I REFER to your front-page article on December 24, which states that Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, announced that the UK government would consider using powers to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill (“Sunak claims ‘reasonable’ for UK to probe gender reform bill”)

Excuse my stupidity, but I was under the impression that Scotland voted in a democratic referendum in 1997 to restore our Scottish Parliament. But Mr Jack has pointed to a Section 35 Order being used, which would allow him to lay an order vetoing the legislation.

Either Scotland has a devolved government, or it does not. If it does not have powers to make laws, then what use is Holyrood?

The right-wing dictatorship in Westminster must be prevented from interfering in our democratic right to pass legislation in our Scottish Parliament, and the only way this can be done is for Scotland to remove itself from under the jackboot of Westminster.

I would never have voted in a referendum in 1997 for a devolved Scottish Parliament if I had known it would not have any power.

By his action, Alister Jack and his Conservative henchmen are reducing Holyrood to nothing more than an expensive talking-shop.

This is not what we voted for, and we refuse to accept it.
Margaret Forbes, Blanefield

Put Gender Bill to public vote

HOLYROOD passes a very contentious Act to which the UK government feels it may have to come and rescue the Scottish people from their own parliament.

Suddenly lots of MSPs feel the need to announce this as an attack on Scotland’s “ democracy.” These self-same MSPs are actually themselves guilty of an unwarranted attack upon the rights of women and girls in Scotland.

Holyrood has become a disaster for Scotland. The problem for these MSPs is that the people of Scotland by and large probably agree.

The solution to all of this is for this issue to be put to the people of Scotland on October 19, 2023, in a referendum where the question is posed: “Do you agree with the provisions of the Gender Recognition Reform Act or not?”

That is the only reasonable way out of this impasse.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Ashamed by this dangerous bill

NEVER have I felt so ashamed and disappointed by our MSPs, those who voted in favour of the Gender Recognition Reforms in Holyrood.

This Bill sets up immense dangers for our young people, and for women. Already there are examples of male-to-female trans persons gaining access to women-only spaces, and assaulting biological females, despite claims by the Bill’s proponents that there is no danger.

The people of Scotland need to demonstrate to our so-called leaders that this proposed legislation is demonstrably dishonest, denying human biology, and hugely dangerous for youngsters and women. We must not stand by and let this go.

For the first time in my life I have started a petition to reverse this atrocious Bill, and anyone who wishes can find this petition under my name, Alasdair Fyfe, in the “Sum of Us” website, or alternatively through my Facebook page, again under my name.

There are already some 2,700 signatures, but we would need many more thousands for this to be effective.

Please let us stand together, and stand firm, and show clearly to our MSPs and First Minister, how sad and angry we are at this proposed legislation, and its consequences.
Alasdair H B Fyfe, Carmunnock, Glasgow

Reassurance over the indy vote

IF Allan Sutherland (Letters, December 23) is genuinely open-minded about Scotland becoming independent but unconvinced by the SNP’s performance in government, he might be reassured by this fact.

Should the Scottish people vote for independence, the SNP will have achieved its purpose and we would all then be able to vote for policies other than the current constitutional one, which is likely to result in a left-of-centre coalition.

Furthermore, all of Scotland’s political talent would be available at Holyrood as Westminster seats would no longer require to be filled.
David Bruce, Troon

Future of nuclear policy

JAPAN is to reverse its nuclear reactor phase-out. The ban was introduced after an underwater earthquake resulted in a tsunami wave which flooded the reactors and killed 15,500 people in Japan in 2011. Not one death has occurred because of radiation.

Japan now intends to maximise the use of existing nuclear reactors by restarting as many as possible, prolonging the life of old reactors and then developing next-generation reactors to replace them.

This will give Japan energy security and a carbon-free baseload energy. This news will upset the anti-nuclear brigade. What will upset them more is that more countries will follow suit.

France has 56 reactors and thus is less reliant on fossil fuels. The UK should now build these carbon-free reactors as fast as possible instead of relying on unreliable wind which over the last 12 months only provided 28.3 percent of our electricity.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow

An urgent matter for Swinney

JOHN Swinney’s recent Budget for Scotland has been described as bold by some commentators and it certainly has much to commend it. One point, however, seems to have had less comment than one might have expected.

That is the matter you described, in Saturday’s edition, as a “tax quirk” – the effect of the disparity in National Insurance contributions on the overall tax burden between earnings in Scotland over £43,662, up to £50,270 (“Budget ‘quirk’ means more Scots paying marginal tax rate of 54%”, The Herald, December 17).

If my understanding is correct, the effect of not applying the abatement in NIC, when added to application of the Scottish higher rate over the £43,662 threshold is, as your article points out, to impose an effective total rate (ie income tax plus NIC) of 54% compared with a rate of 32% elsewhere in the UK.

That is a difference of 22 percentage points or, if you prefer, a jump of 69% over the 32% rate. The effect on someone whose earnings manage to break the £43,000 barrier will surely be disproportionately severe, especially if the wage-earner is younger, with mortgage loan and other family commitments.

It’s odd that, apart from the extra two points in Scottish income tax, the main recipient of that extra take will be the National Insurance scheme. As your readers will know, none of that revenue is dedicated (“hypothecated” if you want to be technical) to any particular region of the UK or to any particular type of spending.

Would it not have been better simply to adjust the Scottish rate, and retain more control over where the proceeds might be spent? Nor does this appear to offer an incentive to job promotion, and much less to attracting talent into Scotland from other parts of the UK. If the anomaly was intentional, it appears wrong-headed. If a mistake, Mr Swinney should correct it as soon as he can.
Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh

This was a jolly gloomy read

WAS Christmas Eve’s Herald View (“A year of turbulence and chaos. So where is the leadership we desperately need?”) written by the Rev I M Jolly?

I ask because of its gloomy content particularly regarding political leadership. Nobody is claiming that everything is peachy, but in my view introducing the Scottish Child Payment, the first of its kind in the UK, and raising it to £25 a week is leadership. The Irish Government has acknowledged that it was inspired to introduce ‘baby bundles’ following the success of Scotland’s baby boxes.

I think most reasonable people accept that after a pandemic has ripped through it, the NHS will take a while to recover. The Herald might also want to take the view that it is not easy to do everything you want to do when you have one arm tied behind your back.
Ruth Marr, Stirling

A most curious definition

IN his otherwise well-meaning Christmas broadcast King Charles tried to reach out with, “whatever faith you have or whether you have none.”

Citizens with no interest in religion may define themselves more positively: rationalists, empiricists, Darwinists. The head of state is entitled to his private beliefs but is it inclusive to parade them in an official message where he describes the now non-religious majority by something they lack ?
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Edinburgh


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.