Land Reform 10 years on

Last week saw the 10th anniversary of the Stage 1 debate on the Land Reform (Scotland) bill in the Scottish Parliament. It is interesting to note some of the statements made by MSPs at the time. Column numbers are in brackets.

Roseanna Cunningham MSP

There is a scandal about land ownership in Scotland, which goes back to when land was first enclosed and treated as though it belonged to an individual, rather than to communities. The ownership of great tracts of land by individuals is a concept that ordinary Scots have never accepted. (7388)

I have made no secret of my view that the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill simply does not go far enough to make the changes that are needed. The bill says nothing about empowering communities short of outright purchase, but it is important to recognise that not all communities will wish to buy. The right to register an interest to buy, which is what the bill is all about, will have minimal impact. Only about 1.5 per cent of the highland land that was transferred last year would have been affected by the provisions in the bill. Andy Wightman described the measures as “modest but important.” That is a fair assessment, but the minister, more tellingly, conceded that he did not see the bill as being about the significant redistribution of land. What a pity that the opportunity has not been taken to make it about exactly that. (7391)

We should give tenant farmers a right to buy and, more to the point, we should introduce a right-to-buy trigger on transfers of land, rather than just on the sale of land. (7392)

The law of trusts and the law of inheritance must be examined. Those laws are complex, and issues on the European convention on human rights will be raised, but they must be addressed if we are to make the change that we need to make in Scotland. (7392)

Richard Lochhead MSP

Nothing is more important to our rural communities than land use and ownership. The issue is important for Scotland because, unfortunately, land ownership is at the heart of the power structures of 21st century Scotland. (7420)

We must tackle the fact that 1,500 landowners own the majority of Scotland’s land area. Indeed, 10 per cent of Scotland is owned by 18 individuals. (7421)

I hope that we do not have to wait for another 100 years – as Labour members keep reminding us – for really radical proposals, because the proposals that are before us will not make much of an impact on land ownership in Scotland. (7421)

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill is an extremely important bill for the Parliament but, at stage 2, we must make it more radical. We will be subjected to intimidation and scaremongering, and we will be treated like idiots by the land-owning classes, who still think that they run this country; however, by passing the bill we will show them who really runs Scotland. (7422)

What has happened?

What is going to happen?