The Scottish Government has drawn a “veil of secrecy” around plans to salvage the embattled Named Person scheme, campaigners have said.
Last year, Education Secretary John Swinney ordered three months of “intense engagement” with key stakeholders, after the UK Supreme Court declared the scheme to be illegal.
Officials stated that Mr Swinney would return to Holyrood before the end of the year, to update MSPs on the “next steps”, but two months into 2017, there has still been no news from the Government.
Opponents of the plans, including the No to Named Persons campaign (NO2NP), were blocked from participating in the consultation. Due to this, NO2NP supporters filed a freedom of information request asking for minutes from the meetings – but their request was denied.
Spokesman for NO2NP, Simon Calvert, said: “The engagement period was really a sham consultation because Mr Swinney only wanted to deal with those who support the scheme and organisations mainly funded by the Government.
“He refused to engage with us even though we represent an important cross-section of Scottish society, huge numbers of parents and more than 35,000 people who signed our petition.
Difficult to salvage
“We have led the public discussion on this issue for two years – we even won an award for our campaign – yet he won’t meet with us.”
Commenting on the Government’s failure to outline its “next steps”, Mr Calvert added: “The three-month ‘engagement’ has long since ended. It looks like it could be more like six or seven months – March or April 2017 – before we hear anything.”
“It just shows how difficult they are finding it to salvage their Named Person plans.”
In July last year, judges at the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Named Person scheme – which sought to appoint a state guardian for every child in Scotland – breached human rights, and was out-with the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.
Despite the clear judgment against the Scottish Government, John Swinney spun the result as a victory and said the legislation only needed to be tweaked.
Simon Calvert added: “The Scottish Government initially indicated they planned a quick fix to make legislative amendments and proceed with the scheme, but that’s proved impossible – as we predicted.
“It would be better if they just scrapped it and stopped wasting any more time and money – they’ve already splashed out more than £60 million on it.”