HC Deb 19 July 1949 vol 467 cc1279-83

(1) Forthwith after the making of

  1. (a) an order designating an area as a National Park and an order carying the same under Part II of this Act,
  2. 1280
  3. (b) an agreement that land should be managed as a Nature Reserve under Part III of this Act,
  4. (c) the making of a public path agreement under Part IV of this Act,
  5. (d) the making of a public path order under Part IV of this Act,
  6. (e) an access agreement under Part V of this Act,
  7. (f) an access order under Part V of this Act,
and forthwith after the approval of proposals relating to a long-distance route under Part IV or this Act, such orders, agreements and proposals shall be registered in the manner provided under subsection (3) of this section in the register of local land charges by the proper officer of the council of each county borough or county district in which the land to which the order, agreement or proposals relate, or any part thereof is situated, or, if that land or any part thereof is situated in the administrative county of London, by the proper officer of the London County Council.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Minister or other authority forthwith after any order has been made to notify that fact to the proper officer of any council by whom the order is required to be registered as aforesaid and to furnish to him all information relating to the order requisite in that behalf.

(3) The power conferred by subsection (6) of section fifteen of the Land Charges Act, 1925, to make rules for giving effect to the provisions of that section shall be exercisable for giving effect to the provisions of this section.—[Mr. W. S. Morrison.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move, "That the the Clause be read a Second time."

It has been the policy of the law in recent years to ensure that when land is burdened by any charge made upon it of a local character running with the land, that charge shall be entered in the local register so that any intending purchaser of the land can consult the register and see exactly what sort of land he is acquiring and to what burdens and easements the land is subject. We are proposing in this case to create a number of possible burdens on the land of which any intending purchaser should be made aware. In other words, he should be able to consult the local land register and there see at once what burdens have been placed on the land which he is proposing to purchase.

The law on this subject was codified in the Land Charges Act, 1925, but the difficulty about that Act is that it applies in the main to charges made by local authorities upon the land. We are here dealing with a number of possible easements and burdens created not by the local authority directly but by order of the Minister. Therefore the wording of my proposed new Clause is designed to deal with that difficulty; that is to say, that where the Minister makes an order which adds to the burdens on the land, we seek to impose upon him the duty of informing the appropriate local officer so that the proper entry can be made in the local land register. There is a precedent for this. When the Agriculture Act, 1947, was going through the House, Section 12 of that Act made it possible for a supervision order to be put on the land, and it was decided by the House when that was under discussion that such a supervision order on the land ought to be entered in the local land register, even though the order is made by the Minister and not by the local authority or local committee.

The purpose of the Amendment, shortly, is to secure that if land is burdened by an easement or order a record should be kept of it so that anyone who purchases the land later shall do so with his eyes open. I think it would be the desire of all hon. Members to ensure that so far as possible, clarity and certainty in this matter shall prevail.

Mr. Silkin

While I am not wholly convinced of the importance of this Clause from the point of view of the protection of a purchaser, and while in any case this Clause is not wholly satisfactory, I think that no harm will arise from registration, and possibly some good will arise. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that any prudent purchaser would know of this sort of condition affecting the land, and in any case would send in, what I am sure he is familiar with, a requisition on title. That would bring out, or ought to bring out, anything of that kind. In case the purchaser overlooked it, he could buy a printed form of requisitions on title which I am sure would contain a requisition on this particular point. I do not think the matter is a serious one from the point of view of the prospective purchaser. Nevertheless I believe that the registration of charges and matters affecting the land is good, and if it can be done without too great difficulty I am in favour of it.

There is a certain number of difficulties about this new Clause. In the first place, it is thought that some of the matters which are included in it are already registered. It will want a certain amount of research, but, for example, I am advised that agreements with the Nature Conservancy for the management of land as nature reserves are registrable as land charges already under the Land Charges Act, 1925, and it would be unnecessary to make any further provision in that case. On the other hand, while provision is made for the registration of public path orders, there is no provision for diversion orders. Obviously, therefore, the new Clause requires to be carefully considered. That I am prepared to do, and to put down a suitable Amendment in another place.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)

I am sure that the House heard with gratification that the Minister sees fit to accept the principle of this new Clause. Clearly, it is wise that a Bill such as this which affects the rights of property and the title of property should make clear within the statute itself what is the position in regard to matters from the point of view of registration in the register of local land charges. I hope that the Minister has learned something from the experience of the last major Act which he piloted through this Parliament which, of course, made very little provision for registration of land charges. As a result of that, the local land charges rules have been twice amended within the last few months, and they still leave certain matters in doubt.

There will be a considerable improvement in this Bill when the Minister has incorporated a revised version of the new Clause of my right hon. Friend. I hope that it will be clearly provided that these matters are registerable as local land charges, and that an intending purchaser will have constructive notice of them under, I think, Section 193 of the Law of Property Act. Anything which the Minister and the House are able to do to make the problems of conveyancing less difficult as a result of this Bill than they are already seen to be as a result of the Town and Country Planning Act, will be welcomed by all who are anxious to arrive at clarity in these matters.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I can only speak again by leave of the House. I think that the question could be further argued. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give sympathetic consideration to the principle involved. In view of what he has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.