A proposed law to protect children from emotional abuse risks dragging decent parents through the courts, a district MP has warned.

Conservative Philip Davies raised the alarm about a law to introduce jail for parents who starve their children of love and affection.

The measure is poised to be include in the Queen’s Speech in June to ensure “emotional cruelty” is treated with the same seriousness as physical abuse.

Children's charities hailed it as a “monumental step forward” for child protection, arguing that neglect is the most common reason for a protection referral.

Parents found guilty could face up to ten years in prison, the maximum term in child-neglect cases.

But Mr Davies, the Shipley MP, warned the measure could “create a monster” unless it was introduced very carefully.

He said: “No one is going to condone the extreme abuse some children suffer.

“But there is a real danger this becomes a charter for every kid whining and complaining about a bit of tough love from their parents.

“I am sure it's well meaning but we have seen how easily these things get out of control with the result that perfectly decent parents – who love their kids and are trying to do their best – get dragged through the courts.”

But Nick Clegg welcomed the proposals, saying current laws did not reflect the terrible impact on children of emotional abuse.