I wrote about a 38 degrees petition and campaign to try and prevent the Tory resurgence of their plan to sell off our Land Registry. The plan was defeated in 2012, but has reappeared again already despite being opposed by MPs across Westminster who have between them been sent thousands of letters of protest and concern by their constituents. A couple of days ago I received the following e-mail from my MP, Kerry McCarthy, who has finally received a reply from Business Minister Anna Soubry regarding this issue. It's not encouraging reading
Kerry McCarthy said:
"I have now received a reply from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) about the privatisation of the Land Registry.
Please see attached for the disappointing response from the Business Minister Anna Soubry about this issue. As you can read, she still maintains that the Government has made no final decision on the future of the Land Registry, despite all signs indicating the intention to privatise it.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend a Commons debate on the Land Registry on 30 th June due to prior commitments, though did take time to read the Hansard transcript of the discussion afterwards. I am glad that a number of Labour MPs, including David Lammy who called the debate, pointed out the senselessness of privatisation of this service, and the dangers inherent in doing so. You can read this debate in full here.
I can assure you that I will continue to work with my colleagues in Parliament to oppose any attempts to privatise the Land Registry. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there are any other issues you would like to raise with me."
David Lammy is the Labour MP for Tottenham. I have copied out the beginning of his debate speech here because it concisely sums up the idiocy of privatising one of the few public services that actually already make a profit for taxpayers! The Treasury might benefit from a temporary hike in income from the sale, but in the long term taxpayers will lose out on millions of pounds. (Bolding of text in the following speech is my addition.)
David Lammy said:
"I beg to move,
That this House notes the important role the Land Registry plays in registering the ownership of land and property in England and Wales; further notes that the Land Registry has made a surplus in 19 of the last 20 years and paid back £120 million to the public purse in 2015 alone; believes that any privatisation of the Land Registry will have serious consequences for transparency and accountability in the UK property market and hinder efforts to crack down on corruption and money entering the UK property market via offshore jurisdictions; expresses grave concern that all the potential bidders for the Land Registry have been found to be linked to offshore tax havens; notes that the Government has acknowledged that property can provide a convenient vehicle for hiding the proceeds of criminal activity; notes that the Prime Minister stated in July 2015 that there is no place for dirty money in Britain; regrets the Government’s decision to seek short-term profit at the expense of the public interest; opposes the proposed privatisation of the Land Registry; and calls on the Government to reconsider that proposed privatisation.
I thank the Backbench Business Committee for enabling me to bring this important debate before the House. In supporting this motion, signing the letter I sent to the Business Secretary on 2 June and signing early-day motion 160, well over 100 Members drawn from eight political parties have made clear their opposition to the privatisation of the Land Registry. I hope that the Government take note of the strength of opposition to the proposal before it is too late."
The 38 degrees petition is still open so, if you have not already done so, please do sign it and contact your MP to protest this shortsighted cash grab.
This is Anna Soubry's letter to Kerry McCarthy. Click into the image if you need to enlarge it.