Crofting debate to be held in Scottish Parliament

Pictured is Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart
Pictured is Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart

Independent Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has expressed her delight at securing a debate in the Scottish Parliament discussing the importance of crofting in the Highlands and Islands.

Just after 5pm next Tuesday(12th March), Members of the Scottish Parliament will debate Jean’s parliamentary motion that highlights the role played by crofting in Scottish agriculture, the challenges facing the sector and how crofting helps to maintain rural and remote communities.

The debate will last for approximately 45 minutes and, in line with Parliamentary procedure, will be concluded with a speech from the Minister with responsibility for crofting, Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

Speaking to the Gazette Jean encouraged crofters from the Western Isle to get in touch with her about any crofting issues they would like raised by emailing jean.urquhart.msp@scottish.parliament.

She explained she will use the debate to help raise the profile of crofting, the importance of crofting communities and the role crofting can play in food chain in the Highlands and Islands.

She added: “I’m pleased because it is an opportunity for the Government to state it’s case and support crofting.

“It will be good getting the Minister to hear and listen to what everyone has to say, it is a good opportunity for the Minister to get a grasp on some of the issues affecting crofters.”

Jean also explained that it was good timing for the debate following the issue of sporting rights held by the crofting community on Raasay and encouraged all of her fellow Highlands and Islands MSPs to take part and for crofters to follow the debate on the Scottish Parliament’s website or to get in touch with her office afterwards to obtain a transcript.

The text of Jean’s motion is as follows: That the Parliament understands that there are 18,027 crofts in the Highlands and Islands and across Scotland, housing over 33,000 people; considers that crofters play a key role through the production of store animals for the agricultural supply chain and in maintaining land in remote areas; believes that crofts are a valuable source of high-health status animals for larger agricultural food producers; considers the work of crofters to be vital to Scotland’s national food and drink policy and to the continuing success of the sector; understands that most crofters rely on common agricultural policy subsidies to earn a marginal income and that they have to take on second jobs; believes that, by bringing in new inhabitants and because of the economic links that crofters have with the rest of the agricultural sector, crofting has helped maintain population levels in remote communities, considers crofting to be of paramount importance to the environment, food and drink sector and economy, and would welcome the interests of crofters and their communities being championed.