Named Person Policy

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 8th September 2016.

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Photo of Adam Tomkins Adam Tomkins Conservative

I thank the Deputy First Minister for his statement and, indeed, for keeping Parliament appropriately informed during the recess.

The Deputy First Minister has identified that it was the information-sharing provisions of the named person scheme that the Supreme Court ruled unlawful in its judgment in July, and he has explained that he proposes to remedy those defects, even if he has said nothing about how he proposes to do that. I say to him that the issue is not just about thresholds; it is also about definition—in particular, the definition of “wellbeing”. The Supreme Court ruled that the relevant provisions were not in accordance with law, because it found that they lacked clarity and certainty. That lack of clarity and certainty goes to the heart of the question of wellbeing.

The Supreme Court said a lot more in its judgment. It did not focus on information sharing alone. The court stated that, even after the information-sharing provisions are sorted out, the named person scheme is still in danger of constituting a disproportionate, and therefore unlawful, interference with family life in many cases. In paragraph 100 of the judgment, the court states that the operation of the scheme is

“likely often to be disproportionate”— and that is even after the information-sharing provisions are rewritten so that they are in accordance with law. Why has the Deputy First Minister’s statement failed to address that aspect of the court’s ruling?