back to article Watchdog snaps: Privatise the Land Registry? What a terrible idea!

Government plans to flog off the Land Registry have been heavily criticised by the Competition and Markets Authority, which warns it will create a private monopoly hold over public data. Proposals to privatise the body are in danger of creating a monopoly business with an incentive to abuse its position, said the CMA in its …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    In case you didn't know

    The land registry currently makes a modest profit that goes into government funds, so is not a 'cost' at all. If it is sold off for a (quick windfall - and favours for 'friends') it will then become a cost, as the government will still have to maintain oversight to ensure no dodgy deals are done - not that anyone would consider such an idea of course.

    Oh, and if you didn't see the 'consultation' paper, you won't know whether to laugh or cry. Designed for maximum confusion - not that recent governments pay any attention to such things anyway.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: In case you didn't know

      Hmm... wasn't there a corruption summit a week or two ago?

      Why am I asking? Oh, no reason.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: In case you didn't know

      The land registry currently makes a modest profit that goes into government funds, so is not a 'cost' at all

      From the Land Registry last annual report, they made an operating surplus of £36 Million on an income of £297 Million. That's a surplus of around 12%.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In case you didn't know

        And it will be replaced by a £297 Million government body to oversee and prevent the abuses of the land registry data, so at that point the GDP from that data will have doubled to nearly 600 million!

        Think GROWTH, JOBS, ....

        Think of all the meetings and chatter between groups of regulators, enforcement, monitoring, all the 'transparency' summits.

        ...All the busy-work repairing the broken windows Cameron keeps breaking.

        More JOBS, GROWTH!

        Deloitte says its worth 6 billion a year, so 100 quid per British person per year can be extracted to pay for services related to their land data.

        Just like the DVLA data enables a large wheel-clamping industry that wouldn't exist if they couldn't extract profits from small print signs setting arbitrary rules. In effect, the creation of these petty rules creates an industry that employs the people needed to enforce them. And to get growth in such an economy, there needs to be more possibilities to create ever more petty rules, enforced by ever bigger fines.

        LOAD OF JOBS!

        Plus you get to punish people, those evil people who park at McDonalds, buy a big mac then pop off and get a newspaper too! Don't they know about the 'don't step one foot off the McDonalds site while parked, 200 quid fine??' !

        What's not to like?

        Cameron u ain't no Thatcher bruv.

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The *real* reason is to make it exempt from FOI requests ...

    since it's the only single way of knowing how much of Britain has been sold (presumably, by the pound).

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: The *real* reason is to make it exempt from FOI requests ...

      Upvote for the Genesis (when they were any good) reference

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: The *real* reason is to make it exempt from FOI requests ...

        Didn't Genesis refer to selling England by the pound, not Britain?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The *real* reason is to make it exempt from FOI requests ...

      The *real* reason is to make it exempt from FOI requests ...

      That, sir, is bollocks. This is just the same as privatising Royal Mail and giving away the post code address file to your mates, against all sensible advice.

      Now, I've worked for privatised businesses for a good chunk of my career, and it can work wonders for both service quality and efficiency. But giving away either the Land Registry or PAF is simply criminal.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Private monopolies made from essential services that we have no choice about using are what our caring government is all about.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Private monopolies made from essential services that we have no choice about using are what our caring government is all about.

      Or they'll create an artificial internal market in which two registries compete for, um, registrations and we can sit on the sidelines and watch as the data gets ever more uncertain and fragmentary. Which, once the FOI requirements have lapsed (or have been abolished by the next industry-cocksucking Parliament), will suit all the offshore buyers who want to hide their billions in tax-friendly brassplate land-purchase companies.

      Scum.

  4. Buzzword

    Did they actually read the consultation?

    From the article:

    "it will create a private monopoly hold over public data"

    From page 8 of the consultation document:

    This Government believes that it is important that the Registers continue to be owned by government, and this proposal would not change that. The data within the Registers is protected by Crown copyright and database right as material created by a public body. Land Registry has delegated authority from the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in the National Archives to control and licence the database and copyright in its work and register data. This would not change going forward and the copyright of the Registers would remain under the ownership of the Crown.

    So no, it won't create a private monopoly over public data.

    Quite why they feel the need for such an unpopular move escapes me; but the consultation document contains plenty of safeguards. It certainly doesn't seem any worse than past privatisations, the fears of which ended up largely unfounded.

    1. 2460 Something

      Re: Did they actually read the consultation?

      Because no Government body has ever said one thing to the public and blithely done the exact opposite through back-door deals. **cough** HMRC **cough** Yes, I have absolute trust that our glorious leaders wouldn't abuse their positions to benefit their friends **cough** Post Office undervalued sell off **cough** .. I could go on but I seem to be developing a nasty tickle in my throat.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Did they actually read the consultation?

      From page 8 of the consultation document:

      This looked all right until I spotted the words going forward.

      Ugh.

      1. attackcat

        Re: Did they actually read the consultation?

        Well, they wouldn't want to be going backward, would they?

        Or whatever Siobhan said in W1A.

    3. dan1980

      Re: Did they actually read the consultation?

      @Buzzword

      "So no, it won't create a private monopoly over public data."

      Well, that's too vague to be useful. The best way I can interpret it that statement, however is that it wouldn't transfer the ownership of the copyright to a single private entity.

      Well and good and that is an important thing to note: the data will still be, ultimately, owned by the Crown.

      But that's not the full story. After all, if nothing was really changing then why do anything at all? The fact is that something will change and that is who controls access to the data. The proposal is to make the gatekeeper a private entity.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did they actually read the consultation?

      @"So no, it won't create a private monopoly over public data."

      In effect they're licensing out those copyright they own to a single entity, so is creates a private monopoly over the data via contract.

      Hence their point : "may degrade the terms of access to its monopoly data in order to weaken competition to its own commercial products."

      To be valuable for a private company to buy, it has to be a monopoly or near monopoly right. e.g. 3% of the value of a land transaction per land document. Since you need the paperwork, paying 3% commission to get the land document is an overhead you have to bear.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Dogma

    There's nothing wrong with the government enabling competition to happen.

    If they sell the LR they'd just turn it into a private monopoly. Then we might have stupid ideas like having competing registries to restore competition. Finally there would need to be some government body to regulate multiple competing registries. Then we're back where we started, only without the profit for the taxpayer.

    1. Russ Pitcher

      Re: Dogma

      Whilst, in essence, competition is generally a good thing that's not always the case. Additionally, can you imagine the pain of buying a house if you had to choose which company to use to get your land registered?

      In the end we'd probably wind up with something akin to the privatisation of the water companies. There are, I think, six of them so that must mean that there is competition - brilliant! Until you realise that each company covers a particular area and the consumers have absolutely no choice of provider. So what was created was basically six monopolies.

      I can see no benefit whatsoever in privatising the Land Registry, apart from a quick windfall of cash and, if I'm being cynical, profits for their mates.

  6. Rol Silver badge

    the public will lose out financially from the sale

    It is the purpose of all UK citizens to fund the wealth takers of this nation, so that in the event of a global catastrophe at least some of our most glorious elite have the buying power to secure a seat on the last spaceship out of here, and thus propagate our nation's perverse twist on morality and fairness into lands yearning to be despoiled and shat on from a great height.

  7. ChubbyBehemoth
    Trollface

    Oh Joy!

    Tally-ho chaps, even Belgium starts to look like a well run state in comparison..

    After Brexit, could you move the island a bit to the South West? A few hundred miles or so. The whole EU may be a bit of a mess currently, but really.. there are limits.

  8. raving angry loony

    UK is really going to the dogs.

    Is the government just completely corrupt, completely stupid, and/or completely bat-shit crazy?

    I'm guessing all three. Maybe the UK should officially just privatize the whole government, let the corporations run things directly rather than pretend there is this "middle man" called "elected government"?

    Presenting the new CEO of UK Inc, the German family Saxe-Cobourg / Gotha / Wettin?

    ps: why do they call it "bat-shit crazy"? Bat shit is the only shit that has a specific term for it. Why don't they call it "guano crazy"? But I digress...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: UK is really going to the dogs.

      Bat shit is the only shit that has a specific term for it.

      Bullshit.

      1. raving angry loony

        Re: UK is really going to the dogs.

        Figures that's the only part of my post someone replies to...

        @Dan 55 writes: Bullshit

        That's my point. Bullshit. Eagle shit. Chicken shit. Wolverine shit. Then there's guano. Yet we picked "bat shit crazy" as something to say. Quite frankly, "Wolverine shit crazy" would be much scarier!

        1. Captain TickTock
          Facepalm

          Re: UK is really going to the dogs.

          Ape shit bonkers

      2. Don Dumb
        Go

        Re: UK is really going to the dogs.

        Dogshit, as seen on pavements

      3. glen waverley

        Bat shit is the only shit that has a specific term for it

        Bat shit might have 2 specific terms.

        What about - Boring as bat shit.

    2. Asterix the Gaul

      Re: UK is really going to the dogs.

      UK is really going to the dogs.

      I'm guessing all three. Maybe the UK should officially just privatize the whole government, let the corporations run things directly rather than pretend there is this "middle man" called "elected government"?

      Were the above enacted, the myth that we vote for a 'democratically representative' parliament which acts for 'one' nation,will be fully & rightly debunked.

      Neither the 'Labour' Party or the Tory Party act for those who voted for them,both parties act for their own party interest.

      There would no longer be a need for a government

      Labour does things for migrants,women,gays,but deny 'English' people,white indiginous males,pensioners,the Tories act for 'buy-to-let' landlords(using taxpayer funded money-currently £225+ BILLION p.a)Estate Agents through the housing market,the pensions industry(the £34.8 BILLION p.a spent on additional contributions Relief) & of course the 'outsourcing' of NHS services to the 'private' sector.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why should we not trust the Tories?

    Have they ever shown any tendancy to bend important rules? Have they ever been investigated over shenanagins about election irregularities? I will go and search on the web and find out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why should we not trust the Tories?

      Have they ever been investigated over shenanagins about election irregularities?

      Whilst (as a dyed in the wool Conservative) I'd agree the current Tories are crock of shit, I would suggest that any Labour sympathisers should check their facts on electoral fraud, and particularly postal voting fraud. By the numbers, Labour are winning about five to one.

      The problem is quite simple, and doesn't have any left or right wing dimension at all: Career politicians are corrupt, full stop.

  10. Fred Dibnah
    Unhappy

    Agree with most of the above

    Private Eye have been reporting on this for a while now.

    Have just filled in the shitty response form (and wrote a shitty response).

    Feeling v. angry.

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