Government ready with Plan B for Named Person

Anti-Named Person campaigners have accused the Scottish Government of trying to implement the controversial scheme by the back door even if the legislation fails.

Lesley Scott of the NO2NP campaign claimed ministers intended to railroad the plan through even without political support.

The accusation was made after documents retrieved via Freedom of Information showed that having a “Plan B” if MSPs reject the proposals was discussed at a meeting of unnamed government officials and advisers.

A note of the meeting held in February made a list under the heading of “Contingency”.

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One point made was: “Plan B for if bill falls to make sure parts 4&5 can be implemented without information sharing.” Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act specifically refers to the Named Person scheme.

Lesley Scott of the NO2NP campaign claimed the papers demonstrated that ministers intended to railroad the plan through even without political support.

She said: “These worrying documents show the focus is clearly on implementing Named Person by the back door, regardless of whether the new bill gets through Parliament. Clearly, we are now dealing with a Government which is ignoring the UK Supreme Court, has no regard for the elected representatives of the Scottish people and is determined to shun public opinion.

“They are riding roughshod over the democratic system in pursuit of a flawed, failed and discredited project.”

Scott uncovered the document after asking the Scottish Government for information relating to the Statutory Guidance Framework Group, which was tasked to review the Named Person scheme in October and December last year and in February this year.

The controversial scheme aims to give every child in Scotland a Named Person – usually a teacher or health visitor – to look after his or her wellbeing. It has led to accusations of unwarranted intrusion into family life. NO2NP successfully challenged the scheme in the courts on the grounds that provisions about information sharing were incompatible with privacy rights. Despite the setback, Education Secretary John Swinney has pledged to press ahead.

The proposals were also dealt a severe blow at the end of last year when Holyrood’s education committee said it was unable to approve the legislation as it stands. The committee had heard that an illustrative code of practice about how information should be shared about children was too complex as well as evidence that professionals were “confused and nervous” about that aspect.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Supreme Court ruled definitively that the intention of providing a Named Person for every child to promote and safeguard their wellbeing was ‘unquestionably legitimate and benign’ but families must have confidence that information will be shared only where their rights can be respected. “The Information Sharing Bill now seeks to address this by providing a clear and consistent way for families to receive the right support.

“An independent panel is developing a draft code of practice for information sharing, and other materials required to support implementation of the Named Person service. It is expected to make its recommendations to ministers in the autumn.”