A UK Government Cabinet minister has refused official requests to appear at a Holyrood committee despite four invites in two years.

Theresa Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary had not responded to the first requests prompting a fifth invite, which she declined.

Ms Coffey said she was accountable to the UK Parliament and would not be attending but DWP officials had and could do again.

She said: “Thank you for your letters. As you note, social security is an area of split competency with The Scotland Act 2016 devolving a number of social security powers to the Scottish Government.  “Where matters are devolved Scottish Ministers are accountable to the Scottish Parliament and are best placed to speak on these issues.  In relation to reserved matters, it is for the UK Parliament to undertake this role in holding UK Ministers to account.”

The Social Security Committee deliberated on whether to issue an other invite and some members said it was “disrespectful” and others were angry at the refusal.

SNP MSP Shona Robsion said it was it was “extraordinary” she said “if we wanted an official we could ask for an official.

Keith Brown SNP MSP said it was futile to write another letter and should ask the Committee of convenors to intervene as others had the same problem with UK ministers.

Rachel Hamilton, Conservative MSP on the committee, however, took a different view.

She said the minister said she was happy to discuss matters and had offered officials to attend.

She said:  “I’m not sure what everyone is getting their knickers in a twist about.”

Glasgow Times:

Bob Doris, committee convenor had said in a letter back to Ms Coffey: “I find this extremely disappointing, especially as the Committee has offered to accommodate a date that suits you.

"Our Committee members wishes to be clear that we find it entirely unacceptable that it has been over two years since a UK minister has been in attendance. This has also included the failure of UK Government minsters to give evidence to various Committee inquiries.”