I believe that the crofting commission should retain a role in the development of crofting. It is a unique body and the future of crofting is a central part of its concern. It seems wrong to pass in its entirety the development function to Highlands and Islands Enterprise at a time when the crofting commission is to become democratically elected. I believe that the commission should retain a role in development, albeit one that is defined in its strategic plans. It would be regrettable, to say the least, if in years to come we wanted the commission to do something only to discover that it was not legally empowered to do so. Retaining the development role and defining it through the strategic plan seems sensible. Amendments 2 and 123 seek to deal with that by leaving the development function with the commission.
Amendment 124 was drafted in the same spirit as the amendments about development. I seek clarification from the Minister for Environment about the provisions in the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 that the bill will delete. Should they be continued? They cover matters to which even the Government is committed. I look forward to hearing what the minister has to say about that.
Amendment 4 is a probing amendment that seeks to ensure that what the commission is currently doing to hold maps is permissible under its powers.
I move amendment 2.
Amendment 144 seeks to place within the functions of the
I support Karen Gillon's amendment 144. Although it is at one level symbolic, it is also more than that. From the beginning of the bill, it will remind the commission that part of its statutory function is to have regard to
"the desirability of supporting population retention ... in the crofting counties".
Ms Gillon's amendment is useful in that it will remind the commission that it is there not only to serve individual crofters, but ensure the future of the wider communities around them and to take decisions that benefit not only individuals but the wider community. It will also serve to give crofting the status that it deserves in our wider economic strategy for the Highlands and Islands.
The Scottish ministers decided to remove the development function from the commission and hand it to HIE. Like many others, the Liberal Democrats had concerns about that approach, but we recognise that at this stage it serves little useful purpose to try to reverse the decision. However, Peter Peacock's amendments in this group usefully make explicit the crofting commission's on-going interest in and responsibility for the development of crofting in the crofting counties. I think that that view is widely held across the parties and I hope that Peter Peacock's amendments will be supported.
Karen Gillon's amendment 144 is also helpful in underscoring what we all believe is one of the principal achievements of crofting: sustaining communities by retaining population in some of the remotest areas. I recall the minister accepting that general principle at stage 2 and I hope that, like the other amendments in the group, amendment 144 will be agreed to.
Peter Peacock's amendments 123 and 124, which seek to return development powers to the commission, are perhaps bolting the stable door after the horse has gone, as the development functions have already been given to Highlands and Islands Enterprise. If the bill is passed today,
As members said, the Government has already transferred crofting development to Highlands and Islands Enterprise. That transfer took place on 1 April 2009. We considered that crofting communities would benefit more if the function became the responsibility of the agency whose primary responsibility is the social and economic development of the Highlands and Islands. We believe that the commission can best contribute to development by ensuring that crofting is properly regulated and that croft land is occupied and used. I therefore urge members to reject amendments 2 and 123.
Amendment 4 is pointless. There is nothing to prevent the commission from requesting a map and nothing to prevent a person from declining the commission's request, so I do not see how the amendment would take us forward. As for amendment 124, it would overburden the commission with a number of ancillary duties rather than focusing it on regulation.
On the other hand, I welcome Karen Gillon's amendment 144, which is a revised version of an amendment that she lodged at stage 2. It will ensure that the commission has explicit regard to supporting population retention in the crofting counties, which I believe we all support.
Alexander, Ms Wendy (Paisley North) (Lab)
Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
Baker, Claire (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Brankin, Rhona (Midlothian) (Lab)
Chisholm, Malcolm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab)
Craigie, Cathie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (Lab)
Eadie, Helen (Dunfermline East) (Lab)
Ferguson, Patricia (Glasgow Maryhill) (Lab)
Finnie, Ross (West of Scotland) (LD)
Foulkes, George (Lothians) (Lab)
Gillon, Karen (Clydesdale) (Lab)
Glen, Marlyn (North East Scotland) (Lab)
Godman, Trish (West Renfrewshire) (Lab)
Gordon, Charlie (Glasgow Cathcart) (Lab)
Grant, Rhoda (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Gray, Iain (East Lothian) (Lab)
Henry, Hugh (Paisley South) (Lab)
Hume, Jim (South of Scotland) (LD)
Jamieson, Cathy (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (Lab)
Kerr, Andy (East Kilbride) (Lab)
Lamont, Johann (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)
Livingstone, Marilyn (Kirkcaldy) (Lab)
Macdonald, Lewis (Aberdeen Central) (Lab)
Macintosh, Ken (Eastwood) (Lab)
McArthur, Liam (Orkney) (LD)
McAveety, Mr Frank (Glasgow Shettleston) (Lab)
McCabe, Tom (Hamilton South) (Lab)
McConnell, Jack (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Lab)
McInnes, Alison (North East Scotland) (LD)
McNeil, Duncan (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Lab)
McNeill, Pauline (Glasgow Kelvin) (Lab)
McNulty, Des (Clydebank and Milngavie) (Lab)
Mulligan, Mary (Linlithgow) (Lab)
Murray, Elaine (Dumfries) (Lab)
O'Donnell, Hugh (Central Scotland) (LD)
Oldfather, Irene (Cunninghame South) (Lab)
Park, John (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Peacock, Peter (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Peattie, Cathy (Falkirk East) (Lab)
Purvis, Jeremy (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) (LD)
Rumbles, Mike (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD)
Scott, Tavish (Shetland) (LD)
Simpson, Dr Richard (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Smith, Iain (North East Fife) (LD)
Stewart, David (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Stone, Jamie (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)
Tolson, Jim (Dunfermline West) (LD)
Whitefield, Karen (Airdrie and Shotts) (Lab)
Aitken, Bill (Glasgow) (Con)
Allan, Alasdair (Western Isles) (SNP)
Brocklebank, Ted (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Brown, Gavin (Lothians) (Con)
Brown, Keith (Ochil) (SNP)
Brownlee, Derek (South of Scotland) (Con)
Campbell, Aileen (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Carlaw, Jackson (West of Scotland) (Con)
Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
Constance, Angela (Livingston) (SNP)
Crawford, Bruce (Stirling) (SNP)
Cunningham, Roseanna (Perth) (SNP)
Don, Nigel (North East Scotland) (SNP)
Doris, Bob (Glasgow) (SNP)
Ewing, Fergus (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP)
Fabiani, Linda (Central Scotland) (SNP)
FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee West) (SNP)
Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Gibson, Rob (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
Goldie, Annabel (West of Scotland) (Con)
Grahame, Christine (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Harper, Robin (Lothians) (Green)
Harvie, Christopher (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP)
Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)
Hepburn, Jamie (Central Scotland) (SNP)
Hyslop, Fiona (Lothians) (SNP)
Ingram, Adam (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Johnstone, Alex (North East Scotland) (Con)
Kidd, Bill (Glasgow) (SNP)
Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)
MacAskill, Kenny (Edinburgh East and Musselburgh) (SNP)
Marwick, Tricia (Central Fife) (SNP)
Mather, Jim (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
Maxwell, Stewart (West of Scotland) (SNP)
McGrigor, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
McKee, Ian (Lothians) (SNP)
McKelvie, Christina (Central Scotland) (SNP)
McLaughlin, Anne (Glasgow) (SNP)
McMillan, Stuart (West of Scotland) (SNP)
Milne, Nanette (North East Scotland) (Con)
Morgan, Alasdair (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Neil, Alex (Central Scotland) (SNP)
Paterson, Gil (West of Scotland) (SNP)
Robison, Shona (Dundee East) (SNP)
Russell, Michael (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Salmond, Alex (Gordon) (SNP)
Scanlon, Mary (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
Smith, Elizabeth (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Somerville, Shirley-Anne (Lothians) (SNP)
Stevenson, Stewart (Banff and Buchan) (SNP)
Sturgeon, Nicola (Glasgow Govan) (SNP)
Swinney, John (North Tayside) (SNP)
Thompson, Dave (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
Watt, Maureen (North East Scotland) (SNP)
Welsh, Andrew (Angus) (SNP)
White, Sandra (Glasgow) (SNP)
Wilson, Bill (West of Scotland) (SNP)
Wilson, John (Central Scotland) (SNP)
We come to group 2. Amendment 3, in the name of the minister, is grouped with amendments 5 to 25, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38 to 41, 46, 49 to 51, 54, 55, 57 to 62, 64, 66, 67, 83, 85, 86, 92, 192, 94 to 98, 109 to 114, 125 to 129, 227, 130 to 134, 137, 138 and 140 to 143. I draw members' attention to the pre-emption information that is given in the list of groupings.
Before anyone gets started on the number of these minor technical drafting amendments, I point out that many of them will tidy up non-Government amendments that we supported at stage 2 on the basis that we would need to fix some of the drafting at stage 3. Others are technical changes and corrections to minor drafting errors, and some are minor consequentials to other Government amendments. In the interests of time, I propose not to go through each of the minor amendments in the group—members will be delighted to hear that—but to offer to expand on any amendment on which a member wishes further clarification.
I move amendment 3.
The amendments in group 2 are essentially technical and drafting amendments, all of which we will support. In due course, we will be happy to consider voting on the amendments en bloc, if that is helpful.
The Labour Party strongly opposes the bill's proposals for a new crofting register. We will come to the detailed debate on that in group 4, under which we will try to remove the register from the bill. A number of amendments in group 2 touch on that. However, given that we will have the opportunity to vote down the register shortly, at this stage in the proceedings we will not impede the Government's technical amendments to the register.
Amendment 3 agreed to.