A TORY minister has been accused of holding the Scottish Parliament in contempt after he twice rejected a Holyrood committee’s pleas to answer questions from MSPs.

Steve Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said he didn’t have to face scrutiny in Edinburgh as the “UK Government is accountable to the UK Parliament”.

Embarrassingly, the minister was invited by the chair of the Holyrood Committee on Economy, Energy and Fair Work, Michelle Ballantyne – a Tory MSP.

She asked him to give evidence to their inquiry on the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, workers and the economy in Scotland.

It’s not as if there is any travel involved for Barclay, as social-distancing rules mean the meetings are taking place virtually.

The first invite came on May 26, when Ballantyne wrote: “The committee is currently holding virtual meetings so that should hopefully enable your participation.”

READ MORE: Jacob Rees-Mogg claims Scotland is just a 'district or area'

Barclay said no. In a letter on June 5, he replied “I am also conscious that the UK Government is accountable to the UK Parliament so need to proceed with this in mind.

“As such I do not intend to provide evidence to each of the devolved legislatures.”

Ballantyne wrote back on June 16. She said “The committee would highlight that UK Government ministers and Cabinet secretaries have previously appeared before Scottish Parliament committees on cross-cutting issues.

“Given that assistance is being given to businesses in Scotland by both governments, the committee believes that it is appropriate for a UK minister to appear before it on these issues.”

Ballantyne also told the Chief Secretary that she would “be grateful to receive a response within one week of the date of this letter”.

READ MORE: Johnson's slights serve to underline contrast between him and FM

He replied 13 days later to say: “Regarding your invitation, UK Government ministers are accountable to the UK Parliament for the operation of these schemes in all parts of the UK.

“For reasons of practicality and because these policies are in areas of reserved competence, I cannot agree to appear in front of the devolved legislatures to discuss their application in each nation separately.”

SNP MSP Colin Beattie said the Tory minister had shown “contempt for the Scottish Parliament”.

He added: “The Tories like to talk about a mutual respect agenda between parliaments but their words are constantly exposed as worthless with snubs like this.

“This is not about dragging UK ministers before the committee for the sake of it. It’s about the UK Government having sufficient respect for this committee and our parliament to give us the information we require to properly do our job.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Chief Secretary has appeared before the UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee to address the impact of coronavirus, and regularly holds meetings with the devolved administrations, including Scotland.”