‘Sinister’ state guardian plan for every Scots child
Wed, 7 Aug 2013
Plans to appoint a state guardian for every child in Scotland have been branded “sinister” and may even be unlawful.
The Scottish Government wants to allocate a “named person” for each child until they reach the age of 18.
But the Law Society of Scotland said it could potentially breach European human rights laws on privacy and family life.
One newspaper is concerned that a state guardian “could take official action if the child was not being raised in government-approved fashion.”
A home schooling group said the proposed system is “open to abuse” by Government officials and “busybodies”.
Morag Driscoll, from the Law Society of Scotland, said that while the SNP’s policy aims were “admirable”, the plan could fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
She said: “The proposals could interfere with Article 8 of ECHR, the right to respect for private and family life, as there is scope for interference between the role of the ‘named person’ and the exercise of a parent’s rights and responsibilities.
“It could be interpreted as disproportionate state interference.”
Morag Driscoll, who is convener of the legal group’s Family Law Committee, added that it hoped “the Scottish Government and MSPs will be able to reflect on these points”.
Open to abuse
The Schoolhouse Home Education Association warned the legislation “is open to abuse and misinterpretation and many parents could fall foul of overzealous agents of the state or people who are just plain busybodies”.
And the Scottish Daily Express warned: “If this sinister aspect of the Bill were to be passed, the guardian could take official action if the child was not being raised in government-approved fashion.”
A Government spokeswoman said its Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill is powered by a desire to protect and promote children’s well-being.
She said the named person is likely to be someone the child already knows, such as a headteacher.
This person “will be a first point of contact if help is needed”, the spokeswoman added, and the legislation is “formalising what should already happen”.
“We are confident it is compliant with European law”, she commented.