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Land Registry privatisation decision delayed until new PM is in place

The controversy over whether the Land Registry should be sold off will now not be resolved until a new Prime Minister appoints his or her new government.

A current junior minister at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills - George Freeman - has told MPs that a decision will be made “later this year” and some commentators have interpreted his comments as suggesting that the privatisation may be in some trouble even with Conservative MPs.

Some in the property industry, and the Labour Party, have suggested that the proposed privatisation may lead to a lack of transparency in transactions and could reduce the quality of information available from the Registry.


“I have no idea what those currently looking to form the new administration will want to do when they are in office, but anyone reading this debate today will have seen loud and clear the views of those who have spoken on all sides of the house” Freeman told MPs at the end of last week - after a number of Tory MPs expressed concerns at the move.

Conservative backbench MP John Stevenson told a Commons debate: “It would be a privatisation too far.” 

Another Tory back-bencher, Will Quince, said: “Privatising the Land Registry would undermine impartiality, lead to fees for customers increasing and act as a considerable risk to the integrity of the organisation. I’ve not heard from any stakeholders in the property industry calling for this change or even warmly welcoming it. In fact, they all criticise it.”

Currently there is an online petition opposing the move; it has over 300,000 signatures. 

The Conveyancing Association has expressed concerns as to whether a private Land Registry would maintain its current service levels or deliver innovation, and  the Competition and Markets Authority is warning that if sold the Land Registry might degrade access to its data in order to weaken competition to its own commercial products.

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    Matthew Lane

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