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SNP John Swinney to pause 'unlawful named person policy'

Ruth Davidson took to Twitter this morning to announce: "John Swinney has written to MSPs to say he's pausing Named Persons. In truth, he should scrap it and start again."

There is a link to the Scottish Conservatives site where the introduction is: "Education secretary John Swinney has confirmed the unlawful named person policy has been put on hold."

Swinney has said that the Scottish Government "will not commence any provisions" within parts of the legislation and that any changes would "require the agreement of the Scottish Parliament".

The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said: "This is government confirmation that named person is now paused.

"John Swinney should use this opportunity to drop the scheme altogether.

"It's a chance for the SNP to swallow its pride and do the right thing.

"Public support has plummeted and even Labour and the Liberal Democrats - who eagerly backed the proposals when it mattered - are having second thoughts.

"It's a policy that is flawed, unlawful and deeply unpopular among parents and those tasked with implementing it.

"Instead of telling families how to raise their children, the Scottish Government should admit it seriously over-reached and got this one wrong.

"It's time to go back to the drawing board and focus resources on those vulnerable and at-risk families who need support most."


The full text of the letter is below:


Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for
Education and Skills
John Swinney MSP
F/T: 0300 244 4000
E: dfmcse@gov.scot


Convener of the Education and Skills Committee
Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP


09 August 2016

Convener,

You will be aware that the Supreme Court's judgment on the Named Person provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 ("2014 Act") was handed down on 28 July 2016. As stated in my letter of 28 July, I am keen that Parliament is made aware of the Scottish Government position since receiving the judgement.

The Supreme Court judgment ruled that the principle of providing a named person for every child does not breach human rights and is compatible with EU law. It rejected the petitioners' argument that the legislation relates to reserved matters. However, it did rule that the information-sharing provisions of the 2014 Act are incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("ECHR").

As outlined in my letter of 28 July, what this means is that the Scottish Government is required to amend the information-sharing provisions in the 2014 Act to provide greater clarity about the basis on which information will be shared to ensure compliance with the ECHR. This needs to happen before we can commence those provisions and will require the agreement of the Scottish Parliament. Given the time required for Parliamentary and legal processes to achieve the required changes to the 2014 Act the Scottish Government will not commence any provisons within Part 4 (Provision of Named Persons) and Part 5 (Child's Plan) of the 2014 Act on 31 August 2016. In addition, the draft statutory guidance on these Parts of the 2014 Act will be revised. The Scottish Government will shortly lay a commencement amendment order to this effect.

The Scottish Government is working now to assess what that means for implementation and further legislation and speaking to key stakeholders on these issues; I will write to you again once this work has been carried out.

I am copying this letter to the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Convener and all Members of the Scottish Parliament.

JOHN SWINNEY

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