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Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Agenda: Portfolio Question Time, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (Patient Safety), Ventilation in Schools, Point of Order, Scottish Land Commissioners, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, World AIDS Day 2021


Scottish Land Commissioners

The next item of business is consideration of motion S6M-02307, in the name of Màiri McAllan, on the reappointment of Scottish land commissioners.


The Minister for Environment and Land Reform (Màiri McAllan)

I am pleased to speak to the motion, which recognises the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee’s consideration of the reappointment of Andrew Thin as chair of the Scottish Land Commission and of two of the land commissioners, Dr Sally Reynolds and Lorne MacLeod. They are reappointed, alongside Dr Bob McIntosh, who plays a vital role in supporting our tenant farming sector.

I would like to thank all the reappointees for their work to date and I look forward to working with them in the coming years to deliver Scotland’s ambitious land reform agenda.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament notes the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee’s consideration of the reappointment of four commissioners to the Scottish Land Commission at its meeting on 16 November 2021; welcomes the Committee’s recommendation that the Parliament approves the reappointment to the Scottish Land Commission of Andrew Thin, as Commissioner for an additional two year term and selected as Chair for an additional two year term, and of Dr Bob McIntosh, Tenant Farming Commissioner, Dr Sally Reynolds, Commissioner, and Lorne MacLeod, Commissioner, for additional three year terms, and approves the reappointments as required by section 10 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.—[Màiri McAllan]


Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

Presiding Officer, public bodies are responsible for around £17 billion of public spending so it is important that we get public appointments right. I speak neither for or against the motion; I rise to share my concerns regarding the reappointment of four Scottish Land Commissioners.

Although I acknowledge that the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee recommended approval of the reappointments, I remind members that the role of the Land Commission is to stimulate fresh thinking and to change how we, as a nation, own and use land. Fresh thinking and attracting a new pool of talent on boards in Scotland is lacking. Stephen Boyle, the Auditor General for Scotland, said in September 2021:

“I referred to our audit work and evidence which confirms that board members have a strong bearing on the effectiveness of the governance of public bodies and organisational performance. I also highlighted the issue of equality and diversity and that, in my view, wider representation on boards should help progress towards a fairer and more equal society.”

The Scottish Government should consider that continuity does not bring change; the habitual practice of drawing from the same pool does not send a positive message. It does not attract new and fresh faces. It does not attract applicants from protected groups, including more women, disabled groups, young people and ethnic minorities. Furthermore, public bodies require progressive skills and knowledge to keep pace with technology and deliver on climate change targets. Therefore, I ask whether the Scottish Government believes that the culture of continuity is healthy and whether the minister is confident that the reappointments will bring the diverse representation that we seek.

The question on the motion will be put at decision time.