Crofting Commission

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2021.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

5. To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take to enhance the capacity of the Crofting Commission. (S5O-05102)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

The additional funding that I announced in July 2020 has allowed the Crofting Commission to establish four posts in the Western Isles and increase its development activities. That will allow the commission to continue its work in establishing new grazing committees, ensuring that our common grazings are managed effectively and encouraging diversified activities, such as agri-tourism, peatland restoration, habitat improvement and forestry. It will enable the commission to support the strengthening and diversification of crofting. The new officers will liaise with crofting communities to encourage croft occupancy and use. Finally, the commission will also further its work in tackling neglect of croft land, to create opportunities for new entrants.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

I am encouraged to hear about the new staff that the cabinet secretary mentions.

I am often contacted by constituents who are frustrated at delays that they experience with paperwork that is submitted to the commission. I make absolutely no criticism of the commission staff, who have a difficult enough job as it is. However, I would be grateful to know what is being done to ensure that the commission is able to meet the needs of crofters in that respect.

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I am aware that there have been such issues, but the additional funding that we have provided this year has enabled the commission to take steps to make improvements to its information technology infrastructure, which will enable efficiency savings, and to the commission’s website, which will improve the customer experience.

The new officers, for which Dr Allan has campaigned for some time, will be based alongside crofting communities on islands within his constituency, with a key aim of helping to build local relations in the crofting communities and generally furthering the cause of crofting and the interests of crofters.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I remind members that, if they have a numbered question on the bulletin, they do not have to press their request-to-speak button in the chamber. The button should be pressed only for supplementary questions.