SNP pledges new Register of Controlling Interests on land ownership
Nicola Sturgeon says Panama Papers show the need for greater transparency over land ownership
The SNP has pledged to introduce a new Register of Controlling Interests relating to land ownership in Scotland if re-elected.
Ahead of the party’s manifesto launch, Nicola Sturgeon said the Panama Papers – which saw 11.5m tax files released from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm – showed the need for transparency over land ownership.
The Register of Controlling Interests would disclose the name of anyone with a controlling interest in major landholdings and tenancies, with civil penalties or criminal sanctions used to enforce compliance.
The party will hold a consultation on the requirements for a Register of Controlling Interests, aimed at stopping legal entities being used to conceal the individuals who control Scottish land.
Sturgeon said: “The Panama papers have exposed some of the issues around anonymous ownership of land – however the people of Scotland shouldn’t have to rely on leaked documents to find out who owns Scotland.
“The SNP are supporting a substantive growth in community ownership of land via our £10million Land Fund, have taken action to protect and enhance the rights of tenant farmers, and we are establishing the Scottish Land Commission to ensure land reform is an ongoing process. However transparency of ownership is in the public interest and is vital to informing future land policy.”
The SNP said the consultation would examine issues including sanctions for non-compliance, who the register would cover, and what mechanisms would be used to ensure the accuracy of information provided.
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