Jack concedes courts will decide whether UK government right about risk posed by Scottish gender bill

Christine Jardine (Lib Dem) says, as a Scottish woman and mother, she has heard the concerns about the bill. She has searched it for evidence that it does pose a risk. But she cannot find them. And some of the finest legal minds in the country have said the same. But she can see the part of the bill that guarantees the Equality Act. So can Jack point to the bit of the bill that does pose a risk?

Jack says he is trying to protect the vulnerable. He says legal opinion may be divided, but the government has taken its advice, saying there is a risk.

He says Nicola Sturgeon says she will take this to judicial review. He goes on:

So we will find out whether the court of opinion that I’ve been hearing is right or wrong when we go to the legal courts.

Key events

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UK government publishes document explaining why it is blocking Scottish gender recognition bill

The Government Equalities Office has now published the “statement of reasons” explaining why the UK government has issued a section 35 order to block the Scottish government’s gender recognition bill. It’s here.

Speaker urged to postpone section 35 emergency debate until MPs have had chance to read government’s arguments

Back in the Commons Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, raises a point of order. He says there is no point having an emergency debate on the section 35 order until the “statement of reasons”, the government document setting out why it is issuing a section 35 order, has been published. He says it is not out until later.

Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, says he laid the section 35 order at 12.34pm. He says it takes time for the Commons authorities to clear it, and it is not due out from them until 5pm. But he says he has arranged for the government to publish it on its website. It is being published now. He says it will be emailed to Murray and other spokespeople too.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, suggests the debate is postponed until MPs have had a chance to read it.

Rowena Mason

At the Institute for Government conference Penny Mordaunt (see 2.45pm) was followed by Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, who gave her own analysis of why the country is facing so many challenges.

She said “every major challenge comes down to one thing” – the government having “written off the talent, the potential and assets of most of our people in almost every part of Britain”.

She said it was a “social crime”, as “no part of Britain can succeed unless we grow ourselves in every part”.

She said the “waves of political upheaval” felt in the UK had been “the sound of people demanding to take charge of their own destiny”.

Nandy said Labour’s mission would be “ending a century of centralisation”, which she described as “at the heart of whether this country has a future”.

Instead of the government’s “vague” levelling up targets, she said Labour would look to establish an independent advisory council drawn from every part of the UK to monitor the government’s progress against metrics which deliver tangible outcomes.

These metrics will be based on principles including resilience, connectivity to education, training, work, healthcare, family and friends, sustainability, and wellbeing.

Commons speaker allows emergency debate on constitutional impact of section 35 decision

The Alister Jack statement is over. But Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster has just made an application for an emergency debate under standing order 24 on the democratic shortfall illustrated by the UK government’s rejection of the gender recognition bill.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker, said he was satisfied this was a legitimate subject for debate. There were no objections

That means the debate, which will last two hours, will go ahead this afternoon, starting after the 10-minute rule bill under way now.

Poorer people in UK feel system ‘rigged against them’, says Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, has given a damning assessment of the state of the UK, where she said many people feel things do not work for them and the poorest think the system is rigged against them, arguing that democracy and capitalism are hanging in the balance. My colleague Rowena Mason has the story here.

Dave Doogan (SNP) says Jack “hasn’t got a clue” on the substance of this debate, given by what he has been saying in this statement.

Jack concedes courts will decide whether UK government right about risk posed by Scottish gender bill

Christine Jardine (Lib Dem) says, as a Scottish woman and mother, she has heard the concerns about the bill. She has searched it for evidence that it does pose a risk. But she cannot find them. And some of the finest legal minds in the country have said the same. But she can see the part of the bill that guarantees the Equality Act. So can Jack point to the bit of the bill that does pose a risk?

Jack says he is trying to protect the vulnerable. He says legal opinion may be divided, but the government has taken its advice, saying there is a risk.

He says Nicola Sturgeon says she will take this to judicial review. He goes on:

So we will find out whether the court of opinion that I’ve been hearing is right or wrong when we go to the legal courts.

James Daly (Con) says if Jack has had advice that this legislation impinges on the rights of women and children, then he would be criticised for not acting.

Jack says “absolutely”.

Paul Bristow (Con) says that for the SNP this is just about “bashing the UK” and that for them the rights of women are just “collateral damage”.

Jonathan Gullis (Con) says the politicisation of the rights of girls and women by the SNP is “an abomination”.

Mhairi Black, the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, says the Scottish bill was the most consulted on in the parliament’s history. So the claim it was rushed is a “lie”, she says.

Ben Bradshaw (Lab) says Jack in his statement did not give a clear explanation as to why the Scottish bill undermines the Equality Act. It is not enough for Jack to say he will publish something. Can he explain it now? And what will the government do about foreign nationals who come to the UK from countries that have a form of self-recognition.

On the latter point, Jack says the equalities minister has done a written statement on this.

Jack says the statement of reasons explains how the Scottish bill would impact on two UK laws. He does not want to “bore everyone to death” by going through those reasons now, he says.

Caroline Johnson (Con) says the SNP rushed this bill through the Scottish parliament.

That generates shrieks of outrage from some SNP MPs. The Scottish government spent six years consulting on, preparing and passing the bill.

Jack says 347 bills have gone through the Scottish parliament, and this is the first time a section 35 order has been used.

Rachel Maclean (Con) says there is a clear risk that the Scottish bill could lead to Scottish trans women accessing single-sex spaces across the UK.

Jack says the government is concerned to protect women and girls. He repeats his claim that there is a risk of “bad faith actors” exploiting this law. (See 1.54pm.)

Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Lab) says the government opened up a debate on reforming the Gender Recognition Act five years ago, but did nothing about it. Now it is using this to attack the Scottish government. He says the claim that the UK government is motivated by equality concerns is a lie.

Jack says the Lady Haldane judgment from December (see 10.39am) is part of what has created a problem, as the UK government sees it.

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