Named Person: Labour call for 16 to 18 year-olds to be exempted

Scottish Labour has renewed calls for 16 to 18-year-olds to be exempted from having a named person ahead of a ministerial statement on the scheme.

Picture: HeMedia
Picture: HeMedia

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is due to update MSPs at Holyrood on progress in implementing the policy after the Supreme Court ruled elements of it were ‘’incompatible’’ with European human-rights laws.

Mr Swinney earlier confirmed the provisions, contained in the Children and Young People Act, would not be rolled out as planned at the end of August, pending changes.

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He has previously said he would consider Labour’s suggestion that a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, should only be appointed to look out for the welfare of children under 16 and not those under 18 as currently proposed.

Judges ruled in July that information-sharing provisions in the scheme could result in disproportionate interference with Article 8 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - the right to a family and private life.

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Mr Swinney has said the Scottish Government remains firmly committed to implementing the policy “as soon as practicable”.

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “John Swinney should commit today to removing 16 to 18-year-olds from the named person scheme.

“It is absurd that people the law says are old enough to vote, marry and work are told by the SNP that they need a named person.

“The SNP government has effectively been forced to pause this legislation. The SNP should use that pause to make the changes needed to win back the public confidence that has been lost by the mess they have made of implementing the scheme.

“Simply tweaking the law to meet the Supreme Court’s concern will not be enough. There has to be a complete revision of guidance and training materials, and adequate resources put in place for the professionals who will deliver the policy.”

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The Scottish Conservatives repeated calls for the plans to be scrapped altogether.

The party’s education spokeswoman Liz Smith questioned whether councils already running the scheme could be assured they were acting lawfully in relation to data-sharing and called for more detail on what legal advice the Scottish Government had received on the plans.

She said: “The Scottish Government has a lot of explaining to do about why it has found itself in this situation.

“Councils which were already operating this scheme, prior to the August 31 implementation date, will now need to be reassured they weren’t acting unlawfully.

“Ministers must also detail what advice they received which made them so sure this scheme was lawful in the first place.”