonable" punishment - this means that a jury or magistrate can look behind the smack, and see why the parent did it.  If their child ran out into the road, or was about to give themselves a huge electric shock, they can decide that the parent acted reasonably.  The current amendment would mean that would no longer be possible.  I think that is totally wrong and will not be supporting it.  I would rather trust 12 citizens to judge me, so they can apply the standards of reasonableness that apply at the time than a blanket criminal offence that makes every parent a criminal as soon as they smack a child and relies upon a police officer not charging.

I in no way condone violence against children, and a beating is clearly illegal now.  However the argument that education doesn't work is wrong.  We don't have education on healthy relationships, or very little of it.  Welsh Government have resisted the idea of every school having to teach about respect and health relationships - but locking up mothers or fathers for a short sharp tap is absolutely not the answer.  Through education change will happen, that is the route that we should promote as children do not have the same rights as adults, as anyone who has been the parent of a toddler will know, and the parents that are most likely to be criminalised will be those less able to talk themselves out of prosecution.  It would quite simply be wrong to turn many loving and caring parents into criminals.