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by Kirsteen Paterson
24 January 2023
Alister Jack rejects second invitation to explain Section 35 Order to MSPs

Alister Jack during a 2020 appearance in the Scottish Parliament

Alister Jack rejects second invitation to explain Section 35 Order to MSPs

Scotland secretary Alister Jack will not give evidence to a Holyrood committee on why he blocked Scottish gender recognition reforms, it has been confirmed.

MSPs have called on the UK Government to set out why Jack used a Section 35 Order to stop the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law. 

The order is allowed under the terms of the Scotland Act, but has never been used before. Opponents of the move, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, have accused the UK Government of denying Scottish democracy, with Sturgeon branding the veto a "full-frontal attack".

In an official letter, Jack said it would be not be "appropriate" for him to appear before the cross-party Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee on Thursday.

And he refused to elaborate on the Statement of Reasons published the day after the order was made.

The refusal follows an earlier letter turning down a similar invitation by the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee.

Jack's cabinet colleague Kemi Badenoch, the UK Government's equalities minister, has also turned down an invitation to appear before that panel.

Jack wrote: "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."

However, Jack said he had "discussed the UK Government's position" with social justice secretary Shona Robison in a meeting this morning.

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