Wednesday, 5 June 2013

MPs to launch “who owns Scotland” investigation

Ahead of the debate on land reform in Holyrood today Scots MPs at Westminster have signalled they are to launch an investigation into the shady offshore companies that own vast tracts of land in Scotland.

The Commons Scottish Affairs committee is due to start an inquiry into land ownership and tax avoidance after campaigners slammed the SNP government’s lacklustre commitment to the land reform agenda.

Ian Davidson MP, the Labour chairman of the Scottish committee, said he hoped the inquiry would “establish who owns and controls the great landed estates in Scotland, in order to minimise tax avoidance”.

The move came as leading land reformer Jim Hunter launched a broadside at the Holyrood government for failing on the land reform agenda.

Professor Hunter, a respected academic and land reformer, resigned from the SNP's Scottish Land Reform policy group for personal reasons.

But in an outspoken attack, the Highland historian said six years under the SNP had left Scotland stuck with the “most concentrated, most inequitable, most unreformed and most undemocratic land ownership system in the entire developed world”.

He said the process of getting land into community hands needed to be simpler.

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