Scottish Conservative leadership hopeful Jackson Carlaw has given his backing to legislation aimed at ending the problem of period poverty.
Mr Carlaw, who is the favourite to be the party’s next leader, said Labour’s Monica Lennon “deserves our support” for her efforts to make Scotland the first country to provide free period products for all who need them.
While Conservative MSPs on Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee voted against the Labour MSP’s member’s Bill, Mr Carlaw said she had done “fantastic work” on the issue.
If the Tories backed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, it could leave just the SNP opposed to the legislation – despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon being a vocal supporter of gender equality.
Mr Carlaw revealed his support for the Bill, which aims to establish a universal right of access to products such as sanitary towels and tampons, in a Facebook Live question and answer session.
Asked if he would support Ms Lennon’s Bill, he said: “I will, actually. I think Monica Lennon has done a fantastic job in all of this.”
He said he was “not actually in some respects sure, given the progress that has already been made, that we need a legislative solution”.
But he said he would meet Ms Lennon if he was elected leader, adding: “I think that she has done the work behind this and deserves our support.”
MSPs at Holyrood are due to vote on whether or not to approve the general principles of the Bill later this month.
The Scottish Government already funds free period products in a number of settings including schools, universities and colleges.
Mr Carlaw is competing against fellow Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne to succeed Ruth Davidson as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
Voting is under way in the contest, with the new leader due to be announced on Friday February 14.