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Property Ownership Rights

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what support the Department gives to developing countries to improve the systems they operate to establish property ownership rights. [129302]

Over the last five years, DFID has supported developing countries to establish effective and equitable policies in relation to land and property, together with fair and efficient systems to establish and administer property rights, especially in Africa. Since this is invariably costly and long term, we seek to do this in partnership with others such as the international and regional development banks and the European Union. In Ghana and Malawi we are working alongside the World Bank and others to help establish practical, low-cost, and locally managed systems for land administration. In Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda we have supported inclusive processes of debate and consultation leading to new policies and laws on land and property and implementation plans. We are about to embark on a similar process in Kenya and are in the process of identifying how best to assist in South Africa. In India and Bangladesh we have sponsored the development of new alliances and partnerships to secure the tenure of vulnerable groups, the regularisation and improvement of informal low-income urban settlements, assistance to low-income households in accessing land, and the piloting of a community led finance facility for poor communities to manage upgrading, resettlement and infrastructure projects in partnership with local authorities and the banking sector. In Guyana we are about to complete a project for and the establishment of the regularisation of a new Lands and Surveys Commission and the associated regularisation of tenure rights.Globally, DFID supports efforts by the World Bank to establish and implement coherent and inclusive policies to secure and administer property rights in the developing world, and the Department is supporting UN-Habitat in the development of its monitoring system for MDG Target 11 'Improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020', for which one indicator is secure tenure.My Department is also funding research into the promotion of intermediate forms of tenure in urban areas, effective systems for the management of common property, and the improvement of administrative procedures so as to reduce the costs of legal and appropriate shelter for the urban poor.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment the Department has made of the ability of poor people in developing countries to realise the value of property which they own; and what assessment the Department has made of the impact that property ownership regulations and systems in their country have on the ability of poor people in developing countries to release the capital in their property. [129303]

has found that in many developing countries poor people cannot realise the value of property they own. Their property rights are often informal and there are legal, administrative and financial barriers to poor people securing formal rights to land and property. However the department has also found that the promotion of property and private land titling and universal markets in land, as practised in developed countries, is not always appropriate. In many cases property ownership systems fail to recognise legitimate customary rights established over generations including those held by community groups. Standard models for titling land and property can sometimes marginalise the rights of the poor while favouring the better off.The links between property rights and the ability to access credit and financial services are complex and context-specific. The department has found that the ability of the poor to accumulate assets, maintain their homes and make investments may not be greatly affected by their tenure status, depending primarily on their income earning and employment opportunities. As a result, whilst there may be good justification for extending formal property rights and simplifying property systems, financial service mechanisms need to be put in place that do not depend on the availability of titled property as collateral.

To ask th4e Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment the Department has made of the time it takes to establish property ownership rights in developing countries and what impact this has on economic development in these countries. [129316]

has found that property ownership rights in developed countries have been established as a result of economic and social change over long periods. The establishment of systems to administer and regulate property rights has also been a long-term process, although in many circumstances legitimate rights may exist on the ground. In practice, formal procedures established in law for registering and transacting in property rights can be lengthy, complex, costly and inaccessible to the poor. The result is that informal rights and transactions are not recognised, reducing economic opportunities and increasing disputes.The department has assessed the strengths and limitations of intermediary forms of tenure and the opportunities to regulate land rights at local and community levels—both of which are procedurally and politically quicker, more practical and less costly than ambitious programmes to establish universal land titles. The department accepts that establishment of appropriate systems of property rights requires the pursuit of coherent objectives by governments over many years.