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Land Registry

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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asked the Attorney-General whether he will waive current charges relating to caution registrations using form 63/13, where protracted delays have occurred in the processing of registrations at district land registries.

Delays in the processing of appliations do not give rise to any need for the registering of cautions since the priority of such an application is determined by the date upon which it is received by the registry and not by the date upon which the certificate is issued.

asked the Attorney-General what fees have been collected for the most convenient period in connection with registration of cautions using form 63/14 resulting from delays in registration of residential property.

About 850 caution applications are currently received each week. The fee for each application using form 63/14 is £20. There is no reason for believing that any of these cautions are lodged by applicants for registration concerned about delays in processing their applications since the priority of such applications is determined by the date upon which they are received by the Registry and not by the date upon which the certificate is issued.

asked the Attorney-General what were current levels of staff in each of the district land registries at the most recent convenient date; and whether he has any plans to deploy more staff to reduce current delays in registration of residential property.

The permanent staff in posts at the end of February 1987 at each of the district land registries was as shown in the table below:

OfficeFirst registrationsTransfer of part/dispositionary first leaseDealingAll categories
Tunbridge Wells1601805872
A number of steps have been taken to taken up in dealing with applications These include computerisation, overtime recruitment, opening new offices and improvements in practice and procedure.



Tunbridge Wells624

In addition to the 13 district land registries, offices have recently been established at Telford and Coventry which together account for a further 111 staff. 555 casual staff are currently employed at district land registries. This is further supplemented by overtime. This level of staffing takes up the full authorised resources. As from 2 April 1987 a further 376 staff have been authorised at district registries and are being recruited and trained. The extent to which these will help to reduce current delays will largely depend on the levels of applications.

asked the Attorney-General whether he will publish the surplus or deficit position on current transactions relating to each land registry district office in the last five years.

The Land Registry's revenue in the registration of title department exceeded expenditure by £64·5 million in the five financial years 1981–86. Profit and loss accounts are not separately maintained for individual district registries.

asked the Attorney-General what is the current length of time taken by each of the district land registries to register residential properties after application; and whether any steps are being taken to expedite current levels of performance.

The table shows at each district land registry the average completion times in working days at the end of February 1987 for each category of substantive application.

asked the Attorney-General what steps the Land Registry is taking in the light of the long current waiting periods for registration of residential property to protect applicants against the creation of further equitable interests.

The priority of an application to register a purchase or mortgage is determined according to the date upon which the application is received by the Registry. Accordingly, the lodging of such an application will give the purchaser or mortgagee priority over any third party interests subsequently created.

asked the Attorney-General what advice the Land Registry is issuing to applicants for registration who are likely to have to face delays for longer than 20 weeks.

When a new title application is lodged for registration, an acknowledgement card is sent indicating the likely number of weeks that the Land Registry will take to process the application. It contains a note explaining that if a delay in completing the registration will cause specific problems (for example, because of a pending resale of the property) and the Registry is informed every effort will be made to process the application as quickly as possible.

asked the Attorney-General what was the last occasion when the work load of the Land Registry was assessed in relation to current levels of staff employed; and whether he will make a statement.

The Land Registry's work load and staffing was assessed in April 1986 when the preparatory work was undertaken for the 1986 public expenditure survey.

asked the Attorney-General what representations he has received from conveyancers, solicitors or their representative organisations on the delays relating to registration of residential property by the Land Registry.

During the last 12 months the Lord Chancellor has received some 12 letters of enquiry from solicitors and one from a conveyancing company regarding delays at the Land Registry. Some of these inquiries were general; some related to specific transactions. No formal representations have been received from representative organisations.