ALISTER Jack has once again dismissed pleas from Holyrood for more detail on why the UK Government issued a Section 35 order to block gender reform legislation in Scotland. 

The Scottish Secretary said it is up to ministers in Edinburgh how they wish to proceed with the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which he blocked from becoming law by using Section 35 of the Scotland Act.

Jack had a phone call with Scottish Government minister Shona Robison at the end of January, with minutes from the call published on Thursday.

The minutes say he acknowledged a memorandum of understanding around the use of Section 35 had not been followed.

Speaking as he visited the Halo Trust’s offices in Dumfriesshire, Jack said he disagreed with the minutes. 

He said: “They (the Scottish Government) may have released the readout of the minutes of the meeting, we haven’t released ours.

“But I have asked my office to write back and explain to them the bits we disagree on.

“I heard what she (Shona Robison) said, whatever point she was making, but I just simply did not agree with it.”

Jack said “the ball’s entirely in their court” on how the Scottish Government wishes to proceed with the Bill.

He said: “They can either drop it or they can amend it, or they can if they want to take us to court.

“What I do know is that the bill has adverse impacts on UK-wide legislation, and it’s for that reason that I looked at the legal advice and used Section 35.”

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The Scottish Secretary said it is not his role to suggest what amendments could be made to the Bill, but he and law officers would consider any amendments the Scottish Government wishes to make.

Jack was also asked about deputy Conservative party chairman Lee Anderson’s support for reintroducing the death penalty.

He said: “We’re not having the death penalty in this country – no political party in decades has been suggesting the death penalty.”

Asked about Anderson’s role in the party, he added: “I’m sure he’ll be an excellent deputy chairman, because he’s got bags of enthusiasm and he’ll get around the associations, make an impact, get the message out there.

“But he is not a member of the Government, he’s deputy chairman of the party and he’s allowed to have his own opinions.”