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Land

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) who the absolute owner of land is in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland, (d) Wales, (e) Cornwall and (f) the Isles of Scilly; (255057)

(2) who has responsibility for land in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland, (d) Wales, (e) Cornwall and (f) the Isles of Scilly under circumstances in which deeds to land have been lost.

The Crown is the ultimate owner of all land in England and Wales (including the Isles of Scilly): all other owners hold an estate in land. Although there is some land that the Crown has never granted away, most land is held of the Crown as freehold or leasehold. If there is no other owner, land will belong to the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall.

The loss of title deeds does not alter the ownership of land or responsibility for it in England and Wales (including the Isles of Scilly). Title deeds are evidence of ownership of unregistered land. If the deeds have been lost, other evidence could be used to prove ownership. Title to registered land is derived from the register of title maintained under the Land Registration Act 2002.

Responsibility for land law and succession law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is devolved. Questions about land law in these jurisdictions should be addressed to the Scottish Executive and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland respectively.