Named Person guidance delayed again in latest blow to Scot Govt

The Scottish Government has suffered another blow to its controversial Named Person scheme, as those tasked with reworking it admitted they are struggling.

Key data-sharing provisions in the original legislation were struck down by the Supreme Court in July 2016. In November 2017 ministers put forward a Bill to try to fix this, but MSPs demanded a “workable” code of practice before they would agree to progress the Bill.

Back in July, the development panel set up by John Swinney to create this code of practice admitted it wouldn’t be able to hit its September 2018 deadline, and asked for the date to be pushed back until later in the autumn.

‘Complicated’

Several months on, the group has said it is finding it “challenging” to make the guidance “simple, concise and accessible”.

Professor Ian Welsh, who chairs the panel, has written to Education Minister John Swinney to say it is proving difficult to provide the necessary safeguards “without making the draft code detailed and complicated”.

He added that an “overly complex code of practice would not be user-friendly and could inhibit good professional practice”.

‘Embarrassment’

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No to Named Persons campaign, said the letter to Mr Swinney “heaps embarrassment upon embarrassment for the Deputy First Minister”.

He said: “Rather than accepting defeat in the Supreme Court and leaving the named person to operate under the same information-sharing laws as everyone else, he insisted on trying to save face by bringing in a new bill.

“It was always a bad idea to layer new information laws on top of perfectly good existing laws.”

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