The Court of Sessions in Edinburgh has ruled that the Scottish Parliament is entitled to insist that a named person from outside the family is assigned to every child in Scotland.
In a written judgement issued in January, 10 weeks after a four-day judicial review hearing, Lord Pentland determined that promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children and young people in Scotland was a legitimate aim, and that it was important that a ‘named person’ from outside the family be responsible for the welfare of children. In his judgement, Lord Pentland said, ‘In the sphere of social policy and child welfare, the executive and legislature must be allowed a wide degree of latitude in deciding on the policies and measures they consider best suited to the conditions of modern society’.
Despite much public opposition, Lord Pentland dismissed concerns that the provisions for a named person in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 contained insufficient safeguards against unwarranted interference by the state, in the private and family lives of children and their parents. According to a statement by the Family Education Trust, one of the charities supporting parents in their case against the Named Persons ruling, Lord Pentland did not believe that a named person would ‘intrude inappropriately or to an excessive degree in the lives of children and young persons or that they will act in a manner likely to undermine family life’.
Last year, human rights lawyer, Aidan O’Neill QC, said the named person provisions appeared to be ‘predicated on the idea that the proper primary relationship that children will have for their well-being and development, nurturing and education is with the state rather than within their families and with their parents’. He questioned whether an indiscriminate appointment of such a person might not be lawful, on grounds that this could interfere with the right to respect for an individual family’s private life.
An appeal against the latest decision is set to be heard at the Inner House of the Court of Sessions in early June. (More information from the No to Named Person (No2NP) campaign website, at http://no2np.org.)