The Crofter’s cham­pion

The Oban Times - - DISTRICTS -

HIS­TORY, they say, has a habit of re­peat­ing it­self, which is why I took more than a pass­ing in­ter­est in what our new High­land MSP Don­ald Cameron had to say about croft­ing and croft­ing law in The Oban Times a few weeks ago.

If there is any­one liv­ing in the High­lands and Is­lands who has the back­ground to of­fer an opin­ion on croft­ing in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment since MSP John Far­quhar Munro (1934-2014) passed away, Mr Cameron from Lochaber, must rate high in the list.

Not only is he a lawyer who has been in­volved in ru­ral is­sues for many years, he is also the great grand­son of Don­ald Wal­ter Cameron of Lochiel (1876-1951) MP for In­ver­ness-shire, a na­tive Gaelic speaker and an ac­tive mem­ber of The Napier Com­mis­sion whose de­lib­er­a­tions led to the first Crofter’s Act of 1886.

Don­ald Cameron MP, trav­elled the length and breadth of the High­lands and Is­lands gath­er­ing ev­i­dence from cot­ters, crofters, fac­tors, landown­ers, min­is­ters and priests about rents, liv­ing con­di­tions, leases, fair­ness and se­cu­rity of ten­ure. Land-lea­guers who wanted the right to buy their land, thought the Act didn’t go far enough.

That may have been so, nonethe­less, the metic­u­lous ev­i­dence col­lected by Lochiel and his fel­low com­mis­sion­ers brought the plight of the crofters to a wider au­di­ence and pro­vided a solid foun­da­tion on which fu­ture leg­is­la­tion has been based.

Many of MP Don­ald Cameron’s es­tate and per­sonal pa­pers can be ac­cessed at the Lochaber Ar­chive Cen­tre, in the West High­land Col­lege, Fort Wil­liam.

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