Fears that Commission budget deficit will be funded by fees.

SNP and Tories force through proposal

03 June 2010

The Scottish government has won its battle to charge crofters fees for the Crofters Commission administering applications.
The decision was made on the casting vote of the Convener (SNP) of the Rural Affairs Committee, after the SNP and Tory members of the Committee got together to vote down an amendment to stop the fees tabled by Peter Peacock MSP

Peter Peacock had set out to the Committee his opposition to fees being charged on crofters when no such fees had applied since the Crofters Commission was created almost 60 years ago.

He argued that the proposed fees were the thin end of the wedge and that it may lead to more and increased charges in future to make the Commission more self financed, with crofters bearing the cost.

He also argued that it was wrong to charge fees on this sector of agriculture when other parts of agriculture would not bear this cost and it had been successive parliaments that had created the legal complexity crofters were faced with.

However, Peter Peacock and other Labour members of the committee won a number of concessions from the government on how direct elections to the Commission will be conducted; on giving the Commission a clear role to try and protect croft land and retain population.

Peter Peacock said,

"It was disappointing, but not a surprise to see the SNP and the Tories getting together to vote down some of these important amendments to improve the Bill.

"I am pleased we did win some important concessions today, but there are many more amendments to come in the next two weeks, and we will keep
fighting to take out the worst aspects of the Bill, the things that we believe will damage crofting."


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