At the evidence gathering session for the Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee on 22 May the Convenor, Rob Gibson MSP, asked:-
I have a small point about Richard Frew’s answer to my question at last week’s meeting about the number of multiple owners of crofts. When I asked whether he had a ballpark figure, he said: “I am not aware of the exact figures, but I am sure that the Commission has a list of the different types of crofter.”
Can we take that answer any further just now?
I have already given my views on that response by Richard Frew at Crofting is not a perfect world
Paul Wheelhouse MSP said:-
I will ask Joe Kerr to comment on that. He is on secondment from the Commission, so he may be more closely involved with the issue.
Joseph Kerr gave the answer we have all been waiting for:-
An exercise was undertaken that looked at the different status of people in the crofting elections. In terms of multiple ownership, I understand that the figure was around 700, and that the ballpark figure for owner-occupier crofters was between 3,000 and 4,000.
So there we have it. There are 700 owner-occupiers compared to say 3,500 owner-occupier crofters. Thus, due to the interpretation put on the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 by the Crofting Commission, one sixth of owner-occupiers (if for present purposes we take it that owner-occupier crofters are a sub-set of owner-occupiers) potentially cannot decroft land they own. Furthermore, they still will not be able to following the enactment of the Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill which, as currently drafted, addresses only decrofting by owner-occupier crofters and not decrofting by owner-occupiers who are not owner-occupier crofters. One-sixth is surely a fairly significant proportion to simply ignore? There is, of course, an argument that if only one person could not decroft due to a flaw in the existing legislation that flaw should be fixed so that one person was not discriminated against compared with the other 4,199 people who could decroft.
Sorry, but you’re going to have to explain to me the difference between an “owner occupier” and an “owner occupier crofter” …
That will be a long and complex blog post! Will attempt it for you though.
Is the difference in essence that between (1) a landlord of a croft the tenancy of which has come to an end; and (2) a tenant who has purchased (or singular successor to such purchaser)? If so, then a change in terminology might be helpful – “landlord of vacant croft” for (1) and “owner occupier crofter” for (2).
Not sure it is quite as simple as that I am afraid. When I have a spare weekend I will write up my thoughts on it.
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