Clause 3 - When title may be registered

Part of Land Registration Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am 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) 10:30, 11 December 2001

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making his intentions clear. I must resist his amendment, but I shall take a little time to explain why.

On Report in another place, Baroness Buscombe described the effect of a similar amendment and said that the Law Society felt that subsection (6) was unclear and that the purpose of the amendment was to clarify the situation. The Law Society seems to have been trying to achieve a situation in which, although someone entitled by contract alone could not apply for first registration, someone who is entitled by contract and in some other capacity could. In reply, my noble Friend Baroness Scotland explained at length why the amendment was unacceptable. I presume from its re-emergence that the Law Society is still unsatisfied, so I shall explain why the alleged clarification is still unacceptable.

Subsection (2) provides that a person who is entitled to require an unregistered but registrable estate to be vested in him or her can apply for first registration as proprietor. Subsection (6) states that such a person cannot apply if his or her entitlement is as a person who has contracted to buy under a contract. Let us suppose that a Mr. Smith has contracted to buy a piece of unregistered land—let us call it Swindon fields—from a Mrs. Jones, and that Mr. Smith has paid the full purchase price. Mrs. Jones holds Swindon fields as bare trustee for Mr. Smith. If, as in the normal course of events, Mrs. Jones executes a conveyance to Mr. Smith, that conveyance will trigger first registration. If there is no conveyance, the bare trust continues.

The purpose of the amendment is to allow the buyer, Mr. Smith, to apply for first registration because he is also entitled as the beneficiary under the bare trust that arose when he paid the full purchase price. If the amendment were accepted, Mr. Smith could then apply for registration at his own convenience. That is not acceptable, because the policy of the Bill is to encourage registration and to get as much land as possible on the register. That is why the Bill does not allow Mr. Smith the option, but encourages him to take a conveyance, trigger the first registration and have the land registered. I believe that everyone agrees with the general desirability of registration, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.