HC Deb 23 April 2004 vol 420 cc691-2W
Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of local authorities are able to undertake land searches electronically; and when this is expected to be extended to all authorities. [166892]

Phil Hope

For land searches to be carried out electronically, local authorities must first have set up electronic Local Land and Property Gazetteers (LLPGs). All authorities in England have been encouraged to set these up as part of their individual programmes to electronically enable 100 per cent. of their priority services by 2005. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Local e-Government programme is helping local authorities to achieve this target, in particular by allocating a flat rate grant of £200,000 per annum in 2002 and 2003 to each authority submitting a satisfactory Implementing e-Government (IEG) statement. The IEGs submitted in 2003 indicated that on average every authority would have electronically enabled 66 per cent. of their priority services by March 2004; most authorities indicated that they would have electronic LLPGs by that date.

Local authorities have also been encouraged to have automated links with the National Land Information Service (NLIS), which is an electronic search engine intended to be a one-stop shop for information about land and property in England and Wales. It was developed in the 1990s by a group of public sector bodies, but was transferred in 2000 to the Local Government Information House (LGIH), a private, wholly-owned subsidiary of the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), to take forward. The IDeA has told us that by January 2004, two-thirds of authorities in England and Wales had enabled electronic responses to searches via NLIS. It is important to note, however, that authorities do not have to be linked to NLIS to offer searchers an electronic search option.