The Scottish Affairs Committee’s Interim Report on Land Reform

You’d be forgiven for thinking that land reform in Scotland is like waiting for a bus.  Nothing happens for ages and then three inquiries turn up at roughly the same time to examine different aspects of this most contentious, complex and political of issues.

Yesterday saw the first stop in the UK Parliament Scottish Affairs Committee’s (SAC) inquiry into land reform with publication of its Interim Report.  Next month the Scottish Government-appointed Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) will reach its final destination following publication of its much-anticipated Final Report.  Meanwhile, the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group will issue an Interim Report in June and a Final Report in December.

Nobody yet knows where this flurry of reviews will take land reform as an issue of public policy in Scotland in the medium to long term.  But in a measured and clear Interim Report, the Scottish Affairs Committee has begun to map out its views on how that reform process might best progress on two distinct fronts.  Continue reading

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SL&E’s Evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee’s Land Reform Inquiry

Last week the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee held the 5th oral evidence session of its on-going land reform inquiry.   First to give evidence were Sarah-Jane Laing, Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at Scottish Land and Estates (SL&E) and Nick Way, Director General of the Historic Houses Association.  The second part of the session involved evidence from Stuart Adam of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Jim Gallagher of the University of Oxford.

Mrs Laing in particular may have taken her seat anticipating some robust questioning from Committee members less than enamoured by her organisation’s initial reaction to the announcement of their inquiry.  SL&E had previously stated that the inquiry was unnecessary and unwarranted and mistakenly assumed that an accompanying briefing paper (432:50), which they labelled unreasonable and unhelpful, was unsolicited.  The paper – written by James Hunter, Peter Peacock, Andy Wightman and Michael Foxley – was commissioned by the Committee. Continue reading