The 150-year-old Land Registry could be sold off or semi-privatised under proposals released for consultation by the government today.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published an eight-week consultation proposing the creation a new company, subject to government oversight, which would be responsible for land registration services, and which could be sold or managed by the private sector.

A separate Office of the Chief Land Registrar would be retained in the public sector to perform regulatory and fee-setting functions to ensure that customers’ interests are protected.

The paper stresses: ‘We recognise that the cost and speed of service is important but it is also important that the assurance and integrity of the register is not compromised.

‘Central to any plans for the future is that we continue to protect the integrity of the register such that Land Registry’s role of underpinning the property market - by giving confidence to buyers, sellers and lenders - is not compromised.’

Chief land registrar and Land Registry chief executive Ed Lester said: ‘Land Registry’s business strategy is ambitious but achievable. The business strategy was created around customer needs and the changing face of the property market. I have confidence that by focusing on our customer needs, we would continue to improve our service delivery and make the process of dealing in land and property more efficient.’

He added: ‘Land Registry’s customers, whether market professionals or property owners, are at the heart of what we do and we therefore need your help to make sure we are addressing your needs.’

The consultation closes on 20 March.