§ Mr. Ednyfed Hudson Davies
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware of difficulties associated with registration of common rights under the Common Lands Registration Act when the rights have been deemed to have been held in common by all the inhabitants of a parish; and if he will take steps to ease the problem.
§ Mr. Skeffington
I am advised that an unincorporated body such as the inhabitants of a parish is incapable in law of owning common rights. Apart from statute (with which I assume the Question is not concerned), rights enjoyed by such inhabitants can subsist only by virtue of local custom, which cannot be used to claim common rights. Accordingly, no provision is made in the Commons Registration Act 1965 or in the regulations for the registration of the rights to which the Question refers.
Where this question has arisen in the past the courts have sometimes been able to presume a lawful origin for such rights. The effect of the decisions has been either to constitute the inhabitants as a corporation to hold the rights or to declare than an existing corporation, such as a borough, holds the rights in trust for the inhabitants. In the light of such a decision no difficulty would arise about registration under the 1965 Act.