Feum air sgrùdadh farsaing air na buidhnean poblach, le Murray MacLeòid

Tha fhios nach bi na tha sin de dh’ùidh ann an aithisg a tha a’ dèanamh dubh-chàineadh air Coimisean na Croitearachd. Dhan mhòr-chuid, chan eil ann ach rud a tha bualadh air àireamh bheag de dhaoine air an iomall.

Chaidh droch bhreithneachadh a dhèanamh air mar a tha Coimisean na Croitearachd ag obrachadh.
Chaidh droch bhreithneachadh a dhèanamh air mar a tha Coimisean na Croitearachd ag obrachadh.

[English-language version below]

à Ach, tha sin ceàrr ann an dà dhòigh: tha e dèanamh dì-mheas air cho cudromach ’s a tha a’ bhuidheann mar riaghladair ann an sgìre farsaing de dh’Alba agus, ’s dòcha nas cudromaiche, tha e na shamhla air draghan gu math nas fharsainge mu bhuidhnean poblachd na dùthcha.

An toiseach leasan beag eachdraidh. Chaidh Coimisein na Croitearan a’ stèidheachadh air ais ann an 1886 airson coimhead às dèidh siostam ùr a bha a’ cur dìon airson a’ chiad uair air còirichean nan croitear air fearann, às dèidh dhaibh fulang fo bhorbachd is olc nan uachdaran

Advertisement

Hide Ad

’S eu-coltach an-diugh ri 150 bliadhna air ais ach tha am prionnsabal fhathast a’ seasamh: tha còirichean nan croitear air an fhearann air an dìon, a’ cuideachadh le bhith cumail sluagh ann an coimhearsnachdan agus a’ cuideachadh le bhith cur cruth air tìr a tha gabhail a-staigh faisg air aon thrian de dh’Alba gu lèir, leis a’ choimisean mar riaghladair.

Ach, chan eil e air a bhith gun dhuilgheadas. An-uiridh thug àrd-neach-sgrùdaidh na h-Alba droch bhreithneachadh air a’ bhuidhinn agus an t-seachdain-sa nochd aithisg bho chomataidh na sgrùdaidh ann am Pàrlamaid na h-Alba a bha cur ri sin, a’ togail air “laigsean ann an stiùireadh is rianachd” a bha “aig ìre ris na bu chòir gabhail”.

Aig bunait na cùise tha an càirdeas le Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Thog an aithisg air sgrùdadh eile a chaidh a dhèanamh ann an 2016 agus a thog air “duilgheadasan gu math bunaiteach”. “Tha a’ chomataidh mar sin gu math draghail gun tog na duilgheadasan sin ceann a-rithist agus thathas ag iarraidh gealltanas bho gach taobh gun tèid leasanan ionnsachadh,” thuirt an aithisg.

Agus tha seo a’ leantainn gu draghan nas fharsaing.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

A’ toirt seachad fianais chun chomataidh, dh’fhaighnich an neach-sgrùdaidh “a bheil cothrom ann sùil nas bunaitiche a thoirt” air buidhnean poblach agus mar a tha iad ag obrachadh, oir “an àite a bhith coimhead ri buidhnean fa leth, tha mi beachdachadh saoil am bu chòir dòighean ùrachadh”.

Thuirt e nach robh an sgaradh ann an dleastanasan eadar an coimisean agus Riaghaltas na h-Alba idir soilleir – no ga chur ann an dòigh eile gun robh e duilich dhan choimisean an obair a’ choileanadh agus an riaghaltas a’ gabhail uimhir a’ ghnothach riutha.

Nuair a thig e gu buidhnean poblach, tha sinn air seo a chluinntinn ron a seo – tha an aon sheòrsa gearainean a’ cuairteachadh Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean, mar eisimpleir.

Tha e na chomharra gu bheil cuideigin mar àrd neach-sgrùdaidh na h-Alba, nach eil idir a’ gabhail taobh seach taobh gu poileataigeach, ag iarraidh sgrùdadh nas fharsainge air mar tha an Riaghaltas agus buidhnean poblach ag obrachadh.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

’S e seo rud a ghlac aire buill a’ chomataidh cuideachd agus dh’iarr iad air a dhol air adhart agus an rud a mhol e fhèin a choileanadh – an sgrùdadh farsaing a tha seo a chur air dòigh.

Nuair a smaoinicheas tu a’ bhuaidh a tha aig an àireamh mhòr de bhuidhnean air diofar phàirtean de ar beatha, ’s dòcha gu bheil l à n àm ann an cur fon a’ phrosbaig gu math nas motha na tha air a bhith tachairt – ged nach biodh ann ach nach eil e idir ceart dhaibh a bhith ag obair air falbh bho shùil an t-sluaigh.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

The publication of a damning report by a group of MSPs into the performance of the Crofting Commission is unlikely to gain widespread public traction, given it will probably be viewed as of interest only to a fringe group on the outer edges of the country.

However, that would be a mistake on two fronts: it would misunderstand the important role the regulator plays in a significant tract of Scotland’s countryside and, probably more pertinently, the report draws on how the problems of the commission are reflective of wider issues in the public sector.

First a quick history lesson. The Crofters’ Commission, as it was then, was established back in 1886 to preside over a new and at the time radical land tenure system, which for the first time provided the crofters of the Highlands and Islands with secure tenancy, following systemic exploitation and cruelty at the hands of the landowning classes.

What exists today is of course different to 150 years ago, but the principle remains: crofts offer secure tenancies for working the land, helping to retain population in remote areas and providing a crucial role in sculpting the landscape of a region that encompasses around a third of Scotland’s land mass, with the commission as regulator.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

But it’s not been without its difficulties. Scotland’s Auditor General delivered a damning assessment last year and this week Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee stoked the fire a bit further with their own conclusion, describing its “weaknesses in leadership and governance” as “unacceptable”.

At heart is the relationship with the Scottish government, or as the committee put it “tensions”. The report drew on a previous review in 2016 which also “raised serious concerns” and added: “The committee is therefore very concerned that these fundamental issues could recur and seeks reassurance from both organisations that lessons will be learned.”

And this leads to the much wider issues at play.

In earlier evidence to the committee, the auditor general, after investigating the commission, questioned “whether there is an opportunity for a more fundamental audit of how sponsorship arrangements work in Scotland so, rather than focusing on individual organisations, I am considering whether it is now time to refresh those arrangements”.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

He said the “lines of responsibility” between the commission and the Scottish government were “too blurred” – in other words, there was far too much interference from Edinburgh, compromising the ability of the commission to function independently.

When it comes to how quangos operate, this is by no means an isolated complaint – similar concerns exist, for example, in relation to Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

It is highly instructive that the auditor general, not someone prone to political partisanship, called for a much wider investigation into the relationship between government and quangos, on the back of what he found at the commission.

This certainly didn’t escape the members of the Public Audit Committee as in their report they called on the auditor general to be able to act on his own recommendation – a wider assessment of the quango sector. We now await with bated breath.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

Given the sphere of influence that these numerous “non-departmental public bodies” have over so many factors that directly affect our lives, it’s high time they were subject to far more scrutiny. Quite apart from anything else, it’s not right for them to operate away from the public gaze.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.