Named Person Policy

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

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

I thank the Deputy First Minister for the prior sight of his statement.

Can the Deputy First Minister provide a categorical assurance that any local authority that was implementing the named person policy prior to what would have been statutory implementation on 31 August and which was acting under Scottish Government guidance was acting lawfully in terms of its data-sharing practices?

Secondly, notwithstanding the fact that the Scottish Government is not obliged to provide its legal advice, what evidence from the information commissioner and other advisers made the Scottish Government so sure at the time of the consideration of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill that the data-sharing aspect of the named person policy would be ruled compatible with article 8 of the ECHR, given that many legal experts, including the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and Professor Norrie, and MSPs on the Education and Culture Committee raised serious concerns?

Thirdly, given that the Deputy First Minister is urging local authorities to proceed with developing the policy—which they cannot actually do because they do not know what it is—does he believe that the Scottish Government made a mistake by moving away from the term “welfare”, which is defined in statute, to the term “wellbeing”, which has no clear definition? As a result of that move, the possible threshold for intervention has been lowered from significant risk of harm to any minor concern about the child.

Finally, does the Deputy First Minister agree that the former convener of the Education and Culture Committee, when he was challenged by my colleague Alex Johnstone to define the term “wellbeing”, was entirely wrong when he said that that was “a ridiculous intervention” and that nobody knew what they were talking about?