On this day: Named Person legislation passed by Holyrood
On 19 February 2014, the Scottish Parliament decided that every child in Scotland should have a ‘named person’ – a state official to oversee their ‘wellbeing’, i.e. happiness.
The scheme, which had been trialled in the Highlands, required the named person to record and share confidential information about children and parents.
The Christian Institute launched legal proceedings against the legislation, arguing that it contravened human rights.
The potential for overreach was huge. It would have given the state dangerous blanket powers to meddle in family life. One leaflet even claimed that the named person should ensure a child could watch what they want on TV.
“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world.”UK Supreme Court
After a lengthy legal battle five of the UK’s most senior judges unanimously ruled that the key aspects of the scheme were unlawful.
The Supreme Court ruling was a vindication for parents across Scotland.
The Court stated that the data-sharing provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act were in breach of the right to a private and family life.
It also ruled that it had to be made clear that any advice offered by a named person is entirely optional.
In one devastating line from the judgment, justices observed:
“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world.”
Yet, instead of withdrawing it immediately, the Scottish Government attempted to salvage something from the wreckage.
However, eventually, common sense prevailed. And in September 2019 Education Secretary John Swinney said the Government would repeal parts 4 and 5 of the Act, bringing the statutory scheme to a formal end.
It was a move widely welcomed across Scotland.