AN SNP politician who campaigned for the right of women to access period products has backed down on supporting plans for them to be made universally available for free in Scotland.

Gillian Martin MSP, who previously supported the plans to provide free period products put forward by Labour's Monica Lennon, told the Herald on Sunday the need for legislation “may not be as pressing as we once thought it was.”

It comes after MSPs quizzed Lennon during the local government committee this week on the proposals which would see Scotland become the first country in the world to provide free tampons and sanitary towels universally to women.

Concerns were raised about the cost of the plan, which SNP MSPs suggested were inaccurate in Lennon's proposals.

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Lennon has estimated it would cost around £9m to implement, and has challenged the Government's suggestion that it would cost more than double this amount.

During the committee meeting this week, she said she did not know where the government's cost estimates had come from.

When asked if she still supported the provision of free period products, Martin said the government has worked with charities and third sector organisations to give products to those in need, and as such a change in the law may not be needed.

In 2016, Martin supported proposals by SNP members to introduce an 'S-card scheme' where by women who were unable to afford sanitary products would have a card allowing them free access in places such as GP surgeries and schools.

The MSP put her name to a motion which stated "every woman should have access to sanitary products as a right" and called for the consideration of a scheme similar to the C-card scheme used in England to allow people to access free condoms, to be applied to sanitary products.

Now, the politician claims that the provision of free products may no longer be needed in legislation, and said: “Getting a Members Bill through parliament isn’t easy and having incorrect financial assessments on the cost of delivery can mean that it won’t get government or parliamentary support. I understand that is what has happened in this case.

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“The fact of the matter is that that since people like myself, Women for Independence and Ms Lennon have been calling for action to address period poverty, the government have made great efforts to work with the third sector to provide period products to anyone who needs them. I see that in action in my constituency.

“This work, coupled with free provision in schools, colleges and universities, as well as many public buildings having free access has largely addressed the issue, so the need for legislation may not be as pressing as we once thought it was.”

Martin's SNP colleague, campaigner Julie Hepburn, said she was still in support of free period product provision, and added: " It is fundamentally about dignity and human rights.

"We have made some really good progress, but we still have more work to do. We know that the outcome we all want is the same, but we do need to figure out how to get there, and make sure we have a scheme that is going to be the best value for everyone,"

Labour MSP Lennon said it would be disappointing should opposition politicians choose to withdraw support for the bill, which is currently at stage one in the parliamentary process.

She added: "Across the UK and many other corners of the world, governments and citizens are understanding that access to period products should be a right, not a luxury. We are seeing legal and policy initiatives developing that are making period products more accessible and this will help tackle period poverty and allow period dignity for all.

"Pupils at primary and secondary schools in England are the latest beneficiary of this and it’s a real step change to hear a Tory Minister talk about period equality.

"That’s why it would be incredibly disappointing if SNP and Tory MSPs in Scotland take the unambiguous and conservative decision to block the Period Products Bill at Stage 1. If the clear general principles of the Bill are rejected, we will be telling the rest of the world we don’t believe that everyone who needs them should have the right to access free period products.

"The widespread support from organisations and individuals across Scotland and beyond has convinced me this Bill is necessary and is the right thing to do. Politicians must put our differences aside and give this Bill a chance to progress through Parliament."