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Scottish Land & Estates responds to interim Westminster report on land reform

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We will look at the Scottish Affairs’ Committee full report in more detail but as we said in our evidence to the committee we agree with openness and transparency. However, we do not believe there is a culture of secrecy in terms of landownership in Scotland.

“Our members are, of course, known to us but more importantly are widely known in their local areas and beyond. In our experience people want to know who runs or owns an estate for practical reasons. We have always been able and happy to assist them with this.  We are fully supportive of all land being covered by the Land Register and significant work in this area is already ongoing. 

“The committee says land reform is a neglected area of policy but the subject is constantly on the Scottish policy agenda and is under an intensive review by the Scottish Government at present.

“If the committee wishes to propose an end to all tax exemptions and subsidies unless they are in the public interest, it strikes us that public interest is exactly why these incentives have been put in place by successive governments.  We do not know what the committee means by ‘cosy tax deals’.

“Subsidies are paid for delivering a public policy objective such as the production of food. If farming subsidies – which are paid to landowners who have farming business, as many do, - were removed, they would also be removed for owner-occupier farming businesses and tenant farmers. UK agriculture would be devastated. Business property relief is essential for the continued viability of family businesses across the country.

“Expert evidence was given to the committee stating that there are numerous other factors which determine the price of land – most notably supply, location and potential future use. In our experience our members do not view their landholdings as a commodity and have a long-term commitment to them.”

 

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