THE forthcoming ban on parents smacking their children has been welcomed by Scotland’s commissioner for children and young people.

Bruce Adamson said Holyrood should legislate “at the very earliest opportunity” to give children the same protection from assault as the rest of the population.

He said smacking went against basic values of “human dignity” and Scotland had a chance to lead the way in the UK.

He was commenting after the Herald revealed SNP ministers had promised to “ensure” a ban on smacking proposed by Green MSP John Finnie would become law.

The Scottish Government previously said it had “no plans” for such a ban, and latterly that it would not oppose one, but has now fully embraced Mr Finnie’s idea.

The Highlands & Islands MSP’s member’s bill would end the Scots law defence of “justifiable assault” for parents and carers who physically punish children short of using a blow to the head, shaking, or “an implement”.

The government’s support means Scotland is likely to become the first part of the UK to introduce a smacking ban, although Wales is also contemplating legislation in 2018.

The UK is one of only five EU countries not to ban smacking, despite the United Nations urging the country to legislate to outlaw it in the home in 2015.

There is no ban in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where “reasonable chastisement” is allowed provided it does not leave a mark, bruise, swelling or cut.

After previously hinting at a free vote for SNP MSPs on Mr Finnie’s bill, SNP ministers confirmed on Wednesday they would guarantee is passage at Holyrood.

A government spokeswoman said: “Mr Finnie’s proposals are not a Scottish Government Bill, however we will ensure the proposals become law.

“We believe physical punishment can have negative effects on children which can last long after the physical pain has died away.”

Mr Adamson said: “In Scotland in 2017, our law allows a parent or carer to assault a child for the purpose of physical punishment, which is untenable in international human rights law.

“This goes against the basic values that we hold in Scotland in terms of human dignity and respect for children. Support for legislative change is growing.

“Across the political spectrum, there is recognition that this is not only an obligation in human rights law and the right thing to do, but something we should have done many years ago.”

He went on: “Scotland has the potential to be the first country in the UK to bring about the legal change necessary to provide children with equal protection from assault.

“If we pride ourselves on being a progressive country, a country which values children and is committed to offering them the best outcomes in life, then we need to make sure that this legislative change happens at the very earliest opportunity.”

A ban was also backed by Mr Adamson’s predecessor, Tam Baillie.

Mr Finnie said: “It is especially welcome that the Scottish Government has reiterated its support for my bill because there is clear evidence that the use of physical punishment is detrimental to children’s long term health and wellbeing.

“Giving children full protection against assault will send a clear message to all of us about how we treat each other and underpin Scotland’s efforts to reduce violence.

"The physical punishment of children is already illegal in 52 countries and my proposal will give children in Scotland the necessary protections to flourish in a healthy environment and encourage the building of stronger relationships between children, their parents and others who care for them.”