OPPONENTS of controversial plans to introduce a “state guardian” for every child in Scotland will step up their campaign with a major conference next week.
MSPs, academics, social work experts and medics will gather in Edinburgh prior to a £30,000 court battle aimed at derailing the Scottish Government proposals.
Holyrood passed legislation this year which will mean every child in Scotland is given a designated “named person” – usually a health visitor or teacher – who will be a point of contact for families, but also monitor the child’s welfare and development.
The government insists that mothers and fathers are still, in most cases, the best people to raise their children and the new scheme will not change this when it is rolled out in August 2016.
However, many groups see the move as an intrusion into the traditional role of the family and say the Scottish Government has gone “too far”.
One described it as a “monstrous invasion of family life”.
The “No To Named Persons” conference is being staged on Monday as lawyers put the finishing touches to the case for a judicial review, challenging the controversial Children and Young People Act.
The lawyers say MSPs areacting illegally and exceeding their powers by setting up the scheme to “appoint so-called state monitors or guardians in direct contravention of theEuropean Convention on Human Rights”.
Pressure group the Christian Institute (CI) is spearheading the judicial review with other organisations and has attracted widespread support including academics and parents.
It has raised more than £30,000 from donations to fund the court action.
CI director Colin Hart said: “We have secured the backing of a broad-based coalition oforganisations.
“Like many individual mums and dads, they are united in their condemnation of this legislation which is a monstrous invasion of family life.
“It offers the state unbridled access into the living rooms of every family in the country,reducing and diluting the roles of ordinary parents and intruding on their fundamental rights to a private family life.”
Under the legislation, every child in Scotland under 18 will be assigned a “named person” who will have the power to“advise” and “inform” the child or discuss or raise matters about the child with the relevantauthorities, the campaignerssay.
The conference is being chaired by sociologist Dr Stuart Waiton, from Abertay University, a leading academic voice against the plans.
Dr Waiton said: “This conference has support from a whole range of individuals and organisations from across the political spectrum who can see that the government has gone far too far here and needs to recognise that it cannot and must not interfere in people’s lives unnecessarily in this way.”
The conference speakers include journalist and author Allan Massie, Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, a GP and author, Tory MSP Liz Smith, Maggie Mellon, an independent social services consultant, as well as community paediatrician Dr Jennifer Cunningham.
A Scottish Government spokesman said last night that the named persons initiative was first introduced in parts of Scotland following parents’ requests for a “single point of contact” for advice or help.
“Nothing in the legislation changes parental rights and responsibilities because we know that mothers and fathers are, with a very few exceptions, the best people to raise theirchildren,” he said.