Attempt to halt named person fails in Holyrood vote

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 June 2016 in News

A Scottish Conservative motion to "pause" the rollout of the named person is rejected by MSPs

A bid by the Scottish Conservatives to stop the rollout of the named person scheme was rejected by MSPs last night.

The plans to see all Scottish children assigned a named person as a single point of contact for services was labelled “illiberal” by the Scottish Conservatives, who had lodged a motion to “pause” its rollout.

However Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens all backed the Scottish Government to vote down the motion.


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Deputy First Minister and education secretary John Swinney recognised “concerns and misunderstandings” and conceded the policy needs more work.

“The point is pretty simple—we believe that all of Scotland’s children should have access to the service by right, and it should be there to be used as and when they and their families require it,” he said.

The Scottish Conservatives remain opposed to the principle of the named person, which they say will be an intrusion into family life.

Adam Tomkins MSP said: “The named person will have three sets of powers with regard to wellbeing under section 19 of the 2014 act. They will have a power to give advice and support to a child or a parent. That is fine.

“They will have a power to help a child or a parent to access a service. That is fine.

“However—critically—they will also have a power to discuss or raise a matter about a child’s wellbeing with a whole host of bodies and agencies, and that is where the act goes too far.

Swinney said the Conservatives had conducted a “vitriolic” campaign.

“We have all heard many comments about “state snoopers” who will be “intruding” in family life but those so-called snoopers are the health visitors and teachers whom families across Scotland work with, trust and turn to for advice right now. Such language insults the vital work that they do and makes their work much more difficult,” he said.

Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray lodged an amendment calling for a review of the policy’s implementation by the Children and Young People Commissioner Tam Baillie, but highlighted evidence from the Highlands test site where the named person has been operating since 2009.

“We do not want a pause to debate the policy; we want it to be fixed properly and proportionately implemented, parents’ confidence to be regained and the benefits for children to be secured,” he said.

A total of 50 midwives, 50 health visitors and 181 primary and secondary school teachers across the Highlands act as named persons.

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