We have considered further the effects of the assignation provision included in the stage 2 amendment 214, which should have been accompanied by amendment 215, providing a workable mechanism for assignation to take place. However, the Justice 2 Committee voted against amendment 215, which is almost identical to Roseanna Cunningham's amendment 204, and that made amendment 214 ineffective. Executive amendment 142 is therefore provided to resolve the anomaly by removing the assignation provision. However, that is not the only reason for our lodging it.
At stage 2, Stewart Stevenson used as a reason for lodging amendments 214 and 215 the example that the amendments would allow a process by which two bodies in adjacent areas with a common interest could merge and assign to a successor body the right to buy. He also confirmed that assignation under amendment 214 would require the body to which the land was being assigned to be a community body—the body would be required to be a community body as defined in part 2 of the bill.
In the first case, the two bodies could simply merge and act as one body without requiring assignation. In the second case, the community
In simple terms, amendment 204 provides the supporting mechanisms for assignation to work. Given that we believe that assignation is unnecessary, it follows that we believe that amendment 204 is unnecessary.
I move amendment 142.
On the contrary, assignation ought to be permissible. Amendment 204 would allow the assignation of the right to buy land by one community body to another community body at the time when the right to buy was triggered. The amendment envisages a situation where a community body registers an interest in a larger area of land and, when the right to buy is triggered, assigns its right to a community body dealing with a smaller area of land. I point out that Highland Council supports amendment 204.
The process of setting up a community body and registering an interest in land is cumbersome. The community body has to reregister its interest in each landholding by the same cumbersome procedure every five years, as we have just confirmed. Changes in land ownership in rural Scotland, in particular in the Highlands, are often piggybacked on an existing body, which is often a statutory body. For example, a local authority or a community council might wish to establish and oversee a community body for its entire area or a large part of it. When the right to buy is triggered, it may not be appropriate for a community body that covers a large area to pursue the purchase—the body may wish to assign the right to a more specific community body that covers a smaller, more defined area.
Amendment 204 complements previous amendments to allow community councils to act as community bodies. We are trying to widen the scope, not narrow it. Those previous amendments were not agreed to, but amendment 204 is still important.
At stage 2, Allan Wilson said, with regard to assignation, that he could not
"think of circumstances in which two community bodies would be close enough to each other to have a registered interest in the same piece of land."—[Official Report, Justice 2 Committee, 30 October 2002; c 2016.]
However, two community groups were involved in a bid to purchase Glencoe—Ballachulish and
At stage 2, the Justice 2 Committee passed one of the necessary amendments on assignation of the right to buy, but did not pass the other. The minister is now seeking, through amendment 142, to remove the amendment that was passed. As a result, we will oppose amendment 142 and press amendment 204.
It occurs to me that there is a strange juxtaposition on this issue, as far as the SNP is concerned. The SNP has scathing views on landowners, as evidenced by amendment 213, and is cautious about the transfer of shares, yet with amendment 204 it has no hesitation in advancing the view that communities that are seeking to purchase land should be able to assign that right. The argument is inconsistent.
I always knew that my Latin O-level would come in useful at some point in my life—quod erat demonstrandum.
Roseanna Cunningham's amendment 204 would have some merit if we had passed the provisions relating to community councils but, as she admitted, we did not. In the Glencoe example to which she referred, the two bodies could simply have merged and acted as one body without requiring assignation. In that instance, the same effect could have been achieved by the merged body registering its interest in the land prior to the revocation by the initial body of its interest. There is no requirement for assignation. I ask members to support amendment 142 and to reject amendment 204.
Division number 32
For: Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Craigie, Cathie, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Fraser, Murdo, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Young, John
Against: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Ewing, Fergus, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew