Heated debate in Holyrood sees Tory bid to halt named person backfire
THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT'S Named Person legislation gained cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament as a Tory motion to 'pause' the scheme fell flat
During the education debate yesterday, MSPs voted 74 to 30 in support of an amendment which backed the scheme, which will see an individual guardian named as a single point of contact for all children in Scotland.
Education secretary John Swinney accepted that there were some concerns on behalf of parents which had to be considered, and agreed to "refresh the guidance provided to professionals and the communication of the policy to the public".
But Swinney also accused the Scottish Conservatives of "scaremongering" over the legislation, which is due to come into force in August. Versions of the named person scheme have already been in place in some councils for several years.
"The Conservatives fought a vitriolic campaign on this issue at the election. They disparaged a sound concept, well-researched and widely debated, and characterised it as something it is not." John Swinney
Swinney said: "The Conservatives fought a vitriolic campaign on this issue at the election. They disparaged a sound concept, well-researched and widely debated, and characterised it as something it is not."
The motion had been put forward by Liz Smith, education spokesperson for the Scottish Conservative party, which is now the largest party in opposition. Amended to support the legislation by the Scottish Government, the motion passed by a large majority, with Labour giving conditional backing to the scheme along with the Scottish Greens.
Smith was reported as saying that the original motion "was a constructive solution to stop the intrusive and unpopular named person in its tracks" and condemned the Liberal Democrats and Labour for moving to support the scheme.
Ross Greer, a Scottish Green MSP, said: "It is clear that the Scottish Government must embark on a campaign of building public confidence and better explaining what Named Person really means in practice. I am concerned that due to confusion and incorrect assertions, young people may no longer feel confident seeking confidential support and advice."
Newly-elected Tory MSP Adam Tomkins called the policy the "most illiberal law ever passed in the Scottish Parliament".
Campaign group No2NP, which opposes the legislation, accused Swinney of "aggression and intolerance" during the heated debate, in which the parliament's presiding officer intervened to call for calm.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV
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