SHADOW Scotland minister Michael Shanks has indicated a future Labour government would not repeal the Section 35 order blocking the gender reform bill – even though his party backed the legislation at Holyrood.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said it was important to recognise there are specific areas reserved to the UK Government” and that it is important to challenge if devolved legislation “infringes on that in any way”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, he also said Scotland does need more migrants - but that powers on immigration should not be devolved.

Last week the Court of Session ruled that Scottish Secretary Alister Jack could use a Section 35 order to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which was passed by two-thirds of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in December 2022.

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Asked whether the Scottish Government should appeal the decision, Shanks said he believed both governments should “get round the table and pass a workable bill”.

He said: “I think a lot of public money has been spent on this already, I think what would be better rather than challenging it in the court again – it was a very clear decision from the court, there wasn’t very much ambiguity at all there.

“I don’t know, I’m not a legal expert, I don’t know what the grounds might be for appealing, but I think it would be better to now spend time and crucially public money on just making this bill work for everybody because everybody has lost out in this whole process, the safety of women has lost out and trans people are no better off than they were at the start of this process.”

Shanks was then asked if he would be in favour - if Labour win the General Election – of the next Labour Scottish secretary removing the Section 35 and allowing the legislation to go ahead.

He said: “I think it is important as part of the devolution process that we recognise that there were specific things that were reserved to the UK Government and that legally it’s important if devolved legislation infringes on that in any way that there is a challenge to that.

“The way I would see a future Scottish Labour government working with a UK Labour government is working together on these things to prevent it ever getting to the point where we need to take it to any court because people should be able to make mature decisions and say this is how this legislation will work in practice, let’s deliver it.

“They shouldn’t be needed these legal challenges, which is why it is the first time it has ever been used.”

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Shanks was also quizzed on Labour’s approach to immigration after Rishi Sunak’s controversial Rwanda bill passed the first vote in the Commons.

Asked if a future Labour government would allow devolution of immigration powers, he said: “Certainly in the past for example when Labour government in the UK and in Scotland, there were particular exceptions around immigration policies in Scotland where numbers were able to travel on particular visas to Scotland.

“I think Scotland absolutely does have a need for more migrants.”

But he added: “I think the difference is the Scottish Parliament could come with a proposal within the UK framework.

“I think immigration is one of those areas that most people would accept makes sense to be made across the whole of the UK because we have one border across the whole of the UK.

“I don’t think it is about devolving the power, but I think it is a conversation that is worth having.”