Davidson to push for repeal of controversial named person law

Ruth Davidson helps sweet shop owner Christine Davis on the campaign trail in Edinburgh yesterday. Picture: TSPL
Ruth Davidson helps sweet shop owner Christine Davis on the campaign trail in Edinburgh yesterday. Picture: TSPL
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RUTH Davidson has promised to work for the immediate repeal of legislation that will see every child in Scotland issued with a “named person”.

The Scottish Conservative leader made the commitment as she attempted to put more pressure on the SNP over the controversial scheme, which will be rolled out across Scotland in August.

The Scottish Government’s named person initiative has become one of the most contentious issues of the election campaign, with its critics objecting to it on the grounds that it will result in unacceptable state intrusion into family life.

Ms Davidson has already called for the initiative, which is in operation in some parts of the country to be “paused”.

Yesterday at a lunch hosted by the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association she hardened her line saying the proposal contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act was the “most confused and unworkable law” ever passed by Holyrood.

Her criticisms came even though the Conservatives declined to vote against the legislation when it was considered by parliament – choosing to abstain.

This week health visitors, who are expected to act as named persons for pre-school children, said the policy would undermine their trust with families and could result in them being sued.

A survey of health visitors by Unison also said health visitors were stretched and warned that a lack of qualified staff meant there were doubts that the scheme could be implemented safely.

Ms Davidson said the Conservatives would set out a fully costed plan to deliver 500 more health visitors.

She said: “Health visitors are supposed to be there to support families. They are there to help new mums and dads cope with the early days of parenthood. They are in the frontline in trying to turn around Scotland’s poor health outcomes and reduce burdens on the NHS. 
And yet – thanks to this legislation – that relationship is being undermined. We are the only party which did not support this law when it was passed in parliament.  

“And as the principle opposition party at Holyrood after this election, we will prioritise its immediate repeal. 
Not just a pause – we’ll campaign to get rid of it. It is wrong.”

A SNP spokesman said: “We are already planning to recruit an additional 500 health visitors by 2018. The named person policy is aimed at protecting children’s well-being and is about supporting, not diminishing, the role of parents.”