Politicians have stressed the need for clear guidance to be provided to professionals who will be affected by the legislation
Plans to assign a guardian to every child in Scotland have been hit by yet another delay.
The Scottish Parliament’s education committee said this week that it would not be able to recommend parliamentary approval for the Named Person scheme until ministers provided details of crucial guidance for professionals who will be involved in it.
The Scottish Government has planned for a named person to be appointed to every child in the country to monitor their wellbeing.
However the scheme’s introduction has been beset by issues, with those opposed to the bill raising serious concerns about information sharing.
The Supreme Court ruled against the plans last summer, and said that ministers have to publish a code of practice for professionals – such as doctors, health workers or teachers – making it clear how they should share information about young people.
In response, the children and young people (information sharing) Scotland bill was published in June, aiming to fix flaws identified in the previous legislation.
However the committee said that it could not move the bill for recommendation until a full code of practice is prepared.
James Dornan, SNP convenor of the committee, said in a letter to deputy first minister John Swinney that the operation of the code is crucial to the implementation of the legislation.
He said: “Some organisations have suggested that their support for the bill is contingent upon the contents of the code.
“Based on the evidence heard to date, the majority of the committee do not consider they are able to make a decision on whether to recommend that the general principles of the bill be approved at stage one until the Scottish Government has provided the committee with an authoritative draft of the code.”
Following the letter, the government announced that it would be setting up an independent panel to provide expert advice to ensure the legislation is workable.
The Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) Practice Development Panel will lead the development of a code of practice, statutory guidance and other support materials for people working with children and families.
It will be chaired by Ian Welsh, who is chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland.
Swinney said: “This independent panel will draw on the experience and expertise of people working with children and families to develop a workable, comprehensive and user friendly code of practice, statutory guidance and other support materials that take account of new data protection laws – bringing clarity and certainty on this important issue.”