§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Henry H. Fowler.)
§ MR. INCE
Having given Notice of certain Amendments to this Bill, I now desire to state that I have come to the conclusion, not altogether willingly, that it will be better to leave this whole matter in the hands of Her Majesty's Government. I may, therefore, say that, acting with the full concurrence of my hon. and learned Friends the Members for the Brixton Division of Lambeth (Mr. Baggally) and the Harrow Division of Middlesex (Mr. Ambrose), it is not our intention to oppose the Motion for going into Committee on this Bill, nor to move any Amendments to it in Committee.
§ MR. T. H. BOLTON
I hope the Government will take very seriously into their consideration the advisability of abolishing this Office entirely. The Land Registry Office has proved an entire failure, and a source of considerable expense to the country. During the year 1884–5 the expenses of the Office were £6,206, while the fees received only amounted to £852, there being thus a loss to the country of over £5,000. In the same way, during 1885–6 the loss to the country amounted to £5,325. With regard to the Office itself, there is scarcely any business done in it, and the Profession generally regard it as a useless incumbrance in connection with the law. To show that this opinion is justified by the facts, I will just mention a couple of cases referred to by the Incorporated Law Society. A purchase of land was made to the extent of £2,900, and the cost of completing the purchase was £56 6s. 9d. An application was then 1640 made to place the property in the Land Registry Office, and the cost was £124 12s. 7d. In another case, where an indefeasible title had been obtained under the Act, a small portion of the property was afterwards sold, and instead of the sale costing a moderate sum, say £10, after a delay of four months it cost £25. The truth is, that this Office is very expensive and useless; and I venture to suggest to Her Majesty's Government the propriety of considering the policy of winding up its affairs and carting off the papers to the Public Record Office. I believe it is a desirable thing that this should be done; and while I cordially support the Bill which has been brought in, because it is intended to prevent an unnecessary and useless appointment, I hope the Government will go still further and deal with the Land Registry Office in the way I have indicated.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. H. H. FOWLER)
The point which has just been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras (Mr. T. H. Bolton) is, no doubt, of very great importance; but it is not one which can be discussed on the present Motion. If my hon. Friend will raise that question on the Estimates for the Land Registry Office he will be perfectly in Order, and the Government will then be in a position to state their views on the subject. The object of the Bill before the House is to abolish a sinecure of £2,500, and I hope that the House will pass it with the least possible delay, because, in my opition, it is greatly in the public interest that it should become law.
§ MR. RYLANDS
Sir, having taken much interest in the question of the Land Registry for some time past, I am very glad indeed that the occurrence of a vacancy should have afforded me the opportunity, which was at once taken, of urging upon the Treasury the necessity of not filling up the Office. I am glad my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ince) has acted on the sense of the public interest which he expressed, in not going further in his opposition to this Bill. I do not know whether that is a sort of inducement to the Government to look favourably on the question of salary; but all I can say is, that if the Secretary to the Treasury gives any more salary to the Registrar for the duty he has to perform, my hon. Friend 1641 will fall very much in my estimation, and I hope he will not do so.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee, and reported, without Amendment.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed, without Amendment.