MSPs have stalled the Scottish Government’s named person scheme, with a Holyrood committee taking the unusual decision not to let it past the first parliamentary stage.

Members of the education committee voted not to produce a Stage 1 report.

The rules of the parliament mean that for legislation to proceed there needs to be a committee report.

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Education Secretary John Swinney said the Government would “reflect” on the decision.

The scheme to appoint a named person, usually a teacher, doctor or health visitor, for every child has become one of the SNP Government’s most difficult proposals.

Although plans were approved by MSPs in 2014, a concerted oppos- ition, led by evangelical Christian groups, objected. They took the Government to court, arguing that the legislation would intrude on family life.

In July last year, judges at the Supreme Court said they had concerns about information sharing plans, and how compatible they might be with European Convention on Human Rights principles on privacy and a family life.

They said it was vital for ministers to publish a code of practice for professionals on how information about children should be shared.

However, Swinney has previously said that code cannot be produced until September 2018 “at the earliest”. MSPs are currently debating changes to the original legislation that should alter it in such a way that it could comply with the European judges’ decision.

But the education committee said it couldn’t produce a Stage 1 report, until they had seen the draft code of practice.

In a letter to the Education Sec- retary last week, committee convener and SNP MSP James Dornan said the majority of members “do not consider that they are able to make a decision on whether to recommend that the general principles of the Bill be approved at Stage 1 until the Scottish Government has provided the committee with an authoritative draft of the code”.

In response, Swinney warned the committee that not producing the report would “significantly delay” the implementation of the scheme.

He added that MSPs would “undermine stakeholder confidence ... and prolong the uncertainty many in the sector feel in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment”.

The committee, he argued, was “not being asked to approve the code”.

Swinney asked the committee to “signal its support for the general principles of the legislation” while continuing scrutiny of the code of practice “in parallel”.

The committee, however, rejected this approach by six votes to five.

Only SNP members were prepared to produce a report now.

The Green, Labour and Tory MSPs who sit on the committee all voted to “extend the period of Stage 1 scrutiny to provide the committee with the opportunity to scrutinise a draft code of practice alongside the Bill”.

Swinney said: “Obviously the Government will reflect on what the committee has to say, but the Government is committed to the named person policy – it’s a good policy to support the wellbeing of children and young people and that should be Parliament’s priority.”

LibDem committee member Tavish Scott said: “The committee want to get this right but John Swinney has made things worse.

“As the code of practice is integral to any change in the law, it must be properly assessed and that is what the committee will do once the government produces it.

“But no committee will be told what to do by a Government minister who throws his weight around. Parliament can get this right but John Swinney is not helping that at all.”

Scottish Tory member Liz Smith agreed: “The majority of the committee were very clear that it would be inappropriate to proceed to Stage 1 because it was not possible to determine whether the evidence taken supported the general principles of the Bill.

“This is a very unusual step for any committee to take but it is the right one.

“If we had progressed to Stage 1 we would have undermined the effective scrutiny of the committee system.”

Ross Greer, the Green member of the committee, said: “The mess made by the Scottish Government over this information sharing bill should not be seen as a reflection on the principles of the much needed named person scheme.

“This Bill can still proceed – it has not been rejected.”