Scottish Government accepts that the issue requires continued consideration and action.
Responding to the debate at the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee concerning his amendment to the Land Reform Bill that sought to give 1991 tenants in tenancies that had lasted for more than 50 years a conditional right to buy their farms, Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell said:
“I am of course disappointed that this important amendment was not in the end accepted by the Scottish Government. However that disappointment is tempered by the very positive debate that took place, with supportive contributions from across the committee, and by a very welcome commitment from the Cabinet Secretary to ensure that the new Land Commission will take an interest in the issue.
Moreover, despite attempts by a range of interests to try and kill the issue off by excluding the topic from any further consideration, the Cabinet Secretary was clear that he expects further expansion of the right to buy in future legislation and that he recognises the circumstance in my constituency and elsewhere that drive the need for such change.
The entire committee was of course rightly concerned about the difficulties that compliance with ECHR presents to any such proposal, mindful as we all are of the human suffering and legal nightmares that have been created by the Salvesen/Riddell case. But the majority of the Committee was also positive about the prospects for progress if enough time and care was invested in the process and wanted to see the issue tackled early in the next Parliament.
I am determined that we will continue to make progress. We are still moving forward and there is no doubt that we are getting closer to giving many long term tenants in Scotland the same opportunities that their counterparts in other places have enjoyed for generations.
Land reform in Scotland started late as a result of the refusal of Westminster to treat the matter as a priority. It is made more complicated by the constraints of ECHR, welcome as they also are. With our own Parliament, looking widely across the whole range of human rights which this bill now embraces, we have made significant steps forward but there are more to take.
The Scottish Parliament is working hard on a good Land Reform Bill and making it better all the time. Future Land Reform Bills in future Parliamentary Sessions can and will take us even further.”