ALISTER Jack has responded to questions sent to him by a Holyrood committee after he snubbed an invitation to the Scottish Parliament to explain the UK Government's decision to issue a Section 35 order. 

Last week, after the Scottish Secretary refused two invitations to give evidence at Holyrood's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice committee, the convener of the commitee, SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick, penned a letter to Jack which outlined the questions the committee sought answers to. 

There were 18 questions contained in the annex of the letter sent to Jack by FitzPatrick on January 25. 

They ranged from a simple clarification for the use of a Section 35 order to specific questions such as which part of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act would require changes to the operation of single-sex spaces. 

However, rather than answering the questions individually Jack has simply restated his call for the Scottish Parliament to change the legislation.  

He said: "After careful consideration of the relevant advice and policy implications, I have concluded that the Bill as it stands would make modifications of the law as it applies to reserved matters and would have an adverse effect on, amongst other things, the operation of GB-wide equality law.

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

"Section 35 requires the Secretary of State to identify the provisions in question, and to state the reasons for making the order to prevent the bill from proceeding to Royal Assent.

"I have been clear that Section 35 was the appropriate power to exercise due to the adverse effects of the modifications which the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill makes on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters." 

He continued: "As you know, I met with the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government on 24 January to discuss these matters. I subsequently wrote to the Cabinet Secretary to restate the UK Government’s position.

"I set out that I fully respect the Scottish Parliament’s ability to legislate within its competence. However, neither I nor the UK Government can ignore the adverse effects of the GRR Bill for reserved matters, particularly on the operation of GB-wide equalities legislation.

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"I also set out that it is for the Scottish Government to bring forward a bill that addresses the adverse effects as set out in the Statement of Reasons. The Scotland Act 1998 specifically provides for a reconsideration stage in the Scottish Parliament for these circumstances. I noted that the Scottish Government would need to address the adverse effects on the operation of reserved law in order to bring forward a revised bill.

"Should the Scottish Government do so, I have set out that I am content for my officials, and officials in the Office of the Advocate General, to provide a view on a revised bill ahead of it going to the Scottish Parliament.

"This would be without prejudice to the formal processes contained in the Scotland Act 1998 following a Bill’s completion of its passage through the Scottish Parliament."