For those who have been following the debate about the future administration of the Crown Estate in Scotland will be aware that the Scotland Bill contained two proposed reforms so inconsequential as to be meaningless.

The first was that there would henceforth be a “Scottish Crown Estate Commissioner” who “must be a person who knows about conditions in Scotland as they relate to the functions of the Commissioners.

Haud ma breeks.

The problem has never been that the Crown Estate Commissioners have lacked Scottish representation. The Commission has always had a Scottish Commissioner. From 1962 until the retirement of Ian Grant in 2009 (47 out of the Commission’s 55 year history), there has also been a Scottish Chairman – the Earl of Perth, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, Earl of Mansfield, Sir Denys Henderson and Ian Grant (who was also Scottish Commissioner). It’s been a very Scottish organisation.

The Scotland Bill merely proposes to entrenche this state of affairs in statute.

The second proposal is that the “Scottish Crown Estate Commissioner shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who shall consult Scottish Ministers before making that recommendation.”

Riveting stuff.

Now, after over a year of debate and growing calls to eliminate this organisation from any involvement whatsoever in the administration of the Crown Estate in Scotland, the UK government has conceded that the Scotland Bill needs to go further. Thus,in the Committee Stage in the House of Lords, Lord Browne of Ladyton, Lord Boyd of Duncansby and Lord Davidson of Glen Clova tabled amendments 45, 45A and 45B.

Amendment 45 proposes that the statutory Scottish Commissioner shall, instead of being a “a person who knows about conditions in Scotland as they relate to the functions of the Commissioners.“, shall, instead be “qualified in land management or the law of Scotland” and shall have “experience of the functions of the Commissioners.

Amendment 45A proposes that the new statutory Scottish Commissioner shall not be called the “Scottish Crown Estate Commissioner“, but instead will be called the “Crown Estate Commissioner for Scotland.”

Amendment 45B proposes that, instead of being appointed “on the recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who shall consult Scottish Ministers before making that recommendation“, shall be appointed by “Scottish Ministers with the agreement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

The Scotland Bill.

Radical stuff.

 

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