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Readers’ letters: Westminster is an outlier on issue of gender reform laws

Scottish Parliament. Image: Andrew Cowan/ Scottish Parliament/ PA Wire
Scottish Parliament. Image: Andrew Cowan/ Scottish Parliament/ PA Wire

Sir, – The Gender Recognition Reform Bill, as passed by Holyrood, has generated a lot of debate in Scotland.

Whichever side of the fence we sit on, we can agree that a majority of our politicians support the Bill, which is within the remit of our Parliament. They agree that it’s a sign of caring when minorities are protected.

So why have the Westminster Tories now blocked it? It is England that is the outlier here; Spain passed similar legislation on the same day as Scotland, as have many other forward-thinking countries (eg Belgium, Ireland and Norway).

No Holyrood Bill has ever been unilaterally blocked in this way. It will be contested, and quite possibly overturned. This action further inflames tensions between Holyrood and Westminster on the constitution, and will be seen by many as another example of Westminster disrespecting Scottish democracy.

Yet more evidence that Scotland needs to be in charge of its own affairs.

Willie Dunbar, Deeside Gardens, Aberdeen.

Enough is enough after vetoing of gender reform bill

Sir, – The UK Government has tonight (January 16) just sent a message to the Scottish people: “Your thoughts and votes count for nothing if we don’t agree with you. Do as we say.”

If our democratically-elected representatives can be overruled by another government in another country, it is time to say enough.

I don’t claim to know much about the rights and wrongs of the Bill in question and I have no axe to grind but I do know that it was probably the most debated and scrutinised piece of legislation and was voted for by 88 votes to 33.

Significantly all Labour and Green, most Lib Dems and some Tories voted for the Bill, while some in the SNP voted against it.

We simply must not tolerate this interference in our affairs. The extreme right-wing Tory party in power in Westminster has just decided to swing from the shoogly hook its Union hangs on. The Tories will now think they can do what they like with any legislation we pass. Scottish voters need to be ready to stand up for their country. Democracy is in peril.

Peter E Smith, Aigas, Beauly.

Treating us as if we’re second-class subjects

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack makes a statement in the House of Commons, London, confirming he will make an order, under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, to block reforms of the gender recognition process passed by Holyrood. Image: House of Commons/PA Wire

Sir, – When is enough enough? This Section 35 power grab from Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, to stop the much-debated Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRR) from getting royal assent, really sets a dangerous precedent.

It clearly shows that our devolved Parliament has no powers to act in future on Scottish matters that “impact” Westminster, such as independence.

I’m still waiting to hear what the impacts are on the other devolved nations in the Union, nor have I seen media reports of these nations protesting the Bill.

I’m worried that Westminster will take draconian actions when it feels like it, like perhaps shutting Holyrood down if people protest significantly. It certainly ignored our people’s wishes over Brexit.

What if we have 50-60% support for indy for one or two years? Surely that will be ignored too, as it would significantly impact the Union. Chilling really.

I wasn’t in favour of the GRR bill, but Bills can be changed or repealed, by us, the people of Scotland. We have to trust our democracy and not be treated like second-class subjects.

Ken Reid, Glenlogie House, Inchmarlo, Banchory.

Spurious claims on climate costs

Sir, – I write in response to letters (P&J, January 7 and 10) from climate ignorers. Some content seems skewed or false.

The Ellon resident recalls no weather events he has not seen before. Ask that of Ballater people about the Dee destruction in December 2015 and similar river levels in 2022, while 33% of Pakistan was decimated last year. His “drainage ditches” had no part in those events.

The Cambus o May bridge was badly damaged  by flooding in 2015.

Then the Linlithgow resident writes of the net- zero “obsession costing £108,000 per household”.

I wish to know the basis of the cost given.

My own quick checks (Office of Budget Responsibility) show a gross cost 33% and net cost 500% less than £108,000.

Quoting big numbers is a “crank trick”; why not include direct taxes per household at £772,000 to give perspective? I also find it offensive to read of “climate alarmists… on a gravy train” which seems an abuse of honest national bodies’ scientists.

A sane discussion of energy and climate is not about who wins a battle over “ban fossil fuels versus climate change not real”. It’s about balance and thoughtful actions on probabilities. Oil, gas and coal usage will exist for decades, but will be phased out. We cannot take fuels created over hundreds of millions of years, burn it all in 100 years and expect no effect on the Earth, but we can mitigate.

Simple habits that don’t waste energy are mitigation we can all do now. Then we can question the effects of our lifestyle and try to progress sustainably.

Enjoying the present and our grandchildren’s zest for life is great. Better still if in adulthood they recall that we did something.

Mike Hannan, Earlswells Place, Cults, Aberdeen.

Sunak can bring countries together

Prime minister Rishi Sunak toasts marshmallows with Sea Scouts
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak toasts marshmallows during a visit to the Sea scouts community group in Muirtown near Inverness, during a two-day visit to Scotland. Image: Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire

Sir, – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has only been in office a matter of weeks and is pouring money into Scotland to solve the many problems with our NHS and the Scottish economy.

He has come to Scotland to have a productive meeting with our First Minister and announced setting up of the two new green freeports in Scotland which will boost employment and bring much-needed business to Scotland.

I believe Rishi Sunak will establish a better relationship between Westminster and Holyrood as he has all the attributes and statesmanship to become a great prime minister.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Mugiemoss Road, Aberdeen.

Changes to lets may be for good

Sir, – Highland Council is currently running a consultation on proposed planning rules which will be applied when control areas legislation comes into force. The new regime will require all short-term let operators in Badenoch and Strathspey to have appropriate planning permission.

The proposals seem to indicate most smaller houses and flatted properties will not be granted permission for use as short-term lets, subject to various other provisions.

I fully support the intention of the proposed policy in rebalancing the needs of the community for affordable housing against business interests.

Highland Council is also seeking views on whether the same rules should be applied across the wider Highland Council region.

I think that is essential to avoid moving the same problems elsewhere in the Highlands.

The short-term let lobby has succeeded in getting proposals changed to suit its agenda at every stage of the control area legislative process and it will not stop now. Democracy at this level favours whoever shouts the loudest, so please shout out for communities across the Highlands.

Martin Johnson, Boat of Garten.

Raze JohnLewis and plant grass

Should the John Lewis building in Aberdeen be demolished? Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir, – Surely demolition of the old John Lewis building and sowing grass seed is the most viable option just now for the city?

Ralph Kindness.