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Scottish Labour puts forward changes for Named Person scheme

The party has called on 16 to 18-year-olds to be removed from the child protection project.

By STV News

Published 07 Aug 2016.

Youngsters aged 16 to 18 should be removed from the Named Person scheme, Scottish Labour has suggested.

The call comes after the UK Supreme Court ruled the information sharing element of the policy contravenes Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Scottish Government now has just over a month to change it so it is not in breach of the ECHR.

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray has called on the education secretary John Swinney, who is the minister in charge of the scheme, to not just "tweak" it.

He wants more changes made, including removing 16 to 18-year-olds.

In a letter to Swinney, Gray said: "I do not believe that it is enough to simply tweak the act to avoid the ECHR breach and pretend that everything else with the law is fine.

"More is required in order to re-establish the trust and confidence of professionals, parents and families that the policy is proportionate, effective and deliverable.

He added: "You also have an opportunity here to show that you understand public concerns, and are listening to them, by going further than the court judgment requires.

"As you will have to amend the legislation you should use the opportunity to remove 16 to 18-year-olds from the scheme.

"The extension of the law to young people already considered adult enough to leave school, work, vote and marry seems disproportionate and, to many, absurd.

" It has simply provided ammunition for those who have sought to misrepresent the whole policy in order to undermine it.

"You will recall that Labour argued this point during the passage of the act but our amendment was voted down by the then-SNP majority.

"That was the wrong decision and has helped those who have tried to present the policy in as negative a light as possible to undermine confidence in its proportionality."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman defended the inclusion of 16, 17 and 18-year-olds in the scheme.

She said: "Clearly we are considering our detailed response to the Court ruling.

"However, the Named Person service is intended to provide a central point of contact for parents and children from birth up to 18, which is in line with United Nations legislation which classifies children as young people under the age of 18.

"While some families may not wish to use the service, the legislation passed by parliament would provide a legal guarantee of access to a named person to ensure the child and their parents/carers can receive appropriate support if and when they need it."

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: "Labour have completely lost the plot when it comes to their policy on named persons.

"They said in the Scottish election they wanted a pause, then they voted against a pause in a parliamentary debate and now they seem to want it again.

"In 2013, they supported the Conservative amendment to remove 16-18-year-olds from the named person scheme but they would not support the other amendments which would have removed the difficulties of the policy which they are now complaining about.

"They have come very late to this debate largely because they completely misread the public mood. The majority of the public want this policy scrapped and rightly so."

The Named Person scheme was due to be rolled out to all Scottish children from their birth to their 18th birthday on August 31.