The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has expressed his dismay at plans by the UK Conservative government to revive plans for a £1 billion-plus privatisation of the Land Registry less than 18 months after the sell-off was vetoed by Liberal Democrat ministers.
Sky News reports that Rothschild, the investment bank, has been asked to examine options for a sale of the organisation, which controls the records of all property transactions in England and Wales and which currently employs about 400 people in Swansea.
They also quote sources that the Chancellor could outline plans to explore a partial sale of the Land Registry in next week's Autumn Statement.
“I am astonished that this proposal has been revived so soon after it was rejected by the previous Liberal Democrat Minister,” said Mr. Black. “There was a very thorough examination of the privatisation plan then and Ministers concluded that it would not add value.
“The Land Registry is an important employer in the Swansea area that makes a surplus which is reinvested in its business. It is an innovative and successful government-run business with a good reputation for customer service.
"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. There is no evidence that the proposal to privatise it 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 and jobs will be put at risk."
Note: The Sky News report can be found here: http://news.sky.com/story/1589251/osborne-revives-plan-for-land-registry-sale