Land Reform Bill shows we need a bolder Holyrood

Scottish Greens are pledging to keep up the fight for bold land reform following tonight's approval of the Land Reform Bill, which does not contain strong action on tax dodgers and derelict land.


Earlier this week, Andy Wightman, land reform spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP candidate for Lothian, revealed that companies owned by the Buccleuch Estates use tax havens in the Cayman Islands. An amendment to the Land Reform Bill, by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, aimed at restricting ownership by companies using British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Islands, was today voted down by SNP backbenchers and the Conservatives.


Patrick's amendment aimed at giving local authorities the ability to tax vacant or derelict land was similarly defeated.


An amendment by Green MSP Alison Johnstone, insisting that ministers report by 2017 on a review of rights for tenant farmers, was accepted unanimously by the parliament.


Andy Wightman said:


"The limited nature of this legislation demonstrates that we need a bolder Holyrood with more Green voices. With a government majority it's simply baffling that the SNP - whose own membership has been agitating for radical measures - have passed up the opportunity to deliver real reforms.


"The Green bid to clamp down on the use of tax havens goes to the heart of understanding who owns Scotland. As we have seen this week with the uncovering of the complex corporate affairs of the Buccleuch Estates, there is an urgent need to ensure transparency in who profits from Scottish land.


"It's also disappointing to see an opportunity missed on derelict land. Taxing such land could generate hundreds of millions of pounds, which Greens would use to tackle Scotland's housing crisis. The SNP are promising a consultation but this is action they could be taking now. Their reluctance speaks volumes about their desire to control from the centre rather than empower at a local level."