Scottish Affairs Committee Calls For Evidence On Land Reform In Scotland

Scottish Affairs Committee Calls For Evidence On Land Reform In Scotland
Scottish Affairs Committee
12.10.13

See submission from Jim Hunter, Peter Peacock, Andy Wightman and Michael Foxley here

In July 2013 the Scottish Affairs Committee launched an open consultation on a programme of comprehensive land reform in Scotland.

The Committee is now extending the deadline for submissions to Monday 28th October and anyone wishing to submit evidence can do so via the Scottish Affairs Committee website.

Written submissions are welcome on any aspect of land reform, in particular reserved matters including taxation and subsidies. However in order to further clarify the areas on which evidence is being sought, the Committee is issuing the following Terms of Reference, based on the content of the discussion paper;

* How does Scotland compare to other countries in terms of the pattern of land ownership?

* What are the benefits and disadvantages of the current pattern of land ownership, and to what extent is this pattern sustained and reinforced by subsidy and taxation arrangements?

* Is the current system of land tenure in Scotland the most efficient model for food security?

* In particular, is the current land ownership pattern contributing to, or inhibiting, economic and community development? Is it socially just?

*Given mounting political interest in, or commitment to, a programme of land reform in Scotland, what form should this programme take?

* What sort of subsidies and grants are available to landed estate owners in Scotland? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the subsidy regime? In particular, are support payments being capitalized into land values and making these higher than they otherwise would be?

* How does the tax regime affect the way in which land is owned in Scotland? For instance, does it offer landed estate owners the opportunity to minimize the tax they pay, thereby increasing the value of land, adding to speculative interest (on the part of those looking for ways to minimize or avoid tax) and making it less likely that it will be made available to others?

* How easy is it for communities in Scotland to take ownership of land and other assets? Should it be made easier in the light of the substantial achievements of existing community ownership groups?

* How easy is it for tenant farmers in Scotland to buy their farms? Should they be granted an absolute right to buy? Would such a right be compatible with human rights conventions and declarations?

* Is there a case for establishing a Land Agency to facilitate both the expansion of community ownership and the creation of new, especially “starter”, tenancies on land acquired for this purpose?

* How easy is it for land in public ownership to be transferred to communities and other private individuals, where that would be in the public interest? Should steps be taken to make it easier? For instance, should the UK and Scottish Governments compile a register showing land and assets for disposal? Should there be changes in the way in which such land and assets are valued? What UK Treasury rules are relevant to this area?

* Should a Land Value Tax of some sort be introduced in Scotland, as a replacement or addition to council tax and business rates?