Guardian bill set to face legal hurdles

Controversial plans to appoint a named guardian for every child in Scotland were facing a legal challenge immediately after being passed at Holyrood.

MSPs approved legislation which will mean every person up to the age of 18 will have a “named person” – such as a health worker or headteacher – assigned to look out for their welfare and wellbeing.

The move won the backing of the charity Children 1st, which said it strongly supported the measure.

But the Christian Institute vowed to mount a £30,000 challenge to the Children and Young People (Scotland) bill, which contains the measure.

Its director, Colin Hart, branded the named person policy a “dreadful extension of the state’s tentacles into family life”.

He said: “Churches, lawyers and parents opposed this. But we are faced with the arrogance of a politically correct pseudo elite intent on stamping their unrepresentative views on the people of Scotland.

“We have no option but to challenge this illegal law all the way.”

He also revealed the charity had contacted senior law officers in Edinburgh and London urging them to refer the matter to the UK Supreme Court to decide whether it is legal for the Scottish Parliament to enact the bill.

But Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, said appointing a named person would mean parents and children could get additional support.

“We know from our long experience of working with and for families that making sure they get the right support at the right time is key to enabling more children to thrive safely within their families,” she said.

“It’s been suggested that the named person might take rights away from parents – actually, it does the opposite. This legal provision gives parents and children rights to call on professionals when they need advice, info and support to help them.”

Conservatives had mounted a last-ditch attempt in Holyrood to limit the impact of the named person policy, so it would only apply to people aged under 16.

Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell told MSPs the intention of the policy was to ensure children and families have somewhere to go if they need an “extra bit of help” and that no one is left without support.

“We want to promote an early intervention and prevention approach, that is co-ordinated and prevents problems escalating into crisis,” she said.

Comment, Page 32

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