Public Policy in the Scottish Highlands: Governments, Politics and the Land Issue, 1886 to the 1920s

Cameron, Ewen Archibald (1992) Public Policy in the Scottish Highlands: Governments, Politics and the Land Issue, 1886 to the 1920s. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is concerned with the development of government policy in the Scottish Highlands from the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act of 1886 to the mid 1920s. It begins with an analysis of the politics of the 1886 Act encapsulating an examination of the input of crofters, proprietors and politicians to the contents of the Act. The contemporary polemical reactions to the Act and the historiographical debate surrounding the Act and its legacy are given consideration. The Crofters' Commission, set up in 1886 to implement the Act, is examined in depth. Particular attention is paid to the use of the Commission by the Government in the turbulent years from 1886 to 1888. The reforms of the Commission in 1887 and 1888 are also scrutinised. The reactions to the Commission by the various social and political groups in the Highlands are summarised. A brief statistical analysis of the work of the Commissioners in setting fair rents and granting enlargements of holdings concludes this section. Parallel developments in the period from 1886 to 1895, such as the debates on emigration, development of the infrastructure and reform of land tenure are detailed. The context here is the differing perspectives of the Conservative and Liberal Parties who were both in office during this period. The origins of the suceeding policy of land purchase are discerned. The role of the Congested Districts Board, set up in 1897, is analysed. Firstly, its actions in attempting to carry out the policy of land purchase under a Conservative government from 1897 to 1905 and subsequently the second phase of its work under a Liberal Government from 1906 to 1911, are analysed. Attention is given to the work of the Board on the ground in attempting to interest crofters in the policies of land purchase and migration. The negative response of crofters to both initiatives is discussed. The effects of the ongoing debate on the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill, which provided for the abolition of land purchase and the CDB, in the Highlands are put in context. A detailed political analysis of this debate, and the role of the representatives of crofters and proprietors complements the examination of the work of the Board. The final two sections of the thesis are concerned with the policy of land settlement. The short working life of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act, 1911 is analysed. The problems caused by the ideological origins of this piece of legislation are the particular focus. Statistical evidence is employed to measure the relative success or failure of the operation of this Act in the period from 1911 to 1919. The improved performance of land settlement under the Land Settlement (Scotland) Act of 1919 is presented as a contrast. A comparitive statistical analysis demonstrates the quantitative improvement clearly. However an examination of the qualitative aspects of the results of post war land settlement leads to a more complex understanding of the success of the policy. The political context of the immediate post war period provides the backdrop to this section. The stringent fiscal atmosphere and the renewed sequence of land raids and strident rhetoric by applicants for land are the two most important features of this period. The overarching themes concern the political tension and debate between the various pieces of legislation. The statutes of 1886 and 1911 were based on the concept of protected tenancy; whilst that of 1897 was based on the concept of land purchase. The 1919 act contained elements of both ideas. The prevailing interpretation of the role of landowners in policy in this period is revised. The diversity of conditions across the Crofting Counties is also a constant theme. Some attention is given to the political legacy of the policy developments of this period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Allan L Macinnes
Keywords: European history, Political science, Public policy
Date of Award: 1992
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1992-74812
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 16:03
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 16:03

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