Proposed legislation to extend the powers of Land Registry should be put on hold until the future status of the registry is decided, the Law Society has said.
Measures to enable Land Registry to take over the local land charges register, currently maintained by local authorities, appear in the Infrastructure Bill, which is in committee stage in the House of Lords.
Proposed amendments to the Land Registration Act 2002 and other legislation would also empower Land Registry to offer new services relating to land and property, including as consultancy.
In a parliamentary brief, the Society says it is not possible for the clauses to be given proper scrutiny until Land Registry's parent department, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), has published its response to a consultation proposing turning the bulk of the agency into a 'service delivery company'.
The Society says that the new powers proposed in the bill 'could lead to potential conflicts in relation to the scope of different organisations operating in the property market, including the Law Society, which have functions relating to local land charges and other searches'.
While not having any 'philosophical or political leaning towards any particular structural model', the Society says it is 'keen to ensure that any change in Land Registry's status does not undermine the integrity of the register for all users'. It recommends that consideration of the bill's clauses concerning Land Registry 'be delayed pending publication of the of the BIS response'.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the response would be published ‘shortly’. It has refused to comment on press reports that the business secretary, Vince Cable, has vetoed any move towards privatisation.
The bill is in the committee stage in the House of Lords tomorrow.