Min­is­ter wants ‘bet­ter’ named per­son scheme

Cler­gy­man calls on po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences to be put aside

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

A Ruther­glen min­is­ter has called on MSPs of all par­ties to put aside po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences and work to­gether to cre­ate a “bet­ter” ver­sion of the Named Per­son scheme.

Rev Alis­tair May, of Stonelaw Church, made the com­ments on the day the UK Supreme Court up­held a chal­lenge to the law, say­ing parts of it did not com­ply with the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights (ECHR).

The re­sult has led to both op­po­nents and sup­port­ers of the law claim­ing vic­tory.

Crit­ics say judges have backed their view that the scheme breach rights to pri­vacy and a fam­ily life. But the SNP gov­ern­ment claim the rul­ing backs the spirit be­hind the law.

Writ­ing on his blog, If I May Pre­sume, Rev May wel­comed the rul­ing, adding: “Now one must hope our MSPs do what they are paid to do, put aside the par­ti­san shout­ing, and work to­gether to write a bet­ter (ver­sion of this) law.

“Get­ting the bal­ance right be­tween pro­tect­ing chil­dren at risk, and min­imis­ing state in­ter­fer­ence on fam­ily life is both vi­tal and dif­fi­cult - too vi­tal for pos­tur­ing or for folk to be dis­mis­sive either of those con­cerned about chil­dren at risk or of those with (what the court has seen as) le­git­i­mate fears of nanny state.

“I’m hope­ful we’ll end up hav­ing ‘Named Per­sons’ as valu­able safety nets help­ing to no­tice and be alert be­fore things go badly wrong, but other than that seen merely as a non-com­pul­sory re­source for fam­i­lies.”

The gov­ern­ment were given 42 days to amend the law so it com­plies with the ECHR.

De­spite the scheme be­ing de­scribed as “un­law­ful”, Ruther­glen MSP Clare Haughey wel­comed the rul­ing.

She said: “The Supreme Court has stated that the aim of the leg­is­la­tion, in pro­mot­ing and safe­guard­ing the well­be­ing of chil­dren and young peo­ple, is ‘un­ques­tion­ably le­git­i­mate and be­nign’. It makes clear that the prin­ci­ple of pro­vid­ing a named per­son to sup­port chil­dren and fam­i­lies does not breach hu­man rights

“The court has asked the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment for clar­ity about the shar­ing and re­ceiv­ing of in­for­ma­tion by pro­fes­sion­als in their named per­son role.

“The gov­ern­ment will un­der­take this work im­me­di­ately and par­lia­ment will be able to scru­ti­nise any re­fine­ment of the Act be­fore it is im­ple­mented.”

The Con­ser­va­tive Party had been op­po­nents of the law, and ac­cused ther SNP of “spin” when claim­ing vic­tory last week.

Adam Tomkins MSP, whose Glas­gow con­stituency cov­ers Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang, said: “Of course the aim of the named per­sons law is le­git­i­mate. That was never in ques­tion. It is the means that were doubted. And rightly so.

“Pri­mary leg­is­la­tion is clearly go­ing to be needed. And that leg­is­la­tion will have to en­tail a fun­da­men­tal re­think of the en­tire scheme. Oth­er­wise the op­er­a­tion of the Named Per­sons law will re­sult in end­less lit­i­ga­tion.”

Speak­ing for Labour, for­mer Ruther­glen MSP James Kelly, who now rep­re­sents Glas­gow, said: “The judge­ment shows that the SNP have made a com­plete mess of im­ple­ment­ing Named Per­son.

“The SNP gov­ern­ment will now have to go back to the Supreme Court to ex­plain how they will ad­dress the is­sues raised.

“If Named Per­son is to work it needs the full sup­port of par­ents, teach­ers and so­cial work or­gan­i­sa­tions. This clearly does not ex­ist just now. The process has now been halted and the SNP clearly have a lot of work to do to win peo­ple over.”

Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­cil­lor, Robert Brown said: “The present con­cept of the Named Per­son is too wide. The power of the Named Per­son to in­ter­vene is a bit too sweep­ing and the ar­range­ments to share in­for­ma­tion­be­tween pro­fes­sion­als is not prop­erly thrashed out.”

Hope Rev Alis­tair May hopes po­lit­i­cal par­ties can come to­gether to make the Named Per­son scheme work

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