Autumn Statement: Land Registry privatisation plan dropped

Ryan Bembridge

November 23, 2016

The government has officially dropped last year’s plan to privatise the Land Registry – as announced in the details of the Autumn Statement today.

In September it was reported that the privatisation plan had been dropped because it wasn’t discussed in the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill.

The plan was introduced in May last year via the Queen’s Speech but attracted criticism for undermining efforts to increase transparency around property ownership, while according to critics it would raise a negligible amount of money.

The Autumn Statement read: “Following consultation the government has decided that HM Land Registry should focus on becoming a more digital data-driven registration business, and to do this will remain in the public sector.

“Modernisation will maximise the value of HM Land Registry to the economy, and should be completed without a need for significant Exchequer investment.”

Eddie Goldsmith (pictured), chairman of the Conveyancing Association, was buoyed by the news.

He said: “We are very pleased that within the detail of today’s Autumn Statement we have the announcement that HM Land Registry will now not be privatised.

“The CA responded to the consultation on this matter and the vast majority of our members were in favour of the Land Registry remaining in the public sector, so we are clearly very supportive of today’s clarification.”

He added: “Interestingly, the Autumn Statement suggests that the Land Registry should become ‘a more digital data-driven registration business’ and that ‘modernisation will maximise the value of [it] to the economy’.

“This, in effect, is a steer that it should focus on its core role of registration and delivering this through a digital process, which one assumes should include such things as e-signatures.

“We are fully supportive of moves towards an up-to-date digital conveyancing service – as outlined in our recently published White Paper on modernising the home moving process.

“If we’re able to see the Land Registry moving swiftly in this direction then this ambition will be achieved much more quickly.

“We are looking forward to engaging with the Land Registry to help it maintain that focus and to work together on securing a 21st Century conveyancing process.”

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