Currently, any registered crofter or owner-occupier who is at least 16 years of age can stand for election. A crofter can stand for election only in the constituency where they live.
In addition, someone who is not a crofter can stand for election if they are nominated by a crofter.
Currently crofters who the Crofting Commission has determined are not meeting the duty to be resident cannot stand for election. Changes to crofting law in 2010 put the duties to not neglect the croft and to cultivate the croft (or put it to another purposeful use) on the same footing as the duty to be resident.
Question 5: Should a crofter who the Crofting Commission has determined is not complying with the duty to cultivate their croft, or put it to another purposeful use, be disqualified from standing for election as a Crofting Commissioner?
All 15 respondents answered this question with 12 agreeing with these reasons for disqualification from standing for election and three respondents, all individuals, disagreeing.
A recurring view amongst those agreeing with the proposal was that Commissioners must lead by example and being non-compliant with the duty to cultivate their croft would lead to both the Commissioner and the Crofting Commission losing credibility.
Two of the three opponents considered that this would be difficult to police, with a judgement on whether a croft is cultivated or put to a purposeful use, subject to debate. One individual argued that disqualifying a crofter from standing for election on such a subjective basis could be open to abuse.
The third opponent argued that:
"Since non crofters can stand for election it seems perverse to exclude an inactive or even non-resident crofter from standing…."
Question 6: Should a crofter who the Crofting Commission has determined is neglecting their croft be disqualified from standing for election as a Crofting Commissioner?
All 15 respondents answered this question with all but one individual agreeing with this reason for disqualification from standing for election.
Most respondents repeated their reasoning provided in relation to question 5 regarding leading by example and loss of credibility should a Commissioner neglect their croft.
The one dissenting voice repeated their previous argument that it would appear incongruous if a crofter who neglected their croft was disqualified from standing for election when non crofters or non-resident crofters were permitted to stand.
Question 7: If you have any other comments on candidate eligibility please include these here.
Few substantive comments were made by respondents. The Scottish Crofting Federation and one individual emphasised what they considered to be the importance of making potential candidates more aware of what the role of Commissioner entailed. The Scottish Crofting Federation suggested that if advertising a Commissioner job, a Job Description and Person Specification should be issued, with essential and desirable criteria that candidates need to fulfil, prior to being invited to apply.
One individual respondent recommended that would-be candidates should not be eligible if they have no crofting background or have not applied for a Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme.
Another individual commented that voters can decide for themselves when voting on the significance to place on the duty of compliance.
Email: Keir Scott, [firstname.lastname@example.org(mailto:email@example.com)