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Local Land Changes Fees

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor has made the following written ministerial statement:

“I have today laid before Parliament the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (Supplementary Provisions) Order 2006 (‘the order’) under section 143 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The order relates to section 13A (‘section 13A’) of the Local Land Charges Act 1975 (‘the 1975 Act’).

Section 13A transfers the Lord Chancellor’s responsibility with the consent of HM Treasury under the 1975 Act for setting local land charges search fees, except fees for personal searches, to registering authorities (usually local authorities) in England.

Section 13A requires registering authorities to set fees for local land charge services. It also provides that before setting fees local authorities must have regard to such guidance as the Lord Chancellor may have issued.

Section 13A was inadvertently and prematurely brought into force by the Constitutional Reform Act (Commencement No 5) Order 2006 on 3 April 2006. The commencement of section 13A revoked the previous rules specifying fees under the 1975 Act without notice and before any guidance had been issued to registering authorities. This was a serious error for which I apologise to the House.

The order corrects this error. It provides that for the period 3 April 2006 until 1 April 2007 each registering authority will, in the exercise of its duty under section 13A, be treated as having specified the fees that were chargeable before 3 April. This period will allow sufficient time for the Department for Constitutional Affairs to prepare and consult on guidance to registering authorities on the exercise of their duty under section 13A and for those authorities to prepare properly for setting their own fees. The order does not invalidate any fees that may have been specified and collected by a registering authority under section 13A before 28 June 2006.”