The Chancellor of the Exchequer aka George Osborne was in Lancaster last week.
He popped in to have lunch with Eric Ollerenshaw MP at Lancaster Brewery and a few members of Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce including myself were on hand to liven up proceedings.
There was a lovely buffet laid on by Lancaster Brewery including the best scotch eggs I’ve had since I was in Cornwall two years ago.
We were all told to be sat down eating when George arrived and then he slipped in quietly with Eric who introduced him to each table.
I asked him if he was having a pint and he said he would do after the obligatory pint pulling photo opportunity.
Eric and George then each spoke and the economy and the floor was opened up for questions. I told George the good news about Claughton Brick Works reopening. He nodded politely when I told him my parents had met working in the office there and then I reminded him of the importance of the housing market to the economy. More nodding.
Then I mentioned the Land Registry. If you have bought a house you will have heard of and indeed will have paid fees to the Land Registry for registration of the legal title of the house into your name.
It’s an integral part of the house buying process and – remarkably for a government agency – highly efficient and respected by those of us who use it.
The Land Registry has moved with the times and like most solicitors has embraced digitisation.
So my concern was the recent announcement by the Government of a consultation about privatising the Land Registry. To quote myself to George ‘if it ain’t broken don’t fix it’.
If the Land Registry fell into private ownership, there is a real danger costs would go up and there is also scope for commercial entities who already control many aspects of the property market ‘behind the scenes’ having a further hold an essential part of our local and national economy.
In fairness to George, he said he had never had the point made to him before and would take it away. I do hope Lancaster is where we saved the Land Registry.