Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:28 pm on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat 4:28 pm, 16th June 1999

I particularly welcome the incapable adults bill, which will be an important piece of legislation. I agree with Roseanna Cunningham that it will attract wide support, and I am sure that we will handle it in the sympathetic manner that is necessary.

I also welcome the land reform bills as an important part of the progress in updating our legal system. One slightly cautionary note about the land reform bills is that although there are clearly some serious problems in the north of Scotland, some of the issues are much less salient in the south of Scotland. Indeed, some of the large estates in the south of Scotland are the focus of much extremely valuable economic activity and of high levels of employment, so we do not necessarily have to consider a solution for the whole of Scotland. We must ensure that in solving problems in the north we do not create them in the south. I am sure that we can deal with that in consultation.

On agriculture, I was interested in Alex Johnstone's speech. I think he will agree that a number of things can be done without legislation, particularly in areas such as the overshoot problems in arable aid. Those problems have been caused by an inaccurate base area, which has not been revised since it was introduced seven years ago. I am sure that the Minister for Rural Affairs will welcome some discussion on the issue.

In England, there is no ceiling on the countryside premium scheme, but in Scotland there is a low ceiling. The organic incentive scheme is still delayed in Scotland. The stewardship schemes exist in England but not in Scotland. Beyond the legislative programme, much can be done by the Executive and I look forward to the Rural Affairs Minister dealing with a number of the issues.