§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move Amendment No. 9, in page 4, line 43, after 'charge', insert'shall or may be cancelled as prescribed or in default it'.This is an amendment to Clause 5 which deals with not only the registration but the removal of a local land charge from the register.
Subsection (5) provides:The registration of a local land charge may be cancelled pursuant to an order of the court.Right away that seems to be a cumbersome way of achieving not only the removal of clutter but the possibility of an official certificate of search disclosing something which is no longer effective but which, when a prospective purchaser sees it, may frighten him off the sale.
The subsection seems inappropriate, as drafted, because in Clause 14(1) we find:The Lord Chancellor may…make rules…(g) as to the cancellation without an order of the court of the registration of a local land charge on its cesser, or with the consent of the authority or body by whom it is enforceable".Therefore, it is possible to remove the registration without an order of the court.
I would have hoped that in certain cases the Lord Chancellor would make rules making the removal mandatory. In some cases it could be permissive. The removal would not be forced on the local registering authority if there was difficulty in discovering whether a land charge was still in existence. However, there are some instances when it is clear that a charge has died, is obsolete, and ought to be removed from the register. Therefore, I would have hoped that the rules would provide for the local registering authority to remove it. That is the purpose of the amendment.
If the amendment were accepted, subsection (5) would read:The registration of a local land charge shall or may be cancelled as prescribed or in default of it may be cancelled pursuant to an order of the court.The wordsshall or may be cancelled as prescribedmean as prescribed by the Lord Chancellor in rules made under Clause 14.
1923 In practice there is considerable clutter—I cannot find a better word—on the register and there seems to be no feeling of obligation by the registering authorities to remove any of it. If they are faced with the statement in Clause 5 thatThe registration of a local land charge may be cancelled pursuant to an order of the court.they will be frightened off from trying to effect removal from the rules when the charge is obsolete.
I would have hoped that the subsection could be brought into line with Clause 14 and that there could be some real effort in future to clean up the register not only to avoid the difficulty of searching through to make entries on the rules, many of which may be obsolete, but to avoid the danger of showing on an official certificate some charge which is obsolete but appearance of which on an official certificate of search is likely to cause great disturbance between the parties to a conveyance.
§ Mr. Arthur Davidson
In the Government's view the amendment is unnecessary in that the rule-making power in Clause 14(1)(g) is clear enough. Moreover, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that the amendment is wrong in implying that a court order for cancellation may be made only in default of a cancellation made without an order of the court. I know that this is not the right hon. Gentleman's intention, but the wording could impede the right of a litigant to apply to the court for cancellation whenever he chooses. The litigant should have that right for that reason and other reasons. I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's concern, but I would ask him to withdraw the amendment.
§ Mr. Graham Page
No doubt when the Bill becomes an Act there will be a circular of explanation going out to local authorities, to the registering authorities and to the originating authorities. Very often such circulars encourage public bodies to put matters in hand and to operate an Act. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will encourage registering authorities to look at their registers to see whether they can clear them of the clutter.
§ Mr. Douglas-Mann
I hope that my hon. Friend will support the plea of the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) that there should be a circular to the effect he has outlined. Local authorities should be encouraged to indicate on their local land charges search certificates the changes which will have taken place as a consequence of the Act. I hope that they will indicate not merely those matters which are removable but the matters which have been removed. It will now be clear that local authorities which have not in the past registered planning conditions should indicate the fact in their certificates as a consequence of the Rose decision. It would not be desirable to put that matter into this legislation, but local authorities should be encouraged to indicate to purchasers on the certificate those matters which are now registrable and those matters which are not, so that purchasers will be aware of the situation and the position that obtained in the past.
§ Mr. Arthur Davidson
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) for his intervention, which I suspect was made so as to give me time. I was going to say that I am sure the Lord Chancellor will consider the advisability of such a circular. Clearly, it would be desirable for the maximum information to be given.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.