As I was one of the people who heard some concerns about the Named Person issue which has been in the press recently, I am pleased Michael Russell has issued the following text to explain what is involved and to counter some of the concerns being aired.
The issue of the named person has been raised on a few doorsteps in the last week. This is a result of a campaign being pushed by the Tories which seeks to exploit a current petition to the UK Supreme Court about the matter.
This follows on two court cases in Scotland in which a small number of people (from a Christian fundamentalist background) attempted to have the legislation overturned. The cases were thrown out by Scottish judges in their entirety and we expect the same to happen in the UK Supreme Court.
The key facts about the named person legislation are as follows;
* The legislation does NOT impose a “State Guardian” on every child.
* Most parents and families will never know that there is a “named person” for their children.
* The named person legislation has been operating in pilot areas, including Highland council, for several years and has not resulted in any difficulties regarding confidentiality, intervention or interference.
* The arrangements in the legislation largely formalise existing good practice and are supported by virtually all children’s charities, the police, social workers and many others.
* The names person activity is NOT in addition to other duties but merely recognises a role that has been undertaken informally before. For children under school age it is a Health Visitor and for those of school age it is a Head Teacher.
* The legislation gives “named persons” no greater powers than they already have under existing laws but will help the various agencies to work more constructively together and with a lighter touch when it is needed.
Those opposing the legislation consistently misrepresent it. Nothing they have alleged about the legislation in their court case has turned out to be true and all their arguments have lost in court.
The Tories are exploiting the situation and their suggestion that the “named person” arrangements take money away from deprived children is utterly wrong. In addition problems for children don’t just take place in “deprived neighbourhoods” as Conservative candidate in Argyll & Bute recently claimed at a Hustings.
The existence of a “named person” is likely to help in rare but important instances and as a result it will help children who might not otherwise get assistance at a crucial time.
Only the Tories opposed the legislation in the Scottish Parliament – all other parties supported it. Labour’s present criticism was not made at the time and is further evidence of their opportunism.
I would be happy to discuss this with any activist or voter.