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Edward Mountain MSP says delay in crofting reform is showing "complete disregard for crofters"

By Jean Gunn

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MSP Edward Mountain.
MSP Edward Mountain.

Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain has pressed the SNP Government to bring forward crofting reform legislation by the end of 2022.

Edward Mountain MSP challenged the SNP Rural Affairs Secretary to press ahead with the long-delayed crofting reform instead of more “dither and delay”.

The SNP Government promised crofting law reform in their Programme for Government in 2016/17. However, the SNP Government failed to bring forward a bill in the last parliamentary session and dropped the commitment from their recent Programme for Government 2021/2022.

During portfolio questions on rural affairs today (Friday), Edward Mountain MSP asked: “In 2014 the Crofting Law ‘Sump’ report identified 17 high-priority areas. The REC report of 2017 on crofting reinforced those. These reports proved difficult to action and though I’ve heard what the Cabinet Secretary has said today, will she give me an assurance that these will be dealt with by the end of 2022 or is she further going to dither and delay like her predecessor did?”

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands responded:“I completely reject that comment that has been made by Edward Mountain. It’s not dithering and delay. Again, I’ve explained why the legislation couldn’t have been taken forward in the previous session of the Parliament as other pieces of legislation could not be taken forward at the same time. Again as I’ve said in previous responses we will be bringing forward a timetable for that in due course but we’ve committed to modernising legislation in relation to crofting in this term of the Parliament.”

Following the exchange, Edward Mountain MSP said: “How much longer will crofters have to wait for much-needed and long-delayed reforms?

“To blame this delay on the pandemic is blatantly untrue because the SNP Government had more than enough time to introduce legislation prior to that happening.

“The SNP Government broke their promise in the last session by not bringing forward a crofting bill and today the SNP Rural Secretary avoided committing herself to introducing legislation by the end of 2022. That’s unacceptable.

“This further dither and delay is letting down crofting communities and is a continuation of the previous SNP Rural Secretary’s complete disregard for crofters.”

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