THE Scottish Government has bowed to growing pressure at Holyrood and agreed to back Labour legislation intended to end period poverty.

After weeks of arguing over costs and raising fears of cross-border ‘tampon raids’, SNP ministers finally swung behind a Bill promoted by Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon.

Only the SNP and Tories had opposed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.

However last week, Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said he would now back it when it came to a vote on its general principles next week, leaving the SNP isolated.

The Bill will put a duty on the Scottish Government to ensure free period products are available on a universal basis.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said it would cost up to £24m a year instead of Ms Lennon’s £10m estimate.

She also said the Government was doing enough without legislation, including ensuring every school, college and university provided free sanitary products.

But in a last-minute climbdown, she said the government would now vote for Ms Lennon’s legislation at Stage One, despite “significant and very real concerns about the practicality and deliverability of the Bill in its current form”.

The legislation can be amended at its second and third stages.

Ms Campbell said: “Scotland was the first country in the world to make period products available for free in schools and colleges and to support access to period products for those on low incomes. Due to our world-leading action, over half a million people have access to free period products for the first time ever.

“We have never wanted to wait for legislation to do more. That is why we will take action now to embed existing provisions in schools in law. We will also explore how we can support people with medical issues such as endometriosis to access products.

“As signal of our good faith and in recognition of the broad consensus about general policy objectives, we will support the Bill at this stage.

“We will then seek to work with others in a genuine effort to reach agreement on amendments that will allay our concerns and enable us to lodge a robust Financial Resolution.

“I hope other parties will be prepared to enter into that work in the same constructive spirit that we will.

“Scotland is leading the world in improving period dignity and I am determined to continue that work in a way that will improve the lives of people across Scotland.”

Ms Lennon said it was victory for all the campaigners and activists who had backed the proposal, and thanked Ms Campbell and the other opposition parties.

She said: “Scotland has already taken important steps towards improving access to period products and tackling stigma.

“Legislation will guarantee rights, ensure that current initiatives continue in future on a universal basis, and will help us achieve period dignity for all.

“We have the opportunity to make a lasting difference and I hope every MSP will back the Bill at Stage 1 and continue to listen to those who would benefit from this ground-breaking legislation.”