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Search Agents

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the comparative costs incurred by local authorities in (a) staff and (b) administrative time in dealing with enquiries from personal search agents making enquiries about land and property information (i) by post and (ii) electronically; and if he will make a statement. [112181]

Local authorities are not required to provide this information to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and no assessment of costs incurred by local authorities has been made. Local authorities have discretionary powers to charge for answering inquiries about land and property made in connection with home sales and other transactions. In determining the amount of the charge, each authority has to have regard to its costs in dealing with such enquiries. Charges for Local Land Charges Register inquiries are prescribed by my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, who is currently considering an application by the Local Government Association for an increase in the prescribed fees.