New clause 2 - Completion of register

Part of Land Registration Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 13 December 2001.

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Photo of Adrian Sanders Adrian Sanders Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government) 2:30, 13 December 2001

I was making the point that there should be a comprehensive register of land.

The book ''Who Owns Scotland'' by Andy Wightman states that

''the ownership and use of land is one of the most fundamental issues in any society.''

Whereas that book did much to place land ownership on the political agenda in Scotland, it is clear that in general, in Britain, land is not a fundamental issue, nor has it been for most of the 20th century. One reason for that is that in the late 19th century, the register of returns of owners of land threatened to highlight the issue of land ownership. Once they were aware of that, the return was buried by the landowners that it had exposed.

Admittedly, the landowners were threatened by more than exposure in the return. They were disturbed by land agitation in Ireland. The extent of landlessness among the English population in 1876 was not hugely different from that in Ireland. The potential for a revolution in land ownership in England existed, but it simply never happened.