Alister Jack snubs ANOTHER Scottish Parliament committee over Section 35

Alister Jack has declined another invitation to the Scottish Parliament to give evidence on Section 35
Alister Jack has declined another invitation to the Scottish Parliament to give evidence on Section 35

ALISTER Jack has snubbed another Scottish Parliament committee after being invited to give evidence on blocking gender reform law.

The Secretary of State for Scotland has said he will not attend a meeting of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture committee on Thursday after being asked to give evidence on the constitutional implications of the UK Government’s decision to make a Section 35 order to block Scotland's gender reforms from becoming law. 

It comes after Jack - and subsequently Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch - rejected an invitation to the Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee on Tuesday.

He said in a letter to convener Clare Adamson: "In light of the First Minister’s view that this matter will "inevitably end up in court", I do not believe it would be appropriate to attend at this time."

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"However, the committee may wish to be aware that in response to her letter of 20 January, I discussed the UK Government’s position with Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, in a meeting this morning (Tuesday)."

The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Scottish Parliament before Christmas but Jack believes the legislation clashes with UK-wide equalities law.

The First Minister insisted on Monday Jack should "have the guts" to turn up and defend actioning Section 35 if he believes it is in "any way democratically defensible".

Sturgeon added that his rejection of the committee showed the "absence of confidence" the Tories have in their position.

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan branded the UK Government "gutless" and said the no-shows from ministers show "they have no answers".

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He said: "Well, there we have it - three invitations, two Tory ministers, and one feeble excuse for a gutless UK Government unwilling to face the Scottish Parliament, after launching a full-frontal attack on devolution.

"The Tories lack the courage to explain their undemocratic decisions to a Parliament they seem intent on wrecking. The level of contempt they are showing to the people of Scotland is disgraceful.

"All the Tories talk of working together and their claims that Scotland is part of a 'Union of equals' lie exposed as entirely disingenuous. Frankly, few people believed them on this a week ago but now we see they don't even believe it themselves.

"Fundamentally, they are no-shows at Holyrood because they have no answers. Their actions are an affront to Scottish democracy and yet another reason why Scotland must become independent to escape the Tories and Westminster control for good."