§ Mr. David Stewart
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how the Government plan to take forward their commitment to initiate a study of land ownership and management in Scotland. 876W
§ Mr. Dewar
I am establishing a land reform policy group, under the chairmanship of my noble Friend the Scottish Office Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Fisheries, which will have the following remitto identify and assess proposals for land reform in rural Scotland taking account of their cost, legislative and administrative implications and their likely impact on the social and economic development of rural communities and on the natural heritage.
The group comprises senior officials from the Scottish Office and the Forestry Commission; and Professor John Bryden of Aberdeen university, who has long experience of land tenure issues, will act as external assessor. Over the next year the group will assess carefully the range of available options and I expect is report to provide a sound basis for early action by the new Scottish Parliament. Along with two related reports from the Scottish Law Commission on the abolition of feudal tenure and on reform of the law on real burdens, this should pave the way for early land reform legislation for the new millennium.