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Land Register

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now set up a land register for Scotland.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is waiting impatiently for me to say "No, Sir".

That is a disappointing reply. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that estates are changing hands in the Western Isles and other parts of the Highlands without the tenants having any knowledge of who their landlords are? Does the Minister realise that landlords are holding up housing development and impending developments generally? Is it not about time that people knew who owns the land upon which they live, in order that a start may be made on abolishing the whole rotten medieval system?

I sympathise with the problem and the point that the right hon. Gentleman has made, but a report is published each year that lists in alphabetical order all the land transactions for each county area. It is relatively easy for anyone interested to find out about the land transactions and to discover who is the landlord of any piece of land.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that 100 years ago it was possible to publish a land register of ownership? That information has been kept up to date since that time and is available to the Scottish Office, so cannot this Government do as well as Governments did 100 years ago and publish a list of those who own land in Scotland?

I do not know whether my hon. Friend is suggesting that we should compile a register of land title. If so, this is one of the aspects of land tenure reform that the Government are presently considering and I cannot make any commitment today.

Can the Minister confirm that since the sixteenth century there has been registration of land titles in Scotland in the Register of Sasines? Is it not about time that the members of the Scottish National Party got some more Scottish history into their heads?

I was explaining how we go about discovering who owns a particular piece of land.