I HOPE you will allow me to address some of the points raised by Andy Anderson in his Long Letter on April 21.

The reason that the United Kingdom government – via Mr Jack – could not raise a point of challenge to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill during its progress through Holyrood is because Section 35 of the Scotland 1998 specifically excludes any such challenge or negotiation UNTIL a bill passes in Holyrood (Section 35 (3) (a)), and a period of four weeks is allocated and allowed for challenge or renegotiation.

The UK Government did not utilise Section 33, because it recognises Holyrood’s competence to pass the bill, which is not the same as Holyrood having the power to pass it into legislation in a form that would affect UK-wide legislation within reserved matters.

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Lady Haldane ruled that possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) opens up the 2010 Equality Act to any and all men who have a GRC to circumvent the protected characteristic of sex, and have awarded a “legal sex”, legal for all purposes. A move towards self-ID, and at age 16 instead of 18 (both material changes to the existing 2004 Gender Recognition Act) would fatally undermine women’s and girls’ protections under the 2010 Act – which is UK-wide.

The UK Government chose to challenge, but not to negotiate because, I would imagine, since Holyrood refused to even look at many proposed and sensible amendments to the bill, the UK Government saw no point in entering into a situation where amendments had already been stonewalled. Add to this that no recommendation for self-ID was ever entered into the SNP manifesto, so little advance warning was given.

I fully agree with Mr Anderson that the Scottish Government are walking into a trap, but it is a trap entirely of their own making: they brought it out, laid it and sprung it to catch their own leg. Had the Scottish Government picked its ground more deftly, a challenge might have been unnecessary, albeit the bill would have had to undergo changes, with self-ID very likely having to be binned.

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If this goes all the way to the Supreme Court, and I think it must, the loss of half a million pounds is not the worst of its problems. If a ruling is given that this bill does affect UK-wide legislation, Section 35 may well be triggered thereafter on every occasion that a bill MIGHT affect UK-wide legislation – essentially, every time a bill is passed at Holyrood. Any bill could be halted, and any Scottish Government would have to be looking over its shoulder always.

No-one (except, perhaps, the Greens and a number of SNP MSPs and MPs) thought this was a wise move on the part of the Scottish Government. Albeit a precedent in devolution has been set, and some believe the Section 35 order should be challenged on that ground alone, the possibility of having that precedent ratified in the Supreme Court and passed into law was a risk that should never have been taken because such a ruling by the Supreme Court would, then, stand for every Holyrood piece of legislation that could conflict with UK-wide legislation, even if only marginally, and that would set a precedent, and a game, set and match never even envisioned by Westminster in this game of constitutional and legal chess.

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IN making the case for independence, Business for Scotland and its sister campaign organisation Believe in Scotland have long promoted “wellbeing economics”. Both are led by the highly respected economist, campaigner and chief executive Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp.

This form of economics is practised in Scandinavian countries, including Finland and Estonia along with New Zealand and many other small independent nations, all of whom are successful.

So what is wellbeing economics?

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It is in essence where economic growth encompasses quality of life, fairness, happiness and health. Since the focus of any national economy should be to serve the needs of its people, economic success should be more equally shared, resulting in better growth, employment and greater revenue to governments.

The immense resources and many talents of Scotland must be utilised fully for the benefit of all the people who live, love, work and play in Scotland. This is the very ethos of a wellbeing economy.

The disastrous economic impact of Brexit followed by the Covid pandemic has definitely shown that the UK Government’s austerity policy has failed. With economic growth non-existent, society is harmed, resulting in further poverty and susceptible to an economic crisis.

As MacIntyre-Kemp writes: “You cannot have a thriving economy without a thriving society and you cannot have a thriving society without a thriving economy.”

Grant Frazer

I MISREAD your front page on Sunday morning, which stated “comment from the Independence Minister Ruth Wishart”. We can but wish that that was true.

Kenneth Burnett