JOHN Swinney has scrapped the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme.

The Deputy First Minister told MSPs that the plan to appoint a guardian for every under-18 in Scotland would now “not happen”.

The policy had already been partly rolled out across Scotland, in parts of Angus, Edinburgh, Fife, the Highlands and South Ayrshire.

Despite being passed unopposed in 2014 and welcomed by nearly every children’s charity in Scotland, there were fierce, well-funded campaigns against the legislation, with opponents describing the policy as a “snooper’s charter”.

Part of the SNP Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child framework, the scheme was supposed to be about helping parents access services and identifying children in need of protection.

But the Government has been struggling to fix the policy after judges ruled it unlawful back in 2016 following a legal challenge from a coalition of evangelical organisations.

The Supreme Court said the proposals around information sharing breached the right to privacy and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The five judges said the proposals meant confidential information about a young person could be disclosed to a “wide range of public authorities without either the child or young person or her parents being aware”.

Following the judgment, Swinney established an expert panel to find a way of making the named person scheme compatible with the ruling.

However, the panel said that it was impossible to write a workable code of practice on information sharing that was not so complex that it became too difficult to follow.

In his statement to Parliament, Swinney said: “The mandatory Named Person scheme for every child, underpinned by law, will now not happen. We will withdraw our Bill and repeal the relevant legislation.

“Instead, existing voluntary schemes that provide a point of contact for support will continue under current legal powers, where councils and health boards wish to provide them and parents wish to use them.”

Swinney added: “Only through continued investment in our children’s wellbeing will we achieve our vision of a prosperous country where everyone gets the chance to fulfil their potential and no-one is left behind.”

Scottish Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith called on Swinney to apologise.

She told MSPs: “I do not believe that any tears will be shed this afternoon by parents, teachers, health and social care professionals, by campaigners, and of course by the public, who have persistently told the SNP this was one of the most deeply unpopular, illiberal and unworkable policies of modern times.”

Swinney said: “I think it’s really important that the Government’s intention is to put in place measures that will support and enhance the well-being of children in our society.

“I will not apologise for trying to find the best way to try to do that.”

Labour’s Iain Gray described the process as a shambles.

“The principle of the Named Person scheme was a good one but it has been destroyed by the incompetence of successive SNP ministers.”

The EIS teaching union said Named Person was originally conceived as a “genuine attempt to ensure that the protection afforded to vulnerable and at-risk young people across Scotland was as robust as it could be, to ensure that children did not fall through cracks in the system, and to strengthen the support to those with needs requiring a multi-agency approach”.

It added: “While legislation is not always the best route to achieving such aims, we must not lose sight of the need that still exists to deliver on that ambition.”


BACKED by children’s charities including Aberlour and Barnardo’s, the Named Person scheme was supposed to provide safeguards for under-18s.

In place early in areas including the Highlands, Edinburgh, South Ayrshire and others, it was supposed to be rolled out to every region by the end of August 2016.

However, this target went unmet after the Supreme Court ruled that some of the proposals breached EU human rights laws on privacy and family life.

Judges said information sharing plans were not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

That ruling, made just one month before the target date, followed a challenge by the No To Named Persons (NO2NP) coalition, which comprises the Christian Institute, Care (Christian Action Research and Education), Tymes Trust and the Family Education Trust.

The subject of much media attention, the policy – part of the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child strategy – was supported by the Greens, with Labour backing it in principle. However, that party repeatedly hit “pause” on the plan to allow for changes, and the Tories were strongly opposed.

Critics branded it a “state snooper” scheme that would undermine parents and lead to incidents of children in serious need being lost amid the high caseload for the teachers, health visitors and more responsible for monitoring youngsters.

And in 2013, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council published the results of an online survey which it said had revealed “high levels of concern” from parents.

However, organisations like One Parent Families Scotland and Action For Children Scotland said it had been “misrepresented” by critics making “inaccurate and unjustified” statements.