2.1 The introduction of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in June 2015 and the subsequent Parliamentary and public scrutiny of the Scottish Government's proposals led to much debate on the future of land reform, with the issue of transparency of land ownership a key topic which attracted attention. In particular, opinions emerging within and outwith Parliament were in favour of greater transparency over who owns and controls Scotland's land.
2.2 The Scottish Government brought forward amendments at Stage 3 of the Bill to give Scottish Ministers new powers to provide for the disclosure and publication of information about controlling interests in land owners and tenants across Scotland. The amendments were supported and now form part of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
2.3 Scottish Ministers undertook to issue a public consultation to inform the process of developing the necessary policy and practical arrangements to give effect to the amendments. The key issues identified by the Scottish Government to be considered and resolved in developing regulations to deliver a register of controlling interests included:
- The definition of a "controlling interest" in relation to a controlling interest in a land owner or tenant;
- The scope of the regulations, the type of land they will apply to and the persons to whom the regulations will apply;
- Where the information about "persons with controlling interests" in land owners and tenants should be held;
- The information to be disclosed about "persons with controlling interests" in land owners and tenants;
- The duty to provide the information, and the associated sanctions and enforcement arrangements;
- The process for challenging the information that ultimately appears on the register, or any refusal to disclose information; and
- Any (limited) exemptions from disclosure that should be provided for under the regulations.
2.4 The Scottish Government published a consultation document on 11 September 2016 to seek wider views on these issues with responses invited by 5 December. The consultation document divided the topics for debate into three separate workstreams:
- Workstream1: Covered the background and context to the proposals and focused on defining a controlling interest;
- Workstream 2: Covered practical aspects of the regulations including scope, where information should be held and what information should be publicly available; and
- Workstream 3: Covered who should provide information and in what circumstances. It also dealt with non-compliance and appropriate and proportionate sanctions for failing to comply.
2.5 This report presents the analysis of the responses to the written consultation.
2.6 The Scottish Government received 58 responses to the consultation. Most respondents submitted their views via the online system Citizen Space, established for consultation responses. Where responses were submitted in email or hard copy, Scottish Government officials entered them manually onto the Citizen Space system to create one complete database of responses and to aid comparison of views and analysis.
2.7 33 responses were received from organisations and the remaining 25 were from individuals. Table 2.1 shows the distribution of responses by category of respondent. A full list of the organisations which responded is in the Annex. The respondent category applied to each response was agreed with the Scottish Government policy team.
Table 2.1: Distribution of responses by category of respondent
|Category||Number of respondents||% of all respondents|
|Private sector and professional bodies||11||19|
|National non-governmental organisations/public sector||11||19|
|Stakeholder representative groups||9||16|
|Grand total of individuals and organisations||58||100|
Analysis of responses
2.8 The analysis of responses is presented in the following six chapters which follow the order of the questions raised in the consultation paper. Workstream 1 relating to defining controlling interest is dealt with in Chapter 3; Workstream 2 relating to practical aspects is dealt with in Chapters 4 and 5; Workstream 3 on the duty to provide information and sanctions for non-compliance is dealt with in Chapters 6 and 7. Chapter 8 reports the analysis of views on the impact of the proposals on different groups of people, sectors and the environment. The analysis is based on the views of those who responded to the consultation and may not necessarily represent the views of the wider population.
2.9 The Citizen Space database was exported by the analyst to an Excel working database for detailed analysis. Where respondents have requested anonymity and/or confidentiality, their views have been taken into account in the analysis but quotations have not been taken from their responses. Quotations have been included where they illustrate a point of view clearly and have been selected from a range of respondent groups.
Email: Land Reform
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House