ALISTER Jack has been accused of having a “brass neck” for claiming the Scottish Government is repeatedly trying to “undermine the devolution settlement”.
In a speech to the Tory Party conference in Manchester today, the Scottish Secretary will claim SNP ministers have tried to “provoke unnecessary disagreement” with the UK Government.
He claimed it was his “duty” to step in to block legislation which had been passed by the Scottish Parliament in recent months.
“We know that is how devolution works best and we know it is what the vast majority of Scots want and expect.
“Unfortunately, my view is not shared by the nationalists.
“Time and again they have sought to undermine the devolution settlement in order to provoke unnecessary disagreement between the two governments.”
Earlier this month, Scotland’s highest court heard a legal challenge by the Scottish against Jack’s decision to block gender reform legislation, which had been passed by Holyrood, with the use of Section 35 order for the first time.
Lady Haldane, the judge who presided over the case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, has said a judgment could take some time.
In June, Jack also blocked a key part of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme by refusing to grant a trade exemption for the recycling scheme.
Concerns have also been raised about repeated breaches of the Sewel Convention by the UK – which states Westminster will not normally legislate in devolved areas “without the consent” of the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking about the SNP, Jack will say: “In each case I felt it was my duty as Secretary of State for Scotland to step in.
“I will not stand by and allow Nationalist ministers to undermine or abuse the devolution settlement for their own political ends. Not now, not ever.”
SNP depute leader Keith Brown MSP said: “Alister Jack has some brass neck. As Secretary of State for Scotland, he should be going out of his way to enable the smooth running of devolution, but instead he seems to be doing everything he can to sabotage it.
“From blocking Holyrood’s ability to make laws for Scotland in devolved areas, playing political games with key environmental measures like the Deposit Return Scheme, and passing laws in breach of the Sewel Convention – we have seen an outright power-grab on Scotland’s devolved powers from this shameless Tory government.
“The Tories didn’t support devolution in the first place, and now they are doing everything they can to undermine it.
“It’s clear that the only way to protect Scotland’s democratically elected parliament and keep it out of the hands of Westminster is with the full powers of independence.”