Land Registry privatisation plans revealed in leaked document

Land Registry privatisation plans revealed in leaked document

Former chief land registrar and unions express concern about possibility of private firms having a say in granting of land rights.

The Land Registry is headed towards privatisation, in a move which will give private firms a say in the granting of land rights, according to leaked minutes from a meeting of its board members.

Former executives from the body, which registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales, say that a sell-off “beggars belief” because it will allow the private sector to adjudicate on what can be conflicting interests between sellers, buyers, lenders and neighbours.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that far from still considering public ownership of the 150-year-old body as a viable option – as ministers publicly claim – senior civil servants are deciding between a joint venture between the government and a private company, or letting a private company run it as a so-called Govco.

Michael Fallon, the business minister responsible, had stated that options would be put out for a public consultation before any decision was made – and this would include the option of retaining the Land Registry as an executive agency of government.

Conservative ministers are in favour of a joint venture, sources say. But the Guardian understands that Vince Cable, the business secretary, will block Tory moves towards a joint venture as he argues that the government must keep tighter control of any potential private sector partners.

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