Hopes rise in Fylde Land Registry jobs campaign

Gordon Marsden meeting members of the PCS Union from HM Land Registry at Westminster
Gordon Marsden meeting members of the PCS Union from HM Land Registry at Westminster
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Hopes are rising that hundreds of Fylde jobs could be saved after a major debate in Parliament about the future of the Land Registry.

The Government had announced just before Easter recess that it was proposing to privatise the service which makes around £150m a year for the taxpayer.

But the move has proved controversial with critics saying it would leave sensitive information in the hands of a private company which could sell on details to cold caller companies, or which might withhold information for its own profits.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said the move would threaten the jobs of 240 civil servants at the Fylde offices at Warton.

In Westminster yesterday Labour’s David Lammy, who led the debate, said the sell-off was “purely political” and the Government was looking to cash in on assets to make their sums add up, labelling it “daylight robbery”.

He said: “The short-term profit derived from any sale will be dwarfed by the increased costs that ultimately will be paid by all of us in increased fees and it will be dwarfed by the lost revenue to the public purse in the medium to the long term. There is no economic rationale for the privatisation.”

Journalists and campaigners have used the Land Registry to expose offshore ownership of UK property, some of it derived by shell companies to launder money.

He added: “A public Land Registry could open up its data to support efforts to tackle this endemic corruption and abuse of the property market.”

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) said a land registry “is an absolutely fundamental function of any civilised state”.

Conservative MP John Stevenson (Carlisle) said: “If the Government were to bring forward privatisation proposals for the Land Registry it would, in my opinion, be a privatisation too far.”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “I and more than 100 MPs from all sides expressed opposition to this proposal.

“It would potentially mean the loss of hundreds of Fylde jobs and valuable revenue for the country.”

He said the minister looked to row back from the proposal: “He did say that there were no current proposals to privatise the Land Registry under this Government, but we must wait to see what the next Government does and keep the pressure on.”