Minister refuses to consult further on Crofting Reforms

03 December 2009

Roseanna Cunningham, the Minister with responsibility for the Crofting Reform Bill, has turned down a request for further consultation with crofters over proposed changes to the draft croft reform Bill.

The decision has been described as "deeply regrettable" by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Peter Peacock.

Mr Peacock said: "We (Labour) wrote to the Minister some weeks ago making a number of points we wanted her to consider and setting out changes we wanted to see made in the very controversial draft crofting bill.

"One of the points we made was that as the government were likely to make changes and possibly introduce new ideas, it would be important to consult with crofters on any revisions before tabling the Bill in Parliament.

"It is deeply regrettable the Minister does not intend to do this and it seems likely the new draft bill will be tabled in parliament within the next week or so.

"Given the huge controversy that has surrounded the original proposals, it seemed to us only right crofters should be asked by the government to comment on any revisions.

"It will now be up to the Parliamentary Committee scrutinising the Bill to make good and consult very fully on the Bill's proposals and subject them to the most detailed and close scrutiny.

"In addition, even if the government are not going to do so, my colleagues and I will consult with and listen to crofters views before the Parliament starts considering the Bill and we will make the crofters views we hear clear to the Minister.

"The government seem determined to push this Bill through parliament when taking a little time longer may be in everyone's interests.

"The Western Isles Council is trying to organise an important conference on the future of crofting and that would have given the government a great opportunity to listen more, before committing to particular proposals."

Peter Peacock is expecting the government will table their Bill in the next week or so and he is expecting key sections of the Bill to be dropped and there to be other amendments.

Mr Peacock added: "We have made it clear to the Minister in person and in writing that a number of their current proposals are simply not worktable or acceptable and urged her to drop such ideas.

"In addition we have made suggestions to the government about ways of tackling neglect and dereliction of crofts, tackling speculation and ensuring the Land Court has more need to consider when to overturn Crofter Commission decisions designed to limit speculative development.

"I hope the Minister will address the issues we have been raising in what she announces."


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