Named person delayed as committee calls for draft code of practice

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 December 2017 in News

Committee delays progression of named person secondary legislation after legal advice warned draft code of practice was "inadequate"

Education committee - Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Government’s draft legislation to allow professionals to share information with a child’s named person will not progress through parliament after the Education and Skills committee said it could not write a report at stage one without a draft code of practice for professionals.

The named person scheme to give every child in Scotland a named professional guardian was ruled illegal at the Supreme Court because of rights to privacy, and the Scottish Government has introduced secondary legislation to make the sharing of information legal.

However the committee heard from lawyers who warned it could still face legal challenges because the statutory code of practice, which is still in draft form was "inadequate".

After convener James Dornan wrote to Education Secretary John Swinney last week to warn him of the issue, the Deputy First Minister pledged to progress the legislation anyway.

"The committee is not being asked to approve the code," he warned Dornan.

However, the refusal to write a report at stage one means the committee has prevented the bill being put to MSPs. Instead, the committee has decided to "extend the period of stage one scrutiny to provide the committee with the opportunity to scrutinise a draft code of practice alongside the bill".

Liberal Democrat committee member Tavish Scott said: "The Committee want to get this right but John Swinney has made things worse. 

"As the code of practice is integral to any change in the law, it must be properly assessed and that is what the committee will do once the government produces it.

"But no committee will be told what to do by a government minister who throws his weight around. Parliament can get this right but John Swinney is not helping that at all."

Swinney said he would "reflect" on the decision.

"Obviously the government will reflect on what the committee has to say, but the government is committed to the named person policy - it's a good policy to support the wellbeing of children and young people and that should be parliament's priority," he said.

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