Personal information about families will only be shared in exceptional circumstances in an overhauled Named Person scheme – a move described as a “major climbdown” for the Government.
Education Secretary John Swinney told the Scottish Parliament today that a new Bill amending the Named Person legislation would be brought forward, with implementation not planned until 2018.
The No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign described the announcement as a “major victory for parents”.
Last year, the UK Supreme Court unanimously struck down the central provisions of the Named Person scheme.
The Christian Institute spearheaded legal action that led to the ruling, successfully arguing that the legislation contravened human rights.
The Court stated that the data sharing provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 breached the right to a private and family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Work with Parliament
Today, John Swinney told MSPs that the Government remains “absolutely committed” to the Named Person scheme.
However they try to spin it, this is a major climbdown by the Scottish Government
Claiming that the Supreme Court had “provided an opportunity” to “revisit the information sharing provisions” in the Act, he said a new Bill with corresponding guidance would now be produced.
In new plans, sharing of personal information under the Named Person scheme will comply with existing law. Data will only be shared without parents’ consent in “exceptional circumstances”.
Swinney said he would seek to introduce the new Bill before the summer, and “work with Parliament” to implement it in 2018.
‘Fear and confusion’
A spokesman for NO2NP said: “However they try to spin it, this is a major climbdown by the Scottish Government.
“After two years of causing fear and confusion amongst parents, they are now conceding that they cannot lower the threshold for non-consensual disclosure of personal information on families.
“They are reverting to the existing threshold of ‘risk of harm’. It’s about time.
“It all goes to show what a complete waste of time and money it has been to try to create a system to allow officials to pass round confidential personal information on children and families almost at will.
“Mr Swinney says he is going to create a new statutory duty on Named Persons to comply with their existing statutory duties in the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act.
… a major victory for parents
“This is pointless and superfluous. It is little more than a face-saving exercise for the Scottish Government.”
The spokesman added: “Today’s climbdown is a recognition of the reality of the Supreme Court defeat.
“It is a major victory for parents and for those in the NO2NP campaign who brought the successful legal challenge.”