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Block to gender bill sparks anger

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By Fiona Reid
Block to gender bill sparks anger

South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has attacked Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack over what she has described as his “full-frontal attack on democracy”.

Her comments follow Monday’s announcement by Mr Jack, who is Secretary of State for Scotland, that he intends to invoke Section 35 of the Scotland Act to block the Gender Reform Scotland Bill from becoming law.

Announcing the move, he said: “I have not taken this decision lightly. The Bill would have a significant impact on, amongst other things, GB-wide equalities matters in Scotland, England and Wales. I have concluded, therefore, that this is the necessary and correct course of action.

“If the Scottish Government chooses to bring an amended Bill back for reconsideration in the Scottish Parliament, I hope we can work together to find a constructive way forward that both respects devolution and the operation of UK Parliament legislation.”

But an incandescent Ms Harper today said: “In December, The Scottish Parliament – elected by the people of Scotland – passed the Gender Reform Scotland Bill to improve the lives of trans people here in Scotland. The UK Government’s Scottish Secretary and D&G MP, Alister Jack, has blocked this Bill. This is a full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters.

“Regardless of anyone’s views on the Gender Reform Scotland Bill, this attack on the Scottish Parliament shows the contempt the UK Government have for it. What will be next?”

She welcomed the First Minister’s announcement that the Government will defend the legislation, adding: “The Scottish Government will continue to support both our Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s trans community, and I hope all members of the Scottish Parliament – and in particular my South Scotland colleagues – will stand up for the Parliament and Government.”



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