SNP’s ‘sinister’ state guardian law faces legal action

Thu, 20 Feb 2014

SNP ministers are to face legal action over their controversial “named person” plans which were passed at Holyrood in a final vote yesterday.

The Christian Institute says the legislation contravenes human rights laws by interfering with family life, and has announced plans to launch a judicial review against it.

Colin Hart, Director of the Institute, said: “We have no option but to challenge this illegal law all the way.”

Family

He said: “This is a dreadful extension of the state’s tentacles into family life.”

“It is clear this bill breaches European rules through its attack on the family. This is Big Brother politics writ large. Ordinary Scots should be very afraid.”

Under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, the NHS would appoint a health worker to be the named person for every child up to the age of five, after which responsibility passes to local councils, with teachers likely to take over the role.

Consent

The state-employed named person would be able to share information with a wide range of public authorities and may intervene without parental consent.

The Christian Institute received a legal opinion from Aidan O’Neill QC which will form the basis of the appeal.

Mr O’Neill said the named person would have powers that “cut across” the rights of parents.

Private

He warned that the plans may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, which says the state should respect “private and family life”.

Conservative MSP Liz Smith tabled amendments to the Bill yesterday in order to reduce the scope of the named person plans – these were defeated by MSPs.

Smith said: “Forcing all young people to have a named person will, inevitably, dilute the resources available for our most vulnerable children.”

Concerns

The Royal College of Nursing has raised concerns about the scheme, as it would require the recruitment and training of 450 new health visitors.

The group warned that without extra funding the government “will be setting health visitors up to fail”, as there are not enough health visitors currently in place “to meet even the needs of their existing caseloads”.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill was passed by 103 votes to 0, with 15 abstentions after the final debate yesterday.

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