Two years ago when the coalition government tried to hive off the well-respected, 150-year-old agency which records the ownership of all land and property in England and Wales, we worked with politicians, and housing industry and legal professionals to successfully make the case for continued public ownership.
Shelving its proposal in July 2014, the government revealed only 5% of respondents to its consultation agreed it would make the Land Registry more efficient and effective, and admitted: “Overall, across virtually all respondents, it was suggested that a case for change had not been made.”
The major concerns expressed then, still remain: that the Land Registry is successful, popular and trusted; it is self-financing and crucial to the property market; and no case can be made for putting this at risk by introducing the profit motive into the sensitive area of state registration of land.
The government cynically launched its new consultation just as MPs broke for their Easter recess on 24 March. The consultation is due to end on 26 May so we are asking everyone to urgently email their MP to invite them to a PCS briefing in parliament on 27 April.
More than 165,000 people have also signed a 38 degrees petition against the sell-off, started by solicitor James Ferguson, to call on chancellor George Osborne to stop the sell-off.
James says in the introduction to the petition that “if private companies get their hands on the Land Registry they’ll have one thing on their minds – profits. This could mean a hike in price for all of us, or a fall in standards because of cost-cutting measures.” He stresses that “the Land Registry is a public service that is self-funding and is not a drain on public finance. There’s no need to sell it off to the highest bidder.”