New named person legislation will be introduced by summer

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 March 2017 in News

New secondary legislation will clarify information-sharing provisions of universal named person scheme, John Swinney announces

A new Bill to to introduce a named person for every child within information-sharing laws will be introduced before the Scottish Parliament’s summer recess, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced.

The named person provision, brought in as part of the 2014 Children and Young People Act, was successfully challenged at the UK Supreme Court last year, where judges ruled it was incompatible with the right to privacy.

Under the scheme a single professional would be a point of contact for all services for every child and their families. This would usually be a health visitor or teacher.


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Although the aim of the scheme was legitimate, judges said, the Scottish Government was given 42 days to amend the data-sharing elements of the legislation.

Swinney instead opted to stop the commencement of the scheme and consult on secondary legislation.

The new Bill will clarify good information-sharing practice, Swinney told MSPs in a statement this afternoon.

Only information which "promotes, supports or safeguards" wellbeing of the child will be shared between professionals, he said. 

“Young people and families should have confidence that information will be shared only where this can be done in a manner which respects their rights under data protection law, human rights and the law of confidentiality,” he said.

Scottish Conservative education spokesperson Liz Smith said the majority of the public was opposed to the idea and it should be scrapped.

“Rather than muddy the waters even further, John Swinney should scrap this policy once and for all,” she said.

“As it stands, the named person policy is heading straight back to court.”

Scottish Labour said government should work harder to rebuild trust in the idea.

“Labour remains supportive of the scheme, but the government’s veil of secrecy has led to deep scepticism among parents about how it will work – and this needs to be urgently addressed,” said education spokesman Iain Gray.

Scottish Green Ross Greer said young people themselves should be involved in shaping the new version.

“Children and young people themselves need to be at the centre of this process, not just as the topic for discussion but with their voices heard clearly and their needs listened to,” he said.

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