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Clause 7—(Amendment Of Provisions Of Act Of 1955 Relating To Right Of Dispossessed Absentee Crofter To Cquire Dwelling-House)

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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I beg to move, in page 7, line 10, at the end, to insert:

(5) The Commission shall, on being so requested by a crofter, act on behalf of such crofter in any matter connected with the grant to him in pursuance of the said section seventeen of a conveyance in feu of the dwelling-house and other pertinents on the croft and the recording of such conveyance in the Register of Sasines.
(6) Any expenses incurred by the Commission in complying with a request made to them by a crofter under the last foregoing subsection or in preparing and recording a conveyance as mentioned in subsection (5) of the said section seventeen shall be borne by the Commission and shall not be recoverable by them from any other person.
Hon. Members who were in Committee upstairs will remember that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) moved an Amendment which had, in substance, a rather similar effect to this one. It was designed to ensure that the Crofters Commission would meet the legal costs incurred in granting a conveyance in feu under Section 18 of the 1955 Act to an aged crofter.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has considered the arguments which the hon. Member put forward. This Amendment is designed to meet his case and goes even further. The new subsection (5) enables the crofter to whom a conveyance is granted to ask the Commission to act for him. This applies not only to an aged crofter, but it also enables an absentee crofter and a crofter who wishes, in a reorganisation scheme, to take a conveyance in feu of his dwelling-house to ask the Commission to act for him, too. In addition, the new subsection (6) provides that the Commission itself will meet all expenses in carrying out the work. We have made it clear that the Commission will meet the expenses incurred by a crofter in connection with preparing and recording a conveyance under Section 17 (5) of the 1955 Act.

I should like to express the gratitude of my hon. Friends and myself for the Government's action in accepting our proposal. It will be helpful in the Highlands and will be appreciated by the crofters. It will be helpful in the endeavour to persuade aged crofters to allow their land to be used for the purpose of expanding other crofts. There have been great difficulties about this since the Crofters Commission was set up. The number of aged crofters who wanted to retain their crofts and to allow the croft land to go has not been very great. This proposal should have beneficial effects and be of great value to the Commission and its work, as well as helpful to the crofter.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.