HC Deb 22 February 1989 vol 147 cc991-2
11. Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to when the Commons Commissioners last met; and what was discussed.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)

The Commons Commissioners' function is judicial. It does not require them to hold meetings.

Mr. Field

As I understand that the Commons Commissioners comprise barristers and solicitors of some seven years' standing, that the body costs £260,000 a year to run, with expenditure per case amounting to £712, and that just over seven cases per week are dealt with, is my hon. Friend satisfied that the organisation is offering value for money?

Mrs. Bottomley

Indeed. Since the Commons Commissioners were set up as a requirement of the Commons Registration Act 1965 they have settled 13,000 cases arising from disputes on the registration of 1.5 million acres of common land. While the cases in the Isle of Wight have all been settled, there are outstanding cases with which the Commons Commissioners are dealing, mostly in south Wales.

Mr. Favell

Is my hon. Friend aware of the plight of home owners whose houses were incorrectly registered as common land 24 years ago and who, since then, have had extraordinary difficulty in selling their houses?

Mrs. Bottomley

The Commons Commissioners are aware of the misregistration of houses to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention. There are proposals to legislate on that when a suitable opportunity arises.

Mr. Skinner

Is there any way in which the commissioners can investigate the case of the cemeteries that Westminster city council sold? Would those cemeteries be regarded as common land? Could they be restored to the council under the general auspices of common land? If so, the Government should be doing something about it. There is a scandal or two at Westminster, not only with selling the cemeteries but involving the £1 million that the council paid to the chief executive. I think that there is—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that that has much to do with the question.

Mrs. Bottomley

No, Sir.

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