MSPs urge Lord Advocate to assess legality of short-term let regulations

The letter has been signed by SNP rebel Fergus Ewing, as well as the Tories, Labour MSPs and Liberal Democrats.

MSPs urge Lord Advocate to assess legality of Scotland’s short-term let regulations PA Media

The Lord Advocate must investigate whether the introduction of a short-term let licensing scheme will breach human rights laws, a group of cross-party MSPs has said.

A letter sent to First Minister Humza Yousaf last week from the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) warned the regulations may be in breach of privacy and protection legislation.

It claims the requirement for hosts to publicly disclose their personal data on application notices and council licensing registers may be in contravention of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Scotland Act 1998, as well as General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC and Scottish Government Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks have now been asked to intervene by MSPs from all political parties in Holyrood – except the Scottish Greens.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC has been asked to intervene.PA Media

The letter is signed by SNP rebel Fergus Ewing, Labour’s Daniel Johnston, Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie and Conservative MSPs Miles Briggs and Murdo Fraser.

In an appeal to Ms Bain, the letter states: “We ask that you pause the rollout and encourage the relevant changes to be made, to provide certainty that business owners require to sustain and grow and continue to make a substantial contribution to Scotland’s economy and long-term prosperity.”

It also said hosts must be provided with “full certainty that the scheme is lawful”.

The Scottish Government previously said it has conducted impact assessments on issues such as data protection.

Supporters of the scheme say it will address significant numbers of short-term lets in cities, however hosts have said it will significantly impact their ability to operate due to the financial costs of the initiative.

Hosts must have applied for the scheme by October 1 or they will not be able to continue operating, and the ASSC said 53% of operators have said they plan to remain open following its rollout.

In supporting the letter, Mr Ewing said: “If this isn’t suspended now, the huge blunder of these regulations will need to be unpicked later on, which is an infinitely more painful task.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is considering the terms of this letter and will respond appropriately in due course.

“Six impact assessments, including a data protection impact assessment, were published as part of the 2020 consultation on the scheme.”

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