Named person WILL become law - a year later than planned, says Swinney
The Scottish Government will begin a period of “intense engagement” with charities and others as it attempts to get its named person legislation back on track.
Plans to appoint a state guardian for every child were derailed last month when the UK’s highest court announced that parts of the proposed legislation were not compatible with human rights laws.
An introduction date of 31 August was scrapped as the Scottish Government took another look at the detail of its plan.
It has now been announced that ministers intend to press ahead with the scheme, with August 2017 being set as a target for implementation.
Deputy first minister John Swinney said a three month period of engagement will begin, with charities consulted.
The Scottish Government has a job to do in achieving the balance between a right to a family and private life and the need to protect children
The Scottish Government will seek to change aspects of information sharing which were the main point of contention for the Supreme Court, which overall called the plan "legitimate and benign".
Swinney said: “For the avoidance of any doubt, this government remains absolutely committed to the named person service. The Supreme Court judgment does not dilute our commitment but it has required us to revise part of the legislation to ensure that it is compatible with the European Court of Human Rights.
“I am keen to commence the provisions of this act as early as possible. However I am also keen to pursue an inclusive approach – one that takes this parliament, stakeholders and the wider public with it.”
Most major Scottish children’s charities have been broadly supportive of the named person plan, including Children in Scotland and Barnardo’s Scotland, whose director Martin Crewe said: “We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to ensure the named person service works effectively to support children and young people in Scotland.”
However, some smaller charities, such as the Christian Institute, the Tyme Trust and Family Education Trust, came together to form the No2NP group, which has harassed and challenged the government continually on the issue.
It sees named person legislation amounts to allowing state snoopers into the every day lives of families.
Simon Calvert, the group’s spokesman, said: "Whatever the deputy first minister may claim, the named person scheme he ends up with in a year's time will be very different from the policy he wanted.
“Instead of focusing on saving face, the government should be apologising to parents for ignoring their human rights.
"The business as usual message which the Scottish Government had been sending out since the named person ruling, was in danger of leading local authorities to carry on with unlawful sharing of private information on families.
"Having spent years encouraging the widespread illegal sharing of sensitive personal data, they should now be doing everything they can to put a stop to it."
Meanwhile, the move has been backed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland.
Associate director Ellen Hudson said: “RCN Scotland has always said that the general principles of the named person scheme would play a positive role in promoting, supporting and safeguarding the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland with health visitors and other frontline practitioners playing a key part in its delivery on the ground.
“However, the complex legal area around the issue of information sharing means that the Scottish Government now has a job to do in terms of achieving the balance between a right to a family and private life, and the need to protect and support children and young people.”