Section 47 — Exercise of right to buy: approval of community and consent of Ministers

Land Reform (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 23rd January 2003.

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Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

I am pleased that Bill Aitken's amendment 50 has not been agreed to, as it would have removed confidentiality altogether from section 47. As I indicated at stage 2, that would have gone too far.

Funding for the purchase of land may come from a number of sources, including the Scottish land fund. At the right-to-buy stage, community bodies that want to purchase land are very unlikely to have received confirmation that they will receive funding. It is also possible that their negotiations with other funding bodies could be jeopardised by having to make public those negotiations.

I offered to lodge an Executive amendment at stage 3. Amendments 146 and 147 relate to the removal of the confidentiality provision on information on land use at the right-to-buy stage, when it is particularly important that as much information as possible is publicly available before the ballot. The amendments will remove the confidentiality provision in relation to land use, but will retain it for the funding arrangements. That proposal, which will encourage openness and transparency, sits well with the bill's principles and will be consistent with the confidentiality provision for registration that is contained in section 33(4), which we agreed to amend at stage 2.

The purpose of amendment 147 is simply to reinstate the only reference to land in section 47(5), which amendment 146 will remove.

I move amendment 146.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

In general, we support amendments 146 and 147. However, I invite the minister to provide clarification on amendment 146. Although it certainly seems appropriate that, as part of the application process, the use to which land is to be put should be public knowledge, it is possible that the community will have a business plan that requires confidentiality. It should be clarified whether ministers may still withhold information on the use to which land is to be put that is contained in a business plan that requires confidentiality, on the ground of commercial confidentiality. Is that possibility being ruled out altogether?

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

All that I can say to provide clarity is that although ministers will not treat as confidential information relating to the use to which land is to be put at the right-to-buy stage, confidentiality will be retained in relation to arrangements for funding to buy the land that are contained within a community's business plan.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

It is my recollection that the Executive's selective attitude to transparency and confidentiality was articulated when the bill was introduced. We are discussing purchases in relation to which there is likely to be a substantial input of public funding—the purchases in question will be funded out of lottery funding or direct taxation. As such, it is incumbent on the Executive to ensure that full, frank and free information is provided. Therefore, we cannot support amendments 146 and 147.

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

Amendments 146 and 147 will remove the community body's right to require ministers to treat as confidential information relating to the use to which land is to be put. Confidentiality will be retained in relation to arrangements for funding to buy the land for the reasons that I have outlined. To do otherwise might jeopardise the community's ability to raise the funding to purchase the land.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 146 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 33

For: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Ms Margo, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGugan, Irene, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Paterson, Mr Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Reid, Mr George, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Sheridan, Tommy, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Ullrich, Kay, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Harding, Mr Keith, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Wallace, Ben, Young, John

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The result of the division is: For 91, Against 17, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 146 agreed to.

Amendment 147 moved—[Ross Finnie].

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 147 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 34

For: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGugan, Irene, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Paterson, Mr Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Sheridan, Tommy, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Harding, Mr Keith, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Wallace, Ben, Young, John

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The result of the division is: For 88, Against 17, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 147 agreed to.