The Scottish Government’s plans for legislative reform of crofting have now been outlined by Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity.
This follows on from The Consultation on the Future of Crofting Legislation which received responses up until 20 November 2017 and the subsequent analysis of the responses published on 21 March 2018.
Mr Ewing, commenting on the analysis report on 12 April 2018, said: “The results made for interesting reading and the diversity of responses only highlighted the scale of the challenge ahead.
After careful consideration, there does not appear to be a consensus that would allow me to decide on specific pieces of legislative reform. I was also presented with a dilemma over deciding the best legislative approach to take, as the analysis highlighted almost equal proportions of support for new crofting legislation, versus making changes to existing legislation and restating or consolidating the law.
Following the publication of the analysis report I met with the Cross-Party Group on Crofting to outline how I wish to take matters forward and to hear members and MSPs’ views. I am proposing a two-phase approach to legislative reform, with a first phase in the shorter term, leading to a Bill in this parliamentary session. This first phase will focus on delivering changes which carry widespread support, including across the Scottish Parliament, and result in practical everyday improvements to the lives of crofters and/or streamline procedures that crofters are required to follow. I am keen to fully involve and engage MSPs with crofting interests to ensure that their ideas and proposals can be considered and taken forward in legislation.
The second phase is longer term work, where I have asked my officials to continue with fundamentally reviewing crofting legislation to provide a solution to some of the more complex and challenging issues facing crofting, and what that might mean for how legislation is developed in future. This work will begin now but will be for a future Parliament to deliver.”
Crofting Law expert Brian Inkster, welcoming this approach, said: “This seems an eminently sensible way for the Scottish Government to take legislative reform forward. They have recognised the complexities involved and that all that needs to be sorted probably can't be easily sorted in just one parliamentary term.
Thus splitting reform over two parliamentary terms should allow a comprehensive and considered approach to crofting reform unlike the rushed approach that led to the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. That rushed approach created many of the problems requiring to be resolved today.”