Rural Affairs

– Scottish Parliament written question – answered on 19th November 1999.

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Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

Question S1W-2652

To ask the Scottish Executive whether its plans for reform of agricultural holdings legislation will include giving tenant farmers a right to buy.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

No. I have closely examined the pros and cons, and come to the conclusion that this is not the best way forward. I entirely understand why tenant farmers who may have farmed the land for many generations want the chance to own "their own" farms. But there is already a strong economic inducement for landowners to sell to their sitting tenant, given that the price realised this way will be better than selling the land with a sitting tenant to someone else.

I believe that it is better to focus on other measures to free up constraints on tenant farmers. Our current agricultural holdings legislation reflects the circumstances of the immediate post-war era. Much of it is no longer relevant, and some parts are positive barriers to future development. That is why our Land Reform Action Plan commits us to legislating to reform it.

We shall introduce more scope for diversity of agricultural tenancy arrangements. This will include new limited duration tenancies to replace partnership arrangements; and reduced restrictions on short-term lets, so as to eliminate needless bureaucracy. There will also be simpler and cheaper arrangements for resolution of disputes between agricultural tenants and their landlords. And we shall create wider opportunities for tenant farmers to diversify (which is crucial if agriculture is to adapt successfully for the future).

I plan to issue a White Paper setting out my detailed proposals next spring.

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