Draft Land Registry Trading Fund (Extension and Amendment) Order 2003

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Mr. Lammy: I am grateful for the support of the hon. Member for Surrey Heath. If he writes to me, I will endeavour to reply to him as quickly as I can.

On finance, the Land Registry conducted 5.57 million units of work in 1993–94. Over the past 10 years, that figure has risen to 12.7 million units of work, which—this is an achievement—is being conducted by fewer staff. In 1993, the Committee would have discussed the Land Registry's first telephone service centre. Ten years on, the issue is, interestingly, the Land Registry's going online to allow consumers to e-conveyance.

Mr. Burnett: Can the Minister define a unit of work for the Committee? Is it one job such as the registration of either an easement or a property?

Mr. Lammy: I imagine that the size of a unit of work relates to the individual consumer's expectations because a title may pertain to an easement or to a course of way. I can write to the hon. Gentleman in

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detail on that particular point should he require me to do so. I imagine that the definition of a unit of work depends on the size of the title involved and whether it pertains to a house, to a commercial residence, to a causeway or to something else.

I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the Land Registry's annual report, which was laid before Parliament on 9 July. Annual reports are, of course, on record in the Library. The Land Registry report contains information on the work that the agency is doing, its profitability and other matters.

On consultation, no other bodies have been consulted and, for these purposes, there is no requirement to do so. The 1973 Act does not require us to consult on existing trading funds. We consult regularly however, and have done so on the 2002 Act, where many issues relating to the business of the Land Registry came up.

On the specific point about the 6 per cent., I have already said that the rates are reviewed and that the Land Registry will receive up-to-date information from Partnerships UK—the body within the Treasury that examines those matters—following the work of the taskforce. Partnerships UK is funded by the Treasury to provide a range of guidance and support to help the Land Registry to meet that wider markets project. The Treasury set up the taskforce to ensure that all the factors described by the hon. Gentleman are brought to bear on profitability. The Land Registry can borrow from the national loans fund, which is available to support such bodies. It has never needed to do so, however, and there are no immediate plans for it to do so.

The trading fund is being introduced during a successful period for the Land Registry. Stringent targets were set, and, as I have said, it has met them. We should be confident that the new trading fund will prepare the Land Registry to assist foreign countries and those who need its services in this country into the next century.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Land Registry Trading Fund (Extension and Amendment) Order 2003.

Committee rose at seven minutes past Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cook, Mr. Frank (Chairman)
Allen, Mr.
Barron, Mr.
Burnett, Mr.
Hawkins, Mr.
Hopkins, Mr.
King, Ms Oona
Lammy, Mr.
Lazarowicz, Mr.
Prentice, Ms
Walley, Ms
Wilshire, Mr.

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