HL Deb 24 March 1959 vol 215 cc191-2

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government: (1) whether all conveyancing of land required for trunk and special road purposes is handled by the Treasury Solicitor; (2) whether the present arrangements in this connection are not responsible for undue delay; (3) whether matters could not be expedited by decentralisation to local solicitors and, if so, whether steps can be taken to work out an appropriate scheme in conjunction with the Law Society.]


My Lords, the answer to the first part of the noble Lord's Question is that all conveyancing of land required for trunk and special road purposes is handled by the Treasury Solicitor. On the second and third parts of the noble Lord's Question, I assume that the noble Lord is concerned at the length of time which may elapse between an owner losing possession of his land and his receiving the compensation for it. I can assure my noble friend that my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation shares his concern and is actively engaged in seeking a solution to what has turned out to be a difficult problem.

Without accepting the implication in his Question, that there is any unneces- sary delay in the Treasury Solicitor's office, I can inform my noble friend that his suggestion that conveyancing should be done by private solicitors is one that has already been examined as a possible means of alleviating the increasing load on the Treasury Solicitor's conveyancing division. The conclusion we have reached is that this method would not provide a satisfactory answer. It is unlikely that private firms would be prepared, owing to the unremunerative and temporary character of the work, to use their experienced conveyancing staff for the purpose, and it is very difficult to recruit competent conveyancers for a temporary period. It is most unlikely that the results would show any improvements in the time taken to bring these conveyances to completion.

Accordingly the Government have been looking at this problem from a wider point of view, and we are seeking a solution along somewhat different lines. My right honourable friend hopes to be able to make a statement in the near future about his intentions in regard to this difficult problem.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Earl for his satisfactory reply, may I say that I hope that the statement of his right honourable friend will be made in the very near future?


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl to convey to his right honourable friend that, in the opinion of some of us at any rate, he has rejected much too readily the idea of employing private solicitors? I hope that he will be prepared to give further consideration to it. I myself do not accept the view that this could not be done more expeditiously in that way.


My Lords, I will gladly convey to my right honourable friend the noble Lord's remark. I think, however, that the noble Lord may think somewhat differently when he has heard the terms of the statement my right honourable friend will make.


My Lords, can the noble Earl tell us whether any inquiries have been made, and whether any discussions have taken place with the Law Society?


Yes, my Lords; I understand so.