Law Review (Foreshore and Sea Bed)

Question Time — scottish executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 10th February 2000.

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Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat 2:30 pm, 10th February 2000

To ask the Scottish Executive what progress the Scottish Law Commission has made in its review of the law of the foreshore and sea bed and when it is expected to submit its report to the Scottish Executive. (S1O-1094)

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

The Scottish Law Commission has now completed its consideration of the detailed content and process of the review. It will now begin reviewing the full range of relevant Scottish law and consider experience in other countries. The commission will then develop a discussion paper and, after consultation, will publish its final recommendations by the end of 2002.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

Does the minister accept the need for the Executive to examine the functions of the Crown Estate in Scotland and to seek to influence and control some of those activities? Does he recognise the unfairness of the Crown's role, when ports such as Lerwick in my constituency currently have to pay the Crown Estate for dredging the sea bed to improve the facilities? Furthermore, Scottish salmon farmers, in addition to paying corporation tax, are also paying a production tax to the Crown.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

Like any other landowner, the Crown Estate in Scotland will be subject to any laws passed by the Scottish Parliament in respect of its land and property. However, as Mr Scott will be aware, the Crown Estate's functions and the statutory position of the Crown Estate commissioners are reserved to Westminster. As a result, he may wish to take the matter up with his Westminster MP.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

Is the minister aware of the continuing dispute between Tarbert harbour authority and the Crown Estate commissioners over the rental of the foreshore and sea bed? Furthermore, can he confirm that the Scottish Law Commission's review might have an effect on the outcome of that dispute?

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

I am certainly aware of the dispute, not least because of Mr Lyon's persistent representations on the matter. As issues concerning the law of the foreshore and sea bed are exceptionally complex, the review will take some time. The rights and privileges of the Crown Estate will undoubtedly form part of that review, but it would be premature for me to say anything about the review's outcome. I repeat that any changes the Parliament makes to the law of property that affects land and property will apply to the Crown Estate as to any other landowner in Scotland.