There will be no change to the current law which allows parents to administer a mild blow that does not cause a bruise or graze.
Ministers had revived the prospect of an outright ban in the summer and ordered the full-scale review.
But Children’s Minister Kevin Brennan said yesterday the law would not be changed after all. He told MPs that the current legislation, introduced two years ago, appeared to be working.
He said: “The review found that smacking is becoming a less commonly used form of discipline as more parents recognise that there are more effective and acceptable methods of disciplining children. In response, the Government will retain the law in its current form, in the absence of evidence it is not working satisfactorily.”
But the children’s commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green said the move was “deeply disappointing” and Britain would “continue to send out confusing messages to parents about the acceptable use of violence across society”.
Norman Wells, director of Family Youth Concern, said: “The Government is quite right to reject a ban on smacking. In a free society it is vital that parents should be allowed to bring up their children in a reasonable way, in line with their convictions.”
But Dame Mary Marsh, chief executive of the NSPCC, said she did not agree the current law was working effectively and insisted there was “no place for the physical punishment of children”.
While many parents said they did not smack children, around 70 per cent believed it should not be banned outright.