During stage 2, the Environment and Rural Development Committee thought that the opportunity should have been taken to modernise crofting legislation by making the bill gender neutral. Indeed, the committee's chief poacher, who has turned deputy gamekeeper, was vehement that the language should be altered. I want to help that process by suggesting that the chair of the Crofters Commission should become its convener, to use a good Scots word. That would be the effect of amendment 1.
Turning to the complexity of the bill's wording on page 61, we cannot find the bit to which amendment 38 relates without referring back. I note that the chief gamekeeper wants to use the word "chairing", whereas "convening" would be more consistent. I look forward with interest to the response of the gamekeeper or deputy gamekeeper on that point.
I move amendment 1.
I warmly welcome the intention behind Rob Gibson's amendments. As he noted, I have been a strong supporter of clear and gender-neutral legislation—indeed, I have supported it for years. I am delighted to repeat to the Parliament the commitment that Ross Finnie gave to the Environment and Rural Development Committee: at the next opportunity, when we review crofting legislation, it will be not just modernised but made
The two passages that Rob Gibson seeks to amend do not refer to the same individual. Amendment 1 refers to the title of a particular office, whereas amendment 2 refers to the function of a person—who may or may not be the commission's chair—at a meeting. Changing the expression to "convener" in both places could cause confusion.
Although I am extremely happy to support amendment 1, I urge Parliament to resist Amendment 2. Amendment 38, in the name of Ross Finnie, will have the same effect as Amendment 2, but it will not risk causing the same confusion that I spoke about earlier—Rob Gibson himself appeared to cause some confusion. Amendment 38A is unnecessary.
I appreciate what Rob Gibson is trying to do and I support his amendment 1. For the reasons that I have given—and in the spirit of harmony and of trying to take us forward—I invite Parliament to support amendments 1 and 38. I ask Rob to consider the comments that I have made and not to move amendments 2 and 38A. If he does seek Parliament's support for those amendments, I urge members to resist them.
I am glad to hear that we will have a chance to modernise the bill totally "at the next opportunity". As it has been more than 10 years since the last crofting legislation, people will wonder how soon that might be. It would be a good thing if the Crofters Commission's next chair or chairman instead became the convener. I am delighted that the minister is prepared to accept amendment 1. In the spirit of optimism and co-operation, I am happy to concede on amendments 38A and 2.
Division number 7
For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baird, Shiona, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brown, Robert, Brownlee, Derek, Butler, Bill, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Curran, Frances, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Rob, Glen, Marlyn, Gordon, Mr Charlie, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, John, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Johnstone, Alex, Kane, Rosie, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Leckie, Carolyn, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McFee, Mr Bruce, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Petrie, Dave, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stevenson, Stewart, Swinney, Mr John, Wallace, Mr Jim, Welsh, Mr Andrew, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Davidson, Mr David, Gillon, Karen, McCabe, Mr Tom