HC Deb 05 May 1964 vol 694 cc1087-8
2. Mr. Abse

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that the existing state of land law is resulting in high conveyancing fees and that no major simplification of land law has taken place since 1925; and whether, in order to effect a reduction in conveyancing fees, he will appoint a suitably qualified committee to inquire into the changes needed in the land law to meet the needs of a house-owning society.

The Attorney-General

The Law Society has recently appointed a working party to inquire into the practice and procedure of conveyancing, with the object of finding ways of reducing the amount of time spent on conveyancing and so reducing the cost to the public. In the light of the working party's findings, my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor will consider the question of appointing a committee to examine any aspects of the land law which then appear to need reconsideration.

Mr. Abse

Why should it be left to solicitors to take the initiative in having a committee which can only consider simplification of procedure? Is it not abundantly clear that this legislature has the responsibility to simplify the law? After 40 years, is it not high time that we started considering how we can remove the incubus, for such it is, of feudal law which is on the back of every house purchaser? Does the Government really believe in house purchase or are they so concerned with old feudal law that they will not make any radical change?

The Attorney-General

I do not accede to the propositions of the hon. Member. The law was radically reformed in 1925. The matter is not being left to the Law Society; it has volunteered to undertake, and is undertaking, the working party. I am sure that every member of the solicitors' profession, to which the hon. Member belongs, and its governing body are anxious that conveyancing costs should be reduced as expeditiously as possible, but there is an overriding public interest in having certainty of title. Nothing is worse than that people should buy litigation when they buy land.

Miss Bacon

If, as the Attorney-General has said, there is a working party, after which a committee might be appointed and we then have to await the committee's report, how long will it be before people wanting to buy houses get a reduction in conveyancing fees?

The Attorney-General

I cannot forecast how long that will be, but there are other steps which can be taken and which are being considered as to the way in which it is possible to arrange for the conveyancing fees to be spread over purchasers and made easier for them.