SNP named person scheme delayed for another year
Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed a second pause in the SNP's Named Person scheme.
In a significant U-turn, he revealed the scheme would be stalled while the powers of the role are watered down.
It follows a damning Supreme Court ruling that parts of the original plan breached parents' human rights.
Mr Swinney attempted to put a brave face on the fundamental overhaul insisting he remained "absolutely committed" to the scheme.
However they try to spin it, this is a major climbdown by the Scottish Government
Simon Calvert NO2NP spokesman
But it means a higher threshold at which the guardians can interfere in family life and the information they are allowed to share without parents' consent.
Campaigners said information sharing across public bodies was central to the role and it would now bear little resemblance to the SNP's original intention.
The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) group, which pursued the successful legal action, described Mr Swinney's reforms as "little more than a face-saving exercise".
Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed a second pause in the SNP's Named Person scheme
Spokesman Simon Calvert said: "However they try to spin it, this is a major climbdown by the Scottish Government.
"After two years of causing fear and confusion amongst parents, they are now conceding that they cannot lower the threshold for non-consensual disclosure of personal information on families."
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New legislation will be brought forward by the Scottish Government to replace unlawful parts of the Children and Young People Scotland Act of 2014.
SNP ministers want to introduce a named person for every child under 18, with health visitors assuming the role for preschool children and teachers and councils for older youngsters.
But the Supreme Court judgement forced them to halt its roll-out in August last year.
In September, Mr Swinney told MSPs he hoped a revised version could come into force a year on from that but that has now been pushed back until 2018.
He said said the proposed new laws would be brought before Holyrood before the end of June in a bid to have it rolled out the following year.
Scotland's Holyrood parliament
Mr Swinney said Named Persons would have to "consider whether sharing information would promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person".
But they will also have to ensure up if this is compatible with existing data-protection, human rights and confidentiality laws.
This effectively means information will only be shared if child is at risk or suffering significant harm.
Mr Swinney said: "I envisage that information will be shared with consent in all but the exceptional circumstances.
"Any exceptional circumstance would have to be enabled for information to be shared without consent as long it was provided for in those legislative instruments."
Mr Swinney insisted his government had "listened to parents" and was responding to calls from families for more support.
"The approach I have set out today seeks to bring consistency, clarity and coherence to the practice of sharing information about children and young people's wellbeing across Scotland," he said.
The government has repeatedly argued the scheme was needed to identify at-risk children more quickly.
The Supreme Court judgement forced the SNPs to halt its roll-out in August last year Nicola Sturgeon's top tweets Sun, July 24, 2016
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Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland
But the UK Supreme Court ruled that elements breached the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects parents' ability to raise their children as they see fit.
In particular, the UK's highest court objected to the ability of named persons to share confidential information with a wide range of public bodies without having to obtain the consent of children or parents.
The judges ruled it was "disproportionate" that the state guardians could do this merely if they thought it would help them to monitor the child's needs.
Although they found the policy's intentions were "benign", they noted that the "first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is get at the children".
Scottish Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said that every opinion poll had shown the service was not wanted.
She added: “This is a scheme that has run aground and the fact the delay is now at two years shows exactly that.
"Rather than muddy the waters even further, John Swinney should scrap this policy once and for all."
Scottish Labour's Iain Gray said Mr Swinney had "done nothing to restore much-needed trust", repeating calls for 16 and 17-year-olds to be exempted.