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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Economy and Fair Work Committee 11 May 2022 [Draft]

Agenda: Town Centres and Retail, Petition



Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012 (PE1676)

Our next item of business is consideration of petition PE1676 on the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012, which has been referred to the committee under rule 15.6 of standing orders.

The petition is continued from the previous parliamentary session, and was lodged by Tony Rosser in 2017. As is outlined in members’ papers, the petition seeks a review of the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012. The petition focuses on two issues: the relationship between the statutory cadastral map showing the legal boundaries to registered land and property, which is maintained by Registers of Scotland, and the Ordnance Survey map on which the cadastral map is based; and on what supporting materials should be required when submitting an individual application for registration of land and property.

The petition was previously considered by the session 5 Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee. In December, this committee sought an update from the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth on the Scottish Government’s position on the issues that are raised in the petition. I refer members to the minister’s response, which is included as an annexe to the paper. The minister confirms that the Scottish Government’s position has not changed since the petition was previously considered.

In advance of today’s meeting, Mr Rosser submitted some additional information in response to the minister’s update; that information has been circulated to members. I thank Mr Rosser for taking the time to make that submission and I appreciate his reasons for lodging the petition.

Do members have any comments on how the committee should approach the petition?

I have an interest to declare, as I currently have a dispute on boundaries with Registers of Scotland.

I will quote the letter from Tom Arthur. It says:

“In the period since the petition was considered in early 2018, RoS have confirmed that no errors relating to parties being incorrectly classed as deceased have been encountered”

There seems to have been only one example of that happening, which is that of Mr Rosser’s solicitor. It therefore seems to be a rather one-party issue. I suggest that we do not continue the petition.

The petition is about post-legislative scrutiny of the 2012 act, and I am not sure that the committee needs to complete such scrutiny. However, as members will know from getting such cases—I declare an interest because, as I previously indicated when we took evidence from Registers of Scotland, I have a constituency case that relates to the subject of the petition—they are very severe when they arise. The issue is what happens when there are errors, the process for dealing with that and the number of complaints that are received about errors.

Now that we have a commitment that Registers of Scotland will provide regular updates, we should pursue the question of what happens when errors are communicated to it, how those errors are dealt with and, in particular, how complaints are dealt with. We cannot ignore the fact that all constituency MSPs will have had such concerns raised with them. The issue is about the title of a person’s house, which is fundamental. That is different from carrying out post-legislative scrutiny of the 2012 act.

I have a couple of comments. The committee has dealt favourably with the issue and is committed to receiving regular updates from Registers of Scotland. I agree with Fiona Hyslop’s comment about the seriousness of such issues, should they arise, and the impact that they have on people. That is not the same as wholesale problems happening at scale, which seems not to be the situation.

Therefore, I am in favour of closing the petition, but I am also strongly in favour of keeping a focus on the issue through regular attendance by Registers of Scotland at the committee. That is important.

No other members have comments.

Given what has been said, I think that it is the committee’s decision to close the petition. I recognise the very difficult situation that Mr Rosser has experienced, and I know how disappointed and frustrated petitioners can be when a petition is closed without the resolution that they seek. However, I assure Mr Rosser that the committee takes its role in scrutinising the work of the keeper of the registers of Scotland seriously. As others have said, we have given a commitment to receiving regular updates from and holding regular witness sessions with the keeper. When we speak to the keeper in the future, we will keep on our agenda the issues and concerns that Mr Rosser has raised.

We now move into private session.

11:17 Meeting continued in private until 11:44.