Creating a Sustainable Future for Crofting

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 10 September 2019.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I reject Peter Chapman’s approach and am disappointed by it because—as Mr Chapman knows—we undertook a consultation about what sort of crofting reform would receive support, and there was no clear majority for the comprehensive approach that he describes. Therefore, we elected to move forward with legislative reform that would improve everyday practical matters. We worked with stakeholders and across parties with that in mind.

The situation is stark and it is clear: the Brexit policy that is being pursued by the Conservative Government in the United Kingdom demands that we spend our parliamentary time on the agenda of the London Parliament against the wishes of Scotland. There are two pieces of primary legislation—the rural support bill and the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill—that would not be required if the Tories were to drop their Brexit plans, which do not command support in Scotland.

In addition, 71 European Union exit statutory instruments have been or are expected to be notified to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee by the end of this year, and 25 EU exit Scottish statutory instruments have been completed or are expected to be completed. In March this year, 500 full-time equivalent staff were involved with Brexit-related activity across the Scottish Government. If the Tory Government in London abandons its Brexit obsession, of course there will be time for us to proceed with Scotland’s agenda, including crofting reform.