Assembly Member urges UK Government to abandon plans to privatise the Land Registry

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black who worked at Swansea Land Registry for 17 years before being elected, has urged the UK Government to rethink its plans to privatise the agency.

Mr. Black was responding to a consultation by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) which is asking people to comment on whether thee Land Registry should deliver its services at arms-length from Government through a privately owned company.

In his submission to BIS Mr. Black argues that there is no evidence that the current level of service will be improved by outsourcing the delivery functions of the land Registry:

"As a Trading Fund the Land Registry already has the flexibility to innovate and reinvest surpluses as is evidenced by its very successful sale and publication of quarterly house price information. It has also been for some time a flagship department in terms of customer service," said Mr. Black. "Where is the evidence that this proposal will improve on that?"

"The present set-up is independent, transparent and accountable. The proposed change is not. The Land Registry is a staff-orientated department with a good record in training and continuing professional development. A private company would not make that investment and as a result the quality of service will suffer.

"The integrity of the land register relies primarily on government guarantee backed up by statute and confidence in the quality of the Land Registry's work. This proposal has the potential to undermine both. I am not convinced that a private company would put the integrity of the register ahead of its other aims and objectives as the Land Registry currently does. Changing the status quo placing the integrity of the register in the hand s of a contractual relationship is fraught with difficulties. The Land Registry currently has a 98% customer satisfaction rating. These proposals put that in jeopardy as well as the jobs of hundreds of staff in the region I represent."

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