SNP accuses Alister Jack of 'snubbing' Holyrood committee
SNP MSP Emma Roddick has said it is "an absolute disgrace" that Scottish secretary Alister Jack will not appear before Holyrood's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee next week to answer questions on vetoing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRR).
Jack had been invited to "give further clarity" on why he chose to use Section 35 of the Scotland Act to prevent the legisaltion, which won the majority backing of MSPs last month, from being enacted.
However, he told the committee he would be unable to attend the meeting, which will also take evidence from social justice secretary Shona Robison, who led the bill through parliament, and that UK equalities minister Kemi Badenoch would be the more appropriate choice.
"It is an absolute disgrace that Alistair Jack is refusing to explain himself to the democratically elected parliament of Scotland about why he has chosen to veto a bill overwhelmingly passed by them," Roddick said.
“He clearly knows there is no grounds for a Section 35 Order and he has run out of ways to defend Westminster's full-frontal attack on devolution.
“It is beyond question that he should appear before the Scottish Parliament to explain his Tory government’s unprecedented attack on democracy.
“People across Scotland will be left with no other option than to conclude that the Secretary of State for Scotland is chicken."
As soon as the bill was passed in Holyrood the UK Government indicated it might take steps to prevent it passing into law over fears it would impact on the UK-wide Equality Act, a piece of legisaltion Holyrood has no powers to amend.
Jack announced earlier this week that he was going down the Section 35 route, which, under the terms of the Scotland Act, allows the UK Government to prevent legislation from receiving royal assent.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has accused Jack of acting like a "governor general" and launching a "full-frontal attack" on Scottish democracy, while Robison has said the Scottish secretary made no attempt to voice concerns about the bill during its long journey through parliament.
A Scotland Office source said Sturgeon's comments amounted to a "cheap personal attack" while the UK Government has insisted it "raised a number of concerns" about the bill before it was passed.