Named Person scheme hits another snag as committee issues warning to John Swinney

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 November 2017 in News

Education and Skills Committee have recommended the Named Person needs a definitive code of practice

Child - credit Stephan Hochhaus

The Scottish Government's plans to have a named professional for every child cannot proceed until there is a definitive code of practice, a Holyrood committee has warned.

MSPs of the Education and Skills Committee have been examining proposed secondary legislation which will attempt to make the plans comply with information-sharing laws.

But in a letter to Education Secretary John Swinney, committee convener James Dornan said the group could not yet recommend the legislation proceed to a debate in the chamber.

 "Based on the evidence heard to date, the majority of the committee do not consider that they are able to make a decision on whether to recommend that the general principles of the bill be approved at Stage 1 until the Scottish government has provided the committee with an authoritative draft of the code," he said.

"By an authoritative draft, the committee means a draft that reflects changes in data protection law which will result from the passage of the UK Data Protection Bill and the subsequent Scottish government consultation on a draft code."

The decision follows several evidence sessions with legal representatives who warned the issue which saw the plans deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court last year.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith said it was time for the Scottish Government to ditch the scheme altogether.

"This situation is serious and it is a damning indictment of the SNP's failure to understand what practitioners have been saying to them, namely that the bill is full of holes and does not fully address the findings of the Supreme Court," she said.

"In particular, the illustrative code of practice - instead of providing assurances - has raised many more concerns, some of them relating to practitioners' legal responsibilities.

"The best way out of this mess is for the Scottish government to ditch the bill and completely rethink how we should be supporting our most vulnerable children."

Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said: "The shambolic, incompetent roll out of this policy by Angela Constance and now John Swinney just goes from bad to worse.

"With yet more questions to be answered, a clear failure to address the committee's concerns and no tangible progress in building public trust, there have to be questions now as to whether this policy is saveable at all."

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