Clause 71 - Duty to disclose unregistered interests

Land Registration Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:50 am on 13 December 2001.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Shadow Attorney General 9:50, 13 December 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 57, in page 25, line 21, at beginning insert—

'(1) Subject to subsection (2),'.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central

With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 58, in page 25, line 32, at end insert—

'(2) The obligations imposed by subsection (1) apply only to the extent that the information is within the actual knowledge of the person making the application or that person could reasonably obtain the information.'.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Shadow Attorney General

I am sorry to hear that the Minister is not well. I hope that nothing that I say today will make him feel any worse.

The object of the amendment is to ensure that no one should be obliged to give information that he has not got or could not reasonably get, particularly if failure to fulfil that obligation might prejudice him in later proceedings about the accuracy of the register. If the information that is supplied is patently deficient,

the registrar will make an appropriate entry on the register. The amendment should really be by reference to a previous amendment, which says ''subject to subsection (2)''. It is purely a drafting matter.

It is reasonable that an applicant for registration should make full disclosure. The consequences of not disclosing something that should have been disclosed are serious. The applicant may not qualify for an indemnity if, as a consequence, the register is wrong. The Committee will appreciate that this is a serious matter. I understand that the Law Society is keen to ensure that, in fairness, the consequence should not follow from failure to disclose something that the applicant neither knew nor could reasonably have known. This might not be a very extensive amendment, but the matter is serious, and, unless I am satisfied by the Minister's response, I propose to divide the Committee.

Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department)

I start by thanking you, Mr. Illsley, and all hon. Members, for your indulgence of my rather frail state of health. I apologise for any inconvenience that the delay has caused.

I understand the concerns of the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). However, we shall resist the amendment for a fundamental reason: the Bill is considerably clearer and more succinct than its predecessor. In many ways, it represents a triumph of drafting. It achieves that by stating only that which is necessary to achieve the intended aim. We want to create a register that is viewable online, and which is as complete and accurate a reflection of the state of title to land as is possible.

To help to achieve that objective, all express dispositions to registered land will have to be appropriately protected on the register, unless there are very good reasons for not doing so. Clause 71 creates for the first time a duty to disclose interests that are overriding, either on first registration or a disposition of registered land. There is no question of trying to make someone disclose material that they do not have.

The additional words that the amendment would add are unnecessary and go against our wish to keep the Bill as uncluttered as possible. We have no intention of imposing on conveyancing practitioners a greater burden to investigate matters affecting land than they already carry in representing their clients' interests.

I hope that that explanation will give the hon. Gentleman sufficient reassurance to enable him to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Shadow Attorney General

I am not entirely satisfied by that, nor indeed by the non-appearance of my hon. Friends. No doubt they are approaching as fast as the American marines are trying to track down Osama bin Laden.

I shall reiterate my concern in the hope that it will have an impact on the Minister. No one should be obliged to give information that they have not got or

could not reasonably get, especially if failing to fulfil the obligation might prejudice them in later proceedings about the accuracy of the register.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Illsley, for your indulgence in allowing me to repeat myself. As you will have noted, I have not done so before. Given the circumstances, I intend to divide the Committee.

Question put, That the amendment be made:

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 7.

Division number 4 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 71 - Duty to disclose unregistered interests

Aye: 5 MPs

No: 7 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 71 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 72 ordered to stand part of the Bill.