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Agriculture: Land Ownership

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether current records on the ownership of agricultural land in England in terms of accuracy, transparency and comprehensiveness are satisfactory.[HL7338]

The main function of HM Land Registry is to maintain and develop a register of title to freehold and leasehold land in England and Wales. The Land Register currently holds 20.5 million registered titles. However, the information held on the register does not reveal the purpose for which the registered land is used—for example, whether the land is used purely for agricultural purposes.

The accuracy of the information contained in the Land Register is underpinned by a state guarantee and in 2005-06 Land Registry processed 98.8 per cent of all registrations free of error.

The Land Register has been available for public inspection since December 1990 and official copies of registers, title plans and deeds and most documents referred to on the register can be obtained by post or electronically.

Currently, 56.7 per cent of the land area of England and Wales is registered. Most urban land is registered but much rural land remains unregistered. Registration is compulsory after certain specific events—for example, sale of land or death of an owner. Land Registry cannot otherwise compel registration but does have a strategy of working towards a comprehensive land register by persuading landowners of the benefits of voluntarily registering their holdings. During 2006-07, Land Registry aims to register a further 700,000 hectares of land through voluntary registration.