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Mar 14th, 2016

Members push MSPs to act on land reform

By Carlton Rose

In just 32 hours we have a chance to make a real difference to tax dodging in Scotland. 

Right now, our country is a tax dodger’s dream. Lax land laws mean that 750,000 acres of land in Scotland are owned by shadowy corporations in tax havens – and we have no idea who owns what or why. But this Wednesday our MSPs will be voting on a law that would ban secrecy around who owns Scottish land.

Pressure from 38 Degrees members and campaigners forced the Scottish Government to make plans for a public register of who owns what. But wealthy landowners have been whispering in politicians’ ears, and the plans have been watered down. So 38 Degrees members are writing to their MSPs ahead of Wednesday’s vote, to drown out those whispers.

Right now the big landowners in Scotland can hide behind obscure company names or complicated legal arrangements. A register could fix this injustice. Rural affairs committee member Sarah Boyack MSP has put down amendments that would make sure this register gets real teeth – and quickly. She’s spoken about how persuasive she found emails from her constituents on this issue. She’s proof our pressure works.

As 38 Degrees members we’re campaigning for a fairer Scotland for all. Just last year we called for justice for the Stoddart family – farmers in East Lothian who were being forced off a farm they’d run for 20 years. Our pressure last year means Wednesday’s land reform bill will include measures to help tenant farmers.

Banning secrecy in Scotland’s land ownership would make Scotland a fairer country. So together let’s email our MSPs and tell them to do the right thing on Wednesday and stand up for the many, instead of the wealthy few.

If you live in Scotland and would like to ask your MSP to vote for amendments that ban secret landownership please click here.

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