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16 and 17-year-olds may be dropped from 'Named Person' scheme

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The Scottish National Party’s Deputy First Minister has said he will consider proposals to drop 16 and 17-year-olds from the widely-criticised ‘Named Person’ scheme.

John Swinney said he would consider the suggestion, which came from Scottish Labour, after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the plans were ‘unlawful’.

Mr Swinney, who is also the Education Minister, is under growing pressure from Holyrood’s opposition parties to completely overhaul the scheme, rather than merely tweak it, and Scotland’s Shadow Education Secretary has recommended that the plans be dropped altogether.
 

Legal challenge

Under the scheme, which would have been rolled out at the end of August, all children in Scotland would have been allocated a 'Named Person', such as a teacher or health worker, to act as a state-appointed guardian.

The nominated individual would have been given access to the child’s confidential records and be expected to report any concerns to the police.

Concerns about the intrusive nature of these plans prompted the ‘No to Named Persons’ coalition (No2NP) to mount a legal challenge against them, which was taken all the way to the Supreme Court.

On 28 July the Court ruled that the plans breached the right to privacy and family life, under the European Convention on Human Rights.
 

'Disproportionate and absurd'

In a letter to John Swinney, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, Iain Gray, said:

"You should use the opportunity to remove 16-18 year olds from the scheme. The extension of the law to young people already considered adult enough to leave school, work, vote and marry seems disproportionate and, to many, absurd."

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have also completely withdrawn their support for the plans, with leader Willie Rennie saying: "Previously, if [public sector workers] had a concern, a quiet word with the mum, dad or guardian would be sufficient. Now the formalised requirement and duty is suffering from mission creep with reports being sought from GPs and others — just like social workers."
 

'Support draining away fast'

The Shadow Education Secretary Liz Smith remarked that although removing 16 and 17-year-olds from the plans would be a positive step, it would not solve the problem of information sharing which was identified by the Supreme Court, and recommended that the scheme be completely dropped.

She said: "The comments over the last few days from Labour and the Liberal Democrats make it very clear that political support as well as public support is draining away fast. If the SNP was really listening, it would scrap the whole thing."


Related Links: 
Scottish Liberal Democrats withdraw support for 'Named Person' scheme 
Named Person scheme 'unlawful', rules Supreme Court 
John Swinney to consider removing 16 and 17-year-olds from SNP state guardian scheme (Telegraph) 

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