Authors ask: ‘Whose land is

gainst the background of enthusiasm for some form of Scottish Parliament. two books in one month have asked the same question who owns Scotland? The issue has never been high on the political agenda. but Eddie Gibb investigates whether it should concern parties of every hue.

A lel't-oli-centre analysis of property ownership in

rural Scotland -— l‘rom Highland estates to the l’arms of

the lowlands - might argue for tenant farmers and crol'ters to be l‘reed from the feudal tie of landlords. This is surely a country cousin ol’ Tony Blair's ‘stakeholder' society.

()n the right. ownership of land by those who work on it might be seen as an extension ol‘ the right-to- buy' legislation which the present (iovernment has applied to public housing.

Meanwhile l’or Scottiin Nationalists. ownership takes on an ideological dimension with the perception oT a nation which has lost control ol its own land to outside interests. from maverick millionaires to secretive oil-shore holding companies.

The question ‘who owns Scotland." comes from a polemical work written by the late John McIiwen. a Scottish l'orester and lil‘c-long socialist who in l‘)77 called for the nationalisation oT land. Neither Andy Wightman nor .-\uslan ('ramb. the two authors who borrowed {\lcliwcn‘s title. advocate nationalisation. but both argue land reform is vital il’ rural Scotland is to flourish.

('ramb. a l‘ormer environtnent correspondent for 'I'lic .S't'orsmun and. now ol‘ the Daily 'Ii’leei'tt/ili. argues that the management ol large estates as exclusive playgrounds tor the huntin'. shootin’ and l‘ishin' set has seriously damaged our native habitat.

"The book isn't an out and out attack on landowners.’ said (‘ramb ‘My over-riding concern is for the health. or rather lack of health. of large areas ol‘ Scotland and it‘s not terribly healthy that people can own 50.000 acres just to shoot some stags or grouse.~

In his book Who ()n'lts Scot/um! Now." (‘ramb claims the bleak moors and brown-capped mountains ol‘ the llighlands are not the countryside‘s natural

state. but the direct result ol~ man’s intervention. such as

over-grazing by deer raised tor sport. ‘.\lany Scots assume the bare hills are naturalf he w rites ‘ln Tact. they are scenes ol~ man-made dereliction and dwindling \vildlilc.‘

\Vhile (’rambR concerns relate mainly to the environmental impact ol' ow nership in Scotland. l‘orestcr and land-use campaigner \Vightman calls t'oi tnorc l'undamental rel'orm l'or economic reasons In ll'l/o ()n'nv~ Slot/mid. the most detailed single register ol- land ownership ever published. \\ ightman argues l'or land relorm to redistribtite ownership to the hands ol the people who live on it.

'l-aml~holding should be restricted to individuals. which would rule out oll3shore holdings and people owning estates tor the tav breaks.~ he said. \Vightman :llSU lk‘llL‘\ L‘s lllL‘l‘L‘ sllttllld ltc‘ regulationsagainst absentee landlords. an emotive issue in tnany parts ol' Scotland. 'll' you live in a place. you're much more likely" to look alter it and work it productively.‘ he added.

The Scottish landowners‘ l‘cdctation. unsurprisingly. disagrees with any land rcl'orm which would require the break-up ol' estates or diltite ow nership. "The problem is the maiority‘ ol‘ people in Scotland live in the central belt and don't appreciate the pluses and minuses ol‘ ow ning large tracts ol‘ land.‘ said Sl .li director Brian Speed ‘lt‘s the way the land is managed that is important. not who actually owns it‘

However. l’rol'cssor Bryan .\lac( iicgor ol .\bcrdcen

it anyway?’

so rrristi 'r( it not B( ii-vRi)’

Rural estates: 3 healthy way to manage the land?

l‘niversity 's Department of Land liconomics believes issues ol' management and ownership can‘t be separated. "The concentration oT ownership and in whose hands it is concentrated are important issues.‘ he said. 'You can‘t isolate the land-use outcome trom the pattern ol' ow nership » they are integrally linkch

In tact. the SH“ implicitly agrees that ownership and management are linked when it acknowledges the importance of individual landowners over market l‘orces. :\s Speed points out. many spotting estates in Scotland are unprolitable and rely on the subsidy ol' wealthy landowners who have either inherited their cash or made it elsewhere. ‘Thcse estates need a lot ol‘ resourcing and responsible landow ncrs feel a commitment to the land.‘ said Speed.

\Vightman responds by saying that it is precisely because these estates operate at a loss that the issue ol' ow nership arises. ‘ll' they are so uneconomical. why do they command such high values'.’.' he stated. "The answer is that they are not economic enterprises in the lirst place. They are bought and sold as assets ol‘ an elite leisure industry whose ovv ncrs do not depend on them for their livelihoods. land priced in millions and run at a loss is economic madness.‘ ll'lio ()n n v Slot/tun! Irv glut/v Big/11mm! is published /t\' (lumped/e; ill/1o ()u'lty’ Scot/(HIM Now." is loll/Hula u’ /t_\' .l/(lll!,\/l‘('(llll.

And finally . . . Scots drinking less - but make mine a stiff one

‘lt was very sore and we have not done it since.‘ wailed l‘ormer soldier Rob Blair who recently underwent surgery to insert silicon rods in his

nation’s reputation as the boo/c capital ol‘ Britain. according to a llliCslle surv ey by the Scottish ()t‘l'ice The average British household spends U333 a week on bev vy bttt Scots'


not an attempt to emulate pop groups more lamous than they '. The result: a L‘SUH line. You can't buy that kind ot~ publicity.

Still rolling with it. it not in it. are

‘manhood‘. The pioneering treatment for impotence was intended to enable Rob to report for duty at a moment‘s notice. needing only to bend the llesible organ into place. Sadly the llesible rods won't bend back into the ‘at-ease' position.

Rob now sports a permanent salute. ‘ll‘ | bend it down. it just springs back up again immediately and it's very painl'ul.’ he told the Hui/v Recon]. What must be even more painful is the know ledge that a BB(‘ medical documentary captured the whole op on lilm and is planning to screen it under the inevitable title .‘v'o Hun/ I’ve/inev. in .luly.

What is drooping. however. is the

alcoholic outlay works out at Z-lp less than the average. But the savings on drink are just ptit towards the cost ol' a packet ol~ tags. as Scottish smokers spend around {I a week more on tabs than the rest ot‘ the l'K.

Still doing their bit tor the Scottish boo/e industry are (ilasgow indie band with attitude The (1y res. whose Tans favour Bllk‘kliilsl over Burgundy any day. The (ly res want to be ()asis no. make that better than ()asis so bad they have studioust cultivated Noel and Liam’s mouthy approach to interviews. .\'ow the band have earned their spurs to rock ‘n' roll hall or lame with telly-out-the»window hotel room antics. by two membch \lark .\lc(iil| and Paul Linden.

The Gyres: Anyone ask for room service?

l'l‘ bcl'ore the sherill in .-\bcrdcen. w here the pair caused tjuoo ol' damage alter a gig. their dcl‘cncc lawyer said the two accused had been 'on a high'. bcl'orc valiantly arguing that this was

the members ol 7tts lidinburgh teen idols The Bay ('ity Rollers. who were tnorc lamous l'or breaking young girlS' hearts than hotel rooms. In an object lesson to up and-coming bands like ilillL' (i) It‘s. the l‘iLtlt l"i\'c“s l‘ilitecn minutes or lame lel't them llat broke and at each other‘s throats. So bad are relations between the band members that £3 million in royalties held by their record company cannot be

div v icd tip because they won't agree terms. ‘l’hc lceling between them is so bad you can't get them in the same room. never mind around the same table.’ said lormer ls’ollers manager Tam l’aton wearily. l‘or now, it seems like a case ol 'by e. by c booty'. tliddie (iibb)

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