§ Mr. Maclean
To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the operation of the Land Registry. 
§ Mr. Hoon
The Land Registry maintains and develops authoritative and effective land information systems for England and Wales. It was established as a separate government department in 1862, became an Executive Agency in 1990 and a Government Trading Fund in 1993. It is required by statute to cover all expenditure from its fee income and makes no call on moneys voted by Parliament. The Land Registry has joined with private sector and other government organisations to develop a National Land Information Service. This has led to an innovative conveyancing pilot, based in Bristol, which is effectively a one-stop conveyancing shop, reducing overall transaction times when buying a house. In November 1998 the pilot won a British Computer Society award which recognises excellence in computing.
The Land Registry has also recently won an award from the Society for Computers and the Law for its on-line Direct Access Service. In January, the Land Registry became one of only 18 organisations in the United Kingdom to be awarded a third Charter Mark.