Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has defended parents' right to smack their children - and admitted he did it to his own.
The Conservative Cabinet minister said he was not opposed to smacking youngsters, saying sometimes it "sends a message".
Mr Grayling has two children, aged 20 and 16, with his wife Susan.
He admitted to occasionally smacking them when they were younger.
"You chastise children when they are bad, as my parents did me," he told the Mail on Sunday.
"I'm not opposed to smacking. It is to be used occasionally. Sometimes it sends a message - but I don't hanker for the days when children were severely beaten at school."
Following his comments, sources close to the minister said he used the punishment only when "really warranted".
In a statement the NSPCC said: "Whilst parents are currently allowed to smack their children, the evidence is continuing to build that it is ineffective and harmful to children.
"There are more positive and constructive ways to discipline children and a clear message that hitting anyone is not right would benefit all of society."
In his interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Grayling also reiterated commitments he made soon after taking up the ministerial post to ban perks for prisoners like ending automatic early release for inmates who misbehave during their sentence.
He told the newspaper: "I want prisons to be spartan, but humane, a place people don't have a particular desire to come back to."
He also said he would not tolerate gay couples in prison sharing a cell.
"It is not acceptable to allow same-sex couples to effectively move in together and live a domestic life. If such a thing happened, I would want those prisoners put in separate prisons."