THE case of the Duke of Buccleuch and the Cayman offshore tax havens shows exactly why Scotland’s land reform bill must have transparency at its heart.

Large areas of Scotland are owned by companies registered in secrecy jurisdictions.

About one fifth of all rural land cannot be identified. It is hidden away from the government and the public. Huge swathes of our country, and we don’t know who owns them.

This matters.

It matters because it’s a way of avoiding tax and it matters because it’s a way of laundering money.

Changes to the law here should see the end of companies being owned anonymously by parent companies – by naming the person who has significant control of a landowning entity.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill has its final, Stage 3 debate tomorrow. Aileen McLeod, the cabinet secretary to whom responsibility for land reform falls, said in this very paper that the bill would offer greater transparency.

Announcing the creation of a public register of persons who control land in Scotland, she said: “Quite simply, in too many cases those who actually control land can hide behind obscure company titles or trust arrangements.”

As readers of our letters page in yesterday’s paper will have noticed, there is real concern that this bill, though vastly improved of late, still lacks the measures necessary for the transparency that put the fire in the bellies of land campaigners, who are calling for a “swift clarification of definitions, timetables and terminology” in the bill.

What does significant control mean, who implements the new regulations, and what will the sanctions for non-compliance be? Hopefully these questions will be answered – and answered well – in tomorrow’s debate.

After years or work, Scotland is so very close to having a truly radical land reform bill.

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