My right hon. Friend published on 25th July a Green Paper containing proposals for a major reform of land tenure in Scotland, including the abolition of feuduties. Detailed consultations on these proposals are now proceeding, but I cannot yet say when legislation will be introduced.
These proposals for legislation have been promised for a long time. While we all appreciate the Green Paper, will the hon. Gentleman now answer the question which was asked some months ago—what bodies were consulted about the potential advantages to potential purchasers of homes? Will he remember that feuduties are of importance not only for those investors but also for social needs in house building?
I entirely accept what the hon. Member says about the importance of the subject and about those involved, but equally he must appreciate that the Government have gone in depth into what is an extremely complicated subject. We published a Green Paper only in July this year. We are still in the process of consultation and we wish to see this through before we come to any conclusions.
And, I hope, also scat. Does the hon. Gentleman remember that it is now three years since the Labour Government published a White Paper setting out the form of abolition of feuduties? After three years, and after a General Election and a series of broken promises, the present Government have taken three vigorous steps backwards by producing a Green Paper. Will the hon. Gentleman keep in mind that his right hon. Friend, snorting in the nostrils like a warhorse, to use his own metaphor, wondered why we did not abolish them in 1969, and that all we have had are assurances and disgraceful delay, and nothing has happened since?
I am afraid I cannot be encouraging about scat. This is in the White Paper. The hon. Member should read it. His ignorance on this subject equals his ignorance generally, because what his Government and he did was only to tinker with the question of feudal reform. What we are proposing is very much more radical than anything his Government put forward.