Landlords across Scotland have been issuing tenant farmers with eviction notices ahead of the introduction of new legislation, it was claimed yesterday.

Fergus Ewing, SNP shadow rural development spokesman, has learned that more than 50 tenant farmers have been told their lease will be terminated by the landowners.

The move follows concerns that the agricultural holdings bill will pave the way for tenants to gain the right to buy if it is passed.

Mr Ewing has described the steps taken by landlords as ''utterly disgraceful''.

The Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber MSP said: ''We know of over 50 cases in various parts of Scotland where tenant farmers are facing eviction in a pre-emptive clearance by landlords.

''Some of these will see families evicted, businesses terminated and forced removal.

''The irony is that these tenants will not actually gain the right to buy under the new


Ross Finnie, rural development minister, has previously rejected calls for tenant farmers to have an absolute right-to-buy their land at any time.

He said the legislation aimed to reform the tenanted sector by providing simpler procedures for settling rows between landlords and tenants, and introducing options to allow more opportunities for non-farming activities.

Secure tenants under the existing arrangements will also be given a pre-emptive right to buy, where they can register an interest in purchasing the land on which they live and work in order to gain the right of first refusal if the landlord decides to sell.

Holyrood's rural development committee is to consider the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill tomorrow.