JOANNA Cherry wrote in her column (Alister Jack’s gender reform block was no attack on devolution, Dec 15) that parliamentary committees should hear evidence from all sides of the debate when considering a bill. I completely agree.

That’s what the Equalities Committee did with the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, hearing from a wide range of witnesses, including supporters and opponents of the bill.

Alister Jack did not do that before vetoing the bill. Most of the submissions he considered were from opponents. In her judgment on the use of Section 35, Lady Haldane ruled there was no obligation on Mr Jack to consider balanced evidence.

She noted: “The timeframe did not permit an extensive information-gathering exercise as had been carried out by the Scottish Parliament before the introduction of the bill.”

The National: Joanna Cherry urged the Prime Minister to take urgent action against trans rights campaigners who have used ‘violence and intimidation’ against women (PA)

Joanna Cherry wrote that Lady Haldane found that Jack’s decision was “perfectly rational”. Lady Haldane did not in fact use those words. She did, however, note of his decision: “Others may have reached a different conclusion on the same material. This is plainly a situation where another decision might have been made with equal propriety.”

The bar set here is low. To pass a bill requires taking a full range of evidence and then careful consideration and public debate on the range of possible responses. To veto the same bill requires neither of those things.

Liberal democracies around the world have introduced legislation similar to the GRR Bill. The Conservative UK government under Theresa May committed to do so for England. It was the lurch to the right under Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak that resulted in a change of policy, which has now been imposed here too.

Tim Hopkins

Director, Equality Network

THE UK Government has evolved into little other than an elected dictatorship, where a substantial overall government majority is considered necessary for strong and stable government.

UK governments regularly hold elections if they don’t have this “working majority” that, in Westminster’s version of democracy, must be large enough to outnumber the other parties and potential dissidents in the governing party.

That is why Westminster gave the devolved parliaments voting systems that would not deliver an overall majority for any party.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Holyrood Parliament is a devolved arm of the Westminster Parliament and it is for Westminster to decide on the limits of the powers that it devolves to others.

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The Supreme Court ruling means that the people of Scotland have not had a parliament of their own since the Union of Parliaments.

Westminster also legislates on the powers of the courts, so if the government of the day doesn’t like the rulings being made by the courts, it will use its “working majority” to amend the law as it sees fit.

There is no point in the Scottish Government taking action through the UK court system where the Scottish Parliament and the Supreme Court were created by the supreme Westminster Parliament.

Legal advice is needed on how the people of Scotland can reconvene their own Scottish Parliament.

John Jamieson

South Queensferry

KIRSTY Strickland’s FMQs Sketch (Why FMQs is in desperate need of a Christmas special, Dec 15), highlighting the never less than spellbinding interrogatory skills of Messrs Ross and Sarwar when dealing with Scottish Government ministers has given me something to look forward to.

The leader of the blue half of Holyrood’s Tory parties, Douglas Ross, voiced his annoyance with the Scottish Government regarding NHS waiting times, etc.

I now eagerly anticipate Ross – admittedly as one of the busiest people in British politics, juggling as he does, three jobs – carrying his anger into Westminster and, wearing his British MP hat, giving PM Sunak a verbal roasting regarding current NHS England data.

The National: Douglas Ross

I refer to the warning from the ambulance service in England that people needing emergency care are being put at risk due to dangerous delays caused by overcrowding in wards, which results in long waits for patients at A&E. Growing numbers of those arriving in ambulances are then stuck outside.

According to NHS England, it should take 15 minutes for patients to be handed over to A&E staff. However, last week, more than 80% waited considerably longer than that.

English NHS data has also revealed that the waiting time for an autism diagnosis in England is at 300 days, up 53% from a year ago and exceeding the set target of 91 days. The National Autistic Society described such wait times as “appalling”. Oh and by the way, I note the current waiting list for hospital treatment on the English NHS stands at around eight million.

Malcolm Cordell

Brought Ferry

ON picking up my Saturday edition of The National, my eyes were immediately drawn to the bottom of the front page announcing that the SNP had selected a candidate to take on Angus Brendan MacNeil in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

I really think you should have said the SNP had chosen a candidate to hand the seat to Scottish Labour.

I am at a loss as to why we just don’t stand in that seat and let ABM try to win it for an indy party. This is typical of the attitude of the SNP to common sense. It is little wonder we are in the state we are in. To me it does not matter about the stance ABM is taking. I just want as many indy-supporting MPs as possible.

I don’t care much for Westminster and think Scottish MPs are wasting their time down there but there is no sense in throwing a seat away.

The totally inept Labour Party must be laughing themselves silly. I would hope someone high up gets a grip of this situation pronto as the last thing we need is to look any more out of touch than we are at present.

Old John