Bid to halt named person law falls short at Holyrood

John Swinney conceded more work had to be done on the controversial legislation. Picture: TSPL
John Swinney conceded more work had to be done on the controversial legislation. Picture: TSPL
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MSPs last night rejected an attempt to halt the Scottish Government’s named person scheme despite John Swinney conceding more work had to be done on the controversial legislation.

A Conservative bid to “pause” the initiative, which the party described as the “most illiberal law” in Holyrood history, was defeated in a Scottish Parliament vote.

Labour, Lib Dems and Greens backed the government to defeat the Conservatives, who opposed the scheme which will see all Scottish children issued with a named person as a single point of contact when there are welfare concerns.

The Conservatives tabled a motion questioning whether the scheme was “workable” and called for an “urgent pause” before it is rolled out across Scotland in August.

The motion was defeated by 74 votes to 31 with parliament supporting amendments proposed by the Scottish Government and Lib Dems, which said the policy should go-ahead but noted concerns expressed by health visitors, school staff and social workers. The Labour MSP Jenny Marra voted differently from her colleagues and supported the Conservatives.

Mr Swinney, the education secretary, admitted there were “concerns and misunderstandings” about the policy. He said: “We need to get the guidance for professionals and information for the public right and that is why we will refresh these materials. We will continue to work with and consult stakeholders and parent groups through this process.”

He also attacked the Tories saying: “The Conservatives fought a vitriolic campaign on this issue at the election. They disparaged a sound concept, well-researched and widely debated, and characterised it as something it is not.”

The Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said the legislation was “the single most illiberal law that this parliament has passed since its creation 17-years ago”.

Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said her party remained “completely opposed” to the policy.

Ms Smith said: “The key point in all of this is that those professionals feel that the additional burden of paperwork inevitably means that the most vulnerable children will receive less attention than they should.”