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Concerns raised by MPs about the proposed privatisation of the Land Registry

Friday 17 June 2016

Only months after the Government closed its consultation on moving Land Registry operations to the private sector MPs have raised their concerns with the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid MP.

In a letter written by David Lammy MP on 3 June, and co-signed by 65 Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, he expresses his opposition to the Government’s plans to privatise the Land Registry.

The letter, addressed to Mr Javid can be read on David Lammy’s website and says, “I am sure that you would agree that openness and transparency is a crucial pre-requisite to cracking down on corrupt and dirty money that is flooding the London property market via offshore jurisdictions, and I am particularly concerned to read reports that the companies bidding for the Land Registry are directly linked to offshore tax havens.”

Mr Lammy goes on to say, “It is clearly not the public interest for the Land Registry to be bought up by organisations with a direct interest in reducing transparency and enabling trusts and shell companies registered in tax havens to purchase properties and land in the UK.”

He ends by saying, “Selling off the Land Registry to the highest bidder may help the Chancellor’s sums add up next year but the public interest, transparency, impartiality and accountability should not be sacrificed for profit in the short term – particularly given the fact that the Land Registry has made a surplus in 19 of the last 20 years and paid back £120 million to the public purse last year.”

Days later David Lammy MP tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament opposing the privatisation of the Land Registry. The EDM expresses concern that the proposed privatisation will have a negative impact on transparency and accountability in the UK property market and enable tax avoiders and money launderers to continue to stash their money in this country. By 15 June the EDM had received over sixty signatures, including most notably from Clive Betts MP, the Chair of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Select Committee.

On 30 June MPs will take part in a debate in the House of Commons on the privatisation of the Land Registry.

The Government’s consultation on whether to move the operations of the Land Registry to the private sector closed on 24 March 2016. NAEA responded and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills is currently analysing feedback from those who responded.

The Land Registry employs more than 4,500 civil servants and plays an important role in the property market, holding 24 million titles for the ownership of properties across England and Wales. Back in 2014 plans to privatise the agency were abandoned and it remains to be seen as to what the current government will do following its recent consultation. 

Read NAEA's response to the consultation