SNP 'Fully Committed' To Named Person Scheme
24 August 2016, 19:20
The Scottish Government remains firmly committed to implementing the named person scheme as soon as practicable, John Swinney has said.
The Deputy First Minister made the pledge as he confirmed the controversial provisions contained in the Children and Young People Act will not be rolled out as planned at the end of this month, pending changes.
The secondary legislation required to stop commencement of the relevant parts of the Act have now been laid before the Scottish Parliament.
The scheme would appoint a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of children under 18.
But the Supreme Court ruled last month that the legislation, as it was passed by Holyrood, is ''incompatible'' with European human rights laws.
Judges decided that information-sharing provisions could result in disproportionate interference with Article 8 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - the right to a family and private life.
Mr Swinney said he would make a statement to MSPs in the first week after the summer recess on progress in implementing the scheme, and insisted the issue is "one of timing, not of policy''.
He said: "In its judgment last month, the Supreme Court dismissed a number of challenges to the named person policy and described its aims as 'unquestionably legitimate and benign'.
"However, the court's ruling made clear the Scottish Government needs to amend the information-sharing provisions in the 2014 Act and provide greater clarity about the basis on which information will be shared to ensure compliance with the ECHR.
"I confirmed earlier this month that the Scottish Government is therefore not commencing the named person provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 on August 31, and ministers have today lodged the necessary order to address this point.
"We remain firmly committed to implementing the named person service to support children and their families. We will engage with key partners across public services, the third sector, Parliament and the wider public to take this forward.
"I am determined to see the service implemented as soon as practicable. There will be a named person service, its availability guaranteed by law to those who want to use it.''
Mr Swinney said a new roll-out date would be brought before Parliament.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: "It's no surprise to see the Scottish Government attempt to bury this announcement on the day its independence case was again blown to pieces by the GERS figures.
"Families and professionals will welcome this development.
"But this also contributes to the confusion in those local authorities which have already launched a scheme now deemed to be unlawful.''