By Bill Heaney
Scottish National Party leader Stephen Flynn informed the House of Commons today that the Scottish Government had kept their manifesto promise to to pass the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill at Holyrood. He told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak he must recognise that it is a dangerous moment for devolution when both he and, indeed, the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, were now seeking to overturn a promise made between Scotland’s politicians and Scotland’s people.
Stephen Flynn, Rishi Sunak and Alister Jack clashed over gender legislation in the Commons.
The Prime Minister said: “Let me be crystal clear: the decision in this case is centred on the legislation’s consequences for reserved matters. This is laid out in the Scotland Act 1998, which established the Scottish Parliament and, at the time, it was supported by the SNP.
“His Transport Secretary has said that the Bill is unworkable, and the Education Secretary has said that it is not needed. Why does the Prime Minister still want the Bill?”
Wayne David, a Labour MP, raised the question of dangerous dogs and the fact that two people—a 10-year-old boy and a senior citizen—lost their lives after being attacked by dangerous dogs. Fatalities have also occurred in other parts of the country. It is clear that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is woefully inadequate. The Government have commissioned studies and debated the subject at length, but they have done nothing. My question is: when will the Government take action on the issue of dangerous dogs?”
The Prime Minister told Mr David he had raised “a very important case” and that he was very sorry to hear about the specific families involved.
He said: “We recognise that dog attacks can have horrific consequences, and I want to assure him that we take the issue incredibly seriously.
“That is why we have established a working group between police, local authorities and other key stakeholders to consider all aspects of tackling irresponsible dog ownership.
“That working group will make its recommendations later this year, and of course, the Government will respond promptly.”
Sarah Green, a LibDem MP, said that many of her constituents are struggling to keep up with their energy bills this winter.
She added: “When families fall behind, they are too often punished by being switched over to prepayment meters, which are more expensive do nothing to help their financial situation.
“Will the Prime Minister back our call to ban energy companies from forcibly installing prepayment meters and stop them switching smart meters over to prepayment meters remotely?”
But Mr Sounak countered: “At the turn of the year, the Government wrote to all unions, including the RCN, to invite them for frank, open, honest, two-way dialogue with the relevant Secretaries of State.
“I am pleased that those meetings are happening in a range of sectors, and I hope we can find a constructive way through this.”
He added: “Yet the Prime Minister continues to block the Scottish Parliament’s clear mandate to allow Scots to choose their own future.
“On Monday, he sent his MPs through the Lobby to deny Scottish workers the right to strike, despite overwhelming Scottish Parliament opposition.
“On Tuesday, he sent his Secretary of State for Scotland to block a Bill of the Scottish Parliament that was voted for by 70% of MSPs, including Tories. Does he still think that David Cameron’s ridiculous assertion holds any water?