Alister Jack claims UK will ‘not veto Holyrood Bills when it chooses’



ALISTER Jack has insisted the UK Government will not “veto Scottish Parliament legislation whenever it chooses” after hitting back at claims that Tory ministers are blocking gender recognition reforms over ideology.

Yesterday, the Scottish Secretary confirmed that his government will use a section 35 order of the Scotland Act to stop the reforms becoming law.

Under the reforms, backed by all Holyrood parties except the Tories, Scotland will be brought in line with other countries by removing the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis for transgender people to obtain a gender recognition certificate.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Jack told MPs that the plans will have “serious, advearse effects” on the UK-wide Equalities Act.

But he was unable to specify which parts of the Bill conflict with the Equalities Act.

Read More: UK Government confirms move to block Scotland’s gender reforms

He was also unable to say why the use of a gender recognition certificate under the current UK system set up in 2004 did not oppose the Equalities Act but the Scottish proposals do, given the affect of a certificate has not changed.

He said that “transgender people deserve our respect, our support and our understanding”, adding that “I have not taken this decision lightly”.

He added: “It is our assessment that the Bill would have a serious adverse impact, among other things, on the operation of the Equality Act 2010.

“Those adverse effects include impacts on the operation of single-sex clubs, associations and schools, and protections such as equal pay.

“The Government shares the concerns of many members of the public and civic society groups regarding the potential impact of the Bill on women and girls.”

Read More: Gender reform bill row will become about more than trans rights

He also raised concerns that the Bill “risks creating significant complications from having two different gender recognition regimes in the UK and allowing more fraudulent or bad faith applications”.

He said: “The Government is today publishing a full statement of reasons, alongside the order, which will set in full the adverse effects the Government is concerned about.

I would like to address the claims put forward by those who would seek to politicise this decision and claim that this is some kind of “constitutional outrage”.

Mr Jack claimed that the move is not about undermining democracy and devolution.

He said: “This is not about preventing the Scottish Parliament from legislating on devolved matters but about ensuring that we do not have legal frameworks in one part of the UK which have adverse effects on reserved matters.

Read More: Sturgeon: UK ministers using ‘trans people as political weapon’

“We should be clear that this is absolutely not about the UK Government being able to veto Scottish Parliament legislation whenever it chooses, as some have implied.

“The UK Government does all we can to respect the devolution settlement and to resolve disputes.”

He said that “it is open to the Scottish Government to bring back an amended Bill for reconsideration in the Scottish Parliament”.

SNP MSP Hannah Bardell said the Tory government “make me sick to my stomach”.

She said: “The Secretary of State is going to come to this house and trample all over trans rights, over Scottish democracy and over equality.

He should at the very least do his homework because he clearly knows as little about this Bill as he does about devolution.

“Are he and his government so scared of democracy and equality that he really thinks it is justifiable to use one of the most marginalised groups in our society as political fodder for their anti-trans, anti-equality and anti-democratic endeavours.”

In response, Mr Jack said that his decision was “nothing to do with trampling over transgender rights”.





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