CONTROVERSIAL plans to appoint a state guardian for every child in Scotland have been stopped in their tracks – 18 months after they should have been rolled out.

The troubled policy was dealt a blow in July when the Supreme Court ruled elements of the so-called Named Person scheme were unlawful.

After MSPs voted yesterday to block a bill designed to fix the scheme, opponents urged Mr Swinney to ditch the policy and accused the Deputy First Minister of “cack-handed” management.

In doing so, the Education Committee rejected a personal plea from the minister to back the key bill with a crucial stage one report.

The committee said they would withhold support until details of the rules set to be issued to teachers, health visitors and other named persons were published.

The Children and Young People (Information Sharing) bill was introduced by Mr Swinney after the Supreme Court ruled in July that elements of the 'Named Person' policy were unlawful.

It is designed to clarify the law on when and how confidential information about children can be shared, enabling ministers to press ahead with the policy.

But Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Liz Smith said that since the Supreme Court ruling ministers had only succeeded in making named person proposals more confusing.

She added: “This is a very unusual step for any committee to take but it is the right one.

"Frankly, this whole parliamentary process is a mess and the responsibility for that lies solely with the Scottish Government.

“It is little wonder that so many members of the public are telling John Swinney to cut his losses, ditch the bill and start again with a different policy.”

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said his party backed the scheme, but added: “John Swinney’s cack-handed incompetence has created a situation where his own policy is falling apart.

“Mr Swinney’s Bill as it stands is unworkable and deemed illegal – and now he has failed to convince the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee that he knows how to fix it.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it was “disappointed” by the committee’s decision, and ministers would consider the implications for the information sharing bill.

The committee scrutinising the policy – the Education and Skills Committee – wanted more details of how the scheme would work in practice but the Scottish Government said they could not produce them until an independent expert panel – set up by Mr Swinney – reports back in September 2018.

The committee’s refusal to endorse the bill was a direct snub for Mr Swinney whose wrote last Thursday warning members they risked undermining confidence in the named persons policy and derailing flagship childcare policy Girfec (Getting it Right for Every Child).

The decision appears to leave the minister and MSPs at an impasse, delaying named persons for at least another nine months. According to parliamentary rules, a law cannot proceed at Holyrood until the “lead committee” reports that it agrees the general principles of the bill. While the committee’s five SNP MSPs backed the bill, the six opposition members voted against.