Scottish Independence Referendum II (Scotland)

Scotland’s First Minister has today written to the UK Prime Minister to begin early discussions to allow a referendum on Scottish independence to take place.

It comes after the Scottish Parliament voted to give the Scottish Government a mandate for a Section 30 order under the Scotland Act 1998 to enable a referendum. An independence referendum held in 2014 gave a result in favour of remaining in the UK Union. 

The letter that has been sent is published on the website of the Scottish Government, and is located here

It is already possible to subscribe to Scotland EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists, as part of Cardinal Environment Limited services. In the event that this second referendum results in Scotland exiting the UK Union, then any subscriber to Britain EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will be offered subscription to Scotland, England and Wales as separate systems (and Britain will be discontinued). Northern Ireland is only offered as a separate system. 

Land Reform (Scotland) Bill (UK)

This Bill is an important legislative proposal of the Scottish Parliament (introduced in 2015, and, subject to scrutiny beginning today 20th January 2016), it sets out to legislate to:

  1. make provision for a land rights and responsibilities statement; 
  2. establish the Scottish Land Commission, provide for its functions and the functions of the Land Commissioners and the Tenant Farming Commissioner; 
  3. make provision about access to, and provision of, information about owners and controllers of land; 
  4. make provision about engaging communities in decisions relating to land; 
  5. enable certain persons to buy land to further sustainable development;
  6. make provision for non-domestic rates to be levied on shootings and deer forests;
  7. make provision about the change of use of common good land; 
  8. make provision about the management of deer on land; 
  9. make provision about access rights to land; and
  10. amend the law on agricultural holdings to:
  • provide for a new form of agricultural tenancy, 
  • remove the requirement to register before tenants of certain holdings can exercise a right to buy,
  • provide a new power of sale where a landlord is in breach of certain obligations, 
  • provide about rent reviews, 
  • expand the list of the persons to whom holdings can be assigned or bequeathed and to whom holdings can be transferred on intestacy and make provision about landlords’ objections to such successor tenants, 
  • provide for a 2 year amnesty period in relation to certain improvements carried out by tenants, and provide for notice of certain improvements proposed by landlords.

Restriction on foreign ownership – the Bill does not contain any provisions which would restrict foreign owners from owning land in Scotland, in furtherance of the policy objective of the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG). Instead the Bill contains provision in relation to information about those who control land.

Limit on the amount of land that may be owned – the Bill does not contain any restriction on the maximum amount of land that may be owned. In response to the LRRG’s recommendation on this topic, the Scottish Government indicated that they would require”significant evidence…in order to ensure [European Court of Human Rights ECHR compliance]…” Presumably the view of the Scottish Government is that any such proposal would run contrary to ECHR requirements.

Duties on charity trustees – the Scottish Government mooted the possibility of placing a duty on charity trustees to consider the effect of a transfer of land on the relevant community. These proposals have not been carried forward in the Bill. However, in terms of the community engagement guidance which the Scottish Ministers are to produce, the Scottish Government suggest in the policy memorandum that failure of charity trustees to adhere to the guidance may be a matter which the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator could pursue.

Further extensive amendments are proposed for the Stage 2 debate commencing now.

Progress on the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill is found here. The Stage 2 amendments are found at the base of the page.