Clause 23 - Owner's powers

Part of Land Registration Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 11 December 2001.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department) 12:00, 11 December 2001

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will join me in recognising the fantastic achievement of the Bill team and those in the Land Registry and the Law Commission, who are fewer in number than Justinian's 2,000 lawyers but have achieved something almost as remarkable, which will go down in history for almost as long as Justinian's great reforms.

Amendment No. 22 is a response to concern about the fact that the Bill prohibits the use of charges by demise or sub-demise by an owner of a registered estate. It is by reference to such charges that the powers are described. The Government share that concern, and the Bill was amended by a Government amendment in another place. It adds a further subsection to section 87 of the Law of Property Act 1925, confirming that there is no intention to alter the effect of section 87(1) through the Bill's provisions. There was some debate about whether that was the best way to achieve the desired result, but no doubt was cast on the amendment's effect. There seems little remaining need for concern, therefore, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman can see his way clear to withdrawing the amendment.

One of the Bill's aims is to simplify the law, and it achieves that incrementally in many of its provisions. For instance, once it is enacted it will no longer be possible for an owner of a registered estate in land to create a mortgage by demise or sub-demise. Instead, the Bill permits the use of only simple methods for an owner of a registered estate in land to create charges over registered land. In that vein, the Bill also requires that the owner of the charge use only one of the existing methods to charge his interest with the payment of money.

Amendment No. 23 would restore an alternative method by creating a sub-charge, even though the rights and remedies of the person with the sub-charge are not affected in any way by the manner in which that sub-charge is created. That constitutes an unnecessary complexity, and it is far easier to have a single, widely accepted and easy method of achieving the required legal effect. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman not to press the amendment and to resist the temptation to introduce complexity for complexity's sake, thereby undermining one aim—an aim that he shares—of this well-drafted legislation.