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4 April 2018

Too few with too much?

Whenever the case for more land reform is made, the principal argument used (although there are many others) is that the pattern of land ownership in Scotland has become far too concentrated – with too few people owning too much land. The Scottish Land Commission has been charged with the task of maintaining the momentum on land reform and have commissioned a series of papers (Land Lines) to stimulate discussion and debate. The most recent paper focuses on this central issue of too few people owning too much of Scotland.

By Peter Peacock

Land: For the many and not the few?


To read this discussion paper click here


SUMMARY OF JUSTIFICATIONS FOR CHANGE


To bring about the greater diversity in ownerships that is at the heart of contemporary land policy, taking action to limit the scale of land ownership and the effects of concentration of power within any landholding might be justified on five essential grounds:


 1. The way in which current ownership patterns inherently act against the greater fairness and social justice widely shared as a societal goal; 


2. The positive effects of fuller economic participation by more people;


 3. Addressing the market failure that limits participation to an increasingly rich few; 


4. Tackling the concentration of power, with some land ownerships being effective local land monopolies;  


5. The ability of reformed arrangements to empower more people and communities.


These justifications broadly align with the Land Commission’s strategic objectives around productivity, diversity and accountability.


They are also matters which broadly fall within the sort of justifications for policy interventions permissible by government under the Treasury `Green Book’xxviii which addresses questions of economic efficiency, market power, equity, additionality considerations which alter the productive capacity of the economy, and regeneration.

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