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Labour calls for new consultation as the only way to restore trust

Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, Toby Perkins MP, has today written to his Tory counterpart to demand that he “push the reset button” and launch a new consultation around the future of the Land Registry.

In a letter to a union representative at the registry on 30 April 2014, Tory Minister Michael Fallon stated that he would:

“like to reiterate once again that the overall proposal is being considered against the option of remaining as is; and no decisions will be taken until all consultation responses have been considered.”

Budget 2014But documents leaked to The Guardian reveal that just five days before this letter was written, senior civil servants had already discounted continuing with the status quo and were only discussing two options.  These were a joint venture between the government and a private company, or letting a private company run it as a so-called Govco.

Toby Perkins said:

“Labour sees no compelling case for privatisation of a government agency which returned a surplus of £98.8m to the Treasury last year.  I have received representations from lawyers, unions and private sector companies who believe this would be a terrible idea.  So I was keen to see the results of the consultation which would assess all of the evidence.

“Unfortunately the integrity of the consultation is fatally undermined by the Guardian’s revelations.  The only way to restore confidence in the process is to start with a new consultation under a new minister with a genuinely open mind.”

You can read the letter in full here.

Perkins also confirmed that Labour will be hosting its own public consultation event on the subject next month.  He explained:

“As the government’s consultation has descended into farce it falls to Labour to give a chance for all voices to be heard.  So on 24 June I will be hosting a select-committee style evidence session to do just this.”

One Response to “Labour calls for new consultation as the only way to restore trust”

  1. Mr R A Stoney says:

    Hi

    I am an employee of Land Registry

    Can I ask you whether Labour would commit itself publically to re-nationalising Land Registry immediately on taking power if the CONDEM government choose, as they almost certainly will, to privatise us?

    I would encourage you to take a look at the hundreds of comments on the guardian / Law Society gazette websites / save Land registry campaign etc. etc. and be aware of the near unanimous opposition to this proposed outrage from with LR and the entire legal profession as well, I am sure, from your own voters

    If Labour were to make this commitment it would immediately halt any move towards privatisation, as no company would be likely to bid to take over the running of an organisation which it may immediately loose

    I note that you say “Labour sees no compelling case for privatisation of a government agency which returned a surplus of £98.8m to the Treasury last year” – I think there is a far more compelling argument here – its simply that selling us off (possibly to a foreign company) would create massive opportunity for conflict of interest, security of information and fraud.

    This risk does not appear to have been widely spoken about or possibly even considered properly. Our economy is to a very large degree based on land, the sale of it, renting and leasing of it and mortgaging of it in some form. The information Land Registry holds is both a national asset, an asset to many different industries and, at the moment belongs to US. It is effectively held by the state, maintained by a trustworthy, loyal and efficient staff. Virtually all of our previously nationally owned, privatised assets are now owned by foreign companies – many of which are to a certain extent state owned / controlled. Now consider this country getting into some sort of conflict – armed or economic with such a foreign state – who then simply destroys land ownership records for England and wales – result – economic collapse which would make the recession we have been through look like loosing a tenner down the back of the sofa! – a bit extreme I’ll admit, perhaps a more realistic threat would be the potential massive increase in fraud.

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

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